Qureshi to address OIC’s emergency meeting on Kashmir

This file photo shows the national flags of the members of Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) states flying in front of the clock of the Abraj al-Bait Towers in Makkah on Nov. 17, 2019. (AFP)
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Updated 22 June 2020

Qureshi to address OIC’s emergency meeting on Kashmir

  • Foreign minister will brief the group on the prevailing situation in the disputed territory
  • Ministerial-level virtual talks are being held on Pakistan’s request

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi will address an emergency meeting called by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s (OIC) contact group on Jammu and Kashmir, and brief them about the prevailing situation in the area, the Foreign Office said in a statement on Monday.

It added that Monday’s ministerial-level virtual meeting was being held on Pakistan’s request to address the worsening situation in “Indian-Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IOJ&K).”

The talks will be chaired by OIC Secretary-General Dr. Yousef Al-Othaimeen, with foreign ministers from member countries, including Azerbaijan, Niger, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey, and representatives of the OIC-Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC) expected to attend.

“Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) President and true representatives of the Kashmiri people will also participate in the virtual meeting,” the statement said.

Earlier on Sunday, Al-Othaimeen tweeted that the meeting was “part of a series of continuous #JammuAndKashmir Contact Group meetings to address the issue.”

The OIC’s contact group on Jammu and Kashmir was formed in 1994 to represent the organization’s views and coordinate measures to resolve the dispute. 

“This is the third meeting of the contact group since India’s illegal and unilateral actions of 5 August 2019 in IOJ&K,” excerpts from the statement read, referring in part to New Delhi’s decision to revoke Jammu and Kashmir’s special status last year.

It added that the OIC and the IPHRC had consistently rejected India’s actions while reiterating support for the residents of Indian-administered Kashmir.

The meeting follows a visit by OIC Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Jammu and Kashmir, Ambassador Yousef Al-Dobeay, to Pakistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir in March this year, to reaffirm the organization’s support and solidarity with the Kashmiri people and acquire first-hand information of the situation along the Line of Control.

The OIC comprises 57 member countries with a total population of nearly 1.85 billion people, making it the second-largest intergovernmental organization after the United Nations.


‘Baby don’t go’: American singer Cher in Pakistan to bid farewell to Kaavan the elephant 

Updated 27 November 2020

‘Baby don’t go’: American singer Cher in Pakistan to bid farewell to Kaavan the elephant 

  • The 'world's loneliest elephant' has languished in the Islamabad zoo for 35 years and lost his partner in 2012
  • Cher and animal rights groups have campaigned for years for the elephant’s better treatment and freedom 

ISLAMABAD: American singing sensation Cher called on Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday during a visit to Pakistan to celebrate the departure of Kaavan, dubbed the “world’s loneliest elephant,” who is all set to leave an Islamabad zoo for a sanctuary in Cambodia.

Cher and other rights groups have for years lobbied for the better treatment and release of Kaavan, who has languished in the Islamabad zoo for 35 years. He was diagnosed by veterinarians as both overweight and malnourished earlier this year, and also suffers behavioral issues. He will leave for Cambodia on Sunday.

“Appreciating her efforts in retiring Kavan to an elephant sanctuary, the Prime Minister thanked Cher for her campaign and role in this regard,” a government handout said. “The Prime Minister observed that it was indeed a happy moment for all of us that after giving joy and happiness to the people of Islamabad and Pakistan for about 35 years, Kavan will now be able to retire with other elephants in a specialized sanctuary in Cambodia.”

Khan also invited the singer to contribute towards the government's initiative to expand its tourism and environmental programs, “to which she kindly agreed.”

“On this occasion, Cher applauded the Prime Minister for his government's key initiatives for ensuring a cleaner and greener Pakistan,” the statement added. “She also offered her support for furthering the green initiatives through her organization 'Free the Wild' and thanked the Prime Minister.”

Cher took up Kaavan’s cause and has been a loud voice advocating for his resettlement. Four Paws International, a Vienna-based animal welfare group, has also led the charge to save Kaavan and provided the medical treatment needed before he can travel. The battle for his relocation began in 2016.

Even after he’s in Cambodia, Kaavan will require years of physical and even psychological assistance, Four Paws' representatives have said.

Because of the abysmal living conditions blamed on systemic negligence, Pakistan’s high court in May ordered the closure of Marghazar Zoo in the capital of Islamabad, where Kaavan has lived for much of his life. A medical examination in September showed Kaavan’s nails were cracked and overgrown — the result of years of living in an improper enclosure with flooring that damaged his feet.

The elephant has also developed stereotypical behavior, shaking his head back and forth for hours, which the medical team of wildlife veterinarians and experts blamed on his utter boredom.

For the past three months, a Four Paws team including veterinarian Dr. Amil Khalil and the Islamabad Wildlife Management Board has been readying Kaavan to leave. Members of the welfare group will also accompany him to the sanctuary.