National and International Issues

Addressing the Humanitarian Crisis: 17th OIC CFM Summit

Pakistan hosted the 17th Extraordinary Session of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers in December to highlight the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan in order to devise a collective way forward for the Afghan people.


The Foreign Ministers of the member states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) got together in Islamabad last month on December 18-20, 2021 to work out a plan of action to avert the ensuing humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan. The 57-member organization pledged to establish a fund to assist Afghanistan in what is being called one of the worst humanitarian crises to hit any country in decades. The organization has also decided to work with the United Nations for the release of Afghanistan’s assets worth $10 billion from the U.S. Federal Reserves.
OIC is the second largest organization after the United Nations with a membership of 57 states spread over four continents. The organization has been instrumental in many ways such as in alleviating hunger and raising the bar of equality for Muslims in various countries, both in its member states and countries that had joined as observers. When India revoked the autonomous status of Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) in August 2019, the OIC convened an extraordinary session to condemn India’s unilateral decision to annex IIOJK.
Pakistan has repeatedly highlighted the atrocities India is inflicting on the Muslims of IIOJK in his keynote address at the OIC meeting in Islamabad, Prime Minister Imran Khan, apart from highlighting the worsening humanitarian conditions in Afghanistan, also underlined the conditions of IIOJK as well as Palestine. The premier, during the conference, reiterated the need for the OIC to provide support to the respective causes and their rights.
Palestine is another issue that could never initially find an audience in the OIC, not that it remained silent whenever Israel threw missiles on the unarmed and innocent people and children of Gaza.
Unity among the Muslim countries is the most desirous thing today thus, it is a good omen that the OIC has taken a lead in lending assistance to Afghanistan and it is expected that this collaboration would bear fruit.
The organization has decided to build a team of religious scholars who would travel to Afghanistan to engage the Taliban on issues “such as, but not limited to, tolerance and moderation in Islam, equal access to education and women’s rights in Islam.” Though the Taliban  promised to treat women at par with their male counterparts and adopt a governance structure that does not conflict with the internationally acceptable standards, there has been little effort to keep the commitment. The member states of the OIC urged the Taliban to abide by “obligations under international human rights covenants, especially with regards to the rights of women, children, youth, elderly and people with special needs.”


The 57-member organization pledged to establish a fund to assist Afghanistan in what is being called one of the worst humanitarian crises to hit any country in decades. The organization has also decided to work with the United Nations for the release of Afghanistan’s assets worth $10 billion from the U.S. Federal Reserves. 

Pakistan has repeatedly highlighted the atrocities India is inflicting on the Muslims of IIOJK in his keynote address at the OIC meeting in Islamabad, Prime Minister Imran Khan, apart from highlighting the worsening humanitarian conditions in Afghanistan, also underlined the conditions of IIOJK as well as Palestine. 


The OIC also appointed Ambassador Tariq Ali Bakheet as the Special Envoy on Afghanistan in order to oversee the implementation of the resolution of the conference as well as to coordinate the efforts and supplies for humanitarian assistance being sent for the Afghan people.
The Taliban have a very few choices to pick from. Afghanistan is starving. According to the Disaster Emergency Committee, the umbrella group of 15 aid agencies, 8 million people are at a risk of dying because of hunger. More alarming figures were released by the International Rescue Committee, which predicted that by next year 97 percent of Afghanistan’s population would be living below the poverty line. Vicki Aken, Country Director of the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Afghanistan, said that the termination of foreign funding had caused the healthcare system to collapse. According to her, it is also one of the main reasons why schools are finding it difficult to reopen.
Martin Griffiths, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, warned that: “Universal poverty may reach 97 percent of the population of Afghanistan. That could be the next grim milestone.” He further noted, “Within a year, 30 percent of Afghanistan’s GDP (gross domestic product) could be lost altogether, while male unemployment may double to 29 percent. Next year, the UN would be asking for $4.5 billion in aid for Afghanistan — its single largest humanitarian aid request”, he said.




The OIC also appointed Ambassador Tariq Ali Bakheet as the Special Envoy on Afghanistan in order to oversee the implementation of the resolution of the conference as well as to coordinate the efforts and supplies for humanitarian assistance being sent for the Afghan people.


The Taliban owe its citizens a social contract for a respectable and economically sustained livelihood. Finally, the Taliban must understand that it was not the influence of the West or any other region that made Afghanistan a telltale. In fact, the unaccommodating, inflexible, and self-oriented behavior of the Afghan leadership has repeatedly pushed Afghanistan into a dark alley. Saudi Arabia is an example of a state bridging the gap between the West and East and sharing a leadership role with the West in international affairs. Convening the OIC meeting on Afghanistan was another step in the direction of taking ownership of the issues of the Muslim world. It is encouraging to see a shift in narrative from theology to climate change, spacecraft, entertainment, and modern work ethics. This is the way to reclaim glory. This is the inspiration that the Taliban should be seeking now. This is the leadership that they should follow and listen to.
The United States has also appreciated the initiative and has promised to assist Afghanistan in this time of crisis. The challenge, however, would be to convince the U.S. and its allies to unfreeze Afghanistan’s assets. The OIC member states should ensure that Afghanistan becomes a part of the international order so that the country never reverts to the crisis it has suffered for the last four decades.
Overall, the conference was not only an extraordinary feat, but also brought international focus on Pakistan’s active efforts for Afghanistan and its people. Hosting the 17th OIC CFM has potentially opened up a forum for the international community to set up a system to avert the humanitarian crisis taking place within Afghanistan.


The writer is a columnist who writes for national print media.
E-mail: [email protected]
 

Read 626 times


TOP