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Organisation of Islamic Countries: Bulldozing geopolitics with religion

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Dr. Jitender Kumar Sharma
Dr. Jitender Kumar Sharma
The author is a Professor & Director of a Business Management Institute in Pune, India. He holds a Doctorate in Business Management. He is a Postgraduate in Political Science and a keen observer and commentator on Geopolitics.

Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC) meeting of 57 countries at Islamabad denouncing India for abrogation of Article 370 in erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir state (now UT), is uncalled for. However, considering it being hosted by Pakistan, it was expected. To add salt to the Pakistan’s wound is the precarious situation Imran Khan is in. This may be his last international meet to attend before he is evicted from his office. 

As per Wikipedia, OIC states that it is “the collective voice of the Muslim world” and works to “safeguard and protect the interests of the Muslim world in the spirit of promoting international peace and harmony”.

This statement sounds credulous. OIC believes in collective bargaining power of Islamic countries to shove their agenda in the world affairs and geopolitics. It forgets to recognize that apart from the religion nothing is common amongst them. All OIC members are driven by their respective regional and global aspirations and some OIC members itself may come as roadblocks against each other. How can there be one common interest of all Islamic countries. Had that been true, the Arab world would have been more peaceful, not most unstable, and volatile. The fact is that there are cordial bilateral relations between few OIC countries with non OIC countries. India has close diplomatic, military, and economic relations with Saudi Arabia, UAE, Palestine and many more. The irony is that OIC members fight more amongst themselves than with the outside countries. Iran – Iraq, Iran – Saudi Arabia & UAE, Yemen – Saudi Arabia & UAE, Syria & Libya.

Why do you need to have OIC when these countries (individually) are strong oil rich countries? Why to have an organisation of countries based on religion? In fact, OIC is a religious organisation with political motives. There is no other organisation of countries based on religion, rather they are based on region. Such organisations of different countries should be formed largely to address the geopolitical interests and contingencies and not just religion. I am sure that OIC has failed as an organisation to contain conflicts amongst different Islamic countries, forget uplifting or developing any. Had OIC been effective, USA would not have always been present in the MENA region.

On 15 Mar 2022, Pakistan introduced a resolution in UNGA to observe 15 March as International Day to Combat Islamophobia, which got adopted by consensus at UNGA. Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan during the OIC summit in Islamabad blamed the OIC for not doing enough against Islamophobia. This is ridiculous. Fighting Islamophobia rests on the OIC countries and not with the world. OIC cannot force the world to see green with red glasses. It is about changing self than the world. World will see through its own lenses. How can OIC or any Islamic country whose very foundation is based on Islam wants to be considered inclusive by the world? All these countries are Islamic Republics where other religions are either not allowed or restricted in practice. It is only natural for the world to shun relations with these countries or keep the minimum required trade and diplomatic relations.

Surprisingly, Imran Khan lauded Indian Foreign Policy, for it being citizens cantered. a part of Quad and importing crude from Russia at the same time. This is testimony to the fact that the countries trade and transact because of bilateral needs, and not due to religious affinity. For the countries their national interests are key to their foreign policies. Had that not been true, NATO, ASEAN, CIS, Quad, Commonwealth, BRICS and most paradoxically SAARC & SCO (both India and Pakistan are members) wouldn’t have existed. 

OIC needs to recognize that there are varied elements in geopolitics, like people, power, culture, natural resources, economic dependence, geographical location & political relations between nations. All elements are woven together to be called as national interest, superseding all other elements. With OIC focusing on only religion as a cementing factor between the Muslim nations, it fails to achieve its objectives. In a way it is more of a limiting factor in geopolitics than a facilitative one. The world sees OIC as a religion based bulldozing force with a restricted vision of the world.

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Dr. Jitender Kumar Sharma
Dr. Jitender Kumar Sharma
The author is a Professor & Director of a Business Management Institute in Pune, India. He holds a Doctorate in Business Management. He is a Postgraduate in Political Science and a keen observer and commentator on Geopolitics.
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