OIC Foreign Ministers meeting on Afghanistan | By Sarah Akram


OIC Foreign Ministers meeting on Afghanistan

Pakistan has hosted the 17th extraordinary session of the OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation) Council of Foreign Ministers on the situation in Afghanistan. The OIC is a large multilateral forum with fifty-seven member states from four continents and is meant to be combined voice for the Muslim world.

OIC seeks to bring together the Muslim Ummah into an incorporated body and has aimed at representing the Muslims by espousing a variety of causes close to the hearts of billions of Muslims around the world. The overall outreach of the OIC includes relations with the United Nations as well as other inter-governmental organizations.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia summoned this extraordinary session, in order to find solutions to the dire situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan decided to host this session, owing to the brotherly bonds of brotherhood with neighbouring Afghanistan. Just as Afghanistan reels under the pressure of a looming humanitarian crisis, the country still awaits an international response. The lack of a diplomatic recognition of the Taliban has further exacerbated the crisis as aid cannot reach the country, due to the imposition of sanctions on the Taliban regime.

Sixty per cent of Afghanistan’s thirty eight million people are facing hunger or starvation according to the UN. The crisis in Afghanistan, if not addressed immediately, can have dire consequences for the country itself, its neighbourhood and the region at large. In order to find a solution aimed at averting the ominous humanitarian crisis, this OIC meeting has been called.

Pakistan has assumed a leadership role in the region owing to its part in facilitating the peace talks, to sending humanitarian aid and also facilitating in rescue operations and, above all, coordinating and helping international partners for humanitarian outreach. The country’s steadfast commitment to hosting Afghan refugees for several decades is a testimony to the fact that Pakistan has always worked at every level to ensure the establishment of peace and stability in the region and Afghanistan in particular.

Pakistan has been a strong proponent of a stable and peaceful Afghanistan and its efforts in this regard are evident from the fact that it has offered to host this OIC meeting. In order to highlight the need for finding a solution to the Afghan crisis, this OIC meeting was the need of the hour.

The extraordinary session of the OIC is expected to help find some solution to the crisis in Afghanistan but it may not be forgotten that time is crucial and if a solution is not found, the situation in the country may take a turn for the worst.

Pakistan’s role in this regard is noteworthy as it has been successful in convincing the international community that engagement with Afghanistan is necessary and in everyone’s interest. Although Pakistan’s efforts cannot be called a diplomatic coup as yet, however, Islamabad’s realism and pragmatism in this regard is apparent.

While the OIC Foreign Ministers moot in Islamabad cannot be called a complete success, however, it has taken steps in the right direction and has been successful in bringing to the world’s attention, the plight of the Afghan population and has shed light on the existing challenges in the country. Pakistan has proposed a framework during the OIC meeting to help solve the humanitarian crisis, which includes the creation of a structure to channel humanitarian as well as financial support to Afghanistan in this time of need.

This also includes investment in the people of Afghanistan, by helping in areas like health, education and vocational training, easing the liquidity challenges, enhancing food security and engagement with the Afghan government to help put across the international community’s expectations regarding human rights and terrorism. Pakistan’s diplomatic output is commendable, given the level of engagement that has taken place during this extraordinary meeting.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia pledged one billion riyals in humanitarian aid and among other pledges, the OIC moot also agreed upon the formation of a Humanitarian Trust Fund, under the aegis of the Islamic Development Bank, with the purpose of channelling humanitarian aid to Afghanistan; a much needed initiative.

—The writer is a Research Fellow at the Institute of Strategic Studies, Islamabad.


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