An extraordinary meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers of Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) was held in Islamabad on Sunday Dec 19, 2021; a mega event which was hosted by Pakistan in the last 4 decades. Delegations from 57 nations and five continents (Asia, Africa, Europe, North American and South America) participated in the OIC conference.
Out of the total 57 OIC member states, 20 Foreign Ministers, 10 Deputy Ministers or Ministers of State and more than 450 delegations attended the conference. This conference was proposed by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), which was also attended by OIC’s Secretary General H.E. Mr. Hissein Ibrahim Taha.
Representatives of China, Russia, USA, Japan, Germany, United Nations, the European Union (EU), international financial institutions, regional and international organizations and other non-OIC countries have also participated in the conference.
The prime purpose of this meeting was to address the Afghan human crisis. Since Taliban took over the Kabul (August 15, 2021), Afghanistan is facing a severe fiscal crunch; since couple of months remunerations are not being paid to government servants, banking sector has been paralyzed and economic corridors has been closed while a huge population of country is unemployed, starving and facing the food scarcity.
While speaking to the OIC conference Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan said “world should differentiate a common Afghani from Taliban. International community is appreciating Pakistan’s foreign policy and point of view towards Afghanistan. Steps should be taken to provide food, capacity building for counterterrorism, and eradication of drugs. Afghanistan will become the biggest man-made crisis if the world doesn’t act”.
In his inaugural address to the OIC conference, the Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan said that it was a great pleasure for Pakistan to host the 17th Extraordinary Session of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers. “This extraordinary meeting will review the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, especially the challenges facing humanity, and will propose concrete steps to help the Afghan people who desperately need the support and cooperation of the international community”.
During the speech Foreign Minister of Pakistan Shah Mehmood Qurashi said “OIC countries have to assist Afghan people immediately. World has to invest in technical assistance, education, and the health sector in Afghanistan and also to facilitate legitimate banking in country”. He said through this event we want to draw the attention of the international community towards the Afghan issue, a humanitarian catastrophe is emerging in Afghanistan. This crisis is neither in the interest of Afghanistan nor the region and world, collective efforts could change the situation. Mr. Qurashi warned the world that “to abandon Afghanistan at this point will be a great mistake of the global community. Stability of the region is linked with the stability of Afghanistan”. “I am afraid instability could add fuel to the fire, instability could work as a catalyst to trigger the conflict” Shah Mehmood Qurashi added.
According to an estimate by the UN 23 million Afghans (more than half of Afghanistan’s population) are facing acute level of food shortage, elevated level of poverty and a severe drought, while the same estimate indicates that 3.2 mill children in Afghanistan may face malnutrition.
In a joint communiqué it was announced that OIC member states will continue their support to Afghan people, Afghan authorities to be engaged on human and women rights. Female education and measures regarding their economic revival will be ensured. Moreover, OIC countries will establish a special fund for Afghanistan. 31 points were included in the OIC resolution on the Afghan situation, which was presented in the Islamabad meeting.
Chairman Islamic Development Bank also addressed the OIC conference. He said “we are here for solidarity and brotherhood with Afghans. World and especially Ummah (The Muslim community) have to support the Afghans to meet the challenges as they are facing many challenges. We have to learn from the past and help the Afghans for their prosperous future”.
Secretary General OIC H.E. Mr. Hissein Ibrahim Taha also addressed the Islamabad OIC meeting. He said “it is a positive gesture that nations of the world are discussing the Afghan issue, we are continuously watching and observing the Afghanistan situation, and the Afghan people are waiting for our assistance and help. We appreciate Pakistan for the wonderful arrangements of the OIC conference. OIC has always adopted an unshaken stance over the Afghan crisis”.
It is interesting to share that on said date, a dialogue session was held in India on the Afghan crisis. The foreign ministers of the five Central Asian states (Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan) preferred to take part in the dialogue session in India rather than attending the OIC, Council of Foreign Ministers meeting in Islamabad. However, the delegations of these countries have represented their respective countries in the meeting in Pakistan.
According to former Pakistani Foreign Secretary Azaz Chaudhry, “the OIC meeting was very important as Pakistan is Afghanistan’s neighbor and the situation in Afghanistan is critical at the moment. There is a need for international aid, not politics. The Muslim world also has a role to play and how to reach out to the Afghan people.”
OIC is the second largest intergovernmental organization after UNO. Experts in regional politics believe that the OIC Islamabad conference will pave a way to find solid and suitable solutions to Afghan tragedy, if the international community will not lend its hand to said matters, it will create mess and chaos in Afghanistan which will adversely affect the region and world at large.
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