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Criticism of Policies on Kashmir: OIC

  • 02 Dec 2020
  • 8 min read

Why in News

India has ‘strongly’ rejected the criticism of its Kashmir policy by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

  • The 47th session of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers, held at Niamey (Niger), had made a reference to India over its policies on Jammu and Kashmir.

Organisation of Islamic Cooperation

  • OIC is the second largest intergovernmental organization after the United Nations with a membership of 57 states.
    • India is not a member of the OIC.
  • It is the collective voice of the Muslim world. It endeavors to safeguard and protect the interests of the Muslim world in the spirit of promoting international peace and harmony among various people of the world.
  • It was established upon a decision of the historical summit which took place in Rabat, Kingdom of Morocco, in 1969.
  • Headquarters: Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Key Points

  • 47th Session of OIC: A report submitted at the 47th session referred to the situation in Jammu and Kashmir.
    • It said that the decision of the Indian government to repeal special status (in 2019) was aimed towards changing the demographic and geographic composition of the territory.
    • The continuous blockade and restrictions together have led to human rights abuses.
    • The statement acknowledged the support that Pakistan has been providing to keep the Kashmir issue on the agenda of the organisation.
  • India’s Stand:
    • India strongly hit out at the OIC, accusing it of making "factually incorrect and unwarranted" references to Jammu and Kashmir in resolutions adopted by the grouping at the session.
    • India asserted that the union territory is an integral and inalienable part of the country.
    • India advised the OIC to refrain from making such references in future and said it is regrettable that the grouping continues to allow itself to be used by a certain country "which has an abominable record on religious tolerance, radicalism and persecution of minorities" in a clear reference to Pakistan.
      • After India revoked special status in Kashmir, Pakistan lobbied with the OIC for their condemnation of the move.
      • Over the last one year, Pakistan has tried to rouse sentiments among the Islamic countries, but only a handful of them, Turkey and Malaysia publicly criticised India.
        • Saudi Arabia and the UAE, both top leaders among the Muslim countries, were not as critical of India as Pakistan had hoped.
  • Significance of India’s latest statement:
    • India believes to bust the double standard of OIC, where it supports the agenda of Pakistan in the name of human rights.
    • India now sees the duality of the OIC unjustifiable, since many of the member countries of the OIC have good bilateral ties and convey to India to ignore OIC statements but sign off on the joint statements which are largely drafted by Pakistan.
    • India also wants to challenge this issue because of the possibility of the Joe Biden administration in the US which may have a strong view on human rights in Kashmir and may issue statements that may complicate India’s image at the global stage.
    • With India preparing to take over a non-permanent member’s seat at the UN Security Council, it wants to use its diplomatic clout and goodwill to bury this issue at the global body in the next two years and bring up the Pakistan-sponsored cross-border terrorism high on agenda.

India and OIC

  • India’s relationship with OIC as an organisation:
    • At the 45th session of the Foreign Ministers’ Summit in 2018, Bangladesh, the host, suggested that India, where more than 10% of the world’s Muslims live, should be given Observer status, but Pakistan opposed the proposal.
    • In 2019, India made its maiden appearance at the OIC Foreign Ministers’ meeting, as a “guest of honour”.
      • This first-time invitation was seen as a diplomatic victory for India, especially at a time of heightened tensions with Pakistan following the Pulwama attack.
  • Criticism of India's Policies by OIC:
    • It has been generally supportive of Pakistan’s stand on Kashmir, and has issued statements criticising the alleged Indian “atrocities” in the state/Union Territory.
      • In 2018, the OIC General Secretariat had “expressed strong condemnation of the killing of innocent Kashmiris by Indian forces in Indian-occupied Kashmir”.
      • It described the “direct shooting at demonstrators” as a “terrorist act”, and “called upon the international community to play its role in order to reach a just and lasting solution to the conflict in Kashmir”.
    • OIC has criticised the Government of India over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, and the Babri Masjid verdict of the Supreme Court.
    • OIC has also criticised the Indian government for what it called “growing Islamophobia” in India.
  • India’s Response:
    • India has always maintained that OIC has no locus standi in matters strictly internal to India including that of Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir which is an integral and inalienable part of India.
  • India’s relationship with OIC member countries:
    • Individually, India has good relations with almost all member nations.
    • Ties with the UAE and Saudi Arabia, especially, have improved significantly in recent years.
      • The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi (UAE) was a special chief guest at the 68th Republic Day celebrations in 2017.
    • The OIC includes two of India’s close neighbours, Bangladesh and Maldives.
      • Indian diplomats say both countries privately admit that they do not want to complicate their bilateral ties with India on Kashmir.

Source:TH

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