An assessment” – Middle East Monitor

The Center for Afghanistan, Middle East and Africa (CAMEA) at the Institute for Strategic Studies (ISSI) hosted a webinar today on “48th OIC CFM: An Assessment”, in collaboration with the Rasanah International Institute for Iranian Studies (Rasanah IIIS). Speakers included Major General Ahmed Almaimouni, Director of Rasanah IIIS Center for Research and Studies; Ambassador Rizwan Sheikh, Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the OIC; Ambassador Ali Awadh Asseri, former Ambassador of Saudi Arabia to Pakistan; Sardar Nadir Naim, President of the Kabul Institute for Peace (KIP); Dr. Kazem Sajjadpour, Distinguished Fellow IPIS; Dr Daud Abdullah, director of the Middle East Monitor (MEMO); General Levent Gozkaya, former Turkish commander of the Kabul Regional Command; Ambassador Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, Director General ISSI; Ambassador Khalid Mahmood, President BOG ISSI and Ms. Amina Khan, Director CAMEA, ISSI.

During her opening remarks, Amina Khan said over the years that Pakistan has been strongly committed to supporting cooperation among member states and advocating for equitable solutions to various problems faced by the Muslim community. Pakistan has currently been very proactive in pursuing a crusade against Islamophobia and, following Pakistan’s efforts, the UNGA declared March 15 as the International Day Against Islamophobia. Pakistan firmly believes in the potential of the OIC and advocates and supports the need for a collective approach to the continuing challenges facing the Miuslim Ummah. In this context, we are gathered here today to discuss the results of the OIC CFM competition as well as to enhance the commitment and cooperation among the Member States. The Muslim world faces so many challenges and after the 48th CFM, it is important to have perspectives from different parts of the Muslim world. In this regard, we also have speakers from Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, she concluded.

During his welcome address, Ambassador Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry said the recent 48th OIC WFC signifies Pakistan’s deep commitment to Muslim causes and also coincides with Pakistan’s 75th anniversary. Pakistan is always a proud host of its fellow Muslim delegates. As always, the OIC expressed its full solidarity with Jammu and Kashmir, Palestine and Afghanistan as well as various troubled Muslim countries. He said that Islamophobia has become a major topic and captured the world’s attention with the adoption of the UNGA resolution. This is an area where all Muslim countries can join hands. The theme of the Islamabad meeting was very important as it shows how much it will be possible to strengthen the OIC in the future. If Muslims really want to be heard, they must unite and support the principles of interstate conduct and development. Today, economic security has become a dominant theme for national and international security. If we are able to use the paraphernalia of the OIC and focus more on strengthening economic and trade cooperation among Muslim states, it will help the OIC to become more relevant in the future, a- he concluded.

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Major General Ahmed Almaimouni said the OIC is an important organization for Muslim unity. It signifies the fraternity and the strong bond between the member countries of this OIC. This OIC moot court competition was a resounding success. He praised Pakistan’s efforts in support of the UNGA resolution on Islamophobia. He underlined that the OIC will have to meet the expectations of Muslims and can play a crucial role in the unification of the Muslim bloc.

Ambassador Asseri congratulated the Pakistani government for the successful outcome of the 48th OIC CFM Competition. Such an important meeting in Islamabad reflects Pakistan’s efforts and importance in unifying the Muslim Ummah. The presence of China for the first time signals that China wants to consolidate its relations with the Muslim world. He appreciated the various initiatives taken by the OIC, including the current crisis in Ukraine as well as the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan and the growing problem of Islamophobia in the world. He hopes that there will be an OIC follow-up sub-committee to ensure that everything agreed regarding Afghanistan will be implemented.

Ambassador Rizwan Saeed Shiekh said the 48th OIC CFM was a resounding success and was better than expected. A variety of areas, including new ones, were strongly addressed. He said the OIC has a good dashboard on Kashmir and through this meeting Pakistan got an action plan on Kashmir. He pointed out that the Human Rights Council is supposed to catalog the various human rights issues and see how they are violated. In this regard, the OIC was also requested to review the situation in Jammu and Kashmir. He said Islamophobia was heavily addressed and the Secretary General was also asked to appoint a special envoy on Islamophobia. Regarding China’s presence in the debate, he said China and the OIC should look for ways to work together. In the geographical context, preferential trade agreements are the best way forward.

Sardar Nadir Naim said that Afghanistan had been suffering for more than four decades and Afghans had opposed foreign invasions. Afghanistan has stood against the great powers and the consequences for the country have been devastating. There is a financial crisis and the situation could lead to a civil war. The Afghan economy was dependent on foreign aid and the cessation of this has also contributed to the humanitarian crisis. Restrictions on banks have led to the liquidity crisis and aid is coming very slowly and people are suffering. Looking back, we must ensure that the country does not fall into the hands of terrorists. Therefore, some of the issues that need to be seriously addressed; which include preventing state failure and continuing the uninterrupted flow of aid, lifting sanctions – which hurt the Afghan people the most – and unfreezing Afghanistan’s assets. Apart from these, there is a mutually agreed mapping for a path to political recognition at regional and international levels. The idea of ​​creating a trust fund is a good start and is promising. The OIC can play a much greater role in the Islamic world and beyond, he concluded.

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Dr. Sajjadpour said that the OIC is an asset as a concept of cooperation among Muslim countries and should be preserved. This multilateral institution is an international tool for all Muslim countries. OIC by-products must be appreciated. This is particularly to create a space prohibiting all differences between countries. Furthermore, he pointed out that there is an OIC identity which is very important, especially in places like New York and Geneva. He said the OIC creates sensitivity, as evidenced by the UNGA resolution on Islamophobia. If Muslim countries want to preserve this asset, they must be more universal to the sensitivities of all Muslim countries and not just the privileged few. The OIC should not be the monopoly of some countries. He also cautioned that there should not be excessive expectations from the OIC.

Dr. Daud Abdullah said that the decision of the OIC to appoint different envoys is good but there is still a lot to do. Ongoing conflicts, from Libya to Mozambique, must be resolved. There are several challenges and there is also a lack of funding and all areas of conflict need to be looked at. On the issue of Islamophobia, the OIC is to be congratulated for passing the resolution and it is a great achievement after years of hard work. The EU did not support this resolution and this shows the magnanimity of the problem. Palestinian refugee problems remain unresolved and there is a concerted effort by Israel to dismantle UNRWA (the United Nations Relief Works Agency). The OIC must ensure that this does not happen and the UNRWA must be preserved and the donor countries in Europe want to impose restrictions. The OIC must be aware of this. He also raised the issue of normalizing relations with Israel. He pointed out how Israel is now recognized by many countries as well as human rights organizations as an apartheid entity. Therefore, the OIC, in the future, should pressure the UN to designate Israel as an apartheid state. This is a challenge that no country can accomplish alone, but collectively the OIC will be able to do it not only for Palestine but for humanity as a whole, he concluded.

General Levent said that the OIC can play a leading role in leading its member states. We must fight against Islamophobia. We must fight together for this problem. Muslim unity is needed to deal with such issues. The OIC can play a leading role in urging its members and politicians to play a role in the fight against Islamophobia.

Ambassador Khalid Mahmood said that the 48th OIC WFC was indeed a resounding success and effectively addressed the theme of the meeting. The CFM addressed major issues affecting the Muslim Ummah such as Palestine, Afghanistan and Kashmir. He also addressed the burning issue of Islamophobia. However, he said that was not enough. Even though there are a number of resolutions, but very few are implemented, there is a need for a consistent approach. He said that although the debate was dominated by issues of security and stability, other issues of economy and culture were not addressed. The OIC is an asset that we must preserve to derive maximum benefit from it. Islamic countries should sit together in Geneva to convey the message of Muslim unity and push through a resolution on humanitarian issues in the Muslim world. He also said that Pakistan’s role is very crucial and they must play a proactive role as this is an opportunity for Pakistan to prove itself.

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