Interestingly, this OIC Extraordinary Summit will not be the first to fall on Pakistan’s Independence Day. As a matter of fact, the first Extraordinary Summit the OIC organised was in Islamabad in 1997. At that time, there was no particular occasion, but to mark Pakistan’s Golden Jubilee of Independence. That was 15 years ago, and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (as it then was; the change to ‘Cooperation’ took place in 2011) at that time was not faced with the war on terror. Thus, it seemed that the problems confronting the Muslim world were either permanent sores, or waning.

However, there have been Extraordinary Summits in-between, which have not solved those issues, and which have seen the emergence of new ones. The OIC was founded over the Israeli occupation of Baitul Maqdas, and at the time it seemed as if the issue of the Israeli occupation of Palestine was the main problem faced by the Muslims. The liberation of Kashmir was not yet on the agenda, though it was added towards the beginning of the 1990s, because of the liberation struggle there, launched at the end of the 1980s.

However, with the war on terror, the problems seem to have proliferated. Muslims in the Western world have faced profiling as terrorists. It must be noted that Europe has got significant Muslim populations. Some have got them because of colonial pasts, like the UK has got Muslims from Pakistan, India and Bangladesh, and France from Algeria and Morocco, but then there is Germany, with a large number of Turkish economic migrants. The USA, itself, has got migrants from more or less the entire Muslim world.

Nevertheless, while the problems these migrants pose are not being considered, they are being left to solve their problems as citizens of separate countries. And if there are any efforts to make them a single community of believers, it is because of individual efforts.

Meanwhile, the OIC, and its members, do not provide them any help. Though the discrimination faced by the Muslims in the West is directed against them not because of nationality, but because of religion, the OIC, itself, is organised on the basis of nation-states. Though it does not have a particularly encouraging record of success, the Extraordinary Summit was confronted with two issues, both of which highlighted different problems involving the nation-state, and involving the Muslims.

One aspect of the OIC’s need to deal with the issues of Syria and the Rohingya Muslims was the feeling of unity shared by Muslims worldwide. And if the Syrian issue was to be viewed as Arab, not only was that of the Rohingyas very much an Ajami issue, but the specifically Arab body - the Arab League - has already pronounced on the Syrian issue, and though the OIC is seen as an Arab body, the Summit provided an opportunity to Ajami countries to make their people believe that they cared.

But the OIC has not been able to carry out in Burma the fact-finding mission, which is the most its members can proffer on this issue. The mission may not allay the concerns of Muslims worldwide, but they will help the member government argue that something is being done for Rohingya Muslims. It is, perhaps, too much of a coincidence that there has been a massacre of Muslims in the Indian state of Assam.

In Assam too, Muslims are accused, as are the Rohingyas, of actually being Bangladeshis, who have slipped across the border. A similar accusation is made against the West Bengali Muslims. Thus, the persecution of the Rohingya becomes akin to that practised by India in the whole of its Western region. Bangladesh, presently under the pro-Indian Awami League, cannot object to one without objecting to the other.

It is interesting that the OIC has never shown its distaste for the American invasions of Iraq or Afghanistan. That the USA controls the OIC is not shown by the presence of its Ambassador to the OIC there, so much as the fact that the Extraordinary Summit was called by one of its close allies, the host, Saudi Arabia. Therefore, the Summit cannot avoid being seen as an attempt to bolster the USA campaign. It is another matter that the USA is campaigning against Muslims not just in its previous occupations, but currently, in Syria.

The USA is using Syria as its re-entry into the Middle East, but Bashar Al-Assad’s slaughter of his own citizens has also given it an excuse, as one of the most recent developments in the modern concept of citizenship is that the government’s rights over its citizens does not include that of slaughtering them indiscriminately. However, though the Foreign Ministers have recommended the suspension of Syria from the OIC’s membership, as in the past with other issues, no action has been taken.

The Rohingya issue also has to do with modern citizenship, though not to do with just the massacres. It is also to do with denial. Burma has declared that Rohingyas are not Myanmarese citizens. Only the Myanmarese government has made the claim that they are Bangladeshi citizens. Neither the Bangladeshi government has made this claim, nor do the Rohingyas themselves. This dubious citizenship status persisted for some years, but cannot be resolved by the OIC, itself an organisation of nation-states, which has taken its concepts of nationality from the same colonial masters as the Myanmarese government.

The OIC has certainly shown courage in taking notice of these issues, but it has once again exposed its toothlessness in its inability to do anything about them. Even if one was to trot out the familiar excuses for its inability to do anything about the Rohingya - the sovereignty of states, the remoteness of the problem, the difficulties of dealing with Myanmar - the opposite apply to Syria. The problem is right in the middle of the OIC and Syria is, itself, an OIC member.

True, Syria has got a friend in the OIC in the shape of Iran, which has increasingly come out in its favour in recent times. However, though the OIC also renewed its support of the Kashmir cause, just as that has become a gesture meant more to mollify public opinion, mainly in Pakistan, so have other issues been brought on the OIC agenda to make it bulky but ineffectual.

This then has been the main product of this Extraordinary Summit. More issues added to the OIC agenda, which will either not be solved, as neither the Palestine nor the Kashmir issue have been, or which will not be solved because of any efforts made by the OIC. If the Rohingyas get Myanmarese (or any other) citizenship, or if the Syrian people stop getting killed (presumably because the Assad regime falls), it will not be because of this Extraordinary Summit.  This will not happen because the OIC does not represent the Ummah, but because it is a conglomerate of nation-states, all of which are pursuing only their own interests, which view themselves as the peak of loyalty.

The OIC represents the difference between the Muslim worldview, and that of the OIC governments, which have not taken power generally by any attention to the will of the people. Thus, they are caught between two directions: they are not democrats either. Perhaps, that is why the OIC continues to be so ineffective. Because it is a body that does not know its own mind!

The writer is a veteran journalist and founding member as well as Executive Editor of TheNation. Email:­