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FM Qureshi seeks collective response to meet challenges faced by Muslims

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: The Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi urged the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to forge a collective response to meet challenges faced by the Muslim Ummah.

In his opening remarks at the 48th Session of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) in Islamabad on Tuesday, the foreign minister said that the OIC is the collective voice of nearly two billion Muslims, and it is a bridge amongst the Muslim Countries and the International Community.

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Qureshi said that promoting solidarity and cooperation within the Muslim Ummah is one of the central pillars of Pakistan’s foreign policy.

The foreign minister said that Pakistan’s overarching goal as the Chairman of the 48th session of the OIC meeting shall be to further solidify the cooperation amongst the Muslim countries.

Alluding to the situation in Palestine and Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK), Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that the Muslims of Palestine and the occupied Jammu and Kashmir are still reeling under subjugation.

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The foreign minister said that we must go beyond adopting resolutions and take concrete steps towards the permanent solutions of these disputes.

The following are full remarks by the Foreign Minister of Pakistan Shah Mahmood Qureshi at the 48th Session of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers;

 

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“Honorable Prime Minister Imran Khan,

Secretary-General H.E. Hissein Brahim Taha,

Royal Highnesses,

Honorable Foreign Ministers,

Excellencies,

Assalam-o-Alaikum,

I welcome you all to the 48th Session of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers.

It is a matter of pride for us to host this meeting in 2022 which marks the 75th Anniversary of Pakistan’s independence.

We commend the leadership role of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as the OIC Summit Chair.

We also express profound gratitude to the OIC General Secretariat for facilitating this important meeting.

Let me also express our highest appreciation to the Government of Niger for hosting the last CFM and leading the organization during the past year. 

Distinguished delegates,

I am confident that our work during the next two days will be guided by the eternal Islamic values of amity and brotherhood, as embodied in the Quran and the teachings of the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him).

The OIC is the collective voice of nearly 2 billion Muslims. It is a bridge among Muslim nations and between the Muslim world and the international community.

Promoting solidarity and cooperation within the Muslim Ummah is one of the central pillars of Pakistan’s foreign policy. As Chair of the OIC-CFM during 2022-23, Pakistan’s overarching goal shall be to solidify this bridging role further.

Distinguished delegates,

We are witnessing unprecedented turbulence at the global level. Conflict in Ukraine which has rekindled East-West tensions, threatens international peace and security. A new and destabilizing global arms race is underway. Conflicts, among and within nations, have proliferated.

Political and military blocs are vying for more power at the cost of global equilibrium. World trade and growth are declining under the weight of technology wars.

Inequality has become a defining feature of our times. The COVID-19 pandemic has increased inequalities through greater debt burdens, fiscal deficits and liquidity crunch. Rising commodity prices will further accentuate inequalities, erode development gains and hinder progress towards Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Climate Change is accelerating and making parts of our earth inhospitable and warmer than ever.

The Muslim world is faced with conflicts in the Middle East, prolonged foreign occupation, and the denial of the right to self-determination, most notably to the people of Palestine and Kashmir.

The Muslim world’s resentment is increasing due to frequent external interventions in Muslim countries.

Distinguished delegates,

Left unaddressed, these conflicts and disputes undermine our unity and solidarity, expose our countries to foreign interference and intervention, fuel terrorism and extremism, and deflect attention from our development goals and the welfare of our peoples.

To help forge a collective response, and under the theme of “Partnering for Unity, Justice, and Development,” I would like to focus on three specific challenges:

  1. First, partnering for unity by jointly addressing the challenges and conflicts within the Ummah.
  2. Second, uniting for justice for the rights of Muslims under occupation and conflicts with countries beyond our Ummah. This should also include the urgency of addressing the pervasive Islamophobia facing Muslims in non-Muslim majority countries.
  3. Third, partnering for development by effectively addressing the triple global crises of Covid-19, development, and climate change.

Distinguished delegates,

The Holy Quran, says to the believers: “Hold fast all of you, to the cord of Allah and be not divided”

In this era of global turmoil, the situation of Muslims in many parts of the world is heart wrenching. Currently, more than 60 percent of all conflicts in the world exist in Muslim countries.

From Yemen to Syria to the Sahel, the range of conflicts in the Muslim world and their intensity is palpable. These are festering wounds on the body politic of Islam.

More than two-thirds of all refugees worldwide come from just five countries: Syria, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Myanmar, and Somalia. Above all, the Muslim countries are hosting the largest number of refugees.

While we must work to prevent outside interference in the Muslim World, we alone, can find solutions to internal fissures and challenges. The key to ending these conflicts and disputes is comprehensive engagement and cooperation among the Islamic countries.

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

The Islamic world is endowed with both natural and human resources that are unmatchable. We are home to over a quarter of the world’s entire youth. This unparalleled youth bulge is yearning for opportunities and progress. It is a harbinger of innovation, industry and growth. Prime Minister Imran Khan has declared the year 2022 as investment in the youth.

Building on this potential, it is time for the Ummah to forge a collective response to the current turmoil inside its borders and the ongoing global transition. We must be a reliable partner in forging unity, justice, and development across the globe, but not anyone’s accomplice in aggression or domination.

To this end, I propose convening an OIC Ministerial Conference during 2022-2023. This Conference, among others, could assess the need for establishing a peace and security architecture akin to all other regional organizations.

This Conference should also discuss how the OIC can and must strengthen itself by developing and deploying tools for conflict prevention, mediation, reconciliation and peace building.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Partnering for justice is an injunction from the Holy Quran. Allah enjoins Muslims to “be upholders of justice – witnesses for Allah”. 

The vision behind the OIC’s creation was to raise the united voice of Islamic Ummah against the injustices perpetrated against Palestinian Muslims under occupation. But even after 50 years of the OIC’s establishment, we are far from seeing justice for Muslims in many parts of the world.

The Muslims of Palestine and the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) are still reeling under abominable subjugation. For the last seven decades, they have struggled to achieve their inalienable right to self-determination.

Under the relevant United Nations resolutions, a permanent solution to the Palestinian question with the pre-1967 borders and Al-Quds Al-Sharif as the capital of a viable, independent, and contiguous Palestinian State, is essential.

Similarly, Kashmir continues to bleed. The threat of genocide is most imminent in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK). The RSS-BJP Hindutva-inspired government in India has unleashed a reign of terror by an occupation force of 900,000 in IIOJK since 5 August 2019.

Akin to the situation in Palestine, this is accompanied by illegal efforts to change the demographic structure of the occupied territory and transform it into a Muslim minority region. This is a clear violation of international law, particularly the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Indian actions violate the resolutions of the UN Security Council and the OIC on Jammu and Kashmir. These illegal acts increased the threat of a conflict between India and Pakistan. Kashmiris are looking towards their Muslim brothers and sisters for support. 

India’s violence against Muslims is not limited to IIOJK. Civil Society organizations and independent observers have warned that Muslims in Hindutva-controlled India are also living under the threat of genocide.

Our Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) said that believers are “just like one body. When one of the limbs suffers, the whole body responds to it with wakefulness and fever”.

It is incumbent to resolve these challenges by partnering with the international community as well. Beyond adopting resolutions, we must take concrete and tangible steps towards permanent solutions.

A similar resolve and unity is needed in countering the ideologies of hate – such as Islamophobia and right-wing racism. Repeated incidents of desecration of the Holy Quran and reprinting of caricatures have seriously hurt the sentiments of Muslims across the world. They also cause great anguish within the Islamic world.

We welcome the recent designation of 15 March as the “International Day to Combat Islamophobia” by the UN General Assembly. Pakistan is gratified to have played its role in garnering consensus on this important issue. Through the observance of this Day, the OIC will enhance greater global awareness of this pernicious phenomenon and advance solutions through collective action.

The appointment of OIC Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Islamophobia during this CFM, would be a concrete step in coordinating such collective action.

It should be our shared objective to ensure that deliberate insults and defamation of all religions, including Islam, should also be criminalized. And we must be united to achieve this.

I propose that the Secretary-General OIC develop a comprehensive report on the theme of Partnering for Justice and present recommendations to the next OIC CFM on how the OIC, through proactive and innovative diplomacy, could strengthen its role in securing justice for the long-oppressed Muslims facing hateful ideologies and occupation.

Distinguished delegates,

To forge Partnership for Development, the OIC countries must mobilize international support for a comprehensive strategy that should include:

  1. One, vaccine equity. Everyone, everywhere, must be vaccinated against COVID-19,
  2. Two, increased development financing. This can be ensured through comprehensive debt relief and restructuring, expanded ODA, redistribution of at least half of the unutilized SDRs to developing countries, and provision of the promised climate finance.
  3. Third, accelerated climate action. The agreement reached at Glasgow must be the baseline for future discussions. The OIC must call for additional commitments by the international community to achieve the agreed mitigation targets, support for adaptation, and loss and damage in developing countries due to climate change.
  4. Four, the resolute action against illicit financial flows. Corruption and illegal transfer of assets have adversely impacted many Muslim countries, including Pakistan. The OIC countries must develop a comprehensive legal framework to halt and reverse the illicit financial flows and stop this grave economic injustice. We must call for the implementation of the recommendations of the UN Secretary General’s FACTI panel.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Underdevelopment, poverty, and corruption remain serious threats to the future security and stability of our societies. In an era of economic and financial unpredictability, development partnerships among OIC member states would be of vital importance.

OIC Member States have tremendous natural and human resources, which must be utilized effectively, through trade, joint R&D projects, trainings, and investment.

To promote research and technological innovation in the Muslim world, we need to synergize the Muslim scientific and intellectual pool and fully utilize the platform of COMSTECH to achieve the OIC STI Agenda 2026.

We also need to take advantage of a Preferential System Trade among the OIC member states. In this regard, the Framework Agreement needs to be ratified expeditiously by OIC.

We should also come together and build convergences on removing international barriers to development. Our common ground on the need to reform the global economic architecture will strengthen the voices calling to make it equitable.

Distinguished delegates,

Before I conclude, I would like to draw your attention to the situation in Afghanistan. We met in this hall last December for the extraordinary session of the CFM on Afghanistan and made some progress. We succeeded in agreeing on:

  1. Establishing an OIC Humanitarian Trust Fund.
  2. Appointing a Special Envoy of the OIC Secretary General.
  3. Launching an Afghanistan Food Security Programme.
  4. Strengthening OIC’s presence in Afghanistan by reinforcing the OIC Mission in Kabul.

These are all clear and concrete steps, but we need to build on them. Addressing the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan and preventing a collapse of the Afghan economy must remain our top priorities. 

In doing so, we must encourage and support the efforts of the Afghan authorities to eliminate Daesh (IS-K). Effective strategies are also needed to deal with other terrorist groups in Afghanistan like TTP, ETIM, IMU, and Al-Qaida.

We must guard against spoilers that wish to continue destabilizing Afghanistan and using its territory to promote terrorism. A peaceful, stable, inclusive, prosperous and connected Afghanistan is in the best interest of us all.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The time has come for OIC to strengthen and equip itself to address contemporary challenges and conflicts confronting the Muslim Ummah. Pakistan stands ready to play its part as a bridge-builder in promoting regional and OIC driven solutions to these conflicts and disputes.

With the hope and prayer for true OIC unity and solidarity:

I thank you all!”

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