The collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the Caliphate in the wake of the First World War left a searing vacuum in the Muslim World-Ummah. It was fragmented by the destruction of its centre of gravity, the Caliphate. The inspiration to re-create a unifying centre of power was provided in 1969 by a demented Australian Christian fundamentalist Denis Michael Rohan who set fire to the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. The entire Muslim World rose up in protest and the foundation for the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), was thus laid. The OIC was supposed to be “the collective voice of the Muslims to safeguard and protect the interests of the Muslim World in the spirit of promoting international peace and harmony”. (Wikipedia).

Alas! It did everything, but…!

Of late, a very large number of Muslim countries have been ruthlessly attacked and destroyed by the US-led West and its coterie of allies. A bird’s eye view of the Muslim World shows rampant devastation from Syria to Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Libya, Egypt and most importantly in Kashmir and Palestine. Muslims continue to be savagely persecuted and discriminated against in non-Muslim countries like India, Myanmar and reportedly China too.

Kashmir has been on the UN/UNSC agendas for the last 70 odd years. India has been brutalizing the hapless Kashmiris in the Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir (IOJ&K) ever since. Now a pathetic attempt has been made to “annex and absorb” it into the Indian Union. The Kashmiris are being held incommunicado, under a debilitating curfew and denied all civil liberties and human rights for the last 160 plus days. A virtual genocide is on in IOJ&K. Close to a million Indian armed soldiers are deployed in IOJ&K to ostensibly fight off “a few score terrorists”. Nothing could be more preposterous! They are factually there to forcibly annex IOJ&K; against the will and wishes of the Kashmiris, against all international covenants on human rights and against all (eleven) UN-UNSC Resolutions on Kashmir. The OIC’s deafening silence and incomprehensible inertia over the abhorrent treatment of Kashmiris by the Indian Occupation Forces is blasphemous, sacrilegious, unfathomable and bodes ill for its future existence. Its plan to hold a session of the OIC Foreign Ministers in Islamabad on Kashmir sometime in the future, is too little an effort, too late and downright degrading. Pakistan and the Kashmiris must refuse this belated, belaboured, grudging and in the final analysis vacuous “generosity”.

The OIC’s pathetic appeasement of a non-Muslim country like India, because of the economic interests of a few members, has severely polarised it and dented its credibility. The OIC cannot be seen to condone India’s rapacious and genocidal subjugation of the Kashmiris. Pakistan has been ostensibly advised not to project Kashmir as an issue of the Ummah-OIC, rather to treat it as a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan, (a la Palestine?). That is anathema to the Kashmiris and more so to Pakistan. If Kashmir does not qualify as an issue of the Ummah-OIC, then pray, which issue does? Will the same depreciating approach apply to Palestine, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Libya, Myanmar-Rohingyas too? Or will someone pick and choose issues for the Ummah-OIC’s consideration? As long as we continue denigrating these issues to the bilateral levels, the US-led West will continue devouring Muslim states piecemeal, one by one - as is obvious from one panoramic view of the Greater Middle East-North Africa Regions, today!

If the Ummah-OIC starts belittling all issues that beset it, including Kashmir, then it stands to lose its raison d’etre. If it will not stand up for the Kashmiris then there will be scant motivation and inspiration for Pakistan and others to support issues that do not affect them directly. Thus, whenever a need will arise for the Ummah-OIC to act collectively, the majority might stay away claiming it to be only a bilateral issue between the belligerents involved. This will further weaken the already emaciated Ummah-OIC. Is this not what the US-led West actually wants to happen? This is the personification of the classic “divide and rule-subdue” policy of the US-led West and reeks of colonialism of yore. The US-led West is using its leverages on the Arabs to exploit the OIC to its blatant advantage.

However, the first shot has been fired at the OIC and it will not be the last one. The Kuala Lumpur Summit, despite all denials, signified the Ummah’s frustration at the OIC’s impotency in tackling its major issues like Kashmir, Palestine, Myanmar-Rohingyas etc. It also indicated that the Ummah had lost patience with the Arab domination and exploitation of the OIC. The strong, independent and just positions taken by Turkey, Iran, Malaysia etc on the Kashmir issue were stark indicators of the emerging split in the OIC and by implication in the Ummah. The inevitable shift in the leadership of the OIC from the oil rich Arab monarchies to the emerging democratic non-Arab countries is now a certainty, a foregone conclusion. Either the change will take place or the death knell for the OIC will soon be sounded.

A more representative, egalitarian and responsive forum which is cognisant of the Ummah’s collective and individual interests is the need of the hour. It must not be hostage to the whims, or the political and economic imperatives of a particular clique. The Ummah’s collective interests must be defined anew and proactive plans of action be formalised to secure them. A unified Ummah with an effective mouthpiece (OIC?) will be able to pursue its collective interests with more poise, purpose and success. It has far too many capabilities and capacities to be consigned perpetually as a largely unwilling sidekick of the US-led West. It must rise to occupy its rightful place in the international community.

For Pakistan, an OIC that does not seek to secure its vital interests in Kashmir is as good as dead. Pakistan must seriously reconsider its compulsion, if any, to continue being a member of such an ineffective and apparently compromised organisation.

Regardless, nuclear Pakistan will never let Kashmir become another Palestine! Period.