ISLAMABAD: Adviser to PM on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz will attend a meeting of foreign ministers from Muslim countries – which are part of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) – to be held in Malaysia’s capital today (Thursday) to discuss the plight of Rohingya Muslims of Myanmar.
This extraordinary session of OIC’s Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) is being convened at the request of Malaysia, where about 56,000 Rohingya refugees – who fled unrest in Myanmar – now live.
Refugees, residents and human rights groups say Myanmar soldiers have committed summary executions, raped Rohingya women and burned homes since military operations started in the north of its Rakhine State on Oct 9.
The government of predominantly Buddhist Myanmar, led by Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, has denied the accusations, saying many of the reports are fabricated, and it insists the strife in Rakhine State, where many Rohingya live, is an internal matter.
Sartaj Aziz will lead Pakistan’s delegation at the session, which will discuss measures for the delivery of humanitarian assistance to Rakhine State, a statement issued by the Foreign Office said on Wednesday.
The Foreign Office said the meeting was also expected to emphasise addressing the root causes of violence and taking steps for the return of displaced Rohingya population. Foreign Office spokesperson Nafees Zakria said Pakistan had raised the issue of Rohingya at various international forums.
It urged the OIC to take necessary steps to alleviate sufferings of Rakhine people.
It said the prime minister of Pakistan had announced humanitarian assistance to the beleaguered Rohingya in the shape of rice worth $5 million. “Pakistan is seeking the most efficient way to distribute this aid to the affected people,” Zakria added.
The extraordinary session of the foreign ministers is expected to adopt a final communiqué and a resolution on the situation of the Rohingya Muslims minority in Myanmar which will be presented for discussion during the CFM.
Ahead of the meeting, the OIC’s special envoy to Myanmar told Reuters in an interview that the United Nations should intervene in Myanmar’s Rakhine State to stop further escalation of violence against Rohingya Muslims and avoid genocide like in Cambodia and Rwanda.
“The conflict, which has left at least 86 dead, and an estimated 66,000 people fleeing into Bangladesh since it started on Oct 9, 2016, is no longer an internal issue but of international concern,” said the OIC’s Special Envoy to Myanmar Syed Hamid Albar.
Albar said the OIC should seek a UN intervention. “We don’t want to see another genocide like in Cambodia or Rwanda,” he told Reuters. “The international community just observed, and how many people died? We have lessons from the past, for us to learn from and see what we can do,” he said.
The OIC represents 57 states and acts as the collective voice of the Muslim world.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 19th, 2017.
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