ISLAMABAD, February 6: Pakistan’s bid to call an immediate meeting on Kashmir by Saudi-led Organisation of Islamic Cooperation seems to have failed after Riyadh showing reluctance to the move, according to a Pakistani media report on Thursday.
In December, there were plans to convene a meeting of the foreign ministers of the OIC on Kashmir by Saudi Arabia, in an apparent move by the kingdom to please Pakistan which skipped a recent summit of Muslim nations in Malaysia seen by Riyadh as an attempt to create a new bloc to replace the 57-member grouping led by it.
Prime Minister Imran Khan had confirmed Pakistan’s participation in the summit hosted by Malaysia, but skipped the event at the eleventh hour due to pressure exerted by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – key financial backers of the cash-strapped country.
The report by Dawn News came ahead of the bloc’s senior officials’ meeting in Jeddah on February 9 to make preparations for the Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM).
Islamabad’s feeling of unease with the OIC over its failure to get the CFM’s meeting appears to be growing, as Riyadh was showing reluctance to convene the meeting on Kashmir on Pakistan’s request, the report quoted a diplomatic source as saying.
The Jeddah-headquartered bloc, which is the second largest intergovernmental body after the UN, has usually been supportive of Pakistan and often sided with Islamabad on the Kashmir issue.
Prime Minister Khan voiced frustration over the OIC’s silence on Kashmir during his visit to Malaysia.
“The reason is that we have no voice and there is a total division amongst (us). We can’t even come together as a whole on the OIC meeting on Kashmir,” he said this week.
Pakistan has been pushing for the foreign ministers’ meeting on Kashmir since India abrogated the special provisions of Kashmir in August last year.
Although there has been a meeting of the contact group on Kashmir on the sidelines of UN General Assembly session in New York and a report by the OIC’s Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission on the alleged rights abuses in Kashmir, no progress could be made towards the CFM’s meeting.
Foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, while underscoring the importance of CFM for Pakistan, said it was needed to send a clear message from Ummah (community) on the Kashmir issue.
Support from Riyadh is considered a must for any move at the OIC, which is dominated by Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries from the Gulf.
The kingdom has made several proposals to Pakistan to avoid the CFM including holding of a parliamentary forum or speakers’ conference from Muslim countries and, according to a source, a joint meeting on Palestine and Kashmir issues. Pakistan has persisted with its proposal so far.
Saudi Arabia, soon after Pakistan’s absence at the Malaysia summit, showed flexibility in December on the proposal for the
CFM on Kashmir. The Saudi flexibility, however, was short-lived as Riyadh reverted to its position.
India, in a major diplomatic achievement in March last year, addressed the OIC meeting in Abu Dhabi for the first time.
India’s participation came despite strong demand by Pakistan to rescind the invitation to then external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj to address the grouping of the OIC which was turned down by the host UAE, resulting in Pakistan’s foreign minister Qureshi boycotting the plenary. (PTI)