‘We Must Isolate Nations Funding Terror’: Swaraj at OIC Meet

‘We Must Isolate Nations Funding Terror’: Swaraj at OIC Meet

India

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj addressed the inaugural session of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) foreign ministers’ meet on Friday, 1 March.

Opening her address, Swaraj said: “I stand here as a representative of a land, that has been for ages a fountain of knowledge, a beacon of peace, a source of faiths and traditions, and home to religions from the world and now, one of the major economies of the world.”

“I carry the greetings of 1.3 billion Indians, including more than 185 million Muslim brothers and sisters. Our Muslims brothers and sisters are a microcosm of the diversity of India itself,” she added.

In the past four years, Swaraj said, few relationships have seen as much engagement, or have been so transformed, as India’s relationship with the UAE.

“India shares much with you. Many of us have experienced the dark days of colonialism. Many of us saw, the light of freedom and the bright ray of hope at the same time. We have stood together in solidarity, in our quest for justice and dignity,” she added.

Also Read : Pak to Skip OIC Meet in Abu Dhabi Over Invitation to Sushma Swaraj

‘We Must Isolate Nations Funding Terror’

Speaking about the rise of terrorism worldwide, Swaraj said that it was “destroying lives, destabilising regions and putting the world at great peril.”

“Terror reach is growing and the toll it is taking is increasing,” she said.

Terrorism uses diverse causes but in each case, it is driven by distortion of religion and misguided belief in its power to succeed, she added.

“The fight against terrorism is not a confrontation against any religion. It cannot be. Just as Islam literally means peace, none of the 99 names of Allah mean violence. Similarly, every religion in the world stands for peace, compassion and brotherhood,” she added.

In an apparent jibe at Pakistan, Swaraj said: “If we want to save humanity, we must tell the states who provide shelter and funding to terrorists to dismantle the infrastructure of the terrorist camps and stop providing shelter and funding to the terror organisations based in that country.”

We need to isolate nations funding terror, she added.

Read the full text of her OIC address here.

UAE’s’ Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdullah bin Zayed had addressed the opening session of the 46th Council of OIC on Friday.

Following Zayed, OIC Secretary General Dr Yousef bin Ahmed Al-Othaimeen took the stage ahead of Swaraj’s opening address.

Also Read : States Must Dismantle Terror Camps to Save Humanity: Sushma Swaraj

Swaraj Holds Bilateral Talks With UAE, Saudi Arabia, Maldives, Bahrain

Swaraj was attending the inaugural plenary session of the two-day OIC meet – an influential grouping of 57 countries. It is the first time that India has been invited to an OIC meeting as guest of honour, PTI reported.

After addressing the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation meeting in Abu Dhabi, Swaraj held talks with host UAE's Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan and thanked him for inviting India as a 'Guest of Honour' for the first time in the history of the OIC and that too on the occasion of the grouping's golden jubilee.

Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir also welcomed India at the OIC meeting as the guest of honour and discussed bilateral issues with Swaraj.

The UAE is India’s third-biggest trading partner, with bilateral trade amounting to $53 million, reported ANI.

Swaraj also held bilateral talks with her counterparts from Maldives and Bahrain, and exchanged views on the regional situation, reported PTI.

She held meetings with Maldives Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid and discussed the follow up to President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih's visit to India in December last year, MEA Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted.

Also Read : IAF pilot Abhinandan Varthaman returns to India

On the sidelines of the OIC meeting, Swaraj held talks with Uzbekistan Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov and discussed the follow up to the first India-Central Asia Dialogue in Samarkand.

She held bilateral meetings with Bahrain Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Khalifa and Bangladesh's AK Abdul Momen.

Swaraj was the first Indian minister to address the meeting of the 57 Islamic countries.

India's participation came despite strong demand by Pakistan to rescind the invitation to Swaraj to address the grouping, which was turned down by the host UAE, resulting in Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi boycotting the plenary.

India’s engagement with the OIC comes in the midst of escalating tension with Pakistan.

Pakistan Skips OIC Meet

Meanwhile, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said on Friday that he will not attend the OIC meet due to Swaraj's presence at the conclave as the ‘guest of honour’, ANI reported.

“I will not attend Council of Foreign Ministers as a matter of principle for having extended invitation as a Guest of Honour to Sushma Swaraj,” he said.

Qureshi’s vacant desk at the OIC meet.
Qureshi’s vacant desk at the OIC meet.
Photo Courtesy: Twitter/@Geeta_Mohan)

Pakistan had also lodged a strong protest in a letter to Ahmad Al-Othaimeen and Abdullah bin Zayed.

A copy of Qureshi’s letter.
A copy of Qureshi’s letter.
Photo: Twitter/@Geeta_Mohan)
“I have spoken to the UAE Foreign Minister and have expressed my reservations over her (Swaraj’s) invitation. I have made myself clear that India has shown aggression. Under the current circumstances, it will not be possible for me to attend OIC meeting where Sushma Swaraj is present.”
Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Pakistan Foreign Minister, to Geo News

Also Read : Pak Govt Deletes ‘Edited’ Video of IAF Pilot After Facing Backlash

There were reports that Pakistan tried to get Swaraj ‘disinvited’ from the OIC meet following India’s air strike.

The OIC had disinvited India from its conference in 1969 in Morocco at Pakistan's behest. The OIC has usually been supportive of Pakistan and often sided with Islamabad on the Kashmir issue.

The MEA, meanwhile, said that India was happy to accept the invitation.

PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, meanwhile, termed the government's decision not to attend the OIC meeting as "unfortunate", saying: "Important international forums must be engaged at this critical time."

India’s reaction to Pakistan’s absence was conveyed through Raveesh Kumar’s statement, "We are not keeping an attendance sheet of the ministers who are coming or not coming. As the secretary has mentioned, we are very grateful that we have been invited by the UAE to participate and we are very happy to participate at the OIC Minister's meeting," reported ANI.

No Mediation on India-Pak By Any OIC Member: MEA

On the sidelines of the 46th OIC, India said that no member of the organisation had intervened to ease Indo-Pak tensions, reported ANI.

“There was no offer to mediate (between India and Pakistan) by any OIC member.”
TS Tirupathi, Secretary (ER), at a media briefing

From India’s side, the MEA Spokesperson, India's Ambassador to the UAE Navdeep Singh Suri and Secretary Tirupathi were at the media briefing. They underlined the improving bilateral ties between India and the UAE and and India’s close relation to the OIC member-states.

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Secretary Tirupathi did not, however, comment on the alleged involvement of UAE and Saudi Arabia in Pakistan’s decision to release IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman.

Indo-Pak tensions led to questions on resolving the Kashmir crisis, to which Tirupathi responded, “Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India and we will not let anyone interfere in our internal affairs and that position stands."

“As the official announcement by the UAE mentioned...the invitation to India was extended in recognition of India’s global political stature as well as its time-honoured and deep-rooted cultural and historical legacy and its important Islamic component.”
Secretary Tirupathi

He also added it was “a historic day”, and emphasised on Swaraj’s remarks on countering terrorism without tying it to any specific religion.

“She underlined that the fight against terrorism is not a confrontation against any religion.”
Secretary Tirupathi

Also Read : Pakistan to Lodge UN Complaint Against India For ‘Eco-Terrorism’

(With inputs from ANI, PTI, IANS)

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