UAE, Saudi Arabia Block Pak Bid to Embarrass India at OIC

Pakistan tried to use every session in the March 1-2 Organisation of Islamic Cooperation meeting in Abu Dhabi to defame India, but failed to get the Kashmir issue mentioned in the final joint declaration of the 57-member group as hosts UAE, besides Saudi Arabia, ensured that the guest (India) wasn’t embarrassed.

The Pak delegation, led by its officials instead of the foreign minister, tried to argue against the invite to India as the guest of honour and made attempts to defame India during the sessions, according to people privy to the deliberations. The efforts did not work the way Islamabad wanted.

While the OIC adopted separate resolutions on the Kashmir issue — terming it as the ‘core’ dispute between India and Pakistan — and the recent airstrikes, the final Abu Dhabi Declaration didn’t even have a passing reference to Kashmir. UAE and Saudi Arabia had a very important role to play in ensuring India wasn’t embarrassed at the meeting, even as Pakistan tried to reason also with the foreign ministers of other OIC member states.

The UAE earlier ensured that India attended the meet despite Islamabad’s objections. The OIC and UAE then did not give in to the demands to include Kashmir in the final draft, despite relentless efforts by Pakistan’s delegation, people in the know said. Pakistan’s delegation, led by Raja Ali Ejaz, its Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, staged a protest during the second session of the meeting, objecting to the OIC inviting external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj as the guest of honour.

Earlier, Islamabad tried its best to get the OIC to withdraw the invitation. That country's delegation reached out to the UAE and Saudi Arabia and even called for an emergency meeting of the OIC ‘Contact Group on J&K’ in Jeddah on February 27 to get the invitation withdrawn.

Such contact group meetings are usually organised on the sidelines of OIC foreign ministers’ meetings. But Pakistan could only manage to convene it in Jeddah and that too at the level of ambassadors. Islamabad tried to make a strong case on why India should not be invited, but the arguments failed to convince either the UAE or Saudi Arabia, whose Crown Prince recently visited Delhi.

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