Pakistan’s agenda of internationalizing the Kashmir issue is nothing new. Islamabad has since 1948 made Kashmir a central plank in its foreign policy especially in relations with the Arab and Islamic countries.
It has used both bilateral and multilateral forums to raise the issue including at the United Nations (UN) and Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). Traditionally, Pakistan had received support from the Gulf Arab monarchies including Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates (UAE) and other Islamic countries such as Iran and Turkey.
The OIC has especially been one of the major international platforms for Pakistan to carry out its anti-India tirade since the first Islamic Summit held in Rabat in 1969 which formed the basis for the organization. Pakistan has used the OIC platform to internationalize the Kashmir issue, rather unsuccessfully. In 1994, on Pakistan’s initiative, the OIC formed a Contact Group on Jammu and Kashmir with Turkey, Azerbaijan, Niger, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia as its members. The Contact Group has ever since taken upon itself to champion the Pakistani position on the Kashmir issue disregarding the Indian position altogether.
The OIC had continued its activism on Kashmir despite New Delhi’s objections underlining that the group has no locus standi on the issue as it is internal matter and Kashmir is an integral part of India.The change in the dynamics of bilateral relations with important members of the organization, such as Saudi Arabia, UAE and Iran, over the years had not proved moderated the OIC’s position due to Pakistani influence. Although Saudi Arabia and UAE have gradually moderated their position on the issue given Indian sensitivities and the growing strategic ties.
India has, however, made some progress in improving ties with the OIC reflected in the invitation to India to attend the plenary session of the 46th OIC Foreign Ministers’ Meeting held in Abu Dhabi in February 2019 as a “guest of honor.”