OIC and Kashmir

OIC and Kashmir

Author
Short Url

Pakistan is a founding member of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and attaches high importance to this international forum. In a world where commercial advantages and realpolitik trump ideological issues and just political positions, the organization has, since its inception, provided valuable support to Pakistan’s stance on Kashmir. It established a contact group on Jammu and Kashmir in 1994 and has been consistent in issuing statements supportive of UN resolutions which are the basis of Pakistan's stance on the Indian-administered and disputed territory.

On the fateful day of Aug. 5, 2019, India made a dramatic shift in its policy by unilaterally rescinding Kashmir's autonomy and bringing the area under its direct rule. The Kashmir valley, under siege since then, is seething with anger. The illegal and ill-thought steps have alienated its residents and efforts are on a fast track to settle thousands of non-Kashmiris in the valley, thus altering its demographic composition.

India, it would appear, is trying hard to duplicate Israel’s settlement policy in West Bank. Both are endeavoring to create new demographic realities in their occupied territories. Both have trampled UN resolutions with impunity. It is in this context that Pakistan believes the OIC should censure India's illegal moves forcefully and with one voice.

India’s continued repression in Kashmir and denial of the basic right of self-determination to its people would impede regional connectivity and economic development. It is high time that the OIC and UN realized the gravity of the protracted conflict.

Javed Hafeez

These extraordinary actions demand solid and strong responses. An emergency meeting of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers would have been appropriate in this case. That has not happened. This indifference to the plight of 8 million hapless Kashmiris, living in world’s most militarized region today, has obliged Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi to express his dismay. He said, in an interview with a Pakistani private TV that he would recommend to Prime Minister Imran Khan to call a meeting of like-minded member states if OIC does not call a plenary meeting dedicated to Kashmir.

That statement has caused some controversy. But the statement has to be understood in proper context. Legally, Pakistan has a very strong case and Kashmir is geographically its jugular vein. If the people of East Timor and Sudan were entitled to their right of self-determination, why should the Kashmiris and Palestinians be deprived of it?

Pakistan co-founded the OIC in 1969 in the Muslim World's response to the despicable act of arson at Al-Aqsa Mosque. Since its very inception, Palestine and Kashmir issues have been important on the OIC agenda. It was therefore natural for Pakistanis to expect a strong OIC response to the wrongs committed by India’s government, which was dictating an unacceptable future to the Kashmiris.

Some people mistakenly believe that Pakistan wants the status quo ante by trying to reverse India's decision made on Aug. 5 last year. But the fact is that Pakistan never thought Article 370 of India's constitution — which guaranteed Kashmir's semi-autonomy and was revoked by New Delhi — was any kind of solution to the Kashmir problem. It was, at best, a palliative to keep Kashmiris quiet, for some time. A year ago, the Indian government threw away that facade too. Its hidden intentions of keeping the Kashmiris under subjugation became crystal clear. This was as unacceptable to Pakistan as it has been to the Kashmiri people. And showing empathy with the downtrodden Kashmiris would only have enhanced the OIC's standing in Muslim countries and shown to the world that it is not a toothless organization.

India, Pakistan and the people of Pakistan are parties to the Kashmir dispute. Since China borders Kashmir in Ladakh, it too has active interest in its resolution. When India unilaterally declared Ladakh its union territory last year, China issued a strong statement. The Chinese involvement means that three nuclear powers are now parties to the conflict, making Kashmir the most dangerous nuclear flashpoint in the world.

India’s continued repression in Kashmir and denial of the basic right of self-determination to its people would impede regional connectivity and economic development. It is high time that the OIC and UN realized the gravity of the protracted conflict.

- Javed Hafeez is a former Pakistani diplomat with much experience of the Middle East. He writes weekly columns in Pakistani and Gulf newspapers and appears regularly on satellite TV channels as a defense and political analyst. Twitter: @hafiz_javed

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News' point-of-view