OIC Ambassadorial Meeting

Statement by H.E. Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Foreign Minister of Pakistan to the OIC Ambassadorial Meeting on 10 July, 2008

Dear Permanent Representatives of the Islamic countries

Brothers and Sisters,

Assalam-o-Alaikum,

Your presence here at short notice is a testimony of your affection for and solidarity with Pakistan. This is my first visit to New York after assuming responsibilities as the Foreign Minister of Pakistan.

  1. Just a few weeks ago, I had the honour to attend the 35th Islamic Conference in Kampala, Uganda. I wish to congratulate Uganda on the success of this Conference and on assuming the OIC Chairmanship.
  2. I wish to take this opportunity to share with you my thoughts on some of the vital issues that confront the Islamic Ummah.

Excellencies,

  1. . The Islamic world, unfortunately, is in the vortex of several volatile political and economic transitions. Muslim lands remain under occupation. Our noble faith is repeatedly attacked and insulted in a systematic campaign of Islamophobia. Our youth are being misguided to a path of extremism and violence. Our societies are battling against internal and external threats. Many of our countries remain underdeveloped, economically, socially and technologically. The new onslaughts of food crisis and high energy prices are aggravating the multiple challenges facing our countries.
  2. Most of these threats affect us collectively and threaten the peaceful existence of our countries. It is necessary to respond to them collectively and wisely. We should endeavour jointly to address the underlying political and security challenges facing the Islamic countries. We should try to play a more active role at the United Nations and other organizations to resolve the issues of Palestine, Islamophobia, international terrorism, and development.
  3. Pakistan has always been at the forefront in advancing the causes of the OIC, particularly the legitimate cause of Palestine. We desire a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East and an end to the occupation of all Arab territories.
  4. I wish to also thank the members of the OIC for their continued support to the just cause of the people of Jammu and Kashmir and for their internationally recognized right to self-determination. Tangible progress on this issue will contribute to Pakistanís endeavour to build cooperative relations with India and to enable South Asia to emerge as a zone of prosperity and peace.
  5. It is a matter of pride for us that during the tenure of Pakistanís chairmanship of the Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers, our Organization was able to secure the adoption of the new OIC Charter. We hope that the ratification of the new Charter by all member States will help to transform our Organization into a more relevant and vibrant entity that can help the Islamic countries to respond the challenges of the 21st century.
  6. Pakistan has and will continue its efforts to transform the OIC into a more coherent and strong Organization, able to advance the objectives of the Islamic world. During the last year, the OIC Group in New York has set up informal working groups which have helped to consolidate the OIC positions on important issues, such as human rights, Islamophobia, Terrorism, Disarmament, Development and UN Reform. The OIC Group in New York has also adopted a number of statements on the core problem of Palestine and other Arab occupied lands as well as on instances of Islamophobia.
  7. We have every confidence that during the Chairmanship of Uganda, the solidarity and cooperation of the Islamic countries in all relevant UN bodies will be intensified and enlarged in accordance with the decisions of our leaders.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

  1. The active and constructive role of OIC members at the United Nations is vital to safeguard and promote our national and collective interests. Many members of our Organization are playing prominent roles in new UN entities, such as the Peace Building Commission and the Human Rights Council.
  2. Our countries should also play a significant role in the Security Council and in its reform and expansion. The OIC constitutes more than one-fourth of the UN membership; it should have proportional representation on an expanded Security Council, specially since the Councilís agenda contains many items of direct concern to the Islamic countries. In our joint statements, the Islamic Foreign Ministers have categorically stressed that any reform of the Security Council in any category of membership must ensure adequate representation of the OIC member States. This should remain the minimum goal for our Group in the future discussions of this issue at the United Nations.

Dear Brothers & Sisters,

  1. The continued misrepresentation of Islam and repeated insults to our Faith is another significant challenge we face today. We cannot accept malicious attempts to defame our religion under the cover of the freedom of speech. In this context, I would like to recall the historic decision of the last Annual Coordination Meeting of the OIC Ministers in New York to combat Islamophobia in a comprehensive manner. It called for the finalization of a legally binding instrument on discrimination and instigation of hatred against any religion. This decision was emphatically endorsed by the 11th Islamic Summit in Dakar. The OIC should vigorously engage the Western and other countries to promote this objective.
  2. Another major challenge faced by the Ummah today is terrorism and violent extremism. Both pose a serious threat to our societies and countries and to our regions and the world. Pakistan has been one of the principal victims of terrorism and violent extremism. Just the day before I left for New York, we faced a new spate of bombings in Islamabad and Karachi.
  3. Terrorism can never be justified and must be condemned in all its forms and manifestations. In our collective efforts to eliminate this menace, however, we need to address some deeper questions including the root causes of terrorism. We must evolve a holistic and multi-dimensional strategy to tackle the challenge of terrorism and extremism.
  4. Pakistanís contribution to the fight against Al-Qaeda and Taliban terrorism and extremism is well known. We are pursuing such a comprehensive strategy in our frontier regions. Our priority is to promote political reconciliation and economic reconstruction and development in Pakistanís tribal areas to win over the people, the tribes and the moderate forces and to isolate and eventually eliminate the terrorists and violent extremists. However, I would like to stress and clarify that our pacification moves and negotiations are only with tribal elders and other influentials in the region and not with terrorists nor those who do not eschew violence.
  5. In our efforts to restore peace through dialogue and development, any act of terrorism or cross-border attack in Afghanistan from Pakistani soil will not be tolerated. If any such violation occurs, our government will take forceful action to eliminate that. On the other hand, Pakistan will not allow any foreign troops on its territory.
  6. We believe that peace and stability between Pakistan and Afghanistan are indivisible. It is in the vital interest of our two countries which are bound by geography, history, faith and culture, to cooperate closely to defeat the menace of terrorism. Peace in our countries will enable Pakistan and Afghanistan to serve as the hub for trade and economic cooperation in the regions of South Asia and Central Asia, China and the Gulf. We can succeed in realizing these objectives only with the good wishes and support of the Islamic countries and the unconditional cooperation of the international community.

I thank you.