The following is an op-ed written by Imran Khan, Prime Minister of Pakistan.
The convening of the Islamic Foreign Ministers’ Conference in Islamabad on the 75th anniversary of Pakistan’s independence is an extraordinary display of Muslim solidarity with Pakistan.
The Organization of Islamic Cooperation is the world’s second-largest intergovernmental organization and represents the collective voice of the Islamic world.
Over the years, the organization has proactively advanced the shared interests and objectives of the Islamic world. It has sought to promote international peace and security, understanding and dialogue among civilizations, cultures and religions, and to foster the noble Islamic values of peace, justice and mutual respect.
The Islamabad meeting takes place at a critical moment in world history. Structures of the global security and economic order established in 1945 have been eroded by the repeated unilateral use of force, a new “cold war” and growing inequalities among and within nations, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the impact of climate change and the technology revolution. Islamic countries must carefully navigate these “new realities” and actively shape the emerging world order to realize their individual and collective interests.
Toward that objective, they must first promote and preserve their own sovereignty and territorial integrity by upholding principles, avoiding involvement in great power rivalries, resolving inter-Islamic disputes, and preventing foreign interference and intervention.
Second, as a force for peace with justice, the OIC must continue to support the just causes of Palestine and Kashmir for self-determination and liberation from foreign occupation. Although these goals are daunting, I am convinced that the arc of history bends toward justice.
India’s attempt to impose a final solution on Jammu and Kashmir, by robbing it of its identity, changing its demography and brutally repressing its people, will fail. Durable peace and stability in South Asia is contingent on pacific settlement of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in accordance with the relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council and the wishes of the Kashmiri people.
We seek friendly relations with all neighbors, including India. New Delhi should create the conditions conducive for a sincere and result-oriented dialogue with Pakistan and the Kashmiris, by reversing its unilateral measures in occupied Kashmir, including demographic changes, and halting its gross and widespread violations of human rights.
After 40 years, there is a real opportunity to restore peace and security in Afghanistan and the region. We must act collectively to avert a humanitarian crisis and economic collapse in Afghanistan, and engage actively with the Afghan authorities to promote human rights, especially women's rights, encourage greater inclusivity, and develop effective strategies to eliminate the terrorist threat from the country.
We must promote and find our own solutions to the problems confronting the Muslim world. It is vital to resolve the conflicts in Syria, Libya and Yemen through accommodation and cooperation between the concerned Islamic countries, and exclude non-Muslim interference in these conflicts.
The OIC should seriously consider establishing its own peace and security architecture to promote conflict resolution through dialogue and negotiations whenever disputes arise among Muslim countries or between them and non-Muslim countries or entities.
The Muslim world as a whole is well endowed in terms of human and natural resources. We need to better coordinate with a view to exploiting complementarities and building capacities. Joint Islamic action in the economic and commercial spheres will constitute an important step toward greater political convergence and solidarity.
The COVID-19 pandemic and climate change have compounded our socio-economic challenges. They have also afforded new opportunities to reset priorities geared toward intra-OIC cohesion.
The Islamic countries must join other developing countries to mobilize adequate resources for recovery from the pandemic and realization of the sustainable development goals. This should include debt relief and restructuring, fulfillment of the 0.7 percent official development assistance target, redistribution of the unutilized $400 billion in new special drawing rights, larger lending by the multilateral development banks, massive public and private sector investment in sustainable infrastructure, and mobilization of the promised $100 billion-plus annually in climate finance.
We must also demand fair and equal treatment in the international finance, trade and taxation architecture. We must boldly arrest and reverse the outflow of billions of dollars each year from our countries to “safe havens” through corruption, fraud, tax evasion and tax avoidance.
The OIC countries need to prepare themselves for a knowledge-driven, integrated and digital global economy of the future. An OIC “Commission for the Future” should be established to study the trends in science and technology, trade and finance and recommend a clear long-term strategy.
We should promote economic cooperation with all countries and groups, with both the West and the East. At the same time, we should exploit the economic complementarities among the Islamic countries, utilizing the Islamic Development Bank and other OIC institutions. A special expert task force could develop a plan for economic, financial, trade and technology cooperation among OIC member states.
Finally, we must promote global respect for our faith, Islam, and offer protection to every Muslim everywhere. We must object vigorously to the defamation or denigration of Islam, our Holy Book or our Holy Prophet, peace be upon him.
The worst manifestation of Islamophobia is the officially sanctioned campaign to transform India into an exclusively Hindu state. There is danger of genocide against Muslims in India.
I am heartened by the consensus adoption by the UN General Assembly of the resolution proposed by Pakistan, with the OIC countries, that has proclaimed March 15 as the International Day to Combat Islamophobia. We will continue to build bridges, promote respect for all religions and beliefs and advance global dialogue among civilizations to promote peaceful coexistence and interfaith harmony.
Pakistan will always remain a fortress of Islam and a defender of the rights and interests of Muslims around the world. I hope to fulfill our founder’s vision to transform Pakistan into a modern, democratic, Islamic welfare state abiding by the precepts of our Holy Prophet, peace be upon him, as practiced in the Riyasat-e-Madinah.