By Dr Jumma Khan Marri
The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) held in Niamey Niger, has unanimously adopted a resolution condemning India’s illegal action of revoking Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir’s (IIOJK) autonomous status and its various steps to change the demography of the Muslim-majority region. In a Resolution adopted unanimously by the 47th Session of the OIC in Niamey, the Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) reaffirmed its strong support for the Kashmir cause. The OIC in its resolution also categorically rejected illegal and unilateral actions taken by the Indian government in occupied territory since August 5, 2019.
Weeks before Niamey conclave there was a spate of conflicting reports and rumours that Kashmir was not on the agenda of the OIC foreign Ministers Conference. Slanted and speculative news items were also published by a section of the media to the effect that in view of Indian pressure the OIC had decided not to take up the issue of Kashmir at its scheduled meeting.
But, as it turned out later, this was no more than empty kite flying and a cleverly devised disinformation campaign orchestrated by New Delhi to demoralise Pakistan and indirectly defame the OIC. Taking notice of the hostile propaganda, Pakistan, on the eve of the Council of Foreign Ministers’ session, approached the OIC Contact Group on Jammu and Kashmir for holding an emergency Foreign Ministerial meeting via video conference to discuss the worsening situation in IOJ&K. The Foreign Ministers of other Contact Group member countries, i.e Azerbaijan, Niger, KSA and Turkey and the representatives of the OIC-Independent Permanent HR Commission (IPHRC) responded positively to the initiative.
It is important to note here that the OIC Foreign Ministers conference came at a critical juncture—at a time when the Indian occupation forces in IIOJ&K have stepped up their military operations against the people of Kashmir, especially targeting the youth and women. India has callously exploited the current COVID-19 pandemic to intensify its military crackdown and further consolidate its unlawful occupation in IIOJK.
Analysts have rightly described the stand articulated by the OIC conference on Kashmir as a diplomatic victory for Pakistan. Pakistan, as a leading member of the Organisation, took the occasion to apprise the participants on the latest situation in the Occupied Valley. Expressing solidarity with the suffering people of Kashmir, the OIC conference adopted a strongly worded resolution, asking India to cancel the issuance of domicile certificates to non-Kashmiris as well as other unilateral and illegal actions, including ‘Jammu & Kashmir Reorganisation Order 2020’, ‘Jammu & Kashmir Grant of Domicile Certificate Rules 2020’, ‘Jammu and Kashmir Language Bill 2020’ and amendments to the landownership laws designed to convert the Muslim majority into a minority. In this regard, India has been asked to refrain from taking any steps to alter the existing demographic structure of the disputed territory in violation of international humanitarian laws.
The OIC also condemned in the strongest possible terms the human rights violations perpetrated by Indian army and police in the occupied territory and other acts of Indian barbarism that have caused unspeakable suffering to the innocent Kashmiri people. Deploring the state-sponsored terrorism and crimes committed by Indian occupation forces against people of IIOJK, the alliance of Muslim countries censured extra-judicial killings during fake ‘encounters’ and ‘search-and-cordon’ operations and demolition of homes and private properties as crimes against humanity. The OIC Foreign Ministers also reaffirmed the views expressed in the unanimously-adopted Communiqués of the OIC Contact Group on Jammu and Kashmir in its Ministerial meetings held on September 25, 2019 and June 22, 2020.
Among other things, the OIC document urged India to fulfil its international human rights obligations and allow the OIC special representative on Jammu and Kashmir and the OIC Fact-finding Mission to visit IIOJK. It also strongly urged India to implement recommendations of the two reports of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on Jammu and Kashmir and called upon the international community to review their engagements with India and call it to account for disregarding the international humanitarian laws and UN resolutions.
The Niamey Conclave has once again proved that the question of Kashmir is of utmost importance for the Muslim Ummah which recognises that Jammu and Kashmir as the core dispute between Pakistan and India, and its just resolution is indispensable for the establishment of durable peace in South Asia. The official statement said OIC summit also acknowledged that the people of Jammu and Kashmir are the principal party to the dispute, and they should be included in any peace dialogue process to determine their future. The Kashmir dispute which is basically a question of granting the right of self-determination to the people of occupied valley has been on the agenda of the United Nations Security Council for over seven decades now.
In recent months India has been widely criticised by various human rights organisations for its atrocities against minorities, particularly Muslims in India and the people of Kashmir. Today, India is isolated due to its aggressive policies and disputes with almost all neighbouring countries. As pointed out by many foreign observers, the UN and all big powers must take serious notice of India’s intransigent policy on Kashmir which poses a serious threat to peace in the region. The OIC too should follow up its resolution on Kashmir by concrete actions such as raising the issue at the UN and sending a delegation to New Delhi to probe human rights abuses against the oppressed people of the Occupied Valley.