Addressing the OIC Summit in Makkah on Thursday, President Zardari said Pakistan had been seriously affected by the unrest in Afghanistan, adding that the fallout of the Mujahideen resistance to the former Soviet Union was still haunting Pakistan.
Reiterating Pakistan’s support to Afghan-led and Afghan-owned reconciliation process, the president said peace and stability in Afghanistan was vital for the peace and stability of Pakistan. “Indeed, it is vital for peace and stability of the region and the world,” Zardari remarked.
The president said he remembered Afghanistan as a tourist attraction and now the world had seen what war had brought to that beautiful country.
He said through the past experience, Pakistan knew what war meant. “We have been the allies of the world in the war against rival ideology and we have witnessed the introduction of heroine as a war weapon.”
He added that there were more than three million Afghan refugees in Pakistan and expressed the hope that they would soon return to their homeland to rebuild their country.
The president said his brother President Karzai and he himself were determined that these efforts succeed.
President Zardari said, “Afghanistan has taught us that while thinkers and philosophers talk of changing the destinies of nations, they must also have knowledge of the societies they wish to change.”
Commenting on other issues of major concern to the Muslim world, the president said Muslim communities in different parts of the world continued to suffer denial of their human rights.
Reiterating Pakistan’s commitment to a just and peaceful resolution of the Kashmir dispute in accordance with the UN Security Council Resolutions, he expressed the hope that Pakistan’s engagement with India would be result-oriented and purposeful.
The president said unresolved Palestinian question was a deep wound in the heart of Middle East, adding that Pakistan fully supported the creation of an independent and viable Palestinian state.
Referring to some recent developments in Middle East and other parts of Muslim world, the president said fast-moving and far-reaching developments had been taking place in North Africa and the Middle East. “Over the past two years we have witnessed youth aspiring for change and democratic transformation.”
The president said, “Egypt and Tunisia had completed peaceful transformations in their countries and we wish them success in their difficult transformation.”
Calling for putting an immediate end to the bloodshed in Syria, the President said, “Pakistan is deeply pained to see Syria bleed.”
He said, “Pakistan desires that Syria must forge its own destiny in accordance with the aspirations of its people.” And “We must respect Syria’s sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity.”
He said the international community must respect the principles of non-interference and non-intervention.
Zardari further said the OIC should continue to have leverage with Syria and also appealed to all sides in Syria to declare ceasefire during Eidul Fitr.
Meanwhile, the 57-member OIC suspended Syria in a meeting attended by its staunch ally Iran, in a move hailed early Thursday by the United States as one that sends “a strong message” to Damascus.
A statement issued at the end of an OIC summit in the Saudi holy city of Makkah said participants had agreed on “the need to end immediately the acts of violence in Syria and to suspend that country from the OIC.”
The final statement said there had been “deep concern at the massacres and inhuman acts suffered by the Syrian people.”
OIC chief Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu told a news conference the decision sent “a strong message from the Muslim world to the Syrian regime.”
“This world can no longer accept a regime that massacres its people using planes, tanks and heavy artillery,” he added.
It was “also a message to the international community stating that the Muslim world backs a peaceful solution (in Syria), wants an end to the bloodshed and refuses to let the problem degenerate into a religious conflict and spill over” into the wider region, Ihsanoglu said.
The meeting called for the “immediate implementation of the transitional peace plan and the development of a peaceful mechanism that would allow building a new Syrian state based on pluralism, democratic and civilian system.”
It also urged the UN Security Council to “assume fully its responsibility by stopping the ongoing violence and bloodshed in Syria and finding a peaceful and lasting solution to the Syrian crisis.”
The participants also stressed “the principal responsibility of the Syrian government for the continuation of violence and bloodshed.”
Algeria, Pakistan and Kazakhstan had called for the final statement of the summit, to which Damascus was not invited, to also pin blame on the armed opposition for the bloodshed in Syria, according to informed sources at the summit.
And Egypt’s President Muhammad Mursi proposed the formation of a committee grouping his country with key players Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey to try to find a settlement to the Syrian conflict, a delegate had said.
Saudi King Abdullah presided over the meeting, attended by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad whose country has openly criticised the push to suspend Syria.
Iran’s president had avoided mention of the Syrian conflict in a 55-minute speech on Tuesday night as did Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah in his opening speech, indicating an accommodation between the region’s superpowers who appeared on television footage to be chatting warmly during their meeting.
“There has been a clear change in the Iranian position towards Syria,” according to a diplomat at the Makkah summit.
In a second statement called the “Makkah Pact,” the participants proclaimed their support for “Muslim people who are oppressed like the Syrian people.”
It underlined the summit’s support for “the oppressed Muslim peoples... who face the combat aircraft and heavy guns of the regular armies as is the case of the Syrian people.”
The statement backed cooperation between Muslim states, the fight against divisions between Muslims, promotion of “moderate” Islam and the “fight against terrorism and the thinking behind it.”
It described as a “crime against humanity” the Myanmar government’s handling of minority Muslims and reiterated support for the Palestinians.
In the statement, the OIC also decided to take to the United Nations the issue of Myanmar’s Muslim Rohingyas, displaced by deadly sectarian violence. It described as a “crime against humanity” the Myanmar government’s handling of minority Muslims and reiterated support for the Palestinians.