NATIONAL

Pak. Minister lashes out at OIC

MANAMA (Bahrain) JAN. 20. A Pakistan Minister has called the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) a toothless and redundant entity while some Arab analysts have begun to question the unstinted support their Governments had extended to Islamabad in the recent past. All this appears more in the nature of a lover's tiff rather than a rupture but, still, relations between Pakistan and their Arab brethren seem to be going through a rough patch.

Pakistan's Telecommunications Minister, Javed Ashraf Qazi, described the OIC as being ``toothless and redundant'' for its failure to issue any statement on the military stand-off between Pakistan and India.

The Minister, who was on a visit here, told the press that the least the OIC could have done was to get together and raise their concern over the military tension in the subcontinent since they had a duty to unite on all Muslim causes. Mr. Qazi said Pakistan had got ``outright support'' from the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain but then also added that he hoped ``all these countries would also convey to India'' the right course to adopt.

These Gulf countries and the rest of the Arab world have only expressed concern and nothing more. This was quite a change from the situation obtainable till before September last when many of these countries would have at least hinted that their sympathies were with Pakistan. Now it is as if they were telling the subcontinent to stop annoying them when they have their own problems to cope with. As for its part, the OIC had stopped short of fully endorsing whatever formulations on India or Kashmir that Pakistan wanted them to adopt only on account of stout rear-guard action by India's friends.

Pakistan does have reason to find fault with the OIC's behaviour this time around. A change in the OIC behaviour does not seem un-related to some new thinking that has emerged in the Arab world. There have been a few analyses and commentaries critical of India's growing ties with Israel in the Arab media of late. Criticism was sharp on the matter of Israel's Foreign Minister, Shimon Peres, visiting India at a time of high tension between Israel and the Palestinians. A point focussed upon was that India, which had been such a staunch supporter of the Arab cause, should not be cosying up to Israel, particularly at this point in time.

However, most of these commentators also went on to note that such a shift in the network of relationships was not entirely India's fault. The Arabs too had erred in neglecting India's concerns by going along with whatever Pakistan had to say on Indo-Pakistan relations, these commentators pointed out. There seems to be some irritation at having blindly followed the Pakistan lead on issues of concerns to India. But this irritation with Pakistan's foreign policy connects back to another cause as well.

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