India thought that it achieved a diplomatic coup after being invited by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) as its guest of honor during this year’s summit in the UAE, but it actually found itself even more diplomatically isolated after the bloc refused to sell out its co-confessionals in Indian-Occupied Kashmir and ended up slamming India for its atrocities there in solidarity with the global pivot state of Pakistan.
A rather peculiar turn of events recently took place after the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) ended up slamming its Indian guest of honor for its atrocities in Kashmir during the bloc’s latest summit in the UAE. India had at first thought that it achieved a diplomatic coup by being invited there and anticipated throwing around its hefty economic weight in order to convince the group not to take Pakistan’s side over Kashmir, which is why it was utterly shocked when a strongly worded resolution about the issue was passed just a day after Foreign Minister Swaraj addressed the gathering.
Leading Indian media outlet NDTV published an article titled “Day After Sushma Swaraj Speech, Islamic Nations (OIC) Slam India On Kashmir” in which it reported that “the OIC hit out at what it called ‘intensified Indian barbarities since July 2016’, ‘Indian terrorism’ and ‘illegal detentions and disappearances’ in Jammu and Kashmir”. It might seem strange that the OIC would extend such a prestigious invitation to India only to humiliate it afterwards, but the reason why this happened is fairly obvious in hindsight.
India has made huge inroads with some of the group’s most important members in recent years, especially Saudi Arabia and the UAE, so it makes sense why they invited it to the latest gathering and refused to rescind its offer in the face of Pakistani pressure after India’s “surgical strike” provocation. In response, the Pakistani Foreign Minister boycotted the event and sent a lower-level delegation to attend instead, which was portrayed by some as a “diplomatic victory” for India after Pakistan “isolated itself”.
Alas, those pundits spoke too soon because the OIC surprisingly stuck to its (somewhat superficial) principle of Islamic solidarity by slamming India for its atrocities in Kashmir, which was actually a pragmatic move because of just how important Pakistan is to each of the organization’s individual countries by dint of its geostrategic significance as the global pivot state. No matter how much money the OIC’s most influential Gulf members stand to make from their business dealings with India, it’s evidently not enough for them to sell out their co-confessionals in Kashmir and consequently lose out on the multilaterally beneficial opportunities connected to their partnerships with Pakistan.
Because of this, Pakistan’s comparatively lower-level delegation had a much more powerful presence than the OIC’s own guest of honor since none of the group’s members could afford to ignore the country’s game-changing potential. The resultant statement that was made in support of the Kashmiri people was therefore just as much of a signal to Pakistan as it was to India in that the OIC wanted to show Islamabad that it won’t work against its interests just because its most prominent members are profiting handsomely from their business deals with New Delhi.
In view of this outcome, Pakistan is the one that actually scored the diplomatic victory and not India since the OIC internationalized the Kashmir issue contrary to New Delhi’s wishes, demonstrating just how diplomatically isolated India is becoming after the events of the past week. This setback adds to the self-inflicted one that occurred when India rejected the possibility of Russian mediation between it and Pakistan and thereby not only ironically isolated itself even further, but also risked insulting its decades-long partner out of the sense of supremacist fury that it feels for Russia treating Pakistan as an international equal to India.
Whether it’s the OIC’s strongly worded statement in support of the Kashmiris or Russia’s “balancing” act in South Asia, it’s clear to see that the billions of dollars that India spent on “economic diplomacy” has failed to achieve any tangible diplomatic dividends for it and has at the most only led to favorable coverage in some of their medias. The larger lesson to be learned is the clichéd one that “countries don’t have permanent friends but permanent interests”, which India just proved after its checkbook couldn’t get those countries that are in a various relationships of complex economic interdependency with it to sell out their geostrategic interests in the global pivot state of Pakistan.
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