Pakistan’s theme song at the OIC Foreign Ministers’ meeting in Islamabad was: Allah ke naam pe de de. No one gave anything. Over half of all Afghan children slept hungry while the Conference delegates feasted on Pakistani cuisine! It was the ultimate flop show that a red-faced Government claimed as a great diplomatic triumph. The final statement was long on pious thoughts (such as a body of Islamic scholars teaching the Taliban the true meaning of Islam) but short on commitments. Net result = Zero.
There is an Arab proverb: it is good to know the truth and speak about it, it is better to know the truth and speak about palm trees.
Everyone knows that the main challenge facing the world is terrorism, sponsored by Pakistan, the chief arsonist pretending to be a firefighter. There have been 18 high-level official meetings on Afghanistan in 2021.
Pakistan convened an extraordinary meeting of Foreign Ministers of the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation in Islamabad to discuss the Afghan situation. For good measure, the P-5 and some international organizations had been invited. Several prominent Foreign Ministers excused themselves, and their host, looking like a deflated balloon, explained that the meeting had been convened at short notice. The Central Asian Republics preferred to be in New Delhi for the India-Central Asia Dialogue on Afghanistan, making clear their preference for India as a strategic partner.
Why has Pakistan hosted this meeting, expanding its very limited political capital in the Islamic world (it has none elsewhere)?
There are unconfirmed reports that the Conference Centre has been mortgaged to the Chinese. The terrorists in Kabul have blackmailed Imran Khan into becoming their promoter, even though his clownish Foreign Minister avers that Pakistan was not the spokesperson for the Taliban, but only wanted to bring the stakeholders to the OIC platform to directly get across their points of view.
Many years ago, Ayub Khan had lamented that the Afghans were more opportunists than Muslims. You were dancing deliriously when we seized power in Kabul in August 2021, says the Taliban, and hailed it as a historic victory of Islam over the infidels
Now, where’s the beef? The world tells the Taliban: show us your changed behaviour before we give you money. The Taliban says: give us the money or 9/11 will be a picnic compared to what we will do now. Give them the money, begs Pakistan, but route it through me so that I can pilfer most of it.
The OIC delegates were welcomed by a huge explosion in Karachi that killed several. Remember the July 2021 bus explosion that killed some Chinese engineers working on a dam? It too was attributed to a ruptured fuel pipeline, before the Chinese ordered: “Pakistan to capture the perpetrators, punish them severely, and effectively protect the safety of Chinese personnel, institutions, and projects in Pakistan.”
Was the OIC Islamabad meet a coming-out party for the Taliban, so its interim Foreign Minister could listen to the concerns of the “international community” while putting across his and Pakistan’s case that Taliban II are the best people in the world and should be recognized?
As expected, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister used his opening speech to talk about “Kashmiris suffering under illegal occupation” and announced Pakistan’s great gesture to allow 50,000 tonnes of Indian wheat and life-saving medicines to be transported to Afghanistan by the land route four weeks after we suggested that it be done. He also boasted that stone-broke Pakistan would give USD 30 mn worth of supplies to Afghanistan (possibly the same stuff that China had previously said it would send through Pakistan).
In September 2021, at a donors’ conference in Geneva, the United Nations Secretary-General said USD 1.1 bn had been pledged in humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan whose people were facing their “most perilous hour…the collapse of an entire country.”
No one has seen the money yet.
Frustrated, the Pakistani Minister warned that all the efforts and foreign investment of 20 years in Afghanistan, besides the loss of innocent lives, would prove futile. Chaos in Afghanistan would have grave consequences for regional and international peace and security and affect Pakistan as well as other countries of the region, including Iran and Tajikistan, and even Europe
Pakistan warns whoever listens that unless the terror-loving Taliban is mollycoddled, they will blow themselves up (literally) in the world’s face. This is a stupid attempt to convert the Taliban’s suicidal tendencies into a bargaining chip.
The jokers should know the adage that an Afghan can be rented by the highest bidder but never bought.
By convening this meeting, Pakistan has Islamized the Afghanistan issue, which is one of terrorism, poverty, hunger, infighting, and foreign interference.
The OIC is a house divided against itself, 32 of its 57 members (more than half) including in Western and Northern Africa and Western Asia are in various stages of internal upheaval or external uncertainty.
It invited India as a Guest of Honour at the 50th Conference of its Foreign Ministers in 2019 and at least half a dozen OIC Arab nations have honoured India’s Prime Minister in the last few years much to Pakistan’s horror.
I am not aware of any OIC meeting to rescue Somalia or Syria or Iraq or to save the Uighurs of Xinjiang from genetic modification – so much for Islamic hearts beating for their coreligionists. Pakistan tries its best to displace Saudi Arabia as the leader of the Islamic world. It suggested an Islamic equivalent of the BBC and miffed by the Saudi refusal to discuss Kashmir, called a special meeting of Islamic countries in Kuala Lumpur in December 2019 (parallel OIC) to discuss Kashmir but got a solid Saudi kick in the butt.
Are the Taliban ready to compromise?
In a callous display of arrogance, a Taliban leader said that the people of Afghanistan, not the Taliban, are suffering from international sanctions. The Taliban is not a bunch of wayward kids but hardened brutes, hardcore obscurantists, religious bigots, stone-age misogynist thugs, cut-throats, and drug dealers with prices on their heads.
Imran Khan tried to sell them to the world, but the rich nations, absorbed in battling Omicron (the WHO says cases are doubling every three days)have little time for Pakistan’s antics.
A recent Gallup poll suggested that spiraling inflation and unemployment were the biggest problems haunting the people of Pakistan and not Kashmir or Afghanistan
Frightened by the threats from its homegrown terror outfits such as the Tehreek e Taliban Pakistan, Islamabad declared the days of the Conference as holidays and almost suspended mobile services in Islamabad
Pakistan’s only global relevance is as the epicenter of terrorism; its casino economy (real estate speculation, stock market manipulation, and commodity exports) is broken, its educational system has collapsed, public services are non-existent, and its passport ranks below the Somali in global acceptability!
The repeated reach-out to foreign sources for fiscal bailouts has made Pakistan an eternal beggar in a constant state of denial
What do Muslim nations get from Pakistan apart from some mercenary soldiers to protect the rulers from their people?
Free boot polish!
(Deepak Vohra is a senior diplomat, special Advisor to Prime Minister on Lesotho, South Sudan and Guinea-Bissau and Special Advisor to Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Councils, Leh and Kargil)