Keep Off Kashmir, India Tells OIC

3 October 2009
Times of India

New Delhi: The Organisation of Islamic Conference's (OIC) remarks on the J&K issue at its meet in New York last week and its decision to appoint a special envoy evoked a stinging reaction from India on Saturday with the foreign ministry stating that the inter-governmental body had shown a complete lack of understanding of New Delhi's stand on the issue. Calling for an early settlement to the J&K issue, the OIC not only appointed a special envoy to 'bridge the gap' between India and Pakistan but said that he would also deal with the issue of minorities in India. Reiterating that J&K was an integral part of India, the foreign ministry said that OIC had no locus standi in matters concerning India's internal affairs. 'It is regrettable that the OIC has commented on India's internal affairs. We condemn and reject this,' it said. The 57-nation grouping of Islamic countries had also issued a statement saying it supported the people of J&K in the 'realisation of their legitimate right of self-determination in accordance with relevant UN resolutions and aspirations of the Kashmiri people'. It had also expressed concern over the recent Shopian incident. The appointment of Saudi national Abdullah Bin Abdul Rahman Al Bakr, OIC's assistant secretary-general for political affairs, as the special envoy on J&K was immediately hailed by Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who had attended the meeting and raised the issue of human rights in the state. While some Indian officials described the appointment as just an administrative change as the post of special envoy on J&K had been there earlier too, others said the fresh appointment would help Pakistan internationalise the issue. This, however, is not the first time the OIC has issued statements on J&K. In the past two years alone, it has made such statements at least three times undeterred by the fact that New Delhi has condemned it each time. During the 36th session of the council of foreign ministers in Syria this May, OIC secretary-general Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu had said the grouping reaffirmed its 'commitment and support to the Kashmiri freedom struggle'. In the same meet, it also described the Mumbai attacks merely as an incident which led India to remark that the organisation had failed to address the issue of terrorism in unambiguous terms. In June 2008, the OIC reaffirmed its commitment to the 'Kashmiri struggle' and stressed the need to achieve a just and peaceful resolution to the long-standing issue. Two months later, in August, it condemned 'the ongoing excessive and unwarranted use of force against the Kashmiri people' by India. On each of these occasions, Delhi reacted by saying that the OIC had no locus standi in India's internal matters. But the organisation continues to make such remarks, as Indian officials allege, at the behest of Pakistan which looks upon OIC as an important platform to internationalise the issue.