Prime Minister Imran Khan, while addressing the 48th Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) conference, said that he is pleased to see Islamophobia being acknowledged as a reality and that something needs to be done about it.
The first day of the 48th OIC conference kicked off Tuesday at Parliament House, Islamabad, as the Council of the Foreign Ministers (CFMs) of the OIC started discussions to tackle problems faced by the Muslim world.
The theme of the 48th session is “Building Partnerships for Unity, Justice, and Development”. Over 100 resolutions will be considered during the two-day session.
PM Imran Khan started his keynote address by welcoming and congratulating all the visiting foreign ministers and excellenciesthem on the designation of March 15 as the International Day to Combat Islamophobia.
“One of the ideas of OIC is to protect Islamic values,” the premier said.
He said that he believed that Islamic values have never been under threat as they are right now.
The premier said that when he became the prime minister of Pakistan he asked the police chief about the crime chart.
“I was amazed to see that the sex crimes, child abuse and rape are the fastest growing crime in this country.”
PM Imran Khan went on to say that Pakistan has an increased divorce rate, rising vulgarity, which is because the more a society gets permissive, the more it has a direct impact on the family system.
He said that one of the most important things about Islam is that it protects the family system, it has values like respecting parents and teachers.
“But [with] the culture that is coming through social media, we really need to think how we are going to protect our generations,” PM Imran Khan said.
PM asks OIC, China to think of ways to resolve Ukraine conflict
Speaking about the Ukraine conflict, PM Imran Khan said that it could have great consequences on the rest of the world.
He suggested that the OIC should think about how the Muslim world and OIC, along with China, can mediate and put an end to the conflict.
PM Imran Khan said that almost all the commodity prices have gone up in Pakistan due to the Ukraine crisis and if the war continues, the situation in Pakistan is only going to get worse.
“All the countries who are non-partisans are in a special position to be able to influence this conflict.”
PM Imran Khan expressed his intention to discuss with the Chinese FM how OIC as a bloc and China can help in a ceasefire in Ukraine. He called on FM Qureshi to discuss the matter with the other FMs.
He concluded saying that the 1.5 million strong Muslim world should stand united and not be dragged into bloc politics. Instead, they should remain a bloc themselves and show power in bringing about peace.
Muslim world failed Palestinians and Kashmiris
Speaking about the Kashmir and Palestine issue, PM Imran Khan said that the Muslim nations have failed both the Palestinians and people of Kashmir.
“I’m sad to say that we have not been able to make any impact at all. We are 1.5 billion people but we can’t raise voice against this blatant injustice,” PM Imran Khan said.
He said that it is not about conquering a country but simply about the human rights of the Palestinians and Kashmiris.
The premier said that the international community promised the Kashmiris the right to decide their destiny through a plebiscite. That right was never given to them, he complained.
He said that it was because India does not feel any pressure.
PM Imran Khan asked the OIC nations to have a united front or else these abuses will continue.
He said that the only hope he has is because of social media, which has created awareness in the western countries for the first time about what is happening in Palestine.
In Kashmir, it’s a war crime according to the 4th Geneva Convention to change the demography of occupied land. He said that India is changing the demography of Kashmir by making its people a minority.
Saying that while the world is on the verge of a cold war and there is a chance of the world being divided into blocks, he fears that 1.5 million Muslims will be nowhere if they don’t take a united step.
‘No nation has suffered as much as Afghanistan’
PM Imran Khan said that it is extremely important that OIC nations together stabilise Afghanistan.
“No nation has suffered as much as Afghanistan in the 40 years of conflict. Finally, there is no conflict going on,” he said, adding that the only danger that the country faces is sanctions and non-recognition.
“A stable Afghanistan is the only way to stop international terrorism.”
He cautioned nations not to push the people of Afghanistan to do things where they feel their sovereignty is being threatened, as he referred to the character of the Afghan people being one of pride. He said they are open-minded people who do not like to be dictated.
Earlier, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi welcomed the OIC foreign ministers to the conference and said that it is a matter of pride for Pakistan to host the 48th session in 2022, which marks the 77th anniversary of Pakistan’s independence.
“The OIC is the collective voice of nearly two billion Muslims. It is the bridge among the Muslim nations and between the Muslim world and the international community,” he said.
FM Qureshi expressed confidence that this OIC session will be guided by eternal Islamic values of amity and brotherhood, as embodied in the Quran and the teachings of the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him).
He said that promoting solidarity and cooperation within the Muslim Ummah is one of the central pillars of Pakistan’s foreign policy.
“As chair of the OIC-CFM during 2022-23, Pakistan’s overarching goal shall be to solidify this bridging role further,” the foreign minister said.
Through the observance of this day, the OIC will create a global awareness on Islamophobia and advance solutions through collective action, Qureshi said.
FM Qureshi also highlighted global issues such as the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, global arms race, rising commodity prices, declining world trade and growth, COVID-19, global warming, inequality and others, along with the conflicts in Middle East.
“The Muslim world is faced with conflicts in the Middle East, prolonged foreign occupation, and the denial of the right to self-determination, most notably to the people of Palestine and Kashmir.”
He said that the Muslim world’s resentment is increasing due to frequent external interventions in Muslim countries.
FM Qureshi noted that these conflicts and disputes left unaddressed, undermine the unity and solidarity among nations.
“[…] expose our countries to foreign interference and intervention, fuel terrorism and extremism, and deflect attention from our development goals and the welfare of our people,” he said.
The foreign minister drew the attention of OIC FMs towards three specific challenges “to help forge a collective response” under the theme of “Partnering for Unity, Justice, and Development.”
The following are the three challenges mentioned by FM
- First, partnering for unity by jointly addressing the challenges and conflicts within the Ummah.
- Second, uniting for justice for the rights of Muslims under occupation and conflicts with countries beyond our Ummah. This should also include the urgency of addressing the pervasive Islamophobia facing Muslims in non-Muslim majority countries.
- Third, partnering for development by effectively addressing the triple global crises of COVID-19, development, and climate change.
He went on to say that the OIC nations must work to prevent outside interference in the Muslim world as alone they can find solutions to internal fissures and challenges.
FM Qureshi urged the Muslim world to forge a collective response to the current turmoil inside its borders and the ongoing global transition. He said that the Muslim ummah must be a reliable partner in forging unity, justice, and development across the globe, but not anyone’s accomplice in aggression or domination.
He also proposed convening an OIC Ministerial Conference during 2022-2023.
“This Conference, among others, could assess the need for establishing a peace and security architecture akin to all other regional organisations,” he said.
The foreign minister said that this Conference should also discuss how the OIC can and must strengthen itself by developing and deploying tools for conflict prevention, mediation, reconciliation and peacebuilding.
FM Qureshi highlights Kashmir and Palestine issues
Stating the vision behind the OIC’s creation, which was to raise the united voice of Islamic Ummah against the injustices perpetrated against Palestinian Muslims under occupation, FM Qureshi expressed that OIC nations are far from seeing justice for Muslims in many parts of the world even after 50 years of the organisation’s creation.
The FM shed light on the misery of Muslims in Palestine and Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, saying that they are still reeling under abominable subjugation.
He said that under the relevant United Nations resolutions, a permanent solution to the Palestinian question with the pre-1967 borders and Al-Quds Al-Sharif as the capital of a viable, independent, and contiguous Palestinian State is essential.
Similarly, he said that the threat of genocide is most imminent in the IOJK.
Condemning the violations of UN Security Council and OIC’s resolutions by India in IOJK, FM Qureshi said:
“These illegal acts increased the threat of a conflict between India and Pakistan. Kashmiris are looking towards their Muslim brothers and sisters for support.”
He said that the situation in IOJK and Palestine are akin as the illegal efforts to change the demographic structure of a occupied territory and transform it into a Muslim minority region continue.
“This is a clear violation of international law, particularly the Fourth Geneva Convention,” he added.
FM Qureshi said that it is crucial to resolve these challenges by partnering with the international community as well.
‘Resolve needed to counter Islamophobia’
According to FM Qureshi, a similar resolve and unity is needed in countering the ideologies of hate — such as Islamophobia and right-wing racism.
“Repeated incidents of desecration of the Holy Quran and reprinting of caricatures have seriously hurt the sentiments of Muslims across the world. They also cause great anguish within the Islamic world,” he said.
FM Qureshi stressed the OIC nations collectively ensure that deliberate insults and defamation of all religions, including Islam, should also be criminalised.
The foreign minister welcomed the recent designation of 15 March as the “International Day to Combat Islamophobia” by the UN General Assembly.
He said that Pakistan is gratified to have played its role in garnering consensus on this important issue.
FM Qureshi proposes development of detailed report on Partnering for Justice
Moreover, FM Qureshi proposed that the OIC secretary-general develops a comprehensive report on the theme of Partnering for Justice and presents recommendations to the next OIC CFM on how the OIC, through proactive and innovative diplomacy, could strengthen its role in securing justice for the long-oppressed Muslims facing hateful ideologies and occupation.
He suggested that the OIC countries must mobilise international support for a comprehensive strategy to forge partnership for development.
The strategy should include:
- One, vaccine equity. Everyone, everywhere, must be vaccinated against Covid-19,
- Two, increased development financing. This can be ensured through comprehensive debt relief and restructuring, expanded ODA, redistribution of at least half of the unutilised SDRs to developing countries, and provision of the promised climate finance.
- Third, accelerated climate action. The agreement reached at Glasgow must be the baseline for future discussions. The OIC must call for additional commitments by the international community to achieve the agreed mitigation targets, support for adaptation, and loss and damage in developing countries due to climate change.
- Four, the resolute action against illicit financial flows. Corruption and illegal transfer of assets have adversely impacted many Muslim countries, including Pakistan. The OIC countries must develop a comprehensive legal framework to halt and reverse the illicit financial flows and stop this grave economic injustice. We must call for the implementation of the recommendations of the UN Secretary General’s FACTI panel.
‘Afghan crisis, prevention of economic collapse must be top priority’
While drawing attention towards Afghanistan, FM Qureshi said that addressing the humanitarian crisis and preventing a collapse of the Afghan economy must remain the top priority of OIC.
“In doing so, we must encourage and support the efforts of the Afghan authorities to eliminate Daesh. Effective strategies are also needed to deal with other terrorist groups in Afghanistan like Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, ETIM, IMU, and Al-Qaeda.”
He said that the OIC nations together should work to guard against elements involved in destabilizing Afghanistan and using its territory to promote terrorism because “a peaceful, stable, inclusive, prosperous and connected Afghanistan is in the best interest of us all.”
FM Qureshi pledged that Pakistan stands ready to play its part as a bridge-builder in promoting regional and OIC driven solutions to these conflicts and disputes.