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Muslim bloc’s foreign ministers gather in Pakistan

57 members participate at Organization of Islamic Cooperation summit

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan

Foreign ministers of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), a 57-nation Muslim bloc, gathered in Pakistan’s capital Islamabad on Tuesday for a conference.

The two-day event is being held under the theme, Partnering for Unity, Justice and Development.

In the opening remarks, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, who is also chairing the conference, said the OIC is the collective voice of nearly 2 billion Muslims, and “a bridge among Muslim nations and between the Muslim world and the international community.”

He welcomed the designation of March 15 as the “International Day to Combat Islamophobia” by the UN.

“Through the observance of this day, the OIC will enhance greater global awareness of Islamophobia and advance solutions through collective action,” he said.

Commenting on the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine, Qureshi said the conflict, which has rekindled East-West tensions, threatens international peace and security.

“A new and destabilizing global arms race is underway. Conflicts, among and within nations, have proliferated,” he added.

The Muslim world, Qureshi went on to say, is faced with conflicts in the Middle East, “prolonged foreign occupation, and the denial of the right to self-determination, most notably to the people of Palestine and Kashmir.”

“The Muslims of Palestine and the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) are still reeling under abominable subjugation,” he said, adding: “For the last seven decades, they have struggled to achieve their inalienable right to self-determination.”

“The Muslim world’s resentment is increasing due to frequent external interventions in Muslim countries,” Qureshi said.

Referring to the rising number of refugees due to conflicts across the world, he said more than two-thirds of all refugees in the world come from just five countries: Syria, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Myanmar, and Somalia.

Moreover, he said, the Muslim countries are hosting the largest number of refugees.

On Afghanistan, Qureshi said addressing the humanitarian crisis in the war-torn country, and “preventing a collapse of the Afghan economy must remain our top priorities.”

“In doing so, we must encourage and support the efforts of the Afghan authorities to eliminate Daesh. Effective strategies are also needed to deal with other terrorist groups in Afghanistanincluding the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and Al-Qaeda, he said.

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