The idea of Muslim unity was born immediately after the defeat of Arab Muslim Countries at the hands of Israel in 1967.It took concrete shape in a historical summit in Rabat(Morroco) in 1969 following a sacrilegious attack on Al-Aqsa Mosque. Originally named as organization of Islamic Conference , it has now been rechristened as Organisation of Islamic cooperation without disturbing the shorter version of its name OIC.
The Organization is the second largest inter-governmental organization after the United Nations which has membership of 57 states spread over four continents. These member states control almost 70% of world crude oil reserves & 50% of world’s natural gas reserves. The Organization is supposed to be the collective voice of around one and a half billion Muslims of the world and to safeguard the interests of the Muslim world in the spirit of promoting international peace and harmony among various people of the world.
But despite its existence of over four decades OIC has miserably failed to solve long-standing conflicts of Palestine and Kashmir. It has been ineffective in stopping the genocide in Bosnia or the bloodletting that has continued in Afghanistan since the Soviet withdrawal in 1989. Given the absence of those elements of power that enable a state or a group of states to make a difference in the harsh world of geopolitics, OIC member countries are in no position to assert themselves and see to it that justice is done in places where Muslims are victims of tyranny and oppression. No OIC member has a worthwhile military-industrial complex, and all of them are dependent on arms purchases or aid for their defence.
Although a useful forum for discussion, the OIC lacks the means to implement its resolutions, which often remain as unheeded declarations. Thus, despite a 1981 call to redouble efforts “for the liberation of Jerusalem and the occupied territories” and to institute an economic boycott of Israel, several members, including Indonesia, Egypt, Jordan and Arab Gulf states, maintain economic ties with Israel. Till recently Turkey, a model Muslim Country, was the best friend & ally of Israel. The Organisation has also been constrained by the fact that many of its members, have a wide variety of political orientations, from revolutionary Iran to conservative Saudi Arabia and a modern Turkey. Members have sometimes been in bitter dispute with one another, such as Iraq and Iran and Iraq and Kuwait.
Furthermore, pledges for financial aid to member states or to Muslim communities suffering from civil war or natural disasters are often at best met only in part. For instance in 2005 earthquake disaster striking Pakistan & Kashmir, Aid & assistance was more pronounced & visible from China, America, Japan & other European Countries than the rich Muslim Countries forming OIC. Dittoo for recent devastating floods in Pakistan.
Another shocking instance is the enigmatic silence maintained by the OIC on what is termed the `Arab spring`. In countries like Libya, Yemen and Syria, the `spring` has turned into an autumn of slaughter. While NATO has swung into action in Libya, the OIC is a mute spectator to deaths, human suffering and gross violations of human rights in Syria, Yemen and Bahrain. This inaction has served to create cynicism among the Muslim peoples about the OIC.
Other reasons for the OIC`s inaction include clashing national interests among its members. All of them do not see eye to eye on global issues. For instance, it would be unrealistic to expect countries in, say, south-east Asia to have the same perception of international developments as OIC member countries in the Maghreb or Central Asia do. The lack of geographical contiguity also inhibits the development of the kind of successful regional groupings the European Union and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations have become. Yet, one still fails to understand why the OIC states cannot develop effective cooperation on such `soft` issues as education, science and technology, news dissemination, and tourism. OIC member states possess considerable natural and manpower resources. What is obviously missing is the political will among OIC governments to make a determined effort to create a success of the 57-member rganization for mutual benefit.
A comparatively lesser known fact is the attempts of India to secure the organisation’s membership upon its formation in 1969.Indira Gandhi,the Indian Prime Minster , tried her best to secure a seat inside but was effectively countered by Pakistan with the help of Saudi Arabia. However, recently the same Saudi Arabia lobbied on India’s behalf to secure it an observer status in the organization similar to one enjoyed by Russia. Pakistan had to quote a rule which states that no country which is in dispute over an issue with an existing member can be admitted in the organization. Quoting Kashmir dispute, Pakistan was able to block the Indian attempt to gain an entry.
On a personal note I feel that while the idea & infrastructure is already in place, the commitment & dedication to the cause is lacking.