49th OIC Council Of Foreign Ministers Meeting – OpEd
The 49th Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the OIC Member States held on March 16-17, 2023 in Mauritania. The issue of Palestine and Afghanistan dominated overall discussion of the summit. After decades of war, suffering and insecurity, the people of Afghanistan need relief and peace. The OIC being the highest forum of Muslim Ummah should act as a vanguard to address the issue.
Afghanistan has been in a state of turmoil following the takeover of the Taliban in August 2021, and the OIC has expressed its support for the Afghan people and called for the establishment of an inclusive government that respects human rights and ensures stability and security in the country. Similarly, Palestine has been a longstanding issue for the OIC, which has supported the Palestinian people in their struggle for self-determination and the establishment of an independent state. The OIC has called for an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories and for a just and lasting solution to the conflict based on the two-state solution. OIC foreign ministers exchanged views and opinions on how to address these challenges and support the affected populations.
Presence of terrorist groups in Afghanistan is a reality. ISKP, TTP and other groups if not smashed, have the capability to transcend the borders. Joint effort by all including IEA is the remedy. OIC needs to play the lead role. Afghanistan and region can only achieve peace and stability if it is free of terrorists groups operating on its soil. Afghan government needs to realize the sensitivity of the issue. They need to cooperate with the global community in order to bring peace and stability in the country.
If Taliban are advocates of Islamic teachings, they need to understand that education and employment for women is their cardinal right according to Islam. If females are repressive in Afghanistan, this will further isolate Afghanistan. The world is upset on the issues and Afghan government is under lot of pressure for the same. OIC leaders need to persuade Afghan religious rulers and clerics as well to confer this right to women of Afghanistan at an earliest.
Afghanistan is the heart of Asia, connecting different regions mostly Muslim countries, especially Central Asia via Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, South Asia via Pakistan and the Middle East via Iran. Therefore, for success of any regional connectivity initiative; peace and stability in Afghanistan is must. Afghanistan is isolated even after 18 months of coming under Taliban’s rule. OIC needs to encourage the world to engage with Afghan government for a better future of Afghan masses who are the ultimate suffers of diplomatic isolation. Return of Afghan refugees from different countries is a long time pending issue. The war is over in Afghanistan that warrants return of Afghans back to their homes. A time bound strategy needs to be evolved for return of refugees from different countries. This will only be possible if Afghan government is enabled by the world community to absorb the Afghan refugees.
The OIC has been playing and can potentially play in addressing the challenges in Afghanistan and Palestine. The OIC has been actively engaged in supporting the Afghan people and advocating for a peaceful and stable Afghanistan. In September 2021, the OIC issued a statement calling for an inclusive government and urging the international community to support the Afghan people in addressing their humanitarian needs. The OIC has also provided humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan and has supported efforts to promote dialogue and reconciliation among different factions.
In the case of Palestine, the OIC has been a vocal advocate for the Palestinian cause, supporting the establishment of an independent Palestinian state and condemning Israeli policies that violate international law and Palestinian rights. The OIC has also provided financial and humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people and has supported efforts to achieve a just and lasting peace in the region.
The OIC can continue to play a role in addressing the challenges in Afghanistan and Palestine by engaging with relevant stakeholders, including the Afghan and Palestinian authorities, the international community, and civil society organizations, to promote dialogue, reconciliation, and stability in both countries. The OIC can also continue to provide humanitarian assistance and support to the affected populations, and advocate for their rights and interests on the global stage.
The writer is Islamabad based expert of strategic affairs