DISCARDING the tendency of making customary statements on such occasions, in his key-note address to the 48th Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Islamabad on Tuesday, Prime Minister Imran Khan made an impassioned call to transform the platform as a strongest and effective voice to help realize its cherished objective of safeguarding and promoting rights and interests of the Muslim Ummah.
He urged Muslim countries to make their own bloc to face challenges, raise strong voice for settlement of the lingering issues of Kashmir and Palestine, focus on protecting Islamic values and family system in the backdrop of digital revolution and proposed a joint strategy with China and other non-partisan countries to help resolve Ukraine conflict.
The OIC has all the ingredients to become a strong bloc to advance strategic and economic interests of Muslims around the globe.
It is the second largest organization after the United Nations representing the aspirations of 1.8 billion Muslims living in all the inhabited continents of the globe.
Its 57 member states occupy a land mass of 31.66 million square kilometres having enormous human and natural resources to take care of the needs of the Muslim Ummah and play a decisive role in world affairs.
The OIC was established in 1969 following the criminal arson of Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied Jerusalem and its Charter, approved in 1972, aims to preserve Islamic social and economic values; promote solidarity amongst member states; increase cooperation in social, economic, cultural, scientific, and political areas; uphold international peace and security and advance education, particularly in the fields of science and technology.
There is no doubt that the organization, despite many odds and challenges, contributed a lot in promoting the cause of the Muslim Ummah but it is a universal consensus that its true potential has yet to be tapped.
High sounding statements and announcements are made after every conference of the organization but there seems to be a lack of required level of commitment to the activities, programmes and plans of the entity by individual countries, especially influential and well-to-do states that have the capability and resources to make it a potent force.
It is because of the inability of the OIC to assert itself that Muslims around the world are at the receiving end and they are victimized and discriminated against, especially in countries where they are in minority.
We are witnessing unending repressive and discriminatory policies against these minorities even in countries that otherwise claim to be champions of the civilized world besides countries like India where they are denied their religious identity and freedom.
The proposition of Prime Minister Imran Khan that the Muslim countries should not drag themselves into bloc politics and rather show their power for bringing peace in the world by establishing their own separate bloc is worth consideration by the OIC.
In fact, we are already like a bloc and what we need is to mobilize/activate this bloc to the optimum to secure and promote the interests of Ummah in an effective manner.
Presently, Muslim countries cannot act independently in global affairs because of their internal weaknesses and economic vulnerabilities.
The OIC countries have the world’s best manpower, plenty of wealth and abundant natural resources and we only need to formulate a coherent strategy to utilize them for individual and collective good.
Be it Kashmir, Palestine, Islamophobia or the challenge of terrorism, our point of view would only be heard by other countries if we address our vulnerabilities and raise collective voice on these issues.
Thanks to the hardwork done by the OIC Secretariat over all these years, spadework has been done and necessary infrastructure created to make the platform vibrant.
There are also specialized organs under the banner of the OIC including the Islamic Development Bank and the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization as well as subsidiary and affiliate organs that play a vital role in boosting cooperation in various fields among the OIC member states but projects and programmes could not be implemented due to lack of commitment on follow-up front and contribution of financial resources by individual states.
We hope the ideas floated by the Pakistan Prime Minister will be considered seriously by future conferences and a plan of action approved to realize the goal of making OIC a powerful bloc.