Pakistan’s OIC meet a damp squib

at 9:27 pm
Pakistan
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan (File pic)

Column

Pakistan may claim to be the messiah of Muslims across the globe but the Islamic world hardly takes it seriously.

 

The lack of Pakistan’s credibility has been visible over the last few years and it was demonstrated once again last weekend when it hosted a meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

The ‘Extraordinary’ meeting of the Foreign Ministers of OIC countries, convened on Afghanistan on December 19, was such a damp squib that only 20 of the 57 member nations attended it.

Significantly, five Central Asian countries Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan – all Muslim countries and members of the OIC — chose not to attend the conference in Pakistan and rather chose to be in India on the same date.

More interestingly, three of these Central Asian nations – Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan – share borders with Afghanistan and have major security stakes involved in the Taliban-ruled nation.

The Foreign Ministers of these 5 important Islamic nations, while skipping the Pakistan meeting, attended the 3rd India-Central Asia Dialogue.

Afghanistan situation was one of the key areas of discussion at the meet.

Even during the separate meetings that the visiting Foreign Ministers held with Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, concerns over the situation in Afghanistan were prominently articulated.

All the countries have common concerns, especially in relation to the gross human rights violations in Afghanistan under the rule of Pakistan-proxy Taliban.

But it is not the first time that Pakistan has faced a snub from the OIC.

After the revocation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir in August 2019, Pakistan, for months, made desperate attempts at convening of a special session of the OIC to discuss the issue.

It made repeated pleas to Saudi Arabia, the dominant member of the OIC and then Chair, to call a session of the grouping.

Not only did Saudi Arabia ignore Pakistan’s repeated pleas, but no other member country of the OIC, except for Turkey, came out in support of Islamabad’s request.

The snub was such humiliating for Pakistan that its Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi went to the extent of threatening that the country would quit OIC and form a parallel grouping of ‘like-minded’ Islamic nations.

“I am once again respectfully telling OIC that a meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers is our expectation. If you cannot convene it, then I will be compelled to ask Prime Minister Imran Khan to call a meeting of the Islamic countries that are ready to stand with us on the issue of Kashmir,” Qureshi said in August last year.

He had warned that if the OIC failed to summon the meeting, Pakistan would hold a session outside the OIC.

However, the threats fell on deaf ears, raising the frustration levels in Pakistan.

At the same time, these threats angered Saudi Arabia, which has been a major benefactor of financially-broke Pakistan.

Saudi Arabia has been helping Pakistan with financial and other forms of aid over decades.

In fact, just a few years back, it had given Pakistan a loan of USD 3 billion.

After Qureshi’s outburst, an angry Saudi Arabia asked Pakistan to immediately return USD 1 billion.

Pakistan’s all-powerful Army Chief Gen Qamar Bajwa immediately rushed to Riyadh to placate the rulers of Saudi Arabia.

However, he faced a snub as Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman refused to meet him.

Clearly, Pakistan has no credibility even among the comity of Islamic nations.