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created Mar 15th, 08:37 by Bhanu Pratap Sen



353 words
8 completed
he Organisation of Islamic Cooperations invitation to Union foreign minister Sushma Swaraj as a guest of honour for its foreign ministers summit last week in the UAE marked a particular success story for the present Indian government. Coming, as it did, in the immediate aftermath of the Balakot air strike, Swarajs attendance marks a special significance in the session attended by OICs 56 member, and five observer, states. The irony was made more keen when Pakistans foreign minister, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, boycotted the meet in protest of his Indian counterparts attendance. Indias presence at the OIC meet for the first time, highlighted not just the incremental success of New Delhis West Asia outreach, but also how Islamabads own tried and tested formula in its dealings with India may have fallen into disrepair. While the OIC invitation to India is a diplomatic coup, the Narendra Modi administrations outreach to the Arab and Islamic world despite (because of?) the reputation that preceded the BJP-led government arguably figures at the top of its diplomatic engagements in its almost-five-year tenure.
Its one thing to commend on Modis personal chemistry with most leaders in the Islamic world and any back-channel relations that may have developed over the last five years. But its quite another for these countries representative of Muslim populations and administrations to come out in Indias support so visibly. Last month, immediately after the Pulwama terrorist attack, for Saudi crown prince Mohammad Bin Salman, returning home from Pakistan, to make a standalone trip to India, as well as the UAE sidestepping Pakistans protest on the OIC invite to Swaraj, are not anomalous moments in diplomacy, but reflects a turning in geopolitical attitudes towards India, institutionally. As the sixth-largest global economy, India is, no doubt, an attractive location for the oil-rich Gulf and their attempts to diversify their economies. But its more than that. India, with its pluralistic democracy, talent for assimilation and secular free-market project, presents itself as an inviting partner. This holds especially true for countries that are battling an image crisis due to individual acts of terrorism and the presence of religious extremism.

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