By Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam
New Delhi has done well to reject observations made by the Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC) on Kashmir calling it a burning political dispute and reiterate that ‘Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India’. It is customary for OIC to make references to the State in a rather gratuitous manner, without showing any concern for the interests of over 150 million Muslims living in India peacefully and participating in all walks of life.
It would be best if OIC were to leave Indian Muslims including Kashmiris to live in peace and not create problems for them by focussing attention on them as separatists or supporters of secessionism. If it can’t do them any good it should at least leave them in peace. One would have felt greater respect for OIC if it focussed attention on encouraging Muslim countries to treat their minorities better: this would automatically strengthen the case of Muslims living as minorities in non-Muslim majority lands. India is the only major non-Muslim majority country to allow Muslims not only full share in its socio-economic life but also to live their family life in accordance with their religious laws. Let us not forget that no other major country, democratic or otherwise allows Muslims this luxury of managing their family life according to Muslim Personal Law.
India has done well to reject the comments on Jammu and Kashmir in the final document of the recent OIC summit at Dakar, Senegal, saying the forum has no locus standi in matters concerning its internal affairs. The Secretary General of the 57-member organisation, Ekmeleddin Ibsanoglu, described Kashmir as a pressing and burning political dispute. Noting with “regret” the reference to Kashmir in the document that followed the summit on March 13 and 14, a Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson said, “The OIC has no locus standi in matters concerning our internal affairs, including Jammu and Kashmir, which is an integral part of India. We strongly reject all such comments. It is customary for the OIC to make such references to the State.”
India also took strong exception to the OIC’s “concern” over the “alarming increase in indiscriminate use of force and gross violation of human rights committed against innocent Kashmiris” and regret that India was not allowing a fact- finding mission to visit the State. Unfortunately, the OIC’s comments come at a time when violence is at a lower level than five years ago and the State it is gearing for Assembly polls. Apparently OIC is not conversant with the realities on the ground in Kashmir.
India is also displeased with good reason with a resolution that said New Delhi was “maligning” the “legitimate” Kashmiri freedom struggle by “denigrating” it as terrorism. This is strange as even according to the recent definition of the Ulema convention at Deoband attended by tens of thousands clerics the killing of innocents that has been going on in Kashmir for some time is to be considered terrorism.
The MEA also has reasons to believe that the resolution is lopsided as it showered encomiums on Pakistan for moving towards a peaceful settlement while remaining silent on India’s contribution to several joint initiatives. The OIC doesn’t seem to understand that Pakistan has no policy on Kashmir beyond seeking to embarrass India in international fora, now that its previous policy of forcing India to the negotiating table by exerting pressure of the so-called “Jihad” has failed, having taken the lives of tens of thousands of Kashmiris and other Indians.
The OIC, however, showed some sense too. A resolution at the summit welcomed the composite dialogue between India and Pakistan as also the opening of the bus service between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad. It also welcomed the fact that leaders of both countries agreed to build on convergences and narrow down the divergences in the joint search for mutually acceptable options for a negotiated peaceful settlement of issues, including Jammu and Kashmir, in a sincere and purposeful manner.