In a move that seems to pacify Pakistan and could impact ties with India, Saudi Arabia has agreed to hold a special foreign ministers’ meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on the situation in Indian-occupied Kashmir and the controversial Citizenship Amendment act.
The meeting is expected to be held in April 2020 in Islamabad. The development occurred after newly-appointed Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal Bin Farhan arrived on his maiden trip to Pakistan last week and held meetings with his counterpart and Prime Minister Imran Khan. The visit was also to thank Pakistan for staying away from the KL Summit in Malaysia.
This gesture by the kingdom is been seen as a concession secured by Pakistan, but the fact that Saudi Arabia even agreed to organize a meeting should be appreciated. The OIC should strive for relevance which will happen when it raises some of the most pressing issues facing the Muslim world.
The move will certainly anger India which has gone the extra mile to build a strategic partnership with Saudi Arabia and the UAE as part of its diplomatic push in the Middle East. This has helped contain the diplomatic fallout after controversial decisions such as ending the autonomous status of Kashmir or the discriminatory citizenship bill.
Pakistan has expressed disappointment that the OIC has not supported it enough on the Kashmir narrative. It wants the OIC to have a greater influence and become a more effective platform but faced several diplomatic jolts. UAE termed Kashmir’s annexation as internal matter, while Saudi Arabia walked a tightrope. Pakistan will now be pleased that the Kashmir issue is being raised at an international forum.
The OIC released a statement expressing concerns on the Citizenship bill and the Babri Masjid verdict. But the condemnation was a little too late and rather ineffective as it did not call for any concrete action. It needs to be seen whether OIC will rebuke India for its gross human rights violations and if the Islamic body will pass a resolution.
In such a stiff environment, the decision to hold a foreign minister’s moot on Kashmir comes as a breath of fresh air. The planned OIC conference should have the participation of all Muslim countries including Saudi’s main rival Iran and Qatar. Pakistan should make efforts that the conference is a success that not only condemns India but brings all Muslims counties closer.
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