External Affairs Minister (EAM) Sushma Swaraj in her address at the foreign ministers’ meet of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) states on Friday said India has much to share with the member states. Swaraj also said its a matter of pride for India to be invited as the guest of honour of honour at the crucial meet of the grouping of 57 Islamic nations.
Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj urged the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to “act together” to combat global terrorism amid heightened tensions between India and Pakistan, triggered by the terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama last month. “If we want to save humanity, we must tell the states who provide shelter and funding to terrorists, to dismantle the infrastructure of the terrorist camps and stop providing funding shelter and funding to the terror organisations based in that country,” Ms Swaraj said without naming Pakistan, which has been accused of using terrorism as an instrument of its state policy.
In Abu Dhabi, Swaraj in her address at the inaugural plenary of the two-day meeting said: “OIC members constitute 1/4th of the United Nations and almost a quarter of humanity.”
“I carry the greetings of 1.3 billion Indians, including more than 185 million Muslim brothers and sisters. Our Muslims brothers and sisters are a microcosm of the diversity of India itself,” she added.
With Pakistan absent, the EAM raised the issue of terror and quoted from the Holy Quran saying the Holy book carries the message of peace. “The fight against terrorism is not confrontation against any religion – it cannot be; just as Islam means peace, none of the 99 names of Allah means violence”.
Swaraj’s comments come in the backdrop of a stand-off with Pakistan, which India has accused of providing a safe haven to the banned terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) – the perpetrator of Pulwama attack in which 40 CRPF soldiers were martyred. Given Pakistan’s history of inaction on the evidence provided by India in the past, Indian Air Force (IAF) carried out air strikes against a JeM camp in Balakot inside Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) on February 26.
A day later, a bid by Pakistan Air Force (PAF) to target military installations in India was thwarted by IAF in which one PAF F-16 was shot down. IAF also lost a MIG-21 Bison and its pilot Abhinandan Varthaman was taken into custody by Pakistan authorities. He is slated to be released later Friday.
Pakistan boycotted the OIC meet protesting India’s presence at the event.
Pakistan is not participating in the meeting over India’s presence. “I will not attend Council of Foreign Ministers as a matter of principle for (them) having extended invitation as a Guest of Honour to Sushma Swaraj,” Shah Mahmood Qureshi told the joint session of parliament, adding that lower-ranking officials would attend to represent Pakistan’s interests.
Below are the highlights of Sushma Swaraj’s speech at the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation:
- I stand here as a representative of land, that has been for ages a fountain of knowledge, a beacon of peace, a source of faiths and traditions, and home to religions from the world and now, one of the major economies of the world.
- I carry the greetings of 1.3 billion Indians, including more than 185 million Muslim brothers and sisters. Our Muslims brothers and sisters are a microcosm of the diversity of India itself.
- India has been a beacon of peace… a home to many religions, and now one of the largest economies of the world.
- India is one of the most diverse nations in the world. People of all faiths and religions live in harmony in India. It is perhaps because of our diversity that people have not taken a route of radicalisation. People know how to live in harmony with each other.
On ties with the Middle East
- In the past four years, few relationships have seen as much engagement or has been so transformed, as India’s relationship with the UAE and, indeed, with the entire Gulf and West Asia Region.
- The OIC constitutes one-fourth of the representation of the UN, and nearly a quarter of humanity.
- The nations represented here to bring together multi-ethnicities, cultures, languages… In that way, India shares a lot with you.
- India has forged deeps bonds of friendship and partnerships with many of the nations here. With many, we have strategic partnerships, defence and economic ties.
- India shares much with you. Many of us have experienced the dark days of colonialism. Many of us saw, the light of freedom and the bright ray of hope at the same time. We have stood together in solidarity, in our quest for justice and dignity.
- We are living in times where the reach of terror is rising. We are seeing the senseless violence that terrorism can result in. We must act together, stand together to combat global terrorism.
- Terrorism and extremism bear different names and labels. It uses diverse causes. But in each case, it is driven by distortion of religion, and a misguided belief in its power to succeed.
- 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.
- If we want to save humanity, we must tell the states who provide shelter and funding to terrorists, to dismantle the infrastructure of the terrorist camps and stop providing funding shelter and funding to the terror organisation based in that country.
- 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”.
- This is not a clash of civilisations or cultures, but a contest of ideas and ideals. As Prime Minister Narendra Modi has often said, it is a struggle between the values of humanism and the forces of inhumanity.