External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj has spoken at the inaugural session of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) meeting in Abu Dhabi where she was invited as a “guest of honour”, by Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan , Foreign Minister of UAE.
She addressed the plenary of the two-day 46th session of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the 57-member body. to address the OIC meeting.
OIC is a gathering of 47 Muslim-majority countries and is the second largest inter-governmental organisation in the world
In her speech, the minister said that terrorism is destroying lives, destabilising regions and putting the world at great peril.
“Terror reach is growing and the toll it is taking is increasing. This is not a clash of civilisations or cultures, but a contest of ideas and ideals. As PM Narendra Modi has often said, it is a struggle between the values of humanism and the forces of inhumanity.” she said.
“The fight against terrorism is not a confrontation against any religion. It cannot be. Just as Islam literally means peace, none of the 99 names of Allah means violence. Similarly, every religion in the world stands for peace, compassion and brotherhood,” she added.
Quoting a text from “The Rig Veda”, she spoke about the oneness of God and hailed India’s ability to embrace pluralism. “India has always embraced and found it easy to embrace pluralism since it is embedded in the oldest Sanskrit religious text “The Rig Veda” and I quote “एकं सद्विप्रा बहुधा वदन्ति”, which means ‘God is One but learned men describe Him in many ways’,” she said.
Importance of this event : India has said the invitation is a “welcome recognition of the presence of 185 million Muslims in India and of India’s contribution to the Islamic world”.
Needless to say, the invitation is a big setback for Pakistan which has always used the platform against India by accusing India of ‘human rights violations in Kashmir’. Pakistan has always opposed any involvement of India in OIC.
Fifty years ago, in 1969 in Morocco, President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed was invited to attend the first summit of the grouping (on Saudi Arabia’s suggestion) only for the invitation to be withdrawn (and the delegation had to return midway) after Pakistan objected.
UAE, which issued the invitation and has Indians as one-third of its population, has invested heavily in India’s infrastructure. It has also helped India’s fight against corruption by deporting fraudsters like Rajiv Saxena and Christian Michel in the AgustaWestland case on India’s request.
Pakistani chair was empty as Pakistan’s foreign minister had said that he would not attend a meeting of foreign ministers from the OIC because his Indian counterpart had been invited to the event.