Pakistan’s diplomatic offensive to counter India’s win at OIC

Lobbying hard and engaging all members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC. That is what the Pakistani diplomats are doing in Abu Dhabi at the 46th Session of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers meet which is being held Mar 1-2.

Day one was a diplomatic disaster when Pakistan dilly-dallied on its threat to pullout of the conference and then agreed to attend but boycott the inaugural session where India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj was to address and then finally called it off when UAE did not rescind its invitation to India as the ‘Guest of Honour’.

While Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi decided to stay away, Islamabad was represented by a delegation of diplomats, prominently the Pakistani envoys to UAE and Saudi Arabia, Moazzam Ahmad Khanand Raja Ali Ejaz, respectively.

Interestingly, it was Pakistan’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia who spoke at the session representing the Asian Group. Pakistan raised the issue of Kashmir in the forum and criticised the Indian government for alleged human rights violations. The intention of Pakistan is to ensure that the resolution of Kashmir should be very harsh against the Indian administration.

But sources privy to the goings on at OIC say that they are meeting resistance from some of the key players. Some of the key nations at OIC believe that this is not the time or conference to do a strong rabid statement especially since India is the ‘guest of honour’.

Without the minister being present, there could have been no bilateral meetings but the Pakistani side was seen engaging senior ministers of various countries on the sidelines of the OIC outside the convention hall.

Islamabad is also engaging these countries to come out with a strong statement on Kashmir as part of the political resolution of the OIC. But many have conveyed to Pakistan that the timing to do this is not right.

The 45th session had a very strong statement on Kashmir which “condemned” India and supported third party intervention, self determination. The statement also called the killing of terrorist Burhan Wani as “extra-judicial” and called the elections in Kashmir “farcical.

Addressing the media on Friday, to a question on resolution for Kashmir at OIC, TS Tirumurti, Scretary (ER in MEA said, “We have opened a new chapter in our relations with OIC don’t want to speculate on what type of resolution will come out today or tomorrow. But our position is clear that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India and we will not let anyone interfere in our internal affairs and that position stands.”

In a major shift from the past, OIC members welcomed India as the ‘Guest of Honour’ and the growing engagement with the Islamic nations, particularly the weight of Saudi Arabia and UAE, might work in India’s favour.

Speaking exclusively to India Today on India’s invitation to OIC, India’s Ambassador to UAE Navdeep Suri said, “I don’t look at it as a win or anything. I see it as a continuum in the rapidly growing relations with the UAE. All of you have seen the transformation in the strategic partnership. What we see today is a historic chapter in that rapidly evolving relationship

The OIC was the only organisation that had come out and criticised India’s actions against Jaish camps in Balakot of Pakistan. India is mindful of that and therefore there was no mention of Pakistan in Sushma Swaraj’s address at the inaugural session.

While India is engaging all stakeholders to ensure that Kashmir is not part of the resolution this year and if it is then the language is balanced. For now, sources say that being at the OIC itself is a win.