Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has invited Indian Minister of External Affairs (MEA) Sushma Swaraj to address its Foreign Ministers meet on first March 2019. It is the first time that the organisation has invited an Indian dignitary to attend its meet, reports The Hindu.
The invitation follows the strong statements made by United Nations Security Council and Financial Action Task Force over ghastly Pulwama attack which left 40 CRPF personnel martyred in a suicide terror-attack on 14 February. Swaraj’s speech at the OIC inaugural plenary is expected to take forward India’s agenda to isolate Pakistan and seek action against Jaish-e-Mohammad.
Reportedly, the host-nation UAE had contacted India about the event in January 2019. Expressing gratitude, the MEA said it saw the invite as a milestone in India’s comprehensive strategic partnership with the UAE.
The report quoted UAE’s State-owned Emirates News Agency as saying, “the friendly country of India” has been named as the guest of honour “in view of its great global political stature as well as its time-honoured and deeply rooted cultural and historical legacy, and its important Islamic component.”
“We also see this invitation as a welcome recognition of the presence of 185 million Muslims in India and of their contribution to its pluralistic ethos, and of India’s contribution to the Islamic world,” said the MEA statement.
Officials in India said that the invite was a “major diplomatic success”, reflecting the overall improvement in India’s ties with the Muslim world, and UAE, particularly in the areas of security, energy and investment.
The invitation marks a major turnaround in the ties between India and OIC as both have have been at loggerheads over the Kashmir issue.
The OIC even has a specially designated “Kashmir contact group” often led by Pakistan to protest alleged human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir and invoke UN resolutions against India.
In 2018 alone, the OIC had issued five statements over J&K, and demanded intervention of the international community. Just two months ago, the OIC had called firing by Indian forces during an encounter between security forces and militants as a “wicked terrorist act”.
Despite having the third largest Muslim population in the world, India hasn’t been included in the organisation, mainly over the opposition of Pakistan. The 2018 bid to grant India observer status by Bangladesh and Turkey is yet to see any progress.
AIMIM leader and MP Asaduddin Owaisi has criticised the move and said that it was “a shame and regretful that India is sending Sushma Swaraj to an organisation which calls Jammu and Kashmir as Indian-occupied Kashmir”.
“It is easier to be there and have an impact on the messaging then staying out. This is our way of ensuring that India’s voice is heard at a platform for the first time” a source said, when asked about the turnaround.
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