Bangladesh has sounded the first official call to induct India and other countries with large Muslim populations as observers to the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) during 45th meeting of the council of foreign ministers in Dhaka on Saturday.
According to reports, Bangladesh minister of foreign affairs Abul Hasan Mahmood Ali called for reforms in the organisation to pave the way for countries like India, which are not Muslim majority, to get an observer status in the organisation. The organisation is presently having only Muslim majority countries as its members.
Ali said, “A number of countries, not OIC members, have a large number of Muslims as their citizens. The Muslims may be minority in those countries, but in terms of number they often exceed the total population of many OIC member countries.”
Egypt, with a population of 92 million, is 5% of the global Muslim population. In terms of Muslims as a percentage of the global population, India ranks third after Indonesia and Pakistan.
Pakistan uses the forum to regularly target India. Bangladesh has supported India’s case for “inclusion” arguing that large Muslim populations should not be denied a say at the OIC as India constitute 10% of the global Muslim population.
Supporting for reforms at OIC, Abul Hasan Mahmood Ali said, “There is a need to build bridges with those non-OIC countries so that a large number of Muslim populations do not remain untouched by the good work of OIC. That is why reforms and restructuring is critical for OIC.”
Ali said, “We need to rethink our work, method and process of functioning to cater to the needs of the current era and beyond.”
Bangladesh’s suggestion received support of the OIC secretary general. This is not the first time there has been a call to bring countries like India into the ambit of the OIC, but Pakistan has always held a veto position.
This has prevented India from engaging more meaningfully with the organisation even though India has fairly robust relations with most OIC member states.
The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation is an international organisation, founded in 1969, consists of 57 member states, with a collective population over 1.6 billion as of 2008.
It claims of being “the collective voice of the Muslim world” working to “safeguard and protect the interests of the Muslim world in the spirit of promoting international peace and harmony.
During first OIC summit at Rabat, Morocco, in 1969 Pakistan’s President Gen Yahya Khan had boycotted the proposal for India’s inclusion in the organisation put forwarded by Saudi Arabia’s King Faisal and Jordan’s King Hussein. India’s subsequent efforts could not reverse the situation till date.
Again in 2006, Saudi King Abdullah had proposed that India become an observer. In the 1990s, Pakistan had used forum to criticise India on Jammu and Kashmir situation.
In September 2017, India refuted egregious comments on Jammu and Kashmir byPakistan at the UN when it was speaking on behalf of the OIC.
At that time India said, “The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation has no locus- standi on India’s internal affairs, we strongly advise the OIC to refrain from making such references in future.”