Kashmir Likely to be Key Issue of Malaysia Summit

The situation in Kashmir could figure among the key issues on the agenda of Malaysia-led Kuala Lumpur Summit of Muslim majority nations. The gathering could be seen as a mini-Organisation of Islamic Cooperation meet sans key Islamic states — Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates.

Host Malaysia has invited Pakistan, Turkey, Qatar and Indonesia for the summit as part of Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad’s efforts to emerge as a leader of the Islamic world. Some reports said that Iran has also been invited to the summit, but there has been no confirmation regarding this. Both Malaysia and Turkey have backed Pakistan on Kashmir issue since the Centre, on August 5, withdrew the special status given to the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Constitution and bifurcated it into two Union territories.

Pakistan has banked heavily on Turkey and Malaysia following Saudi Arabia and the UAE’s neutral stance on India’s move on Kashmir. Most OIC members have been lukewarm over Pakistan’s efforts to internationalise Kashmir issue.

The plan for the summit was finalised during a trilateral meeting involving Turkey, Pakistan and Malaysia in September in New York City on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session.

Pakistan will attempt to bring Kashmir issue at the forefront of the summit, according to people aware of the matter. However, Indonesia, which has the world’s largest Muslim population and is a country that prides on its syncretic culture, may not back any move that focuses on Kashmir. In the past few years, Indonesia has opposed moves by the OIC to adopt strong statements on Kashmir. Indonesia’s ties with India have improved vastly in the past few years as part of partnership in the Indo-Pacific region.

While this summit may not split the OIC in near future, it is a clear attempt by Malaysia backed by Turkey to challenge Saudi Arabia’s leadership role in the Islamic world, according to experts who follow developments in the OIC. The Kuala Lumpur Summit 2019 will be an important platform to bring the true message of Islam to the world, more so to resolve issues on radicalism and Islamophobia, minister in the Malaysian Prime Minister's Department Seri Mujahid Yusof Rawa said recently.

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