Foreign Office Spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri on Thursday denied reports that the Kashmir issue was not part of the upcoming Council of Foreign Ministers’ (CFM) meeting, terming them a “part of false Indian propaganda”.
During a weekly press briefing, Chaudhri said that the Kashmir issue was a “permanent item” on the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and recalled that the body has been “unambiguously pronouncing itself on the issue for decades, through a succession of summits as well as CFM resolutions”.
Tomorrow’s CFM meeting, which will be held in Niger’s capital Niamey, would be the first after India repealed occupied Kashmir’s special status in August last year, the spokesperson told reporters.
“It is expected that the session would reiterate its strong support to the Kashmir cause. Let me confirm that the Jammu and Kashmir dispute continue(s) to be amongst the longest standing items on the OIC agenda,” insisted FO spokesperson.
He further said that the OIC had spoken on the Kashmir issue multiple times and has “called for a settlement […] with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions”. The OIC Contact Group on Jammu and Kashmir has met thrice in the past 15 months, Chaudhri said, adding that a meeting of the group with foreign ministers was held in June this year.
“The final communique of that meeting called upon India to rescind its illegal actions and stop egregious human rights violations in the illegally occupied territory,” said the FO spokesperson.
No mention of Kashmir
Despite the FO’s insistence, the OIC statements, both in English and Arabic, issued for tomorrow’s CFM meeting in Niamey made no specific mention of Kashmir in the agenda announced in Riyadh.
OIC Secretary General Dr Yousef Al-Othaimeen was quoted in the official statement as having said that the meeting would discuss the Palestinian cause, the fight against violence, extremism and terrorism, Islamophobia and defamation of religion, the situation of Muslim minorities and communities in non-member states, fundraising for the Rohingya case at the International Court of Justice, as well as the promotion of dialogue among civilisations, cultures and religions, and other emerging matters.
The agenda of the Niamey meeting also includes discussion on the political, humanitarian, economic, social and cultural and other issues related to science and technology, the media and the progress made in the implementation of the “OIC-2025: Plan of Action” document. It would, moreover, feature a brainstorming session on “Security and Humanitarian Challenges Confronting African Sahel States Members of the OIC”.
Pakistan has since the annexation of occupied Kashmir by India been demanding a special meeting of the OIC foreign ministers on the dispute. The meeting has not been convened so far because the Saudis, who wield a virtual veto in the 57-member bloc of Muslim countries, have not supported Islamabad’s move.
The latest omission of Kashmir from the agenda of the regular foreign ministers’ meeting comes at a time when ties between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia/UAE remain strained over what Pakistani diplomats say are “unfulfilled expectations”.
In today’s FO briefing, when asked about the change of visa policy by the United Arab Emirates — under which the Arab state temporarily stopped issuing new visas to citizens of Pakistan, Afghanistan and several mostly Muslim majority countries — Chaudhri said it has not been confirmed. At the same time, he denied that the step was taken due to security concerns, as reported by multiple media outlets.