External Affairs Minister (EAM) Sushma Swaraj on Friday addressed the foreign ministers' meet of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) states where she raised the issue of terrorism, amidst Indo-Pak tensions following the gruesome terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama on February 14. Early in the day, Swaraj reached UAE's Abu Dhabi to attend the inaugural plenary of the two-day conclave. It is for the first time that India has been invited to a meeting of the OIC, an influential grouping of 57 Islamic countries, as the guest of honour. Minutes before her address Sushma was greeted by the present Chair of OIC Council of Foreign Ministers - UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who invited her for the meet.
India's engagement with the OIC comes in the midst of escalating tension between India and Pakistan. The ties strained further after Indian fighter jets bombed terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed's biggest training camp near Balakot deep inside Pakistan early Tuesday. Pakistan carried out a retaliatory aerial raid on Wednesday. The intense aerial engagements came in the wake of the February 14 Pulwama attack claimed by Pakistan-based terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM). As many as 42 CRPF jawans were killed and dozens of others injured in the attack.
Pakistan, a member of the OIC, tried to get Swaraj 'disinvited' from the Abu Dhabi meet following India's air strike on the terror camp in Pakistan. Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said he will not attend the meeting over the grouping's failure to rescind invitation to Swaraj. The OIC had disinvited India from its conference in 1969 in Morocco at Pakistan's behest. The OIC has usually been supportive of Pakistan and often sided with Islamabad on the Kashmir issue.
Here are the Highlights from Sushma Swaraj's address at OIC conclave:
I come from land of Mahatma Gandhi, where every prayer ends with the call for Shanti or Peace for all: Sushma Swaraj while concluding her address at the Inaugural Session as 'Guest of Honour' at Council of Foreign Ministers of OIC.
History is made!— Raveesh Kumar (@MEAIndia) March 1, 2019
EAM @SushmaSwaraj concluded her address at the Inaugural Session as ‘Guest of Honour’ at Council of Foreign Ministers of @OIC_OCI - first time by India : I come from land of Mahatma Gandhi, where every prayer ends with the call for Shanti or Peace for all. pic.twitter.com/ntyC32y5Fa
This is not a clash of civilisations or cultures, but a contest of ideas and ideals. As PM Narendra Modi has often said, it is a struggle between the values of humanism and the forces of inhumanity: Swaraj at the OIC conclave in Abu Dhabi.
India has always embraced and found it easy to embrace pluralism since it is embedded in the oldest Sanskrit religious text “The Rig Veda” and I quote "एकं सद्विप्रा बहुधा वदन्ति", which means “God is One but learned men describe Him in many ways": Sushma Swaraj.
The fight against terrorism is not a confrontation against any religion. It cannot be. Just as Islam literally means peace,none of the 99 names of Allah mean violence. Similarly, every religion in the world stands for peace, compassion and brotherhood, says the EAM.
Terrorism and extremism bear different names and labels. It uses diverse causes. But in each case, it is driven by distortion of religion, and a misguided belief in its power to succeed: Sushma Swaraj in UAE.
OIC Summit | Empty Pakistani chair at OIC as Guest of Honour Sushma Swaraj gives her speech.
India shares much with you. Many of us have experienced the dark days of colonialism. Many of us saw, the light of freedom andthe bright ray of hope at the same time. We have stood together in solidarity,in our quest for justice and dignity, says the External Affairs Minister in Abu Dhabi.
In the past four years, few relationships have seen as much engagement, or has been so transformed, as India’s relationship with UAE and, indeed, with the entire Gulf and West Asia Region. In a sense, it is a return of history: MEA Sushma Swaraj.
I carry the greetings of 1.3 billion Indians, including more than 185 million Muslim brothers and sisters. Our Muslims brothers and sisters are a microcosm of the diversity of India itself, said Swaraj.
EAM @SushmaSwaraj at #OIC: I carry the greetings of 1.3 billion Indians, including more than 185 million Muslim brothers and sisters. Our Muslims brothers and sisters are a microcosm of the diversity of India itself. pic.twitter.com/kMdkistoFp— Raveesh Kumar (@MEAIndia) March 1, 2019
I stand here as a representative of a land, that has been for ages a fountain of knowledge, a beacon of peace, a source of faiths and traditions, and home to religions from the world AND now, one of the major economies of the world: Sushma Swaraj at OIC.