India to be an Observer in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation?

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The Organization of Islamic Cooperation, founded in 1969 is an organization consisting of 57 member countries which has a majority of people following the Islamic faith ( as recorded in 2008). The organization sees itself as the “collective voice of the Muslim world” and its agenda is to “safeguard and protect the interests of the Muslim world in the spirit of promoting international peace and harmony”.

Although its majority of the population may not be Muslim, India is a country which contains more than 10% of the world’s Muslim population, which is higher than most of the countries where the people of Islamic faith holds majority position. India ranks third in the list of the countries ranked according to the number of Muslims residing in them.

For the past many years many members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) have expressed its opinion to make India an observer in it on the basis of the vast number of Muslims that India has. Excluding India from the group is like excluding a vast section of the people for whom they stand. But Pakistan, who hold a veto power in the Organization and uses the platform to often attract India on matters like the issues over J & K, have been using its power to dislodge such propositions.

But a report published in the Times of India on 6th May, 2018, ie, today in the early morning states that Bangladesh, who is also a member of OIC have finally made the first official call to induce India within its folds. This call was made by Abul Hasan Mahmood Ali, the Minister from Bangladesh in a meeting of IOC foreign ministers in Dhaka on Saturday, the 7th of May.

Voicing his concern for reforms and re-structuring of the organization the Bangladesh Minister stated, “There is a need to build bridges with those non-OIC countries so that a large number of Muslim populations do not remain untouched by the good work of OIC. That is why reforms and restructuring is critical for OIC,”. Calling for reforms of the organisation to make it more contemporary, Ali said, “We need to rethink our work, method and process of functioning to cater to the needs of the current era and beyond.”

Preceeding Bangladesh, the former Saudi ruler Abdullah too had proposed about India becoming a member of the organization in 2006, but the proposal reached no definite decision. But keeping in view of India’s strengthening bonds with majority of the Islamic nations in the recent years, who are also members of OIC, this time Bangladesh’s call received support from the organization’s General secretary too.

Pakistan’s stand on the matter is yet to be known and it is something to look forward to as it is one of the strongest voices who stands in opposition of this idea. But going by the support that India is receiving, it seems like India has a fat chance of gaining its position as an observer in the  Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

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