OIC: Con­fronting the chal­lenges

Pakistan Observer - - OPINION - Sa­man Zulfqar Email: samnz. pk@ gmail. com

THE re­cently held OIC sum­mit while fo­cus­ing on its main theme “Unity and Sol­i­dar­ity for Jus­tice and Peace” rec­og­nized peace and jus­tice as a pre­con­di­tion for es­tab­lish­ing unity and sol­i­dar­ity. OIC be­ing the se­cond largest inter- gov­ern­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tion af­ter the United Na­tions has 57 mem­ber states spread­ing over four con­ti­nents. It is the largest or­ga­ni­za­tion hav­ing Mus­lim states as its mem­bers. The sum­mit is con­vened every three years to re­view and an­a­lyse po­lit­i­cal, eco­nomic and so­cial devel­op­ments in in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions and its im­pact on Mus­lim Ummah.

The agenda of the sum­mit among other is­sues in­cluded the Pales­tinian is­sue based on broader Arab- Is­rael con­flict, prob­lems faced by Mus­lim world, com­bat­ing ter­ror­ism and ex­trem­ism, Is­lam­o­pho­bia and OIC- 2025 Pro­gramme of Ac­tion. A look at the agenda is­sues shows that all these is­sues re­late to present day chal­lenges face by Mus­lim world. There are nu­mer­ous is­sues that OIC mem­ber states have been fac­ing and al­most all are of com­mon in­ter­ests such as Pales­tine is­sue due to which the OIC was ini­tially es­tab­lished in 1969, prob­lems faced by Mus­lim mi­nori­ties and Is­lam­o­pho­bia.

The un­re­solved Pales­tine is­sue has been at the heart of un­rest and dis­or­der in the Mid­dle East. It not only af­fects inter- state re­la­tions be­tween Arab states and Is­rael but the in­dif­fer­ence of ma­jor pow­ers in the just res­o­lu­tion of the con­flict and the du­plic­ity re­gard­ing their poli­cies in Mid­dle East have been the con­tribut­ing fac­tor in cre­at­ing ex­trem­ism and rad­i­cal­ism in Arab so­ci­eties. It is note­wor­thy that ex­trem­ism and rad­i­cal­ism has not been the is­sue of Mid­dle East­ern so­ci­eties, it is is­sue of all Mus­lim states where de­pri­va­tion and in­jus­tice at home pro­vides a breed­ing ground for ex­trem­ism. Cor­rup­tion of rul­ing elite cre­ates a sense of alien­ation and es­trange­ment mostly in African and Asian coun­tries.

The root causes of ex­trem­ism and rad­i­cal­ism are dif­fer­ent and the ef­forts to tackle these threats need to ad­dress the causes of the prob­lems. In this re­gard, the OIC mem­ber states re­quire de­vel­op­ing two- pronged strat­egy at na­tional as well as or­ga­ni­za­tional and inter- gov­ern­men­tal level. Strat­egy at na­tional level must ad­dress the di­verse so­cio- eco­nomic and po­lit­i­cal con­di­tions of each state while the strat­egy at or­ga­ni­za­tional and inter- gov­ern­men­tal level should be for­mu­lated by con­sen­sus keep­ing in view the broader chal­leng­ing en­vi­ron­ment faced by Mus­lim world. This con­sen­sus based strat­egy can be evolved by de­vel­op­ing aca­demic as well as in­tel­lec­tual dis­course. As for as ter­ror­ism is con­cerned, it is closely re­lated and linked to ex­trem­ism and rad­i­cal­ism that ul­ti­mately gives rise to ter­ror­ism. The is­sue of ter­ror­ism can­not be tack­led un­less in­jus­tice and prob­lems re­lated to so­cio- eco­nomic de­pri­va­tion could be re­solved and the causes of ex­trem­ism are ad­dressed.

Another im­por­tant and re­lated prob­lem has been the rise of Is­lam­o­pho­bia in the West. Is­lam­o­pho­bia can be de­fined as hos­til­ity to­wards Mus­lims and Is­lam in gen­eral. The term Is­lam­o­pho­bia was coined in early 1990s in Europe ba­si­cally due to dif­fer­ences re­gard­ing re­li­gion, faith and iden­tity be­tween Is­lam and other re­li­gions. The term got cur­rency in the Western so­ci­eties in the back­drop of Sa­muel Hunt­ing­ton’s Clash of Civ­i­liza­tions the­sis. Is­lam­o­pho­bia as a term has been fre­quently used in re­cent years in the con­text of Is­lamic ex­trem­ism and ter­ror­ism. There is need to ini­ti­ate in­ter­faith di­a­logue to re­move misperceptions and mis­un­der­stand­ings about re­li­gious be­liefs and teach­ings of Is­lam or per­haps the most im­por­tant point has been the true in­ter­pre­ta­tions of re­li­gion as no re­li­gion teaches vi­o­lence and ter­ror­ism.

It is perti­nent to note here that all these are trans- na­tional threats and no sin­gle coun­try alone can deal with them, there­fore, there is need to build con­sen­sus based strat­egy at OIC plat­form. Unity and sol­i­dar­ity have been iden­ti­fied as the de­sired goals but achiev­ing unity among 57 Mus­lim states is the daunt­ing task. If we look at the map of Mus­lim world, we see that sec­tar­ian con­flicts, civil wars and com­pe­ti­tion for power and re­sources have been the defin­ing fac­tors in inter- state re­la­tions. Cre­at­ing unity among Mus­lim states can only be pos­si­ble when they would agree on com­mon agenda by try­ing to bridge the gulf be­tween states and so­ci­eties on the one hand and by set­ting and agree­ing on com­mon goals on the other hand. — The writer is a Re­searcher at the Is­lam­abad Pol­icy Re­search In­sti­tute.

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