Pak FM boycotts OIC meet over Sushma Swaraj’s participation

Islamabad: Pakistan on Friday boycotted the 46th session of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), which is being held in Abu Dhabi after UAE refused to rescind invitation extended to India.

While speaking at the joint session of the Parliament in Islamabad, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said”, I will not attend Council of Foreign Ministers as a matter of principle for having extended invitation as a Guest of Honour to Sushma Swaraj.”

“I had requested to postpone the OIC meet in view of the warm relationship it had with Pakistan. They explained their position. On February 26, I wrote a letter that Pakistan will re-consider their participation in view of the invitation extended to Sushma Swaraj. On February 28, the Opposition added one point to the letter to the OIC. They recommended that I abstain from participating at the OIC- in light of this decision of Pakistan Parliament,” he added.

Swaraj will be participating as the “Guest of Honor” in the 46th session of the OIC, which is being held in Abu Dhabi. This is the first time that India has been invited by the group.

The group’s main objective remains to safeguard and to protect the “interests of the Muslim world in the spirit of promoting international peace and harmony among various people of the world.”

The Pakistan Foreign Minister also touched upon the issue of India being accorded observer status at the OIC and said, “a lower level Pakistani delegation will staunchly oppose any move to grant observer status to India at the OIC. India is neither a member of OIC nor it has an observer status to the group.”

Notably, in OIC there are some states such as Russia and Thailand that have a significant minority Muslim population but are present at the forum as ‘observer states’.

“A lower level Pakistani delegation will attend in order to present Pakistan’s 19 resolutions that also include the human rights violations and persecution of Kashmiris,” he added.

In his concluding statement, he urged the UN General Secretary and Russia to play a mediation role to de-escalate tensions in South Asia.