Pakistan’s strong message to OIC leadership
With the observance of the first anniversary of the illegal and immoral annexation of Occupied Jammu Kashmir by India across the country the freedom movement of the Kashmiri people has entered a new phase. People from all walks of life expressed fullest support for the Kashmiris’ rights under the decades-old UN resolutions.
AJK Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider, at a special session of the state’s assembly where Prime Minister Imran Khan was the chief guest, underlined the need for “practical steps” by Pakistan – beyond diplomatic and moral support (which has been the policy so far) for the liberation of Kashmir.
President Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Imran Khan assured the Kashmiri people of the Islamic Republic’s unwavering support to their valiant struggle, and also urged the world community to play their due role to get the oppressed people their rights.
But what Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said in a TV interview would, probably, force the Islamic countries to come up with a clear policy on Kashmir.
He asked the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to stop dilly-dallying on the convening of a meeting of its Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) on Kashmir.
“I am once again respectfully telling OIC that a meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers is our expectation. If you cannot convene it, then I’ll be compelled to ask Prime Minister Imran Khan to call a meeting of the Islamic countries that are ready to stand with us on the issue of Kashmir and support the oppressed Kashmiris.”
In response to another question, he said Pakistan could not wait any further.
A major reason behind the failure to call the foreign ministers’ meeting has been Saudi reluctance to accept Pakistan’s request for one specifically on Kashmir.
Riyadh’s support is crucial for any move at the OIC, which is dominated by Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries.
It was probably out of disappointment with the consistent Saudi attitude on Kashmir that Mr Qureshi said while answering a question that Pakistan had stayed away from Kuala Lumpur Summit last December on the oil-rich kingdom’s request.
This is the first time that Pakistan let the secret out which it has been keeping for months.
Mr Qureshi said now Pakistani Muslims are demanding of Riyadh to “show leadership on the issue”.
“We have our own sensitivities. You have to realise this. Gulf countries should understand this,” the foreign minister said, adding that he could no more indulge in diplomatic niceties.
Mr Qureshi made it clear that he was not being emotional and fully understood the implications of his statement. “It’s right, I’m taking a position despite our good ties with Saudi Arabia,” he said.
“We cannot stay silent anymore on the sufferings of the Kashmiris,” he said.
The Saudi leadership must appreciate the situation facing Pakistan. It has to stand by the Kashmiris who are offering all kinds of sacrifices and have pinned all hopes on Pakistan. It cannot afford to disappoint them or leave them to the mercy of India.
While the young Saudi leadership has very good relations with India – possibly because of economic interests – for Pakistan the Hindu state is an enemy.
Islamic brotherhood demands that Saudi Arabia should pressure or persuade India to give Kashmiris their rights - and have good neighbourly relations with Pakistan.
This is what is expected of KSA being leader of the Islamic world.
It’s unbelievable that Saudi Arabia should have good relations with India, which has martyred hundreds of thousands of Kashmiris over the past years and is determined to butcher those calling for their rights.
Superfluous to point out that on the first anniversary of annexation of occupied Kashmir India demolished a centuries old Babri mosque to construct a temple there.
Being leader of the Islamic world, Saudi Arabia should call for a boycott of India by all states, especially Muslim.
There is no doubt that Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have always had best of ties. The two have cooperation in a number of fields. But the situation has changed over the past few years. The warmth and closeness of ties is no longer there, hypocritical statements to the contrary notwithstanding.
The Saudi leadership is not playing the kind of role it was expected to play in the light of its commitment - of being Pakistan’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia – during visit to Islamabad in February last year.
It is also a fact that over the years, Saudi ties with some Islamic countries have strained while with non-Muslims they have improved. There is no need to identify the countries falling in the two categories as everyone knows them.
In these circumstances there is an urgent need for Saudi Arabia to review its foreign policy and play its due role in uniting the Islamic countries against anti-Islam forces. It should address the disappointment expressed by Foreign Minister Qureshi before other OIC states also start looking for other options.