From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : OIC
Mains level : India's relations with OIC members
India has hit out at the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), saying it was “hijacked by vested interests” over its remark on Karnataka Hijab Row.
What is OIC?
- The OIC — formerly Organisation of the Islamic Conference — is the world’s second-largest inter-governmental organization 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 and 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.
- In 2019, India made its maiden appearance at the OIC Foreign Ministers’ meeting in Abu Dhabi, as a “guest of honor”.
- 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 its 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.
- 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 criticized 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 neighbors, 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.
- India now sees the duality of the OIC as 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.
- India feels it important to challenge the double-speak since Pakistan’s campaign and currency on the Kashmir issue has hardly any takers in the international community.