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No OIC consensus on New Charter
By Siraj Wahab
ISLAMABAD, (Arab News): After three days of intensive deliberations here, foreign ministers and heads of delegations of Muslim states failed to evolve a consensus on the much-talked about new charter for the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC).
Dejected and despondent OIC officials admitted that there was no consensus on the new charter. “We were keen on getting the charter finalized at this conference. But some countries asked for more time to review the new charter. There is nothing we can do. It is the sovereign right of member countries. If they need more time, then they need more time,” said the OIC official requesting he not be named because he is not authorized to speak.
OIC Secretary-General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu who was very keen on the finalization of the new charter at the Islamabad conference was disappointed. “The 34th Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers (ICFM) made much headways on all issues, but a consensus on the new charter could not be arrived at. That is true,” he said.
“It is beyond comprehension as to why a consensus was not developing among the member countries on the charter prepared after hard work by eminent personalities drawn from across the Muslim world,” he said. The new charter is now expected to be finalized at the end of this year and will then be endorsed at the Islamic summit in Dakar, Senegal in February.
“Because the new charter was not finalized, a new name could also not be agreed upon. A new name for the organization is linked with the new charter. A new name will be okayed when a new charter is finalized and put into effect,” said another OIC official.
The failure to finalize the new charter came in for sharp criticism in the Pakistani media. “What was all this fuss about then?” asked a frustrated Pakistani journalist working for the Associated Press of Pakistan. “We had great hopes and we were looking forward to seeing this document being finalized here in our capital. Not much has come out in the media so we don’t know what exactly are the hitches and on whose part.”
The conference issued a final declaration at the end of the meeting yesterday. It expressed determination to continue and speedily finalize the reform of the OIC including its restructuring and drawing up a revised charter and strengthening its specialized and affiliated organs to enhance its role to effectively meet the challenges of the 21st Century.
The Islamabad Declaration said: “We remain committed to the promotion of global peace and security, which can be achieved through just and peaceful resolution of international disputes and ending situations of foreign occupation.”
The declaration welcomed the renewal of the Arab peace initiative of 2002 and the call of the Riyadh Arab League summit for the early resumption of the peace process on the basis of this initiative.
The 34th ICFM emphasized that the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of Lebanon must be fully respected. “We extend full support to the government and people of Lebanon in their reconstruction and rebuilding efforts following the damage caused by Israeli aggression,” it said.
The declaration reaffirmed its support to the people of Jammu and Kashmir “for their inalienable right to self-determination in accordance with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions and the aspirations of the Kashmiri people.” It called for the respect of the human rights of the Kashmiri people and agreed to provide all possible political and diplomatic support to the true representatives of the Kashmiri people in their struggle against foreign occupation.
“We hope that the ongoing composite dialogue between Pakistan and India will lead to a resolution of the Kashmir dispute and usher in lasting peace in South Asia.”
The declaration calls for the reduction of tensions and resolution of differences concerning Iran’s nuclear program through dialogue. “We oppose the use of force, which will further destabilize the region. We recognize Iran’s right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy and its readiness for the peaceful resolution of all issues,” said the declaration.
The OIC supported efforts for national reconciliation, peace and lasting stability in Sudan and full respect of the sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of Sudan. “It called upon the international community to further support these efforts and the reconstruction of Sudan and meet the humanitarian needs of its people, including in Darfur.”
The declaration condemned the systematic discrimination against the adherents of Islam. “We call upon the international community to prevent incitement to hatred and discrimination against Muslims and take effective measures to combat defamation of religions and acts of negative stereotyping of people based on religion, belief or ethnicity,” it added.
Earlier yesterday, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari rejected outright Pakistan President Gen. Pervez Musharraf’s proposal for a Muslim peacekeeping force. Musharraf had floated the idea at the meeting that ended here yesterday.
Talking to reporters on the sidelines of the conference, Zebari was blunt in his rejection of the Pakistani proposal. “We have reservations on this proposal. We cannot welcome any more foreign troops. My government’s position is not for welcoming any more troops. “We want our troops, the Iraqi troops, to rise up and stand,” said the Iraqi foreign minister.
While proposing a Muslim peacekeeping force for Iraq, Musharraf had said: “The mass killings that are taking place there have to end. All outside interference should stop immediately. And if all the warring factions in Iraq accept, then maybe a peacekeeping force from Muslim countries grouped under the United Nations could be looked at as a possible solution.”
Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said the international community and the Islamic states are required to closely cooperate to thwart threats posed to them. In his address to the ICFM, he challenged big powers for targeting the self-belief of Muslim states and attempts to undermine their religious and cultural identity.
“Today, Muslims have been exposed to the highest pressure, unprecedented threats and multidimensional conspiracy,” Mottaki said. The threats posed to Muslim countries have targeted their economic development, hampering Muslim solidarity, he said.
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