What’s in the news?
- Recently, India criticised the Organisation of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC) for being “communal minded” and “hijacked by vested interests” – a reference to Pakistan – after the grouping called on the UN Human Rights Council to take necessary measures on the issue of Muslim girl students being told not to wear the hijab in Karnataka schools.
- The OIC also urged India to “ensure the safety, security and well being of the Muslim community while protecting their way of life”.
- India’s response to the OIC statement was that India is a democracy, and issues within the country are resolved in accordance with our Constitutional framework and mechanism, as well as democratic ethos and polity.
What is the OIC?
- The Organisation of the Islamic Cooperation is the world’s second largest multilateral body after the UN. It counts 57 members, all of which are Islamic countries or Muslim majority members.
- 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 was established by the First Islamic Summit Conference held in Morocco in September 1969.
- It was known as the Organisation of Islamic Conference until 2011.
India & OIC
- As a country with the world’s second largest Muslim community, India had been invited to the founding conference in Morocco in 1969, but was humiliatingly ejected at Pakistan’s behest. Then Agriculture Minister Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed was dis-invited upon arrival in Morocco.
- In 2006, as India turned the economic corner and improved ties with the US, Saudi Arabia invited Delhi to join as an observer.
- But India stayed away because of a multiplicity of reasons, which includes that as a secular country, it did not want to join an organisation founded on religion. Plus there was the risk that improving bilateral relations with individual member states would come under pressure in a grouping, especially on issues such as Kashmir.
- The OIC is mainly controlled by Saudi Arabia, but Pakistan, as the only Islamic country with nuclear weapons, has had a large say since its inception. As a result, over the years, the organisation has issued several statements on Kashmir that have been supportive of Pakistan.
- After building close ties with powerful members such as UAE and Saudi Arabia, India has been confident of riding over any statement by the grouping. India has consistently underlined that J&K is an “integral part of India and is a matter strictly internal to India”, and that the OIC has no locus standi on the issue.
- In 2019, India made its maiden appearance at the OIC Foreign Ministers’ meeting, as a “guest of honour”.
- 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.