Imran urges joint Islamic effort to engage with ‘new realities’

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan underlined that Islamic nations must carefully navigate the “new realities” and actively shape the emerging world order to realise 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,” the prime minister said in an opinion for the Arab News.

The prime minister further said that as a force for peace with justice, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (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,” the prime minister shared his thoughts as Pakistan is set to host the 48th session of the Council of Foreign Ministers, an OIC body, on March 22-23 in Islamabad.

He observed that the convening of the conference on the 75th anniversary of Pakistan’s independence is an extraordinary display of Muslim solidarity with Pakistan.

The prime minister said the meeting was taking 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,” he observed.

The prime minister said the OIC is the world’s second-largest intergovernmental organisation and represents the collective voice of the Islamic world.

While reiterating that Pakistan would always remain a fortress of Islam and a defender of the rights and interests of Muslims around the world, said that over the years, the organisation had proactively advanced the shared interests and objectives of the Islamic world.

“It has sought to promote international peace and security, understanding and dialogue among civilisations, cultures and religions, and to foster the noble Islamic values of peace, justice and mutual respect,” he said.

He said that India’s attempt to impose a Final Solution on occupied Kashmir, by robbing it of its identity, changing its demography and brutally repressing its people, would 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,” he stressed.

The prime minister said Pakistan sought friendly relations with all neighbours, including India, adding New Delhi should create the conditions conducive for a sincere and result-oriented dialogue with Pakistan and the people of Kashmir, by reversing its unilateral measures in occupied Kashmir, including demographic changes, and halting its gross and widespread violations of human rights.

After 40 years, he said there was 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,” the prime minister added.

He said it was 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 arose among Muslim countries or between them and non-Muslim countries or entities, he added.

“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,” he said, adding the joint Islamic action in the economic and commercial spheres would constitute an important step toward greater political convergence and solidarity.

The prime minister further said Islamic countries must join other developing countries to mobilise adequate resources for recovery from the pandemic and realisation of the sustainable development goals.

“This should include debt relief and restructuring, fulfilment of the 0.7 percent official development assistance target, redistribution of the unutilised $400 billion in new special drawing rights, larger lending by the multilateral development banks, massive public and private sector investment in sustainable infrastructure, and mobilisation of the promised $100 billion-plus annually in climate finance,” he added.

The prime minister emphasised that they 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,” he added.

The OIC countries, the prime minister said, needed to prepare themselves for a knowledge-driven, integrated and digital global economy of the future and suggested setting up an OIC “Commission for the Future” to study the trends in science and technology, trade and finance and recommend a clear long-term strategy.

Khan said that they 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, utilising 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,” he added.

To another objective, the prime minister said that they 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,” he reiterated.

The prime minister sad the worst manifestation of Islamophobia was the officially sanctioned campaign to transform India into an exclusively Hindu state. There was a danger of genocide against Muslims in India.

He also expressed his satisfaction at the adoption of a resolution by the UN General Assembly proposed by Pakistan, with the OIC countries, that had 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 civilisations to promote peaceful coexistence and interfaith harmony,” the prime minister expressed his resolve.

He further reiterated to fulfill vision of the founder of Pakistan to transform it into a modern, democratic, Islamic welfare state abiding by the precepts of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), as practiced in the state of Medina.

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