The OIC Conference on Afghanistan
Afghans are suffering once again, facing the wrath and atrocities of harsh weather, financial and economic bankruptcy, malnutrition, institutional demise, political instability and the negligence of the international community and so-called champions of human rights. Owing to this backdrop, the 17th extraordinary meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) was held in Islamabad on December 19, 2021.
The conference was attended by 70 delegations including 20 foreign ministers, 10 deputy foreign ministers and 437 delegates from the 57 member countries of OIC. The conference was also attended by observers from the United States, China, Germany, Japan and Italy. Even representatives from the United Nations and the European Union attended the event. The success of the event echoed in international media and the Afghans got the attention of the world at large.
Although Pakistan hosted this great event, it was organized on the utterance and crucial support of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The meetup was addressed by the Prime Minister of Pakistan Mr Imran Khan, Secretary-General Hissein Brahim Taha, special representative of Secretary-General of United Nations, Foreign Minister of Turkey, Foreign Ministers of Pakistan and Saudia Arabia, Mr Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Prince Faisal Bin Farhan respectively. Afghan delegation also attended the summit and was led by Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi.
Pakistan’s Commitment to the Afghan Cause
Fortunately, the OIC realized at last that Afghanistan was on the verge of another fiasco and highly alarming humanitarian crisis. According to the UN reports, half of the population is facing a hunger crisis, about 3.2 million children are facing malnutrition and over seven lac women are facing vulnerabilities. According to a report by the UNDP, due to the prevailing crisis, 97% of the Afghan population will go below the poverty line which will create the biggest humanitarian crisis in the world.
Here, salute to Pakistan’s stewardship which echoed in front of the world and compelled OIC that the humanitarian crisis is looming and economic debacle is inevitable in Afghanistan. While addressing the conference, PM Imran Khan held that the world needed to be attentive to the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan and should not neglect Afghans due to the differences with the political government in Kabul.
PM Khan also highlighted the sacrifices and services of Pakistan and reiterated that Pakistan was already hosting over two million Afghans and about two lac refugees of other nationalities. All the cabinet members were engaged in an excellent manner to receive, host and then see off the honorable guests of the event. Soon after the session, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Secretary General OIC, Mr. Hissein Brahim Taha, addressed a joint press conference and shared the details with the media personnel in Islamabad.
Investing in Afghanistan
FM Qureshi informed the media that Afghans were heard in detail about the post-August 15 developments in Afghanistan. He also said that the focus was on saving the lives of 38 million people in Afghanistan and that the consequences of ignoring them will be felt beyond the region. He further added that the conference had adopted the Joint Resolution on the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan and the Islamabad Declaration on the Palestinian crisis.
Secretary-General Hissein Brahim Taha stressed upon the Muslim countries to invest in Afghanistan’s education, social, and economic sectors. The Joint Resolution on the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan included that the OIC Secretariat would engage and work jointly with WHO for assistance and securing vaccines for Afghans. The food security program for Afghanistan had also been approved.
Moreover, OIC would establish a humanitarian fund and donations would be received through the account of the Islamic Development Bank. The OIC will appoint a special envoy for Afghanistan who will oversee Afghan affairs on behalf of OIC. Also, a decision was made to ensure the establishment of cooperation between the OIC and the UN. The conference called upon the United States and other members of the international community to be conscious that the sanctions on the Taliban were not to impede the humanitarian assistance for Afghans.
The delegates were hopeful that the summit will not be the end but a beginning of a series of summits for achieving the larger aim of saving Afghanistan from collapsing economically and stopping the looming humanitarian crisis. Moreover, the delegates and observers highly appreciated Pakistan for uniting the representatives of Muslim Ummah and applauded Pakistan for its sacrifices, commitment, and services for handling the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.
The special representatives of the United States and China highly appreciated the arrangements and instrumentation by Pakistan’s political stewardship and officers in handling the hectic activities of the conference. During their meeting, Secretary-General Hissein Brahim Taha and PM Imran Khan discussed other issues pertaining to Muslim Ummah including Islamophobia, the coronavirus pandemic, the emerging threat of the virus’s omicron variant, climate change, etcetera.
To conclude, it can be rightly stated that after about 40 years, Pakistan hosted the members of OIC and this time, the agenda was purely based on humanitarian issues. The conference was a complete success in terms of attendance, participation by the delegates, pledges for financially helping out Afghans, and consensus upon the major points for taking immediate steps in this regard. Moreover, Tariq Ali Bakheet was appointed as Special Envoy of OIC for Afghanistan which clearly suggests the readiness of the forum to handle Afghanistan’s humanitarian crisis.
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