Explained: Kashmir, India and the OIC

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Written by Shubhajit Roy
| New Delhi |

December 1, 2020 3:00:54 am

Then External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj as Guest of Honour on the OIC Foreign Ministers’ assembly in Abu Dhabi in 2019. (Photo: TWITTER/PTI Photo)On Sunday, India hit out on the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) for making factually incorrect and unwarranted references to Jammu and Kashmir. The 47th session of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers on November 27-29 at Niamey, Niger, had made a reference to India over its insurance policies on J&Okay.
In an announcement, India suggested the OIC to chorus from making such references in future and stated it’s regrettable that the grouping continues to permit itself for use by a sure nation “which has an abominable record on religious tolerance, radicalism and persecution of minorities”. This was a reference to Pakistan.
What is the OIC?
The OIC — previously Organisation of the Islamic Conference — is the world’s second largest inter-governmental organisation after the UN, with a membership of 57 states. The OIC’s said goal is “to safeguard and protect the interests of the Muslim world in the spirit of promoting international peace and harmony among various people of the world”. OIC has reserved membership for Muslim-majority nations. Russia, Thailand, and a few different small nations have Observer standing.
What is India’s relationship with OIC as an organisation?
At the 45th session of the Foreign Ministers’ Summit in 2018, Bangladesh, the host, advised that India, the place greater than 10% of the world’s Muslims reside, must be given Observer standing, however Pakistan opposed the proposal.
In 1969, India was dis-invited from the Conference of Islamic Countries in Rabat, Morocco at Pakistan’s behest. Then Agriculture Minister Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed was dis-invited upon arrival in Morocco after Pakistan President Yahya Khan lobbied in opposition to Indian participation.
In 2019, India made its maiden look on the OIC Foreign Ministers’ assembly, as a “guest of honour”. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj addressed the Inaugural Plenary in Abu Dhabi on March 1 2019, after having been invited by Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Foreign Minister. The Ministry of External Affairs stated then that the invitation was a “welcome recognition of the presence of 185 million Muslims in India and of their contribution to its pluralistic ethos, and of India’s contribution to the Islamic world”.
This first-time invitation was seen as a diplomatic victory for New Delhi, particularly at a time of heightened tensions with Pakistan following the Pulwama assault. Pakistan had opposed the invitation to Swaraj, and its Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi boycotted the plenary after the UAE turned down his demand to rescind the invitation.
What is the OIC’s stand on Kashmir?
It has been typically supportive of Pakistan’s stand on Kashmir, and has issued statements criticising the alleged Indian “atrocities” within the state/Union Territory. These statements over the past three many years grew to become an annual ritual, of little significance to India.
Last 12 months, after India revoked Article 370 in Kashmir, Pakistan lobbied with the OIC for his or her condemnation of the move. To Pakistan’s shock, Saudi Arabia and the UAE — each high leaders among the many Muslim nations — issued nuanced statements, and weren’t as harshly important of New Delhi as Islamabad had hoped.
Over the final one 12 months, Islamabad has tried to evoke sentiments among the many Islamic nations, however solely a handful of them — Turkey and Malaysia — publicly criticised India.
In 2019 Mecca summit as properly, the OIC criticised the alleged Indian “atrocities” within the state.
In 2018, the OIC General Secretariat had “expressed strong condemnation of the killing of innocent Kashmiris by Indian forces in Indian-occupied Kashmir”, described the “direct shooting at demonstrators” as a “terrorist act”, and “called upon the international community to play its role in order to reach a just and lasting solution to the conflict in Kashmir”.
The 2017 session of the OIC Foreign Ministers had adopted a decision “reaffirming the unwavering support for the Kashmiri people in their just cause”, and “expressing deep concern at atrocious human rights violations being committed by the Indian occupation forces since 1947”.
At the 2018 assembly in Dhaka, nonetheless, “Jammu and Kashmir” figured in solely certainly one of 39 resolutions adopted, that too, together with 12 different states or areas worldwide. Pakistan accused Bangladesh of circulating the textual content very late. Even the decision in Abu Dhabi, adopted the day after Swaraj spoke, condemned “atrocities and human rights violations” in Kashmir.
How has India been responding to such criticism?
India has persistently underlined that J&Okay is an “integral part of India and is a matter strictly internal to India”. The energy with which India has made this assertion has assorted barely at occasions, however by no means the core message. It has maintained its “consistent and well known” stand that the OIC had no locus standi,
This time, India went a step forward and stated the grouping continues to permit itself for use by a sure nation “which has an abominable record on religious tolerance, radicalism and persecution of minorities”.
What is India’s relationship with OIC member nations?
Individually, India has good relations with almost all member nations. Ties with the UAE and Saudi Arabia, particularly, have seemed up considerably lately.
The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, was a really particular chief visitor on the 68th Republic Day celebrations in 2017, the primary time India had laid out the Republic Day purple carpet for a frontrunner who was neither a head of state nor a head of presidency. The Crown Prince had earlier visited India in February 2016, following a go to by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the UAE in August 2015.
Days earlier than the OIC invitation to Swaraj in 2019, Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman had visited India. The invite might have been an vital final result of the MBS go to, aside from being a sign of India’s improved ties with each Saudi and the UAE.
Before Swaraj’s go to to Abu Dhabi, a report by the official Emirates News Agency had described India as a “friendly country” of “great global political stature”. The External Affairs Ministry had stated the invitation indicated “the desire of the enlightened leadership of the UAE to go beyond our rapidly growing close bilateral ties and forge a true multifaceted partnership at the multilateral and international level” and a “milestone in our comprehensive strategic partnership with the UAE”.
The OIC contains two of India’s shut neighbours, Bangladesh and Maldives. Indian diplomats say each nations privately admit they don’t wish to complicate their bilateral ties with India on Kashmir, however play together with OIC.
What is the importance of India’s newest assertion?
India now sees the duality of the OIC untenable, since many of those nations have good bilateral ties and convey to India to disregard OIC statements — however log out on the joint statements that are largely drafted by Pakistan.
New Delhi’s assertion on Sunday concentrating on the OIC grouping as being led by Pakistan needs to be learn in that context. South Block feels it is very important problem the double-speak, since Pakistan’s marketing campaign and forex on the Kashmir challenge has hardly any takers within the worldwide neighborhood.
India additionally desires to problem this challenge due to the chance that the Joe Biden administration within the US — which can have a powerful view on human rights in Kashmir — might challenge statements which will complicate India’s picture on the world stage.
With New Delhi making ready to take over a non-permanent member’s seat on the UN Security Council, it desires to make use of its diplomatic clout and goodwill to bury this challenge on the world physique within the subsequent two years — and produce up the Pakistan-sponsored cross-border terrorism excessive on agenda.
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