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Special Report: OIC reiterates peaceful settlement of Jammu & Kashmir issue

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By Danish Ahmad Khan 

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has for the second time in two months raised the issue of Jammu & Kashmir seeking a peaceful settlement of the imbroglio.

A virtual meeting was recently held by the Contact Group of the OIC on Jammu and Kashmir issue on June 22, 2020, against the backdrop of the current situation in the embattled Muslim-dominated border state. The foreign ministers of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Republic of Niger, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the Republic of Turkey participated in the meeting.

The virtual meeting was inaugurated by OIC Secretary General Dr. Yousef A.  Al-Othaimeen. He stressed the OIC's resolve and commitment to finding a peaceful settlement for the Jammu and Kashmir issue as per the relevant resolutions of the Islamic Summit, the Council of Foreign Ministers, and the international legitimacy. 

Al-Othaimeen in his inaugural address said, "At the same time, I call on the international community to strengthen its efforts to assist the people of Kashmir to decisively practice their legitimate rights denied for decades."

The Contact Group has reaffirmed its continued support for the people of Jammu and Kashmir and called on the United Nations Secretary-General to use his good offices to make India abide by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions and engage in dialogue to calm the situation in the region.

The Contact Group has asked India to halt security operations against the people of Jammu and Kashmir immediately, respect basic human rights, refrain from changing the demographic structure of the disputed territory, and settle the conflict under the relevant UNSC resolutions.
Meanwhile, the Contact Group also highly appreciated the efforts made by the OIC General Secretariat through its Special Envoy to Jammu and Kashmir who visited the region in March 2020.

The meeting concluded with the OIC Contact Group on Jammu and Kashmir issuing a statement on the recent developments in Jammu and Kashmir region in which it welcomed the efforts made by some Member States to calm the situation between India and Pakistan.

OIC Resolution passed over J&K

Earlier, the premier Muslim World body Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) had expressed deep concern over Hindu right-wing Narendra Modi government's unilateral actions to change the demographic composition of Jammu & Kashmir and undermining the rights of the people. 

The OIC had on 20th May 2020 passed a resolution over the Central government's unilateral action, which has largely gone unreported in the Indian media. Without naming Prime Minister Narendra Modi the OIC in its resolution stressed the importance of complying with UN Security Council Resolutions and allowing no changes to the demographic composition of Jammu and Kashmir. 

The OIC Resolution dated 20/05/2020 says:

"The General Secretariat of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has been following with deep concern the unilateral actions of 5 August 2019 and subsequent measures to alter the demographics of and undermine the rights of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, a disputed territory as recognized by the relevant UN Security Council resolutions.

The General Secretariat reaffirmed the importance of complying with international law and UN Security Council resolutions, considering the recent notification of ‘Jammu and Kashmir Grant of Domicile Certificate (Procedure) Rules 2020’ as baseless, running counter to international law and UN Security Council resolution 122.

Recalling the Islamic Summits’ and the Council of Foreign Ministers’ resolutions on Jammu and Kashmir, the General Secretariat reaffirms its solidarity with the people of Jammu and Kashmir. It also calls on the international community to gear up its efforts to resolve the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in accordance with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions and as per the aspirations of the Kashmiri people."

India, China face off over Ladakh

The Kashmir situation has further worsened with direct face off between India and China. A clash took place between the armies of the two nations at Ladakh's Galwan Valley on June 15. At least 20 Indian soldiers were killed and over 80 injured. China claims that the Galwan Valley, which is part of the disputed Ladakh region, is located on the Chinese side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) - the de facto border between the two Asian rivals.

Earlier, a report authored by a senior figure at an influential Chinese think-tank was published on June 4 in a recent Chinese publication Global Times, which has linked the current tensions along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) to India’s move last year to abrogate Article 370 and change the status of Jammu and Kashmir, a decision that China had voiced opposition to.

The article, for the first time, described the move as a joint challenge to China and Pakistan, saying the move had “posed a challenge to the sovereignty of Pakistan and China”.

A press officer at the Chinese Embassy in Islamabad was the first to share the report on social media.

Modi Government Indicted

The fact that the Jammu & Kashmir issue has been raised by the OIC for the second time in two months is a serious indictment of the current Hindutva government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. With its unilateral action of abrogating Article 370 through a parliamentary act, Modi government has sought to internationalize the Jammu & Kashmir issue, which was so far bilateral, but has now become tripartite issue with the direct interference of China. It may be noted that Article 370, which granted Special Status to Jammu & Kashmir, was primarily considered to be a bridge between India and State of Jammu & Kashmir.

The status quo until the abrogation of Article 370 had kept the wheel going and thwarted any direct international interference. With the military face off between India and China the Jammu & Kashmir issue has become more complicated than ever threatening a war between the two countries, and probably with Pakistan too, in the near future. The OIC's and other world bodies' interference shows that India has failed on its foreign policy front as far as Jammu & Kashmir is concerned.

It would have been better that Modi government should have maintained status quo and shouldn't have moved ahead with the unilateral abrogation of Article 370. India should have instead focused on building a robust South Asian regional market and steered its economy well, which is currently tottering and in abysmally bad shape. The warning bells have started sounding for the Modi government as it is on course losing its formidable friends both in the Muslim World and its immediate neighborhood. The time has come to give a serious thought for the peaceful resolution of Jammu & Kashmir issue.    

[Danish Ahmad Khan, a Senior Journalist, is based at New Delhi. He is Founder-Editor of IndianMuslimObserver.com - India's First Online Muslim Newspaper. He can be reached at indianmuslimobserver@gmail.com]
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