Tuesday April 23, 2024

OIC session

By Editorial Board
December 21, 2021

At least some modicum of care for the people of Afghanistan was prominent at the recently held conference of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation in Islamabad. Prime Minister Imran Khan’s speech resonated with many pleas for emergency aid to the country which has been under Taliban control since August this year. The prime minister also held meetings with the secretary general of the OIC and foreign ministers from countries such as Iran, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia. The prime minister was assertive in his speech while stressing upon the need for tackling problems confronting the member states, especially those of Afghanistan. In addition to Afghanistan two other issues that became a focus of the moot were the need for all Muslim states to actively confront Islamophobia in all its forms and the PM’s desire to set up at the OIC level a wing similar to Pakistan’s Rehmatul-lil-Alameen Authority. Malaysia, Pakistan, and Turkey once again announced their decision to establish a joint media network.

While it is good to reaffirm Pakistan’s commitment to further strengthening ties with other Muslim countries, there are certain points that need highlighting. Pakistan’s decision to host the extraordinary session of the OIC for Afghanistan was timely, keeping in view the extremely hard conditions the people of Afghanistan are going through. To help financially strained Afghanistan, full cooperation among the OIC members is the need of the hour. We may also hope that the outcomes of the OIC conference would be instrumental in mobilising the international community to support the people of Afghanistan on humanitarian grounds. The crises confronting Afghanistan are not only financial; they have multiple dimensions – from providing education and food security to health facilities and livelihood opportunities. The prime minister’s warning to the global community could not be clearer that Afghanistan could potentially become the biggest “man-made crisis in the world” if the world does not act now. Though in addition to the OIC members, delegates from China, European Union, Russia, and the United States, participated in the meeting there was no concrete announcement for any major aid to Afghanistan.

It is an ethical and moral duty of the world – and more so of the Muslim world – to ‘delink’ the Taliban government from the 40 million Afghan citizens, as the PM put it. There can be no two opinions about how significant it is now to take immediate action. This lack of commitment from the international community is also a result of the Taliban’s reluctance to fulfil their commitments about forming an inclusive government and ensuring women’s rights. While some way can and should definitely be found to provide aid to the people of Afghanistan, we must emphasise that Prime Minister Imran Khan’s assertion that the idea of human rights is different in every society does not carry much weight and is contrary to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that most of the countries have committed to since 1948. Cultures can vary across urban and rural areas, across class divisions, ethnicities – but respect for fundamental and human rights is imperative. It is a disservice to Pashtun culture if it is lumped together with the regressive measures that the Taliban are wont to impose. Being sensitive to cultural norms does not translate into condoning violations of basic rights. At the moment, though, all eyes are on the countries around the globe – as Afghans battle a crippling winter.