Friday, Oct 17, 2003
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India & World
By P.S. Suryanarayana
Speaking at the inaugural session of the summit, the OIC Secretary-General, Abdelouahed Belkeziz, sounded a positive chord by expressing "satisfaction" over the "marked improvement in India-Pakistan ties following the [recent] resumption of [full] diplomatic relations and [following] the easing of tension between the two countries".
Only a few days ago, at a summit-preparatory meeting, he had cited the Kashmir issue alongside several other concerns of the OIC.
However, the Pakistan President, Pervez Musharraf, told the plenary session that the Kashmir issue was still a "core Islamic cause". He reportedly told the other Islamic leaders that Pakistan would not submit to India's "coercion or blackmail".
While Gen. Musharraf's latest comments had a familiar tone, Mr. Belkeziz hoped that the marked improvement in India-Pakistan ties "would help [those concerned] reach a lasting solution to the Jammu and Kashmir conflict". The objective, he felt, should be that of enabling the Kashmiri people to "exercise their right to self-determination". Another related objective was to "ward off the spectre of war between India and Pakistan".
The summit host and Malaysia's Prime Minister, Mahathir Mohamad, did not refer to the Kashmir issue in his keynote address. The current situation in Iraq and the fundamental Palestine question dominated the OIC agenda.
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