Musharraf suggests Muslim peacekeeping force for Iraq
* President tells OIC FMs’ moot religious obscurantism biggest threat to Islam
ISLAMABAD: President General Pervez Musharraf on Tuesday suggested a Muslim peacekeeping force for Iraq to pull the country out of chaos and anarchy.
“A Muslim peacekeeping force in Iraq under the UN mandate can help (restore peace) if all warring factions agree to it,” Musharraf said while inaugurating the 34th Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers at the Convention Centre here. Pakistan stands for peace in Iraq and all ‘outer forces’ should stop interfering in Iraq’s internal affairs so that it can regain peace, Musharraf said. “The territorial integrity of Iraq should be maintained,” he added.
Musharraf called for complete overhauling of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) to enable it to face today’s challenges. He stressed the need for strengthening the OIC Secretariat and creating a permanent mechanism to make it financially independent and self-sufficient. “If the Muslim countries pay just .01 percent of their GDP to the OIC, it will pool up $200 million for the secretariat to carry out its activities,” he said, adding that Pakistan was ready to pay its share of $13 million a year.
Musharraf said that the OIC’s name should be changed to give it a new face. He said the criteria for members, associate members and observers should be spelled out and it should be made representative of the Muslim world.
The presidnet said the Muslim world was suffering from despondency, dejection, despair and anger and due to various factors it had been sliding downward, causing the gulf between the West and Islam to widen. He said that proper remedies should be explored to check this downward slide. He called religious obscurantism the biggest threat to Islam because it had a sectarian undercurrent and potential to destabilise the entire world. Musharraf again put forward his theory of ‘enlightened moderation’ as a way to address the multiple challenges facing the Muslim world.
OIC Secretary General Prof Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu said the OIC had made a lot of progress and efforts were being made to make it a vibrant entity and true representative of Muslims. He said the OIC’s 10-year programme of action would be a turning point because it provided a roadmap for action.
Earlier, Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri was declared chairman of the 34th ICFM. He took over from Dr Elmar Mammadyarov, foreign minister of Azerbaijan. After the inaugural session, the members went for a closed-door session. The conference will continue today (Wednesday) and tomorrow. staff report