Niloofar Qureshi

OIC Meet and Niamey Declaration on Kashmir

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Now that the standard ritual of Pakistan moving a resolution against atrocities in Kashmir and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) adopting the same in Niamey [Niger] is over,it’s time for everyone to rejoice because all concerned would be content of having done their duty, even if it’s just lip service. However, what does this resolution, which is being hailed by Islamabad as a major ‘diplomatic victory’, mean for the common Kashmiri or the ‘self-determination’ movement remains questionable.

Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has in a tweet mentioned that “The OIC has strongly reaffirmed their unequivocal and unanimous support for the Kashmir Cause in a Resolution adopted at #OIC47CFMNiamey categorically rejected illegal actions taken by India since 5 August 2019 and this is good news.” However, he has not clarified as to how without any plan of action to undo the “illegal actions”does this declaration become “good news”? If 57 member countries of the OIC are unanimous in their opinion that New Delhi’s actions of August 5 in J&K and later are “illegal,” then instead of just making hollow declarations, why doesn’t OIC take up this issue with the International Court of Justice (IJC)? This would have been good news!

The Niamey resolutions against India might please politicians and bureaucrats sitting comfortably in their airconditioned offices, but they amount to nothing for the common Kashmiri who has been given false hopes for the last three decades. When the ‘armed struggle’ erupted in Kashmir in the early nineties, the people were told that ‘azadi’ (independence) was ‘just around the corner’ and they believed it. However, even after all the bloodshed and violence that is continuing even today, ‘azadi’ is nowhere in sight. Similarly, when New Delhi abrogated Article 370, we were told that this move was “illegal” as it violated United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions on Kashmir and were assured by Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan that Islamabad would approach UNSC on this issue as well as take this case to International Court of Justice (ICJ) and get this decision reversed.

Though UNSC held meetings to discuss Kashmir, but in the absence of any resolutions or directions, these discussions didn’t achieve anything and thus, even after more than a year, Article 370 still remains abrogated. To make matters worse, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s promise taking this “illegal” action taken by New Delhi to ICJ remains unfulfilled. We were also told that Islamabad had called for an emergency meeting of OIC foreign ministers to discuss Article 370 abrogation and compel New Delhi to reverse its decision, but no such exclusive meeting has been held  and all we have is the OIC’s ‘categorical rejection’ of this decision.

However, with OIC members states (with exception of Pakistan), continuing to maintain extremely cordial diplomatic ties with New Delhi post Article 370 abrogation, it’s obvious that the Niamey resolution is no different than the dozens of similar ones adopted by OIC in the past! OIC members might feel that they have fulfilled their moral obligation towards the people of Kashmir and thus would have returned homewith a clear conscience. However, those for whom the OIC members had collectively criticised New Delhi, have been left wondering what good would the ‘categorical rejection’ of Article 370 abrogation declaration do to the ‘self-determination’ movement!

The Niamey declaration also states that “We reiterate the OIC’s principled position on the Jammu and Kashmir dispute for a peaceful settlement in accordance with the relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions”. From this it’s evident that while it has criticised abrogation of Article 370, but by reiterating that its “principled position on J&K” is its “peaceful settlement (in accordance with the relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions,” OIC has also made it’s disapproval of the ‘armed struggle’ absolutely clear. This brings back to focus the frequently asked question about whether ‘armed struggle’ is helping or harming the Kashmir cause?

Since no country in the world (other than Pakistan) or any influential organisation supports the ‘armed struggle’ in Kashmir, a serious discussion on this issue is urgently required. What needs to be actively debated is the rationale for continuing with the ‘armed struggle’ when it’s not only resulting in large scale bloodshed and loss of so many young lives but also alienating the global community from the ‘self-determination’ movement from Kashmir? Even senior Hurriyat leader SAS Geelani, who in 2013 held that that “guns can be a permanent solution for J&K”,  just after four years said that “I, with a sincere heart, want to convey that we are yearning for peace and seek a peaceful resolution to the long- pending issue (of Kashmir).”

On January 20, 2006, during his visit toPakistan administered Kashmir (PaK), Hurriyat (M) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq had remarked of how “Our fight on the political, diplomatic and military fronts (has) not achieved anything other than creating more graveyards.” One and a half decades may have passed since then but what Mirwaiz said then still remains relevant today and this the reason why the requirement of an immediate discussion on the pros and cons of ‘armed struggle’ in Kashmir assumes critical importance that can no longer be brushed under the carpet!

Actions and not declarations or resolutions on Kashmir is what’s the crying need of the hour!

The author is based in New Delhi and can be reached at niloofar.qureshi@yahoo.com

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