The Muslim world amidst the pandemic ! | By Khalid Saleem

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The Muslim world amidst the pandemic !


WOULD the perspicacious reader even recall that an organization like the OIC is still in business? 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. The havoc caused by the corona-virus pandemic appears to have made matters worse.

Instead of helping each other in this hour of need, the members of the OIC appear to be engaged in a competition to make the going difficult for each other.

The richer states appear to be engaged in a competition to make things difficult for those less endowed.

Take the wanton killings in Muslim lands? For that matter, what about the large scale violation of human rights in Muslim territories under occupation? Indian Prime Minister Modi’s mid-night strike in India-occupied Kashmir stands out like a sore thumb.

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 Organization 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, headed at times by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, is all that the OIC can conjure out of its fancy hat.

Neither is of much consequence. After a high sounding tour of the “Contact Group on Kashmir” it is dutifully given out that India has once again refused permission to the Special Representative and his merry band to visit IHK and there the matter rests. 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 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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