WEB DESK: For a change the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) seems to be shedding its traditional composure and, if the joint statement issued after its 13th summit is any indication, it appears to have decided to call a spade a spade. Maybe, given the extreme challenges confronting the Islamic world, most of which are of its own making, has forced the OIC to move out of the bureaucratic groove.
Or, is it the inspirational ambience of its venue, Istanbul, from where the Islamic leadership can see rather clearly for itself what havoc their inter-state rivalries and proxy politicking have played with the lives of millions of ordinary Muslims, particularly in Syria and the Indian-Held Jammu and Kashmir. As the summit was in progress, Turkey was receiving yet another batch of refugees fleeing chaos and anarchy in their home countries; and the Kashmiris were being killed defending their dignity and honour. The joint statement adopted by the OIC summit comparatively frank and open in saying what could no more be shrouded in the guise of ambivalence and doublespeak. If those who felt jilted by it have reacted strongly, it was expected, though the elements of time and space warrant them to take it in the right spirit.
Without being wishy-washy, the statement adopted by the OIC summit comes straight to Iran by deploring its “interference in the internal affairs of the states of the region and other member states, including Bahrain, Yemen, Syria and Somalia and its continued support for terrorism”. It also “condemned Hezbollah for conducting terrorist activities in Syria, Bahrain, Kuwait and Yemen and for supporting terrorist movements and groups undermining the security and stability of OIC member states”.
It is difficult to imagine that the topmost leadership of the Islamic world would go that far. The Iranian delegation, it appeared, had not succeeded in defending its position in relation to Syria, Yemen and rest of the hotspots. That some nine million Syrians have left their homes and found refuge elsewhere just because the Saudis wanted it – it is hard to believe. That Bashar al-Assad is a very popular and it’s not the Syrians but outsiders that want him to go not a plausible argument either. His own people have risen against him – that is a fact, and he is still in power in Damascus because of Iran and Russia, which is also a fact.
What is the issue then if the OIC leadership has picked up the courage and says this in so many words. Accepted, the Saudi-Iranian rivalry is half millennia-old and refuses to abate, but the kind of hostility it spawns in the region and beyond now is simply unprecedented. One can’t help conceding that terrorism, as it has come to obtain the world over, is one bitter harvest of this hostility.
The OIC summit also called upon India to implement the UN Security Council resolutions on Kashmir. Expressing concern at gross violations of human rights by the Indian occupying forces, it has supported the Kashmiris’ struggle for self-determination. It refuses to equate this struggle with terrorism, which comes as a shock to New Delhi, which, to quote Indian Express, had believed that following Prime Minister Modi’s visits, Saudi Arabia and the UAE ‘were on board to deal with terrorism’.
No wonder then, India’s external affairs ministry has noted ‘with utmost regret’ that the final communiqué adopted at the conclusion of 13th OIC summit ‘includes factually incorrect and misleading references pertaining to the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir which is an integral part of India … We reject all these references’. Indeed it is a big step forward by the OIC that instead of keeping Kashmir on the backburner, the lead organisation of the Islamic world has upheld the cause of Kashmiris so openly and so unambiguously – something the people in the occupied land need so much during these very trying times.