Kashmir not on agenda of OIC foreign ministers’ meet

The Kashmir issue is not on the agenda of a meeting of foreign ministers of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to be held in Niger during November 27-28, resulting in consternation in Pakistan, which has sought to repeatedly raise the matter at international forums.

A statement issued by Pakistan’s Foreign Office on Wednesday to announce foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s participation in the meeting of the OIC’s council of foreign ministers claimed the two-day session will discuss a range of issues facing the Muslim world, including the “Jammu and Kashmir dispute”.

However, official statements issued by OIC in English and Arabic make no mention of the Kashmir issue being on the agenda for the meeting.

The Pakistani foreign ministry’s statement further said Qureshi intended to highlight the “aggravating human rights and humanitarian situation” in Jammu and Kashmir in the aftermath of India’s decision to scrap the erstwhile state’s special status in August 2019.

OIC’s official statements quoted the organisation’s secretary general Yousef Al-Othaimeen as saying that the meeting of the foreign ministers, being held with the theme of “United against terrorism for peace and development”, has an agenda that includes “topics and issues of concern to the Muslim world”.

“In addition to the Palestinian cause, the fight against violence, extremism and terrorism, Islamophobia and defamation of religious, the Council will discuss the situation of Muslim minorities and communities in non-member states, fundraising for the Rohingya cause at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), as well as the promotion of dialogue among civilisations, cultures and religions, and other emerging matters,” the English statement said, without making any reference to the Kashmir issue.

The statement in Arabic too was silent on the Kashmir issue. The development comes at a time when Pakistan’s relations with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), both key players in the 56-member OIC, are strained.

Saudi Arabia has sought the early repayment of a $3-billion loan provided to the Imran Khan government in 2018 after it was irked by Islamabad’s criticism of Riyadh’s position on the Kashmir issue. After being rebuffed by the Saudi leadership on the Kashmir issue, Prime Minister Imran Khan had made an unsuccessful attempt to forge a new grouping of Islamic countries with Turkey and Malaysia.

On Wednesday, UAE temporarily suspended issuing visas to citizens of Pakistan, Afghanistan and some other countries over security concerns. The UAE too has been cool to Pakistan’s overtures on the Kashmir issue.

The Indian government has worked to strengthen ties with countries in West Asia, a major source of energy and home to some nine million expatriates, in the past few years. In 2019, Pakistan had been irked when former external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj was invited as a guest of honour to address the plenary session of the meeting of foreign ministers of OIC. Hindustan Times, New Delhi

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