Saudi takes J&K to Organisation of Islamic Cooperation: Move portends diplomacy of confrontation

Abhijit Bhattacharyya

The recent Saudi u-turn to take Jammu & Kashmir to Organisation of Islamic Co-operation appeared somewhat unusual owing to late-2019 Delhi Riyadh diplomatic bonhomie as bi-lateral definitely appeared much more promising than ever before. However, as we live in unpredictable and uncertain times of instant happenings, Saudis may soon find their decision to hold meeting of the 57-member-country Organisation of Islamic Co-operation on J&K in Pakistan a damp squib in midst of sudden burst of unprecedented and unacceptable violence in the Riyadh neighbourhood and a possible escalation thereof which threatens to set several countries in West Asia in line of direct fire of war.

Indeed, what goaded the Saudis to change stance, or appear different in their eyes, pertaining to Indian Government’s action taken within its own territory in the erstwhile state of J&K, is unclear. However, whatever might have been the background or extraneous pulls and pressure, the end-use act of Riyadh could have been avoided. Terming it as a “no-go area” for foreigners to discuss India’s internal affairs. OIC certainly could hardly be seen to be an ideal platform for India’s J&K on its agenda.

As the leading mover and keeper of the Islamic world order, included in which are the holy shrines, one expected Saudis to act as large hearted as possible, and re-iterate that J&K, under no stretch of imagination, could ever be brought forward onto a unique multi-lateral table of restricted club with a religious identity and defined political ideology. J&K, thus, not only needlessly emerged as an external and extraneous factor, but also, is, perceived as an extra-territorial intervention by the OIC, thereby giving India a fresh opportunity to clearly and categorically point out that except New Delhi no other nation, or national, has the right or the core competence to deal with a matter of national sovereignty of the Indian nation state.

Contextually, therefore, J&K accession comes back to fore. 565 princely states (included in which was J&K) had to compulsorily choose between India or Pakistan in 1947. Approximately 20 acceded to Pakistan. Rest followed, and joined, India. Thus, on Sunday October 26, 1947 became J&K an inalienable and integral part of India. Legally, technically, politically. Nevertheless, gross unethical and illegal acts of lunatics and fanatics erupted from the venomous cocktail of politics and religion thereby resulting in ceaseless, yet avoidable, bloodshed. A bloodshed which continued, and continues, unabated more than seven decades resulting in intermittent external aggression and endless internal squabbling.

Rightly or wrongly, therefore, the traditional internal polity and external relations of the Indian state faltered on J&K. All the while sectoral politics trumped broader economics of growth. While the country at large moved on, the chain of emerging unsavoury situations written in blood took its toll in death and destruction. Internally too, India appeared increasingly embarrassed as the external forces unleashed ceaseless volley of fire from a few miles away in the western border of Indian J&K thereby denying uninterrupted peace and prosperity to the Indians in general and those in that state in particular.

Over time, thus, an important, but recurring source of delusion originated, and an impression gained ground, owing to constant disinformation campaign of the successors of Muhammad Ali Jinnah that whereas J&K is essentially a Muslim area, the geography of “Hindu India” has gobbled it up to deny the existence of a culture which is not in tune with the majority of New Delhi populace.

Unfortunately, one has reason to believe, that it’s this ‘mis’ and dis-information campaign which played more than its share to convince the OIC to convene a meeting in Pakistan in the first half of 2020. To this author, that may not be a very wise thing to do. One sincerely hopes that instead of a collective conscientious diplomacy, things do not go astray towards a diplomacy of confrontation.

It’s because those countries who are likely to gather to discuss J&K in Pakistan may soon be overwhelmed by another fire in the bush which has all the potential to spread like a world-wide conflagration in the aftermath of the killing of the Iranian General by the USA, deep inside Iraq.

Therefore, if J&K is still perceived as an issue in the eyes of members of the OIC, they may soon derive solace from the fact that at least J&K has not spilled over to engulf the Islamic world on fire. Apparently, devastating and dangerous times are unlikely to be very far off. Nay, it may be waiting to inflict utter misery in near future for the OIC in its own backyard. Spanning across the geography and demography of member countries thereof. Seen in this background, J&K certainly would appear to be an oasis of peace in the midst of desert fire. A fire and war with tradition and legacy of hundreds of years. A war zone which attracts fighters from all across the globe. A war without end. It could have been a war to end all wars; but unfortunately has never been so.

OIC may soon have its hands full more in Karbala and Khurramsahr front than on a theoretical politics and confabulations over J&K in the plush, cosy and comforts of Islamabad’s military conference hall.

The OIC Contact Group on Jammu and Kashmir had a ministerial meeting on 25 September 2019 on the sidelines of the 74th session of the UN General Assembly in New York and called on the international community to accelerate its efforts to help the people of Jammu and Kashmir “decisively achieve” their legitimate rights after Article 370 of the Constitution of Indian that guaranteed special status to Jammu and Kashmir was revoked.

The author: Abhijit Bhattacharyya is a practicing advocate at the Supreme Court and High Court. He is also an alumnus of National Defence College and the author of ‘China in India’.

Read More: OIC and Saudi Arabia’s U-turn on Kashmir

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