Vol. 5 Num 1055 Mon. May 21, 2007  

OIC needs reforms to meet challenges
Foreign adviser tells journalists

Foreign Adviser Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury yesterday criticised the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) saying it is limited to 'political platitudes' and is becoming moribund in the absence of effective reforms to make it operational.

Iftekhar made the observations at a press briefing on his return home from the Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers (ICFM) meeting in Islamabad yesterday, where he said, "the OIC is confined to platitudes in the political arena," adding that the organisation has become "moribund" and unable to respond to changes and present-day requirements.

"The OIC needs to be modernised to make it enable to respond to present- day requirements," he said, adding, "We would be most benefited if it can be made development centric."

Asked why reforms were not made, Iftekhar said, "Some of them are not ready for the change and many are afraid of the change. There are some established centres of power and some are fearful of a shift of that power-base."

He said the OIC member states control 70 percent of global oil resources and 40 percent of other resources and that shows the scale of opportunities that can be explored by the organisation.

Bangladesh, he said, hopes to utilise the OIC to contribute to the country's development, by improving market access to the wealthier OIC countries.

Iftekhar said he hopes the organisation can become development centric to address the most pressing problems of its member states.

At bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the ICFM, Iftekhar held talks with Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri and stressed the need for resolving the matter of repatriating stranded Pakistanis and ways to 'confront' matters of the past to move towards the future.

He said Brunei's foreign minister had expressed interest in visiting Bangladesh during their bilateral talks, in which case Dhaka would like to discuss exporting a specialised workforce to the kingdom.

The foreign affairs adviser termed the upcoming June 20-24 visit by Bahrain's state minister for foreign affairs as 'significant' as Bahrain is resourceful enough to support a number of Bangladesh's projects.

Iftekhar hinted that Bangladesh is looking to set up a diplomatic mission in Khartum as, he said, there is a lot of potential including investment opportunities in Sudan.

He also met with his counterparts from Turkey and Iran for bilateral talks on the sidelines of ICFM meeting.