India invited to OIC meet for first time

Gautam Lahiri

24th February, 2019 02:17:12 printer

New Delhi: Amidst high tension between India and Pakistan following the Pulwama terror attack, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) for the first time invited India to the annual meet of the Council of Foreign Ministers of as ‘Guest of Honour’ in UAE on March 1-2.

Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj was invited by UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan to address the Inaugural Plenary in Abu Dhabi. Since the inception of OIC in 1969, a group of 56 nations, India has been trying to join the organization.

India has the third largest Muslim population among the Muslim majority nations.

Former Indian President Fakruddin Ali Ahmed once invited to an OIC event, but he was denied entry due to Pakistan’s objection. As Swaraj was invited to speak in the plenary session as a guest speaker, it is expected that she would articulate India’s view on the recent terror attack.

Only last year in the month of May, Bangladesh Foreign Minister A H Mahood Ali with the support from Turkey moved a resolution to make India an observer country in the OIC. The resolution is still pending with the OIC and no decision taken so far in this regard. Asked whether the invitation might be the first step for becoming an observer, a spokesperson of the Indian External affairs ministry refused to comment.

“The friendly country of India has been named as the guest of honour in view of its great global political stature as well as its time-honoured and deeply rooted cultural and historical legacy, and its important Islamic component,” the UAE government said announcing invite to India for OIC meet.

According to a statement from Indian foreign ministry, “We see this invitation as the desire of the enlightened leadership of the UAE to go beyond our rapidly growing close bilateral ties and forge a true multifaceted partnership at the multilateral and international level. We see this invitation as a milestone in our comprehensive strategic partnership with the UAE.”

India also sees it as recognition of the presence of 185 million Muslims in India and of their contribution to its pluralistic ethos, and of India’s contribution to the Islamic world.

The session in Abu Dhabi will be held under the theme: “50 years of Islamic cooperation: the road map for prosperity and development”, coinciding with the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the organization.

“HH Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, will open the session next Friday in the presence of OIC Secretary-General Dr. Yousef Al-Othaimeen.

During the two-day OIC meet, the foreign ministers will discuss a range of issues and urgent matters, issues of peace and stability in the Muslim world, as well as the integration and cooperation files among the OIC members.