Times of troubles

By: Shamshad Ahmad

Looking at the dynamics of contemporary international relations, one is reminded of the ancient Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times,” which could perhaps never have been more relevant than to our times at this critical juncture. We are passing through interesting and critical times which according to the so-called predictions of the Nostradamus Code could also be categorised as “time of troubles.” These are indeed times of trouble. More so for the world’s Muslims now representing more than one fourth of humanity.

Surely these are critical times for the Muslim world where armed conflicts have remained pervasive for decades. The war on terror is being fought on Muslim soils. Global terrorism is being used to curb Muslim freedom struggles. Their historical grievances and long-outstanding issues remain unaddressed. Palestine is tired and has given up. Iraq is still smouldering. Afghanistan awaits a dreary stalemate. Kashmir stands betrayed. Libya is paying in oil for democracy. Egypt and Syria are being chiselled anew. Iran is on notice. Pakistan is being kept on ICU resuscitation.

In its efforts to perpetuate its monopoly of global power and dominance, the sole superpower has shown scant regard for the principles of equity and justice and international law. It is following its own standards of peace and democracy for the rest of the world. The most alarming is its current security doctrine based on “regime change,” wherever or whenever it so deems necessary for its own good. The US, in fact, has a tradition of parachuting or propping up authoritarian and corrupt regimes in all parts of the world, especially in the Muslim world, through self-serving political machinations, engineered uprisings and shady and unlawful deals.

The pillars of Muslim strength are being dismantled brick by brick. Pakistan, the major power of the Muslim world, is being weakened methodically by keeping it engaged on multiple external and domestic fronts. It is the only Muslim country with an ongoing military operation against its own people in the name of the war on terror. And yet it is being demonised by its friends and allies and also targeted with military incursions and drone attacks in clear breach of the UN Charter. Politically, Pakistan has never been in a more precarious situation. Even our close friends and allies are worried about our future.

Turkey, another Muslim country with reckonable military clout and strength, is living in an ivory tower pursuing the dream of EU membership. The last “pillar of strength” of the Muslim world, Iran, is next in line, which is pursuing its nuclear goals. Another Muslim country, Syria, known for its traditionally hereditary dictatorship, is going through a bloody civil war and is in the global line of fire. The Muslim world could not be more chaotic and more helpless than it is now.

Against this dismal backdrop, an emergency session of the Islamic summit held earlier this month in the holy city of Mecca, coinciding with the 26th and 27th days of Ramadan came as a sign of some hope for the Muslims of the world. The summit, it seems, also came as a timely opportunity to the Muslim world’s self-serving rulers for availing themselves of their presence at the holiest Islamic soil to do some soul-searching and seek Almighty Allah’s forgiveness for the sins they have committed in mortgaging to the West not only the security and sovereignty of their countries but also the political and economic futures of their nations.

Their sinful legacies notwithstanding, the Muslim sheikhs, emirs and dictators of all sorts, elected and non-elected, were expected to explore at this summit if they really had any role left for them in changing the direction of the times and reshaping the destiny of the benighted peoples they rule. But this never happened. They came, they prayed, they spoke and they left. For them, it was just a holy retreat at the expense of their impoverished peoples. It was a repeat of countless déjà vu conferences, special or non-special, always rich in rhetoric and eloquence but empty in substance.

In their eloquent speeches at this extraordinary summit as indeed at every previous OIC conference, almost all leaders passionately spoke of the issues confronting the Muslim world, including internal conflicts, socio-economic disparity and Islamophobia, and called for collective measures to improve the situation. They also acknowledged the failures and frustrations of the Muslim world which they were candid enough to attribute to their internal weaknesses and vulnerabilities. They all seemed to know what ails the Muslim world, but none could spell out how to remedy this situation or how to project Islam in its true perspective as a religion of peace.

Who doesn’t know that the purport of the essence of Islam from its very beginning was to ultimately bring the world out of the darkness of ignorance, oppression, and tyranny and into the light of truth, justice, developing sciences and knowledge, and peaceful coexistence? Our leaders themselves acknowledged in their last Mecca Declaration that “we today find ourselves at an age of muddled concepts, misguided values, and pervasive ignorance and, more than ever before, we stand in dire need of a fresh vision to turn the tide.” But the problem is their self-serving visions will not bring any change to societies that are among the most illiterate and most backward.

Surprisingly, it took three days for the OIC Secretariat to bring out the final outcome of this “emergency summit” which apparently did have a boilerplate agenda for it to repeat its earlier affirmations and reaffirmations that have remained unimplemented with no sign of any actionable plans or strategies. The final outcome of the Mecca Summit can be summed up just in one sentence. The event convened in the name of Islamic solidarity could not be more divisive. It was essentially a one-agenda-item summit with the OIC members discussing internal crisis of a member-state, namely Syria, which for some time has been the target of Western-engineered regime-change campaign.

The OIC proved itself to be even more loyal than Ban Ki-Moon’s UN where no one can suspend or expel a member state at will. At the end of the day, more of the same old rhetoric followed by a plethora of resolutions and declarations brought no relief to the beleaguered Muslim world. It was a rehash of the same old complacent worldview.

Instead of seeking a peace-making role and building bridges of dialogue and engagement for resolving a domestic conflict in a fellow member-state, the OIC in an ill-advised and thoughtless move suspended Syria’s membership, thus forfeiting any meaningful role for itself in any conflict-resolution process at global level. It was an outright impulsive decision by vested influences within the spineless OIC. It is no secret that the Syrian crisis is being fuelled from outside with some of Syria’s neighbours playing Trojan horses on behalf of powers seeking to play out the regime change doctrine against Syria.

One thing is clear. The OIC as an inter-governmental body has no credentials or capacity to bring any change to the Muslim world. It cannot be expected to do things that only governments of sovereign states can do. Things will not change unless the Muslim world itself fixes its fundamentals and puts its own house in order. Angels will not descend to help it. They are busy helping those who help themselves. It must take control of its own destiny and stop intriguing against each other or interfering in others’ affairs.

The writer is a former foreign secretary. Email: shamshad1941 @yahoo.com

Courtesy: The News


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