OIC Could Do It

BY Z. G. MUHAMMAD

Is it hoping against the hope? This question popped up in my mind this morning (Sunday) on opening my email box. Amidst the jungle of spam there was a mail- a statement for press by Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai, Executive Director of Washington based Kashmiri American Council calling upon the Organization of Islamic Conference to persuade India and Pakistan to resolve Kashmir conflict peacefully.

Talking about peace in the South Asian region in his well worded statement Kashmir Diaspora leader reminding the organization about charter of its duties expects Professor Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, Secretary General of the OIC to play a pro-active role in ending 63 year old dispute between two important South Asian nuclear powers having a bitter history of fighting wars and almost remaining perpetually in a standoff positions. On September 24, 2010, the Secretary General had stated in New York that a peaceful and negotiated settlement of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute would serve not only the people of India and Pakistan but the overall interest of the region. It is, therefore, with this in mind that the OIC continues to encourage the two parties to sustain and push forward the peace process in order to resolve all outstanding issues while associating the Kashmiri people in a result-oriented dialogue.’

The 38th session of the Organization of Islamic Conference Foreign Ministers is being held from 28th to 3oth of June   in Astana capital of Kazakhstan. From Jammu and Kashmir has invited Syed Ali Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq. Syed Ali Geelani having no travel document is being represented at the conference by his Ghulam Muhammad Safi, chief of his organization in Muzzafarbad. Kashmir leaders will not be attending such a prestigious meeting of the organization for the first time. Now for over past twenty Kashmir leaders from both the sides of the divide have been attending the conferences and meetings of this important international organization. The Organization of Islamic Conference has constituted a contact group on Kashmir. It has accorded an observer status to the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC). It has also appointed a special envoy for Jammu and Kashmir.  This organization of 57 countries has same stand on Kashmir as the United Nations.  It does not “recognize the finality of the accession of the state of Jammu and Kashmir with Union of India.” It also believes that that “India’s non-cooperation and the passage of time do not erode UN obligation”. The organization has time and again been reiterating that “The Kashmiri right of self-determination is an inalienable right which has been acknowledged by UN Security Council resolutions. As such, it constitutes an obligation for all members of the UN, and in particular, the parties to the dispute, India and Pakistan. Obligations stemming from UN Security Council resolutions are binding for all the contesting parties.’

True, the OIC has been persistently articulating its concern for perpetuation of ‘Kashmir dispute’ and calling upon the international community to see this dispute settled through peaceful negotiations. But, it continues to remain a big poser; why this organization that was seen by many a Muslim scholars as a manifestation of Islamic renaissance as dreamt by people like Jamal-u-Din Afghani and Muhammad Abdu in Arabia and Dr. Allama Muhammad Iqbal   has so far not succeeded in perusing the resolutions it has been adopting on Kashmir and Palestine to their logical conclusions.

Looking at the resolutions passed by the OIC on Kashmir in their historical perspective, New Delhi has not been attaching much an importance to these. It has not expressing same amount of concern as it has been if similar statement emanate from White House or 10 Downing Street. At best it has been issuing a protest note and reiterating its stated position: ‘Kashmir was an integral part of India.

Many an analyst in New Delhi have been attributing ineffectiveness of the organization in South Asia- more importantly in influencing India-Pakistan relations to hammer a solution of Kashmir problem to the OIC denying membership to India. India has been claiming that about two hundred million Muslims live in India and it has qualifies to be fifty eight member of this organization. India like many other countries like China were large number of Muslim lives has been granted observers status. Of late New Delhi has not been clamoring for membership of this organization but the question continues to be debated in academia why India should not be conceded a berth as member state in the organization. The question why India could not become member state has been addressed by Abdul Sattar, a career diplomat and Pakistan’s former Foreign Minister in his recent book Pakistan’s Foreign Policy 1947-2009 Published by Oxford University Press, Karachi. Tracing birth of the organization to the ‘arson inflicted extensive damage on Al Aqsa Mosque, which was associated with Prophets Ascension, he writes that on 22-24 September 1969 leaders decided at first Islamic Summit to institutionalize the conference and established OIC.  “Criteria for membership of the OIC were defined against the background of India’s ‘pathetic importuning’ for an invitation to attend the Islamic summit, justifying its inclusion on grounds of large Muslim Population. Recognizing the historic and abiding concern of the Muslim community in South Asia for the welfare of co-religionist throughout the world, Pakistan- itself being heir to that legacy – agreed accord representation of Muslims of India to the conference. But when by sending a non-Muslim envoy, India failed to observe the distinction between Muslims of India and Indian as a state, Pakistan raised an objection which was upheld the conference.”Pakistan had articulated its concern against India providing membership the logic that then same criteria would apply to Soviet Union, Yugoslavia and China. Shahid M Amin a foreign policy analyst believes that this hardened India’s attitude towards OIC.Given to very well defined procedure for membership to this Muslim organization it seems that as on now India cannot be its member.

The question arises that has the organization a mechanism in place that could provide it levers to operate global politics to the advantage of its member states. Since its Lahore Summit of 1974, that is counted most important benchmark in the history of this organization it has not succeeded in implementing any of its resolution. Kashmir provides a glaring example; OIC has a contact group on Kashmir. The countries in the contact group are not smaller countries of no major consequences to global politics and economy but these are three major Muslim Countries the Saudi Arabia, Iran and Turkey. These countries in their own right are political and economic powers with great clout in the world that with cascading effects on regional and international politics. But so far these countries have not exerted a diplomatic pressure to see their own resolution on Kashmir implemented. Ostensibly these countries have not even succeeded in pushing India-Pakistan to dialogue table. History testifies that so far it has been Washington that has been nudging and making New Delhi and Islamabad to talk.

How to make this  global Muslim global organization second to United Nation in terms of membership effective has been engaging the attention  of scholars and writers for past many years. Noble laureate Dr. Abdul Salam believed that it was advancement of Science and Technology that could empower the Muslim world that could help immensely help in making the organization effective. He had suggested setting up of an Islamic Scientific Foundation. The organization has been claiming of cooperation in science and technology but on ground there is not much that it could be proud of.  Indian author has seen three major problem for the OIC, one, ‘the demonization and misrepresentation of Islam and Muslims that is being conducted like a choir through media, second, the social and economic apathy that is afflicting the Muslim World and third lacking much-needed common voice. There have been voices suggesting that joint defence production by Islamic countries could not only reduce dependence of many Muslim countries on procurement from the Western countries and saving them lots of money but also help them in strengthening their relations with countries outside on the basis of equality and mutual respect.

To my understanding what has been failing the OIC resolutions has been every member country pursuing its foreign policy on individualistic cost-analysis basis and not keeping in view collective good of the member countries in view. I strongly believe that OIC in its meeting should work for drafting on Dos and Don’ts for a joint foreign policy for all member countries guided by principal of collective concern and not individualistic interests.

(Feedback zahidgm@greaterkashmir.com)