The participation of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj as a guest of honour at the 46th ministerial conference of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) is a reflection of the growing international appreciation of India’s position on terrorism. The OIC, which has traditionally viewed Indo-Pak relations from Islamic standpoint and differed with India on Kashmir issue, has, for the first time, invited India as a guest of honour at its Abu Dhabi conference, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the grouping. This is a significant development in the rapidly growing international convergence on tackling the menace of terrorism. Understandably, Pakistan stayed away from the conference to protest against the invitation to India. It is time New Delhi leveraged this growing global solidarity to push for complete isolation of Pakistan on terrorism and expose its devious designs of using terrorism as an instrument of state policy. While it would be too ambitious to expect the OIC to modify its stand on Kashmir issue overnight, the invitation to India and the sentiments expressed by United Arab Emirates, the current chair of the OIC, mark a historic moment in the geopolitical equation between New Delhi and the 56-member Islamic grouping. Much more significant was the UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan’s observation that the OIC was looking forward to a day when it can “embrace India” in the organisation. Moreover, the Abu Dhabi Declaration, a negotiated document, at the end of the conference, had no mention of Kashmir.
The conference was held in the backdrop of the Pulwama terrorist attack linked to Pakistan, a member of OIC. Having Indian representative as a guest of honour clearly sent out a message that the organisation of Islamic nations was abhorrent to terrorism even when it emanated from a member state to target a non-member like India. The invitation to New Delhi was not withdrawn even after the IAF carried out serial strikes deep inside Pakistani territory, targeting terrorist camps. While the theme of the conference was “Roadmap for Prosperity and Development”, India made a forceful point that the existence of terrorism serves as a roadblock in fulfilling such aspirations. Way back in 1969, Pakistan had managed to scuttle an invitation to India on the ground that New Delhi was in conflict with it, an Islamic country and a member state. However, the international perception about Pakistan has undergone a sea change in the recent years and it is now a well-known fact that it has become a global hub of terrorism. India’s interests would be best served if it makes optimum use of the forum and creates positive energy within the grouping by its sheer presence and its contributions in a multilateral setting.