OIC must reform for survival: Musharraf
May 15, 2007 - 4:46:33 PM

Islamabad, May 15 - The Organization of the Islamic Conference - must revamp itself to prevent the 'downward slide' of the Islamic world, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf told foreign ministers of the 57-member grouping in Islamabad Tuesday.

'We must face the fact that the disparity with the Western world is increasing, not decreasing,' Musharraf said at the start of a three-day conference covering a range of international issues and proposals for the OIC's development.

The body must work to clear misperceptions of Islam, he stressed, adding that while the world saw the faith as 'militant and intolerant,' the image was reinforced 'by our own obscurantist, extremist forces.'

'We have to reject extremism and terrorism and go on the path of socio-economic development,' he added, calling for the restructuring of the organization into a 'futuristic and dynamic' player in world affairs.

Musharraf proposed revising the OIC charter and ensuring a real contribution of financial muscle to the organization.

If each member donated 0.01 percent of its GDP, this would add more than $200 million to the OIC budget, he told delegates at the Jinnah Convention centre in the Pakistani capital.

The OIC should also create a conflict resolution mechanism so that members did not have to turn to other international bodies for assistance.

A military action force drawn from Muslim countries and operating under the umbrella of the United Nations could also provide peacekeepers for Iraq, Musharraf said.

He also underscored that 'the resolution of the Palestinian dispute lies at the core of all or most political disputes' and that this depended on a 'spirit of give and take' between the sides.

Held under the title of 'Session of Peace, Progress and Harmony,' the 34th annual meeting of OIC foreign ministers was to include a 'brainstorming' session to produce strategies to improve relations between the Islamic world and the West, according to the OIC.

The Palestinian question was a key agenda item, as well as the Arab-Israeli conflict, the situation in Iraq, Somalia, Afghanistan, Jammu and Kashmir, the peace process between India and Pakistan and Iran's cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The ministers were expected to extend their support to Iran's right of peaceful use of nuclear technology in a declaration at the end of the conference.

The conference was also to address international terrorism and the situation of Muslim minorities and communities in non-OIC countries, particularly in the Southern Philippines and Thailand.

Discussion of economic matters and cooperation among members in the areas of science and technology, information, healthcare and the environment were also planned.

The OIC was set up in Morocco in 1969 and is the largest international organization after the United Nations.

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