OIC’s Proposal on India and Pakistan
Recently, the Ministry of External Affairs rejected the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation’s (OIC) proposal to assist a dialogue between India and Pakistan.
Earlier in December 2020, India also rejected the criticism of its Kashmir policy by the OIC.
Organisation of Islamic Cooperation
• OIC was established on the 25th of September 1969 when an Islamic Conference took place with 24 members. The catalyst that led to this conference was a fire on the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.
• The OIC was officially founded in 1972.
• It is the second largest intergovernmental organization after the United Nations (UN) with a membership of 57 states spread over 4 continents..
• Its official languages are Arabic, English and French.
• The membership spans roughly 1.81 million people.
• It is the collective voice of the Muslim world. It endeavours to safeguard and protect the interests of the Muslim world in the spirit of promoting international peace and harmony among various people of the world.
• OIC expresses solidarity with conflict-hit Muslim regions such as Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Bosnia, as well as with the peoples of the Turkish Cypriot state, Kosovo and Jammu and Kashmir.
• There are OIC permanent delegations to the UN and the EU.
• The OIC has many organs and universities under its wing.
• India is not a member of the OIC.
• Headquarters: Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
• There are 56 members in the OIC today. 56 of them are in the UN as well.
• Pakistan is a founding member.
• Palestine is also a member of the OIC (it is not a member of the UN).
• Not all members are Muslim-majority ones although they have a significant Muslim population. (E.g. Countries in West Africa and South America).
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Central African Republic
- Northern Cyprus (Turkish Cypriot State)
Observer International Organisations
- League of Arab States
- African Union
- Economic Cooperation Organisation.
• Offered to arrange a meeting between India and Pakistan and proposed to send a delegation to Jammu & Kashmir in line with resolutions of the OIC council of foreign ministers.
• Pakistan has repeatedly sought to raise the Kashmir issue at the OIC against the backdrop of India’s dramatically improved relations with several key players in West Asia and in the Islamic organisation, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar, Indonesia and Bangladesh.
• The OIC should be watchful that their platform is not subverted by “vested interests” such as Pakistan to interfere in internal affairs of India or for anti-India propaganda through biased and one-sided resolutions.
India’s relationship with OIC as an organisation:
• At the 45th session of the Foreign Ministers’ Summit in 2018, Bangladesh, the host, suggested that India, where more than 10% of the world’s Muslims live, should be given Observer status, but Pakistan opposed the proposal.
• In 2019, India made its maiden appearance at the OIC Foreign Ministers’ meeting, as a “guest of honour”.
• This first-time invitation was seen as a diplomatic victory for India, especially at a time of heightened tensions with Pakistan following the Pulwama attack.
Criticism of India’s Policies by OIC:
• It has been generally supportive of Pakistan’s stand on Kashmir, and has issued statements criticising the alleged Indian “atrocities” in the state/Union Territory.
• In 2018, the OIC General Secretariat had “expressed strong condemnation of the killing of innocent Kashmiris by Indian forces in Indian-occupied Kashmir”.
• It described the “direct shooting at demonstrators” as a “terrorist act”, and “called upon the international community to play its role in order to reach a just and lasting solution to the conflict in Kashmir”.
• OIC has criticised the Government of India over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, and the Babri Masjid verdict of the Supreme Court.
• OIC has also criticised the Indian government for what it called “growing Islamophobia” in India.
• India has always maintained that OIC has no locus standi in matters strictly internal to India including that of Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir which is an integral and inalienable part of India.
India’s relationship with OIC member countries:
• Individually, India has good relations with almost all member nations.
• Ties with the UAE and Saudi Arabia, especially, have improved significantly in recent years.
• The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi (UAE) was a special chief guest at the 68th Republic Day celebrations in 2017.
• The OIC includes two of India’s close neighbours, Bangladesh and Maldives.
• Indian diplomats say both countries privately admit that they do not want to complicate their bilateral ties with India on Kashmir.
Gulf Cooperation Council
• GCC was established by an agreement concluded in 1981 among Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and UAE in view of their special relations, geographic proximity, similar political systems based on Islamic beliefs, joint destiny and common objectives.
• The structure of the GCC consists of the Supreme Council (the highest authority), the Ministerial Council and the Secretariat General.
• The Secretariat is located in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
• It is a political, economic, social, and regional organisation according to its charter.
India’s Relations with the GCC
- The governments of the GCC members are India-friendly and Indian-friendly.
- The Prime MInister of India has received the ‘Order of Zayed’, the highest civilian order of the UAE and the ‘King Hamad Order of the Renaissance’, the third-highest civilian order of Bahrain.
- In the recent past, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have not adopted hostile posture to India’s domestic developments such as removing the special status for Jammu & Kashmir under Article 370.
- The GCC states are among India’s key suppliers of energy, and annual remittances from Indians in these countries are worth an estimated USD 4.8 billion.
- The United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia are India’s third and fourth-largest trading partners respectively and the total bilateral trade of the GCC countries with India for the year 2018-19 stood at USD 121.34 billion.
- UAE also features in the top 10 sources of FDI inflows into India.
- Both India and the GCC are members of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
- Apart from the participation of Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait, and others in India’s mega multilateral Milan Exercise, India also has bilateral exercises with most of them.
- India and Oman hold annual bilateral exercises across all three wings of the armed forces (Army Exercise ‘Al Najah’, Air Force Exercise ‘Eastern Bridge’, Naval Exercise ‘Naseem al Bahr’). Further, Oman has provided the Indian Navy access to the Port of Duqm SEZ which is one of Indian Ocean’s largest deep-sea ports.
- India has a bilateral naval (In-UAE BILAT) as well as an air force exercise (Desert Eagle-II) with the UAE.
• The Gulf region has historical, political, economic, strategic and cultural significance for India. India-GCC Free Trade Agreement (FTA) can provide a boost to the relations.
• Presently, the GCC region is volatile, thus, India needs to safeguard its large economic, political and demographic stakes in the region.