OIC urged to press India on Kashmir issue
Published: Jun 30, 2011 23:23 Updated: Jun 30, 2011 23:23
ASTANA, Kazakhstan: A delegation representing Kashmiri interests urged members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to keep the disputed territory in mind while expanding economic ties with India.
“It is important for prominent Muslim states that have either close economic ties or are intending to forge new ties with India to remind New Delhi of their apprehensions of what is happening in that part of Kashmir that is occupied by India,” said Ghulam Muhammad Safi of Kashmir’s separatist All Parties Hurriyat Conference (Geelani).
“The situation on the ground is very deplorable. Kashmiris continue to suffer at the hands of the occupation forces,” Safi said at the OIC foreign ministers meeting in Astana. “We have documented a number of grave human rights violations that have been committed in recent days and submitted them to the OIC,” he said.
The Kashmiri delegation was led by Srinagar-based Agha Syed Hassan Mousavi representing Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and included Ghulam-Nabi Fai, executive director of the Kashmiri American Council; Abdul Majid Tramboo of the ICHR Kashmir Center in Brussels; and Nazir Ahmad Shawl, Justice Foundation executive director of the London-based Kashmir Center.
During his meeting with the Kashmiri leaders, OIC Secretary-General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu reaffirmed his organization’s “total support for the Kashmiri people and their legitimate struggle for legitimate right to self-determination.”
He also welcomed the resumption of dialogue between Pakistan and India to achieve a just and peaceful resolution of the longstanding issue.
With 160 million Muslim citizens, India has about 10 percent of the world Muslim population. India is neither a member of OIC nor does it have observer status. India's entry into OIC has been opposed repeatedly by Pakistan, and New Delhi itself has developed an anathema to the organization.
Statements coming out of the OIC foreign ministers meeting referring to Kashmir as "occupied territory" drew a sharp response from Indian federal minister Farooq Abdullah.
“The OIC has no jurisdiction as far as we are concerned; therefore, its view does not make any difference, and all members of the OIC are not part of this game that is being played. There are interested parties who want to create a problem, but India knows where we stand,” Abdullah told journalists in India. He suggested the OIC set its own house in order.
“Why doesn’t the OIC worry about the problems in Arab countries? Why aren’t they looking into what is happening in Libya, what is happening in Iraq, what is happening in Afghanistan, what is happening in Palestine and Israel, and now Syria? Why don't they stop those conflicts rather than worry about India. Let them set their own house right, rather than worry about other countries.”
“The OIC is not an organization of only Arab countries,” said Justice Foundation’s Shawl. “It represents the entire Ummah, and Kashmir happens to be part of this Ummah, so it has every right to take notice of the pain and agony of the suffering people of Jammu and Kashmir.”
Fai of the Kashmiri American Council noted the issue was a global one.
“World leaders, such as Russia’s Vladimir Putin and America’s Barack Obama, have expressed their concern at what is happening in Kashmir, and the OIC is simply reiterating the sentiments of the world powers that see the resolution of Kashmir essential for bringing peace and stability to the region of South Asia that includes India, Pakistan and Afghanistan.”
“The OIC countries realize and acknowledge that Kashmir is part of the Muslim Ummah and that what is happening there is a cause for concern for the entire Muslim world,” said Safi. "Abdullah's remark clearly indicates that India is beginning to feel the pressure."