Despite India's objection, OIC again bats for settlement of Kashmir issue

India has previously hit out at the 57-member grouping of Muslim majority nations, saying bodies like OIC should not make irresponsible statements.

Published: 24th March 2022 10:25 AM  |   Last Updated: 24th March 2022 10:25 AM   |  A+A-

Indian paramilitary soldiers patrol near the area where suspected rebels opened fire on a policeman on the outskirts of Srinagar. (Photo | AP)

By PTI

ISLAMABAD: The OIC Contact Group on Jammu and Kashmir said on Wednesday that lasting peace in South Asia cannot be achieved without a settlement of the Kashmir issue.

The group met on the sidelines of the 48th session of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Islamabad and was chaired by the OIC Secretary General Hissien Brahim Taha.

India has previously hit out at the 57-member grouping of Muslim majority nations, saying bodies like OIC should not make irresponsible statements.

In its joint communiqué, the OIC Contact Group stressed that lasting peace in South Asia cannot be achieved without a just settlement of the core Kashmir dispute in accordance with UN resolutions.

The group members reiterated their demand that India must reverse unilateral measures taken on or after 5 August 2019.

Pakistan has been unsuccessfully trying to drum up international support against India for withdrawing Jammu and Kashmir's special status on August 5, 2019 and bifurcating it into two Union territories.

India has categorically told the international community that the scrapping of Article 370 was its internal matter.

It also advised Pakistan to accept the reality and stop all anti-India propaganda.

In the Annex to the Joint Communique, the group asked OIC member states to raise the Kashmir issue in their bilateral engagements with India.

The Secretary General and General Secretariat were asked to raise the Kashmir issue and peace and security, human rights and humanitarian dimensions in engagements with various interlocutors, including international, regional and human rights organisations and bodies.

The Jeddah-headquartered bloc, which is the second-largest intergovernmental body after the UN, has usually been supportive of Pakistan and often sided with Islamabad on the Kashmir issue.

Meanwhile, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Wednesday met Pakistan's Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa and discussed matters of mutual interest, regional security and bilateral defence cooperation.

According to a statement by the Pakistan Army, Wang, who is also the State Councilor, said that the Pakistan-China relationship is based on the convergence of views and mutual respect.

He pledged to play his role for further improvements in diplomatic cooperation with Pakistan at all levels, it said.

Wang reviewed the security provided to the projects being completed under the banner of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and said that China believes in inclusive prosperity.

Gen.Bajwa thanked Wang for China's continued support to Pakistan.

Wang was invited for the first time to attend the 48th session of the foreign minister of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) which was attended by the ministers and delegates from 57 Muslim states and international organisations.

Pakistan has said that China agreed to rollover USD 4.2 billion debt that was maturing this week, providing a major financial relief to the cash-strapped country.

The USD 2 billion loan by China's State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE) has been rolled over, The Express Tribune quoted Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin as saying.

The SAFE deposit loan matured on Wednesday.

Tarin said that the visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi also conveyed on Tuesday China's willingness to rollover another USD 2.2 billion Chinese commercial loan.

The USD 2.2 billion (15 billion yuan) facility was maturing on Friday.

Pakistan had made repeated requests to Beijing to rollover the debt and the latest request was made last week to the top Chinese leadership, according to the ministry officials.

Beijing had given a commitment to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 2019 to rollover its debt until the Fund programme expires.

During the visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan, Pakistan had sought USD 4 billion rollover of SAFE deposits loans that were maturing in the next few months.

Pakistan had requested a total USD 21 billion lifeline that included a total USD 10.7 billion rollover of both commercial and safe deposits.

These included rollover of SAFE deposits of USD 4 billion and commercial loans of USD 6.7 billion upon maturity.

Pakistan has only USD 15.8 billion foreign exchange reserves as of last week and its currency is fast depreciating.

The rupee fell to the lowest ever level of Rs 181.75 to a USD on Tuesday.

Pakistan had also requested to increase the size of the currency swap facility from USD 4.5 billion to USD 10 billion - an additional borrowing of USD 5.5 billion.

The Currency Swap Agreement is a Chinese trade finance facility that Pakistan has been using since 2011 to repay foreign debt and keep its gross foreign currency reserves at comfortable levels instead for trade-related purposes.

The benefit of this arrangement is that the additional Chinese loan will not reflect on the books of the federal government and will not be treated as part of Pakistan's external public debt.

Pakistan had paid Rs 26.1 billion interest on the outstanding balance at agreed rates.

Last month, the IMF said that Pakistan owes USD 18.4 billion or one-fifth of its external public debt to China, which is not only USD 4 billion higher than the officially reported figures but is also the highest lending by any single country or financial institution.

The IMF has made the USD 4 billion loan given by China to stabilise the foreign exchange reserves part of the external public debt as of June 2021.

Out of this, USD 2 billion has matured but was extended further due to Pakistan's thin financial position.

The amount of USD 18.4 billion is equal to 20 per cent of the external public debt reported by the IMF.

It is also the highest amount given by any country or an institution.

The World Bank's outstanding debt towards Pakistan was USD 18.4 billion by the end of the last fiscal year.

The western countries and the international financial institutions have been closely watching Pakistan's financial relations with China, particularly after the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

The money that Pakistan now needs to pay for foreign loans and the cost of imports is also shown at the higher end of USD 30.4 billion by the IMF in its latest report.

According to the IMF, Pakistan's gross external financing requirements are estimated at USD 30 billion for the current fiscal year that will increase to USD 35 billion in the next fiscal year.

Pakistan largely bridges its external financing gap by taking foreign loans, as the share of foreign direct investment is estimated at only USD 2.6 billion for the current fiscal year.

The delay in closing a deal with the IMF under the 7th Review of USD 6 billion programme could increase the cost of borrowing for Pakistan besides pushing back budget support loans by the international lenders, reported The Express Tribune.

Muslim countries on Wednesday denounced terrorism in all its forms and manifestations while rejecting attempt to equate legitimate struggle for self-determination with terrorism.

The Islamabad Declaration was issued at the conclusion of the 48th session of the foreign minister of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) which was attended by the ministers and delegates from 57 Muslim states and international organisations.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi was invited for the first time to attend the exclusive club of Muslim nations.

"It rejects terrorism in all forms and manifestations and attempts this evil to any country, religion, nationality, race or civilisation," reads the document.

"It reiterates OIC's strong position against attempts to equate the legitimate struggle of peoples for self-determination with terrorism," it said.

The declaration also articulates OIC's views on the devastating social and economic impacts of COVID-19 as well as climate change on developing countries, calling for a series of concrete actions on vaccine equity, debt relief, countering of illicit financial flows and fulfilment of climate financing commitments as well as technology transfer and capacity building.

It also acknowledges the growing role of innovation and emerging technologies in stimulating growth and digital transformation and expresses the countries' shared resolve to promote linkages and partnerships.

The declaration articulates the resolve of OIC member states to support "our just causes such as Palestine, Kashmir and others".

India has repeatedly told Pakistan that Jammu and Kashmir "was, is and shall forever" remain an integral part of the country.

It also advised Pakistan to accept the reality and stop all anti-India propaganda.

India has told Pakistan that it desires normal neighbourly relations with Islamabad in an environment free of terror, hostility and violence.

India has said the onus is on Pakistan to create an environment free of terror and hostility.

The OIC declaration aims to unify OIC efforts to address common challenges and leverage opportunities, while upholding the rights and interests of Muslim minorities in non-OIC countries.

It pursues a shared vision for greater social, economic, scientific and technological development and integration within the Muslim world and beyond.

It reaffirms "our collective desire to promote harmony, tolerance, peaceful co-existence, better standards of life, human dignity and understanding among all peoples".

The declaration contains a proposal for convening a Ministerial Meeting, later this year or next, to evolve solutions, develop mechanisms and tools to prevent conflicts and promote peace.

It welcomes the unanimous decision of the UN General Assembly to proclaim March 15 as International Day to combat Islamophobia.

It also welcomes the operationalisation of the Afghanistan Humanitarian Trust Fund (AHTF), which was operationalised on March 21.

The declaration represents assessment of the global political, security, humanitarian, economic and technological issues and our vision and views to address them.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi addressing, the media along with the OIC Secretary General Hissein Brahim Taha, said that 140 resolutions were passed during the OIC meeting on challenges faced by the Muslim world.



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