Following the November 11, 2023 joint meeting in Riyadh of the League of Arab States and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Pakistani commentators expressed dismay that the heads of the states and governments of Islamic countries who attended the meeting failed to submit any credible plan against Israel or to help the Palestinians in Gaza.
According to a statement on the OIC website, the Arab and Islamic leaders adopted a resolution, which among other things, mandated that the general secretariats of the OIC and the League of Arab States "establish two specialized legal monitoring units to document all the crimes of the occupation authorities in the Gaza Strip since 7 October 2023 and to prepare evidence on the Israeli violations" and demanded "that all countries stop exporting weapons and ammunitions to the occupation authorities that are used by their army and terrorist settlers to kill the Palestinian people and destroy their homes, hospitals, schools, mosques..." The statement did not mention Hamas.
Reacting to the joint resolution, Pakistani columnists – Mirza Ishtiaq Baig writing in the Urdu daily Roznama Jang and Lt.-Gen. (retd.) Talat Masood in the English-language daily The Express Tribune – accused the Islamic and Arab leaders of "merely giving speeches." This report will review excerpts from their columns.
A joint meet of OIC and the League of Arab States was held in Riyadh, November 11, 2023.
Following are excerpts from Mirza Ishtiaq Baig's article, as translated from Urdu:
"Muslims All Over The World Faced Severe Disappointment When The Joint Emergency Meeting Of The Organization Of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) And The Arab League In The Past Few Days Turned Out To Be A Mere Sit-In"
"Muslims all over the world faced severe disappointment when the joint emergency meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the Arab League in the past few days turned out to be a mere sit-in and was dismissed and all their hopes related to the OIC died. This joint session was held 35 days after the start of the Gaza-Israel war in Riyadh, under the leadership of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The heads of states of Islamic countries, including Pakistan, participated.
"However, all leaders failed to take any economic or political action or any tough decision against Israeli actions in Gaza, and division prevailed among them. Later, in the joint declaration, Israel's claim that it was launching attacks on Gaza in self-defense was rejected, while a demand was made for the United States and Europe to cease providing weapons to Israel and for the United Nations Security Council to pass a decisive resolution to prevent Israeli aggression.
"The frustration over the fruitless meeting of the OIC can be gauged from the statement of the Deputy Secretary General of Hamas, Muhammad Al-Hindi, in which he said: 'We had no expectations from the emergency meetings of the OIC and the Arab League, nor did we have any hope from these meetings because we have been seeing the results of such meetings for many years.'
"In his address to the meeting, [Pakistan's] Caretaker Prime Minister Anwarul Haq Kakar demanded an unconditional ceasefire... An end to the siege of Gaza, and an immediate provision of aid to the people of Gaza. Among the leaders of Islamic countries, the speeches of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi were appreciated by Muslims.
"Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, while condemning the Israeli bombing of unarmed Palestinians, said that Jerusalem is our red line and Israeli forces are targeting unarmed Palestinians and innocent children, while the silence of the world is regrettable.
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"Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, who visited Saudi Arabia for the first time in March after improving relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran, said that Israel is committing the worst crimes in the history of the world in Gaza, and the world of Islam should unite for an immediate solution to the problem. On this occasion, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas blamed the United States for the failure of the ceasefire in Gaza and said that Israel is committing genocide and killing Palestinians in Gaza at the behest of the United States."
"When The Leaders Of The Islamic World Were Fulfilling Their Responsibilities By Merely Giving Speeches At The OIC Meeting, At The Same Time, Millions Of People Were On The Streets Of London To Express Solidarity With The Palestinians"
"In such a situation, when the leaders of the Islamic world were fulfilling their responsibilities by merely giving speeches at the OIC meeting, at the same time, millions of people were on the streets of London to express solidarity with the Palestinians, demonstrate against the Israeli atrocities in Gaza, call for an immediate stop to the Israeli barbarity, and demand a cease-fire.
"Apart from Muslims, people belonging to other religions also participated in the demonstration. On social media, a video of the demonstration in which Orthodox Jews also participated in the demonstration in favor of the Palestinians and demanded an immediate ceasefire went viral. According to an estimate, around one million people participated in the demonstration in which the former leader of the British Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, and members of the British Parliament also participated... There are reports that apart from London, demonstrations in favor of Palestinians were also held in Paris, Brussels, and many countries around the world.
"Muslims around the world faced disappointment by the inconclusive OIC meeting in Gaza and they criticized the OIC severely. In response, 20 ambassadors posted in Brussels from OIC member countries, including that of Pakistan, held a joint press conference yesterday [November 14, 2023], demanding from the world, including the European Union, that 'the people of Gaza should be given international security to protect them from Israeli aggression and Israel should be declared guilty of war crimes by forcing a ceasefire.'
A screenshot of Mirza Ishtiaq Baig's article
"It would have been better if this demand had been made from the platform of the OIC summit and with those Islamic and Arab countries that have established diplomatic and trade relations with Israel in recent times announcing the termination of their diplomatic and trade relations with Israel. The United States and Europe call themselves the bearers of human rights, but the silence of the American and European countries on the genocide of innocent Palestinians in Gaza has exposed them.
"The time has come for Islamic and Arab countries to end diplomatic and trade relations with Israel and cut off oil supplies immediately so that that Israeli tanks, armored vehicles, and aircraft, fuelled by the oil of Gulf countries, which are conducting bombings on innocent Palestinians, leading to their genocide, come to a stop... but it seems that the Gulf countries value petrodollars and trade with Israel more than the blood of Palestinian Muslims."
Following is an excerpt from Lt.-Gen. (ret.) Talat Masood's article, originally in English:
"A Non-Binding Resolution Passed By An Overwhelming Majority In The United Nations General Assembly Called For Cessation Of The Hostilities; It Is Intriguing As To Why Pakistan Abstained And Failed To Support The Resolution"
"The tacit, unbridled support of the U.S. has encouraged Israel to defy international opinion and commit crimes against humanity. But Israel rulers will be naïve and short-sighted if they fail to recognize the hard reality that they are surrounded by Muslim-majority countries where the broad masses consider Israel the aggressor and usurper of lands. The U.S. and Western support can go that far but eventually justice and human rights will prevail.
"Already there are widespread global protests and demands for a ceasefire and release of hostages. Recently pro-Palestinian anti-war protests held in the UK and other places have been the largest since the Iraqi war. There was also a very large demonstration in Pakistan against Israel's policies and in support of Hamas.
"A non-binding resolution passed by an overwhelming majority in the United Nations General Assembly called for cessation of the hostilities. It is intriguing as to why Pakistan abstained and failed to support the resolution. This shows to what extent Pakistan's policies are compromised due to its heavy dependence on foreign aid to sustain its anemic economy and weak political structure.
"Karan Thapar, a reputed Indian journalist, has raised some relevant questions that could bring clarity regarding Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu's highly aggressive and sadistic policy in dealing with Hamas. The general belief that PM Netanyahu may have satisfied his instincts by Israeli forces killing 12,000 Palestinian civilians, injuring 30,000 and completely destroying Gaza, making the area unlivable. But it has not broken the spirit and resolve of Hamas, and has rather strengthened it. This is evident from the way they continue to fight from the land they still hold, pushing Israelis on the defensive."
"Past Reminds Us That Mere Resolutions By The OIC Or The Arab League Have Failed To Make An Impact Or Forced Israel To Change Its Brutal Policies"
"The U.S. narrative that Israel has the right to self-defense is a deliberate distortion and a cover-up of its brazen atrocities against civilians. Moreover, the U.S. and the West intentionally kept their eyes closed to the illegal settlements by Israelis mostly built on Palestinian territories that were in their possession for 56 years. This partisan attitude of the U.S. and other European countries, fully backing Israel and overlooking its brazen human rights violations, is contributing to animosities based on religion, with grave consequences for the global order.
"There is a dire need among leaders of Muslim nations to collectively pursue a resolution of the Palestinian problem. Past reminds us that mere resolutions by the OIC or the Arab League have failed to make an impact or forced Israel to change its brutal policies. Nor has it influenced the U.S. and European Union to be evenhanded and play the role of forcing Israel to engage in serious a dialogue with Palestinian leadership and Middle Eastern countries to find a political solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict.
"On the contrary, the Israel's conflict with Hamas and its extreme hostile policy toward Palestinians has the solid backing of the U.S. that reinforces the impression that Washington wants to control the Middle East countries by supporting Israel. Israel, instead of developing a rational vision of Palestine, has preferred the course of perennial war and extermination of Hamas and the other forces that have taken a stand against its discriminatory policies. History testifies that such policies are destined to fail."