NEW DELHI: In a major snub to Pakistan, Kashmir was not mentioned even once in the ‘Abu Dhabi Declaration’ released after the 46th meeting of Foreign Ministers of the Organisation for Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Abu Dhabi, which ended on Saturday.
The declaration, did, however, “welcome the initiative undertaken by the Prime Minister of Pakistan to hand over the Indian pilot as a gesture of goodwill to de-escalate tensions.”
In a first, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj was invited as a special guest of honour for the plenary session of the meeting on March 1 despite objections from Pakistan.
Earlier, Pakistan did manage to push through a few separate resolutions condemning “Indian atrocities” in Kashmir and the recent air space violations. But officials, both in India and the UAE, explained that these resolutions did not need a consensus. Unless they referred to events or people in other member states, most of them are adopted without opposition. In terms of a consensus, the final declaration matters.
According to one Indian source, “as the country with the second largest number of Muslims, and with a large population of expats working in the Gulf region, India should have a voice at the OIC.”
From the statements emanating from the UAE and Saudi Arabia, it now appears that an increasing number of member states are veering around to that opinion. While membership might not be an immediate option, the fact that Swaraj was invited as a special guest marks a radical shift.”
Pakistan has been using the platform for launching attacks on India, and every final declaration barring the ‘Taskhent in 2016’ had slammed India over Kashmir and endorsed Pakistan’s position demanding a plebiscite under UN resolutions. India, which used to respond to these resolutions with strong statements insisting that the OIC “had no locus standi” in the Kashmir issue, had a milder retort to the Pakistan resolutions this time, reiterating that all of J&K was Indian territory.