India in OIC

Prelims level : International Mains level : GS 2: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.
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  • External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will attend the foreign ministers’ meeting to be held in Abu Dhabi, on March 1-2, at the invitation of the UAE’s Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan.


  • This is the first time India has been invited to the OIC after 1969, when then Agriculture minister was disinvited on arriving at Morocco, after Pakistan’s President Yahya Khan lobbied against Indian participation.
  • Fifty years after being disinvited from the 1969 Conference of Islamic Countries in Rabat in Morocco at Pakistan’s behest, India will make its maiden appearance at the foreign ministers’ meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on March 1 as a “guest of honour”. Sources said that the invitation was initiated by the UAE, and it came about a month ago. After internal deliberations, they conveyed that India will attend at the Foreign minister’s level, adding that the decision to attend was taken before the Pulwama attack.
  • Sources said that New Delhi will only attend the “inaugural” session, and not be part of the negotiations of the OIC’s joint communique. We are not part of the OIC. So we are not in the drafting of the communiqué.
  • India, on its part, said that the invitation was taking forward the strong bilateral ties that UAE and India shared and it was also a welcome recognition of the presence of 185 million Muslims in India and of their contribution to its pluralistic ethos and of India’s contribution to the Islamic world.


  • OIC states it is the collective voice of the Muslim world and works to safeguard their interests. With permanent representatives to the United Nations and the European Union, has over 50-member states.

The Long, Rough Road To OIC

  • The development marks a significant diplomatic win for India as Pakistan has been staunch opponent to India getting even an observer status, let alone become a member of the OIC.
  • Going back in time to the first ever Islamic summit in 1969, it was a call by then Pakistani president General Yahya Khan to boycott India that completely dashed India’s hopes of joining the OIC. India has, over the years, tried to reverse history and get itself a place at the OIC. The organization, too, has been critical of India’s actions when it comes to Kashmir.
  • Only last year, it had condemned the killings of Kashmiris by the armed forces in “India-occupied Kashmir” and called it a terrorist act. Former vice president and diplomat Hamid Ansari, in 2006, had made a pitch for India to become a member of the OIC, writing that while India was not a Muslim country it had a significant Muslim population and was not away from it.
  • Ahmad too recalls how, after 1990, Pakistan had used it the OIC platform to make anti-India statements. Even last year, in September, India rejected to the mention of Kashmir in Pakistan’s statement at the OIC and said that India always noted with regret the way matters internal to India were discussed at the OIC.
  • Bangladesh had made a call for reforms within the OIC so that countries like India could get observer status, a proposal which was vehemently blocked by Pakistan.
  • Now, with Sushma Swaraj finally headed to Abu Dhabi for the inaugural plenary, it is, as Ahmad noted, a remarkable breakthrough that India has now been welcomed into the Muslim mainstream.
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