A task for OIC

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Islamabad will be the fulcrum of the Islamic world as it proudly hosts the 48th meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Council of Foreign Ministers. The moot will take place on March 22-23, and coincides with the 75th celebrations of Pakistan Day. It is, nonetheless, being convened at a very crucial time of realpolitik. The Muslim world is meticulously busy in chartering a prospective and independent line of action while dealing with issues of power politics, and at the same time is faced with the curse of Islamophobia. Likewise, the bulging population, socio-economic upheavals and unaddressed territorial and political disputes have kept the Muslim countries in a fix, and unfortunately they have not been able to assert themselves as per their true tangibles. This is why it is hoped this great amalgamation of dignitaries will provide them with an opportunity to find a way out to come out of this abyss.

While the theme for this year is ‘Partnering for Unity, Justice and Development’, Pakistan has come up with a superb nostalgic tag. Taking a leaf out from the 2nd OIC Summit in Lahore 1974, the official anthem of the meet this year is ‘Hum Mustafavi Hain’ meaning ‘We are all believers of Prophet Muhammad Mustafa (peace be upon him)’. The heartthrob poem written by Jamiluddin Aali derives inspiration from the Holy Quran, and each of its stanzas is mesmerising. This hints at the sense of perfection, devotion and commitment with which Pakistan views and admires the strength of the Muslim world, and likewise looks forward to a successful session on its homeland. This meeting should truly go on to address the aspirations of more than two billion faithful worldwide.

The agenda too this year is reflective of the OIC’s mandate, i.e. to adopt a unanimous stance on the problems faced by the Muslim communities. To count a few prominent issues: provision of humanitarian assistance for Afghanistan, Islamophobia, Palestinian struggle for an independent statehood, and the right to self-determination of Kashmiris under the Indian yoke. Last but not least, climate change, the aftermath of Covid-19 and the spiraling food and oil prices are also issues that will keep the delegates glued in a huddle of minds.

The foreign ministers are likely to be seized with a pressing debate on the war in Ukraine, the slipping of the world in anarchy, as well as the polarisation between China and the United States. The need of the hour is to come up with a practicable and orderly charter, and convert the power potential of the 50-plus Muslim countries into a workable theme on the global stage. This is where the OIC has lacked to this day, as it could neither translate its rhetoric into actions nor assert itself owing to limited political muscles.

It’s time for the OIC to amplify its voice, and put its foot down. Resolutions and condemnations haven’t worked to this day. All it needs is a plan of action, backed with a professionally-run secretariat to realise the decisions in real time. Muslim world has no dearth of talent. Let this 48th session devolve a practical approach and see to it that from territorial fissures to political riddles, all outstanding issues are addressed in a realistic format. Pakistan, by clinching a resolution at the United Nations on anti-Islamophobia Day, has exhibited that persistence triumphs. OIC should take a cue from it. All it needs is a first step with conviction.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 22nd, 2022.

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