Is OIC still in business?

Friendly Fire

Khalid Saleem

The recent visit to Pakistan and AJK of the OIC team on Jammu and Kashmir was another exercise in futility (as usual, they could not visit IHK). The old charade has been re-played once again and as usual to no avail. A dispassionate look over the shoulder may well be in order.
Would the reader even recall that an organization like the OIC is still in existence? At the very least, it is apparent that mention of this Islamic forum has disappeared from the front pages. A host of unhappy developments have taken place, most of them in the Muslim world. The OIC appears to have gone into a stupor of sorts, as if it does not exist or – even worse – it does not care. Take the aftermath of the ‘Arab Spring’, or of the wanton killings in Muslim lands?
What about the large scale violation of human rights in Muslim territories under occupation? Need one mention the wanton cruelty of the Indian security forces against the hapless protesting youth of IOK? (For the umpteenth time, the OIC team had been refused visa by the Indian government). Or, to be a bit mundane, what about the poverty and economic deprivation of large segments of the Ummah, given that a small minority is wallowing in petro-dollars? The Muslim world is today in a state of sixes and sevens. Yet, one does not hear a squeak out of the Organisation that prides itself as being the champion of the aspirations of the Muslims around the world!
One of the banes of the OIC – an Organization of sorts comprising some fifty-seven Muslim states – is its Charter in general and the Rules of Business in particular. At no place in the Charter or the Rules of Business is there mention of implementation or even the follow-up of its resolutions and/or decisions. Most decisions that are arrived at by consensus are subsequently ‘lost in implementation’. A fundamental error committed by most Member States is to believe that the ICFM is a sort of mini-UN General Assembly. The governments, thereby, abandon the ICFM to the mercy of their so-called “UN experts”, who love nothing more than listening to their own voices.
What our policy makers fail to realize is that the UN General Assembly is intended to be no more than a talk shop – a fact that is taken advantage of by the mafia of diplomatists of the multilateral genre to add luster to their individual reputations. Resolutions adopted are meant merely to adorn the front pages of local newspapers of the countries of origin of diplomats who tabled them. These resolutions and the eloquent speeches represent mere window-dressing, meant essentially for the benefit of the domestic media. Regrettably, the same scenario is evident in every Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers as well as in each Islamic Summit Conference.
What makes matters worse is the fact that these are not normal times, particularly in so far as the Muslim World is concerned. The Muslim World (Ummah?) is living through a daunting period of tribulations and crises. What a pity then that, far from realizing the gravity of the state of affairs, the OIC as well as its member states appear to be content with playing ducks and drakes with local and regional issues that have long lost their relevance. The issues of life and death that face the Muslim World today are being conveniently brushed under the proverbial rug. When are the Member States of the OIC going to realize that mere adoption of innocuous resolutions in ICFMs does in no way absolve them of their responsibilities? After all, man does not live by resolutions alone. Actions speak louder than words, be they covering endless sheets of parchment.
The brave talk of revitalizing the OIC some time back did generate some hope. Ministrations of the Committee of “Pre-eminent Persons” raised expectations even higher. Nothing tangible came out of the exercise. They did make recommendations some of which were eventually adopted. But this was in the nature of mere cosmetic surgery. What the OIC is in need of is not a superficial emollient, but drastic surgery. The ‘pre-eminent persons’ could deliver only if they had showed the courage to recommend and carry out surgery of drastic proportions. This they evidently failed to do. Short of this, any cursory embellishments would merely scratch the surface, if that.
Nearer home, the “role” of the OIC vis-à-vis the Jammu and Kashmir dispute has left a lot to be desired. An innocuous resolution, added to a wishy-washy ‘Contact Group’, is all that the OIC could conjure out of its fancy hat. Neither is of much consequence. Much has been made of the fact that the OIC Secretary General had nominated a “Special Representative on Jammu and Kashmir”. During each meeting of the “Contact Group on Kashmir” it is dutifully given out that India has once again refused permission for the Special Representative to visit IOK and there the matter rests. The Special Representative on J&K has always been a nondescript official with no clout. No prizes for guessing why India has conveniently got away with its negative attitude for so long!
The lackadaisical attitude adopted by the OIC in the face of such challenges as the US-led incursions into Afghanistan and Iraq has left a bad taste in the mouth. On a wider canvas, one cannot help but look askance at the total lack of concern on the part of the OIC in the face of the widespread campaign of vilification against Muslims and Islam. What makes one feel sadder is the clumsy belated attempt to make some cosmetic changes in the Organization in an effort to spruce up its image. To what avail and to what end? The fact remains that, in the absence of a common, coordinated response, powers-that-be feel free to pick on Muslim countries one by one, with impunity. The OIC has a lot to answer for!
— The writer is a former ambassador and former assistant secretary general of OIC.
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