Kashmiri Muslims protesting against Indian rule, October 18, 2009
One needs to note the dates first. A Pakistani national, Sharifuddin Pirzada, held the post of secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Conference from January 1, 1985 to December 31, 1988. Pirzada finished his tenure during the period Benazir Bhutto assumed power, when the Soviets were in the throes of a humiliating defeat in Afghanistan, the two-pronged, Pak-engineered ‘proxy-war’ was at its peak in the Indian Punjab, and seeds of Operation Kashmir were sown in India.
One is aware of the mysterious, hidden hand of Pakistan operating ceaselessly from an international platform in order to emphasize “Islamic social and economic values; and promote solidarity amongst member states.” The Pakistani game plan is simple: to show India in a poor light and mobilize opinion to form a united front to destroy, destabilize and debilitate the Indian State, military, and all that the potentially strong, mighty and prosperous India stands for, its inherent faultlines, social tensions and political aberrations notwithstanding.
The recent appointment of a special envoy for Jammu and Kashmir — a Saudi national, Abdullah Bin Abdul Rahman Al Bakr — by the OIC at its meeting in New York thus comes as no surprise. Understandably, the Indian spokesperson, Vishnu Prakash, retaliated, “It is regrettable that the OIC has commented on India’s internal affairs. We condemn and reject this. Inherent in OIC’s statements and actions on the issue of Jammu and Kashmir is a complete inability to understand India’s position.”
Indeed, the OIC is unlikely to take any stand in consonance with diplomatic norms and international law as it continues to be guided by terrorist-breeding and terror-ridden navigators of a South Asian nation in disarray. One regrets using strong words against one’s neighbour. But in hindsight, one feels it to be one’s duty to put the record straight for readers to make their judgment.
The OIC began its journey with 25 nations on board in the Moroccan capital of Rabat on September 25, 1969. Old-timers may recall the valiant antiques of the then Indian ambassador to Morocco, trying a forced entry into the meeting ‘uninvited’, thereby creating a flutter and attracting international curiosity. Forty years down, the OIC’s strength stands at 57, with steady additions over the years: five (Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Syria and the UAE) in 1970; one in 1972 (Sierra Leone); five (Bangladesh, Gabon, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau and Uganda) in 1974; two (Burkina Faso and Cameroon) in 1975 ; three (Comoros, Iraq and Maldives) in 1976; Djibouti in 1978; Benin (1982); Brunei (1984); Nigeria (1986); Azerbaijan (1991); Albania, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan (1992); Mozambique (1994); Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan (1995); Suriname (1996); and Togo, Guyana and Ivory Coast in 1997, 1998 and 2001 respectively. With a permanent secretariat based in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, the current secretary-general of OIC, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, hails from the sole secular Muslim-majority state of Turkey.
As far as India is concerned, the OIC does not have any direct bearing as such; nevertheless, indirect factors could have a domino effect on New Delhi, giving a nasty blow from time to time on two favourite topics: the plight of the minority community in India, and human rights violations in Kashmir. Not surprisingly, the fulcrum of the OIC in India is the ‘Kashmir and Hindu obsessed’ Pakistan, whose present leaders devoutly follow the guidelines laid down by their 19th century predecessor, Syed Ahmed Khan, who stipulated, on March 14, 1888: “Then who would rule India? Is it possible that... two nations — the Mohameddans and [the] Hindus — could sit on the same throne and remain equal in power? Most certainly not. It is necessary that one of them should conquer the other and thrust it down. To hope that both could remain equal is to desire the impossible and inconceivable... if we join the political movement of the Bengalis our nation will reap loss, for we do not want to become subjects of the Hindus instead of the subjects of the ‘people of the Book’”.
In fact, the psyche of the Pakistanis manipulating and manoeuvring the OIC from behind the lines can be well assessed if one recalls these words by Mohammad Ali (one of the Ali brothers of Khilafat movement) written two days before he died to the British prime minister on January 1, 1931: “A community that in India must now be numbering more than 70 millions cannot easily be called a minority in the sense of Geneva minorities, and when it is remembered that this community numbers nearly 400 million throughout the world, whose ambition is to convert the rest of mankind to their way of thought and their outlook on life, and who claim and feel a unique brotherhood, to talk of it as a minority is a mere absurdity.” The utterances were for a separate nation. That separate nation has come to stay. It is now the bounden duty of that nation to subjugate a non-religious neighbouring nation through religious coercion of a diplomatic shield.
Kashmir first appeared on the agenda of the ninth Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers of the OIC at Dakar on April 24, 1978, at the behest of the Pakistani foreign minister, Agha Shahi. It became a staple Pakistani item since the 19th ICFM was held in Cairo in August 1990. Interestingly, the proxy war of Kashmir had begun earlier, in 1989, by Benazir Bhutto, the ostensible friend of India.
The pet words used by Islamabad — ‘reign of terror let loose on the Muslims of Kashmir by Indian forces’ — are repeated with a regular monotony. However, at the Istanbul meet of the ICFM, in August 1991, came the OIC resolution endorsing the Pakistani position on Kashmir. Understandably, India reacted strongly to the “pro-Pakistan resolution” and rejected all suggestions for “good offices mission or fact-finding mission to Kashmir from abroad”. The Pakistani prime minister added his own bit at the OIC summit in Dakar in December 1991, suggesting that the “dispute on Kashmir was the greatest single potential threat to peace and security in South Asia.” It was in the seventh OIC summit in Casablanca, in December 1994, that the chairman of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, was allowed to address the OIC for the first time.
It is in this backdrop that the role of Islamabad in the OIC can be understood. One can even see why the Hurriyat chairman hailed the appointment of the OIC assistant secretary-general, Abdullah Bin Abdul Rahman Al Bakr, as special envoy to Jammu and Kashmir. If the Nato and the International Security Assistance Force, led by Barack Obama, can have Richard Holbrooke as special envoy to Af-Pak, can Islamabad remain behind by not appointing an Arab national of the OIC as in-charge of the internal affairs of non-OIC, non-Muslim India? To use a Russian word as answer to an Asian problem: Niet.