Fight against terrorism not a confrontation against any religion, says Sushma Swaraj at OIC meet

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This is the first time India has been invited to a meeting of the OIC, an influential grouping of 57 Islamic countries, as a guest of honour.

Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj on Friday said the fight against terrorism is not and cannot be a confrontation against any religion.

Speaking at the inaugural plenary of the two-day foreign ministers’ meet of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Abu Dhabi, she said, “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.”

This is the first time India has been invited to a meeting of the OIC, an influential grouping of 57 Islamic countries, as a guest of honour.

Ms. Swaraj spoke further about terrorism and its misguided beliefs. “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,” she said.

Ms. Swaraj opened her speech with “the greetings of 1.3 billion Indians”, stressing that India’s Muslim brothers and sisters were “a microcosm of the diverstity of India itself.”

“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,” she said.

She spoke about India’s relationship with the Gulf region, saying it was a return of history. “In the past four years, few relationships have seen as much engagement, or been so transformed, as India’s relationship with the UAE and, indeed, with the entire Gulf and West Asia Region. In a sense, it is a return of history.

“India shares much with you. Many of us have experienced the dark days of colonialism. Many of us saw, the light of freedom and the bright ray of hope at the same time. We have stood together in solidarity, in our quest for justice and dignity,” she added.

Pakistan Foreign Minister skips meet

Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that he would not attend the OIC meeting because his Indian counterpart Ms. Swaraj had been invited.

“I will not go to the council of foreign ministers,” Mr. Qureshi said, adding that lower ranking officials would attend to represent Pakistan’s interests.

“I wrote to OIC to take back the invitation to India and if they won’t be able to do this I won’t be able to participate. I have decided that I won’t be going to OIC,” he said during a joint session of Parliament.

“We have 19 resolutions there, which also includes Kashmir issue. Therefore, our lower level officials will be present to defend Pakistan’s resolution, in short if someone tries to give India an observer status we can oppose it,” he said.

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