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Pakistan will not attend OIC of CFM: Shah Mahmood

01 March, 2019

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Pakistan will not attend the 46th session of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation's (OIC) Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM), which is being hosted by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in Abu Dhabi today and tomorrow.

This was announced by Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Friday during the joint session of parliament. Pakistan on Wednesday had officially conveyed to the OIC that it may have to boycott the foreign ministers conclave if the invitation extended to the Indian external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj to be guest of honour at its inaugural session is not withdrawn.

"I requested them [UAE] to review the decision [on invitation to India]. UAE said that when we extended the invitation, Pulwama had not occurred," Qureshi told lawmakers on Friday, adding that UAE officials said "it would be hard to retract the invitation".

"A joint resolution has been passed by the parliament, signed by all parties, which demands that Pakistan refrain from attending the OIC meeting. In light of this resolution, I will not attend the meeting," said Qureshi, amid near unanimous desk-thumping.

The foreign minister also informed the parliament that the OIC's secretary general as well as Turkish and Iranian foreign ministers had said that they were not consulted on the matter.

In a letter dated Feb 28 Qureshi told the UAE foreign minister the invitation to India "was extended without consultation with member states and contrary to the rules of the OIC".

"India having conflict with at least one founding member state [...] is disqualified from any association with the OIC," says the letter, also informing Qureshi's counterpart that a resolution was passed on Thursday in the parliament which took exception to "India an egregious aggressor against Pakistan as well as Kashmiri people" being invited as a guest of honour.

The resolution demanded that Pakistan abstain completely [from the meeting] as a protest, the letter states. Qureshi, however, pointed out that there were 19 pending resolutions presented by Pakistan in the OIC — many of which concern the Kashmir issue. He said that a lower level delegation will be attending the meeting in order to represent Pakistan's stance and oppose any proposal to grant India an observer status. He further said that the Turkish foreign minister had termed it "unacceptable" for India to be granted an observer status in the OIC.

Backing Qureshi's announcement, Leader of the Opposition Shahbaz Sharif urged the UAE crown prince to withdraw the invitation to India.

"UAE crown prince’s father was a friend of Pakistan and crown prince too is very fond of Pakistan. In the light of tensions with India, we request him [to retract the invitation to Indian FM]," said Sharif and added that even if the crown prince does not withdraw the invitation to India, "Pakistan should employ all forums" to push its demand.

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