J&K – The issues around the state

India and the OIC


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: OIC

Mains level: Internationalization of Kashmir Issue

India has hit out at the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) for making factually incorrect and unwarranted references to Jammu and Kashmir.

What is OIC?

  • The OIC — formerly Organisation of the Islamic Conference — is the world’s second-largest inter-governmental organisation after the UN, with a membership of 57 states.
  • The OIC’s stated objective is “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 has reserved membership for Muslim-majority countries. Russia, Thailand, and a couple of other small countries have Observer status.

India’s relationship with OIC

  • At the 45th session of the Foreign Ministers’ Summit in 2018, Bangladesh suggested that India, where more than 10% of the world’s Muslims live, should be given Observer status.
  • In 1969, India was dis-invited from the Conference of Islamic Countries in Rabat, Morocco at Pakistan’s behest.
  • Then Agriculture Minister Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed was dis-invited upon arrival in Morocco after Pakistan President Yahya Khan lobbied against Indian participation.

Recent developments

  • In 2019, India made its maiden appearance at the OIC Foreign Ministers’ meeting in Abu Dhabi, as a “guest of honour”.
  • Then External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj addressed the Inaugural Plenary.
  • This first-time invitation was seen as a diplomatic victory for New Delhi, especially at a time of heightened tensions with Pakistan following the Pulwama attack.
  • Pakistan had opposed the invitation to Swaraj and it boycotted the plenary after the UAE turned down his demand to rescind the invitation.

What is the OIC’s stand on Kashmir?

  • It has been generally supportive of Pakistan’s stand on Kashmir and has issued statements criticizing India.
  • These statements over the last three decades became an annual ritual, of little significance to India.
  • Last year, after India revoked Article 370 in Kashmir, Pakistan lobbied with the OIC for their condemnation of the move.
  • To Pakistan’s surprise, Saudi Arabia and the UAE — both top leaders among the Muslim countries — issued nuanced statements, and were not as harshly critical of New Delhi as Islamabad had hoped.
  • Since then, Islamabad has tried to rouse sentiments among the Islamic countries, but only a handful of them — Turkey and Malaysia — publicly criticised India.

How has India been responding?

  • India has consistently underlined that J&K is an integral part of India and is a matter strictly internal to India.
  • The strength with which India has made this assertion has varied slightly at times, but never the core message.
  • It has maintained its “consistent and well known” stand that the OIC had no locus standi,
  • This time, India went a step ahead and said the grouping continues to allow itself to be used by a certain country “which has a record on religious tolerance, radicalism and persecution of minorities”.

OIC members and India

  • Individually, India has good relations with almost all member nations. Ties with the UAE and Saudi Arabia, especially, have looked up significantly in recent years.
  • The OIC includes two of India’s close neighbours, Bangladesh and Maldives.
  • Indian diplomats say both countries privately admit they do not want to complicate their bilateral ties with India on Kashmir but play along with OIC.

What lies ahead with OIC?

  • India now sees the duality of the OIC untenable, since many of these countries have good bilateral ties and convey to India to ignore OIC statements.
  • But these countries sign off on the joint statements which are largely drafted by Pakistan.
  • South Block feels it is important to challenge the double-speak since Pakistan’s campaign and currency on the Kashmir issue has hardly any takers in the international community.

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