The session of the Organisation of the Islamic Council (OIC) was predicted to be highly eventful, considering the heightened escalations in the Middle East and Persian regions. Prime Minister Imran Khan’s short visit to Iran, right before his attendance of the OIC, indicated that the topic of tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran, which have worsened to the point that war seems a possibility, would be prioritised by Pakistan. The emergency Arab meetings the night before in Makkah criticising Iran’s behaviour and influence in countries like Syria, Iraq and Lebanon only made it clearer that Iran should be the most important issue to resolve for the OIC, and in any such effort, Pakistan, being a neighbour of Iran, and thus a stakeholder in any conflict, would have a major role to play in any negotiations.

Instead, our Prime Minister’s first speech at the 14th Islamic summit emphasised a very different issue that of countering instances of blasphemy in Western nations.

The premier raised the issue of Islamophobia, grieving particularly that Western nations do not understand how deeply the sentiments of Muslims around the world are hurt upon instances of blasphemy. He lamented that the response from the OIC and Ummah was lacking when it came to blasphemy, and said that the international community must do more to prevent Islamophobia. He also touched upon the plight of the people of Kashmir as well as Palestine, adding that the people of Kashmir have a right to self-determination.

While the issue of blasphemy incidents is indeed an important subject to discuss at the OIC, one which united many of the Muslim states of the world, it can be argued that there were several other more pressing issues which should have been discussed. The Muslim population in Pakistan itself is suffering a plethora of problems, and foreign policy moves by some countries in the OIC could make those problems much worse. With a major conflict at its doorstep in Iran, and an ever-going tumultuous peace process in Afghanistan, there were many urgent topics with respect to the OIC that the premier could have addressed, rather than that of blasphemy, which last had a global event ten months back because of an obscure politician in the Netherlands. While our Prime Minister’s speech represented a lot of Pakistani citizens’ sentiments, we hope that the future OIC sessions will lead to a more productive contribution by Pakistan towards peace in Islamic countries.