Virtual Meeting of OIC Contact Group on Jammu & Kashmir

By: Atiq-ur-Rehman

The Contact Group of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on Jammu & Kashmir held a emergency virtual meeting on June 22, 2020 against the back drop of the situation in Jammu & Kashmir on the request of Pakistan. OIC Secretary General Dr. Yousef bin Ahmad Al-Othaimeen, Foreign Minister of Pakistan Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan, Niger Ambassador Abubakar Hassan and Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to OIC Ambassador Rizwan Shiekh, APHC Convener Syed Faiz Naqshbandi and Executive Director OIC-Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC) Mr. Marghoob Butt, attended the meeting and spoke at the occasion. Before I go into the details of this virtual meeting, let me shine a light on OIC that when and why it was established and to which extent it has been remained successful in attaining its goals. OIC was founded on September 25, 1969 when leaders of Muslim Nations met in a Rebat-Morocco. It was formed as a symbol of Islamic unity and integrity of the Muslim World. It is currently an alliance of 57 countries located in Western Asia and in Western Africa. All member states comprise a total area of 31.66 million KM square with a collective population of 1.82 billion people. It is the second largest inter governmental organization after the United Nations spread over four continents. It is considered as the collective voice of the Muslim World and works to safeguard and protect the interests of the Muslim World encompassing economic, social, cultural, scientific and political areas. If we analyze impartially its achievements, it has met with certain successes vis-à-vis economic cooperation among its member states. Islamic Development Bank which is subsidiary of OIC has played a significant role in the development of OIC countries especially under developed Muslim Countries. But so far the political challenges faced by Muslim Ummah are concerned OIC couldn’t get through a lot or succeed enormously. Palestine, Kashmir, issues are still unresolved which is a stark question mark on OIC performance. Now let’s come to the details of virtual emergency meeting of the OIC Contact Group on Jammu & Kashmir. As I mentioned earlier that the meeting was attended by OIC Secretary General, Foreign Ministers of Pakistan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Azerbaijan, Niger and President of Azad Jammu & Kashmir along with APHC leaders. While addressing the meeting Sardar Masood Khan, President of Azad Jammu & Kashmir has proposed a ban on import of the non-Halal meat and all non-Halal products into the member nations of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). He also called on the OIC leadership to initiate a Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against India and establish a Kashmir Humanitarian Fund with the help of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) and the Islamic Solidarity Fund (ISF). After sharing the harrowing details of the human rights situation in Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IOJK), Sardar Masood Khan urged the OIC leadership to urgently send a message to the UN Secretary General to immediately appoint a Special Envoy on Jammu and Kashmir and request the UN Security Council to hold result-oriented meetings to implement its relevant Kashmir resolutions. The President also said it was high time the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights revived the proposal for establishing a Commission of Inquiry (CoI) to investigate the gross and consistent human rights violations in IOJK. The President informed the Islamic Foreign Minister that “the situation is dire” and that “under the cover of Covid-19, every day dozens of Kashmiris are being martyred by occupation forces in staged encounters. Floodgates for new Hindu settlers from all over India have been opened, while Kashmiris are running from pillar to post to prove that their homeland is theirs”. Briefing OIC Foreign Ministers about the radical steps taken by Indian authorities to change the demography of the occupied territory, President Masood Khan said, “This is settler colonialism in full swing. The new settlers now qualify for half a million jobs that used to be reserved for Kashmiris”. He appealed to international community and multilateral chambers to hear the screams of Kashmiris. “First thing first, stop carnage and the biggest land grab in the 21st century taking place right before our eyes”, said Masood Khan. The AJK President compared the New Domicile Rules to the Nazi and Israel practices in Germany and Palestine, respectively. “This is a replication of the Israeli settlements in the West Bank. This is a revival of the Nazi Party’s 1935 Nuremberg laws”, said the AJK President. Highlighting the enormity of the egregious human rights violations in IOJK, President Masood Khan pointed out that some 13,000 boys were being tortured in concentration camps; women were being raped and molested; and demonstrators were being blinded and maimed. “The occupied territory has been torn asunder into two parts, without the consent of its people, and now it is being ruled directly like a colony by Delhi. This is imperialism”, the AJK President said. He added that this is a story of disenfranchisement, dispossession and displacement. This is naked lebensraum, irredentism and expansionism being executed thorough state terrorism. President Masood Khan further underlined that the BJP-RSS religious supremacist doctrine is anti-Muslim, anti-Arab and anti-Kashmir. He added that its sole purpose was to wage a civilisational war against Islam and other monotheistic faiths to “cleanse” India. India hurls false accusations of terrorism against Pakistan to hide its genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crime against humanity perpetrated by it in IOJK. The President stated with full authority that there were no “launch pads” in AJK and that no fighters were being sent across the Line of Control. He said, “The Indian propagandists lie through the teeth, taking a leaf from Goebbels playbook”. The AJK President also briefed the Foreign Ministers about the war psychosis whipped up by India and its threats to attack AJK and Gilgit-Baltistan militarily. “Their Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) has twice threatened to wipe out Pakistan by the use of nuclear weapons”, he said. Despite these threats, he said, the people of Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan remain undeterred, and Kashmiris have vowed that they will continue their peaceful struggle for freedom, liberty and self-determination in accordance with the UN Security Council resolutions. The President appealed to the OIC Heads of State and Government to put pressure on India to respect the right to self-determination of the Kashmiri people recognized by international law and the international community; restore the disputed status of IOJK; stop forthwith illegal settlements in Kashmir; and reinstate Kashmiris’ rights to life, permanent residence, ownership of property, livelihoods and education – all protected under international law. President Masood Khan thanked the OIC, its IPHRC, the European Parliament and the UN Secretary General for their recent statements for the protection of the human rights of the Kashmiris. The Foreign Minister of Pakistan Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that this virtual interaction would help us take stock of the deteriorating humanitarian and human rights situation in Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IOJ&K) and formulate a way forward. Mr. Qureshi went on to say that the current Indian leadership remains bent upon perpetuating India’s illegal occupation of Jammu & Kashmir. The “Hindutwa” agenda of RSS-BJP combined is deliberately targeting defenseless Kashmiris with unspeakable violence to break their will. Mr. Qureshi further said, that it was highly reprehensible that while the world community was grappling with COVID-19 pandemic, India remains busy intensifying its brutalization of the Kashmiri people. He added the RSS-inspired BJP government has refused to respond to the appeals of the UN Secretary General and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to release political and other prisoners at risk in crowded Jails. Senior Hurriyet leaders remain incarcerated, with Syed Ali Shah Gillani under house arrest for more than 10 years. He commended the OIC’s Contact Group has done valuable work in galvanizing world attention to the worsening situation in IOJ&K. the recent visit of the Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Jammu and Kashmir to Pakistan and Azad Kashmir was another manifestation of the OIC’s solidarity with the Kashmiri people. He requested the Excellencies’ active support in raising the issue at various international for a, including the UN and Human Rights Council (HRC) through the OIC platform. OIC Secretary General Dr. Yousef bin Ahmad Al-Othaimeen while inaugurating meeting stressed the OIC’s commitment to finding a peaceful settlement for the Jammu and Kashmir issue as per the relevant resolutions of the Islamic Summit, the Council of Foreign Ministers, and the International legitimacy. “At the same time, he called on the International Community to strengthen its efforts to assist the people of Kashmir to decisively practice their legitimate rights denied for decades”. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said plight of Jammu & Kashmir continues and recent unilateral and illegal actions taken by India were against International conventions, UN resolutions and International Laws. He further said that International silence upon these Indian actions was tantamount to encourage India. He further condemned discriminatory and controversial citizenship act of India. While speaking the meeting Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said egregious human rights violations are taking place in Indian Occupied Kashmir. He said OIC had issued a very strong statement on these horrendous developments in Jammu & Kashmir. He stressed upon the peaceful resolution of this long outstanding issue of Kashmir. The Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan said that situation in Kashmir is very critical and his country has strongly condemned recent Indian steps. He stressed upon the early resolution of the Kashmir issue. While addressing the OIC Contact group meeting, the Ambassador of Niger Abu Bakar Hassan highlighted the horrible situation of Palestine, Jammu Kashmir, Syria, Libya and emphasized to raise the voice on the international forum against recent Indian appalling actions. The OIC Contact Group also issued a communiqué at the conclusion of the Emergency Meeting.