At the end of a 2-day summit hosted by Islamabad, the foreign minister of 57 Muslim states agreed on an “action plan” to go beyond resolutions on the longstanding issue of Jammu and Kashmir while also calling for an immediate cessation of hostilities in Ukraine.
The 48th session of the Council of the Foreign Minister of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) was attended by 46 ministerial delegations.
The session that concluded on March 23 – amid the Pakistan Day celebrations – adopted over 140 resolutions on a number of issues including Kashmir, Palestine, Islamophobia and other contemporary challenges facing the Islamic countries.
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, who is now chair of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers, told a news conference later that a number of decisions had been taken to go beyond resolutions on the Jammu and Kashmir dispute.
Qureshi said Pakistan proposed a ministerial conference that would work with other member states to “chart a way forward” and “adopt a clear action plan” on the issue of Kashmir.
“In this session it was my desire that the issue of Jammu and Kashmir must be discussed and highlighted because I feel since August 5, 2019, the situation has dramatically changed and deteriorated further,” he said while addressing the joint news conference with the OIC secretary general.
He said the OIC Contact Group that met on the sidelines of the conference took a number of decisions on Kashmir. “We have agreed to go beyond passing resolutions. We have put together an action plan,” Qureshi said.
According to the foreign minister, different member states would meet regularly and coordinate their positions on the question of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute and also monitor the deteriorating situation in the disputed territory.
The OIC representatives would work closely with each other at the UN headquarters in New York, UN Human Rights Council in Geneva and the OIC headquarters in Jeddah.
“We have a clear plan of action for member states, for the members of the contact group and for the secretariat and the secretary general of the OIC and for the special envoy on Kashmir,” Qureshi said.
The OIC member states in the Islamabad Declaration expressed grave concerns over the recent incident of India “accidently” firing a missile into Pakistan. “We express grave concern over the violation of Pakistan’s airspace, threat to passenger aircraft and dangers to peace and security in South Asia arising from the launch of supersonic missile on March 9, 2022 by India,” read the declaration.
“We call on India to fully abide by international law and norms of responsible state behaviour and conduct a joint probe with Pakistan to accurately establish facts,” it added. In the final declaration, the OIC member countries called for the immediate cessation of hostilities in Ukraine.
The OIC expressed its willingness to facilitate a dialogue between Ukraine and Russia. The member states also called for establishing corridors for the safe movement of civilians and supply of humanitarian assistance.
Qureshi said he was present during a meeting between Prime Minister Imran and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who agreed with the Pakistani suggestion to work alongside the OIC to mediate on the Ukrainian conflict.
The foreign minister was of the view that Pakistan’s emphasis on finding a political solution stemmed from its fears that the conflict could spill over and expand to other parts of the world.
The OIC council of foreign ministers also appointed a special envoy on combating Islamophobia. “This is indeed a great achievement of the OIC,” Qureshi said. The Humanitarian Trust Fund announced for Afghanistan at the extraordinary session of the OIC in December in Islamabad was also operationalized.
Qureshi said the OIC extraordinary session in December helped draw the world’s attention towards the humanitarian crises in Afghanistan. He said since then a number of concessions were given to Afghanistan, sanctions had been eased and humanitarian assistance started reaching people.
Pakistan also proposed to establish mechanism and tools to prevent conflict within the Muslim countries. Lack of unity has been one of the challenges that faced the OIC.
Certain member states have divergent interests and often use proxies to advance their strategic objectives. Qureshi said Pakistan wished to act as bridge between the Muslim states.
At the opening session of the conference, Prime Minister Imran Khan regretted that the OIC despite representing 1.5 billion people could not make an impact on the issues of Palestine and Kashmir.
He said the OIC had failed both the people of Palestine and Kashmir. Pakistan has been seeking support of the OIC, particularly its oil-rich Arab members, for the Kashmir cause.
In an address to dozens of foreign ministers, he partly blamed Muslims for allowing Islamophobia to spread, saying they had not united against actions deemed blasphemous for fear of being labelled extremist.
“There is a perception that there is different types of Islam,” he told the 57-nation IOC gathering. The moment you say you are a moderate Muslim, you acknowledge extremism,” he added, saying this suggested there was division on the issue of blasphemy.
Imran Khan long campaigned against growing anti-Muslim sentiment, and takes credit for the UN’s move last week to adopt an International Day to Combat Islamophobia.
In a speech that at times seemed aimed more at a domestic audience than a gathering of foreign diplomats, Imran Khan said he was inspired to enter politics by the example of the “perfect” society that the Holy Prophet (PBUH) had created in Medina 1,400 years ago.
He also railed against corruption among the elite and what he called permissiveness in Pakistan.
Imran Khan won office in 2018 through an electorate weary of the two-party dynasties that have dominated Pakistan politics for the last 50 years – periods of power punctuated by military coups – but with inflation skyrocketing and a feeble rupee, he has struggled to maintain support.
The meeting was also attended by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who took part in the two-day session as an observer.
“China and the Islamic world have found a path of friendly coexistence and win-win cooperation between different civilizations, which serves as a model for a new form of diplomatic ties,” Wang said.
Chinese Foreign Minister Yi arrived in Kabul on March 24, a week before Beijing hosts a meeting of Afghanistan’s neighbours to see how they can help the country following its takeover by the Taliban.