The OIC and the Kashmir issue
The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) was formed in 1969 to serve the interests of Islamic states and strengthen the ideal of Muslim Ummah. The OIC consists of 57 states, 53 of which are Muslim.
Meetings of senior OIC officials began on Feb. 9 to make preparations for the Council of Foreign Ministers that will be convened in April.
The recent OIC meeting, where a unanimous resolution was taken up against US President Donald Trump’s Mideast plan, might have saved the organization from being labelled as a myth of Muslim Ummah’s collectiveness -- but there are deeper issues behind the scenes.
Recently, Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan appealed for an urgent meeting of the OIC and the Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) on Kashmir.
While the organization’s Contact Group on Kashmir convened on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session in New York and a report was circulated by its Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission on the situation in India-administered Kashmir, no progress has been made toward the requested CFM meeting.
It is understood that some Muslim states share strong bilateral relations with India, and the Kashmir issue does not enjoy the same level of support among them as Pakistan expects. However, there are cases like Mahathir Mohamad's Malaysia that went ahead to support Pakistan’s Kashmir stance, though its leaders were aware that its open criticism of India would bring huge losses to their country’s economy.
Issues like Kashmir, which should concern the Muslim world, are still not on the agenda of many Muslim countries.
During Prime Minister Imran Khan's recent visit to the Southeast Asian country, he assured the Malaysian leadership that Islamabad would compensate Kuala Lumpur by buying palm oil since India stopped importing it from Malaysia due to Mahathir Mohamad's stance on Kashmir.
Similarly, Turkey has supported Pakistan’s stance on the dispute, making Pakistan endorse Turkey’s position on Cyprus more forcefully. Apart from these two countries, Azerbaijan has unequivocal support for Pakistan on the Kashmir issue which has been reciprocated by Pakistan that has supported Azerbaijan’s position against Armenia. For the balance of power, India shows interest in engaging Cyprus and Armenia that share volatile relations with Turkey and Azerbaijan respectively.
New Delhi, a prospective OIC member state, has time and again benefitted from the fault-lines within the Islamic world and defended its position on Kashmir. While the OIC member states have periodically taken up the Kashmir issue, they have not seriously addressed the grave situation faced by Muslims in China’s Xinjiang province or the persecution of Rohingya community in Myanmar. This further calls for a better working mechanism within the OIC for the benefit of Muslim Ummah.
In 2018, Bangladesh proposed that states like India, which have significant Muslim populations, should become members of the organization. This is despite the fact that issues like Kashmir, which should actually concern the Muslim world, are still not on the agenda of many Muslim countries.
– Naila Mahsud is a Pakistani political and International relations researcher, with a focus on regional politics and security issues