India attends Organisation of Islamic Cooperation meet as 'guest of honour', Pakistan boycotts

New Delhi, Delhi, IndiaWritten By: Sidhant SibalUpdated: Mar 01, 2019, 12:14 PM IST

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in Abu Dhabi for OIC conclave. 

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External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will speak during the plenary session during which she will underscore the long historical ties that India enjoys with the OIC members. 

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Friday reached Abu Dhabi, UAE to participate at the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) foreign ministers' meeting. The meeting will be held from on March 1 and 2 and, in a first, will have the Indian foreign minister as its chief guest.

Swaraj will speak during the plenary session during which she will underscore the long historical ties that India enjoys with the OIC members. 

Pakistan earlier threatened to boycott the OIC meet in the wake of India's participation. Pak foreign minister on Friday confirmed that he will give the conclave a skip due to India's presence.

"I will not attend Council of Foreign Ministers as a matter of principle for having extended invitation as a Guest of Honour to Sushma Swaraj," Qureshi was quoted by media reports on Friday.

Pak foreign ministry spokesperson has earlier stated that if Indian foreign minister Sushma Swaraj goes, Pakistani foreign minister, SM Qureshi won't be going to the OIC meeting. 

Pakistan's foreign minister Qureshi had written to OIC Secretary-General Dr Yousef bin Ahmad Al Othaimeen asking him UAE should rescind invite to India or Islamabad will reconsider its decision to attend the meet in Abu Dhabi.

It is important to highlight, way back in 1969 the Indian delegation led by Congress leader Fakrudin Ali Ahmed, who later became the President of India, was not allowed to attend the final session of the OIC in Rabat, Morocco at the behest of Pakistan's then-president, Yahya Khan.

UAE had invited India for the OIC Meet saying that it will open the session of March 1, "with the participation of 56 member states and 5 observer states, as well as the friendly Republic of India with all its International political weight and diverse cultural heritage and an important Islamic component, as a guest of honour"

Welcoming the invitation, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in a statement said," We see this invitation as 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."

India's presence can be seen as a big diplomatic coup in the backdrop of New Delhi's hyphenation between Israel and Palestine, which was being criticised. India has been engaging with several Arab capitals with a number of high-level visits from West Asia to India and vice versa in the last 4 years.