Honorable Sardar Ayaz Sadiq to “PUIC”:

- Islamic Strategies to Face Challenges

- Need to Implement Recommendations and Resolutions
- Joint Islamic Parliamentary Action Need of the Hour
- Collective Muslim Work to Confront Islamophobia
- PUIC Role to Revive Muslim Unity
- Active Action to Promote Positive Image

PUIC Bulletin No.17 SUMMER 2015

1405160401 Ayaz-S

The Honorable Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, has addressed, in his interview with the “PUIC”, significant contemporary issues that impact the states and communities of the Islamic World for example, economic, development, cooperation, dialogue, Sectarianism, extremism, Parliamentary diplomacy, Islamophobia, …etc. Following is the text of this illuminating and thought-provoking interview:
 
Common Objectives
“PUIC”: How do you evaluate the PUIC experience in Joint Islamic Parliamentary Action?
Parliamentary Union of the OIC member states holds great importance as it is a significant platform for uniting Muslims and consolidating Islamic brotherhood across the world. PUIC has been crucial in providing a framework to the Parliaments of Islamic countries for meaningful and effective cooperation and coordination. Over the years, the PUIC has convened significant meetings to promote dialogue among parliaments of OIC members where parliamentary experiences have been exchanged and socio-economic and cultural issues of the OIC states have been discussed and deliberated upon.
Today, some of the most grievous challenges faced by Muslim countries are Islamophobia, terrorism and violent extremism and the increasing polarization among Muslim societies. Religious extremism and terrorism have become a global phenomenon and unfortunately linked to Muslims and Islam. In this regard, the Parliamentary representatives from Muslim States have come together in the past to discuss the common challenges prevailing in the respective countries and devise joint parliamentary action to combat them. However, a lot still needs to be done by working more actively for advancing the common objectives of the OIC countries, and demanding efforts are required of PUIC for strengthening inter-parliamentary and thereafter inter-governmental contacts and cooperation.

Implementation of Resolutions
“PUIC”: In what way may PUIC work be developed in order to realize the objectives for which it has been established?
There is a lot of misinterpretation and misrepresentation of Islam and a stereotypical mindset exists against Muslims in the global world. PUIC, in this regard, needs to portray the true picture of Islam by disseminating the sublime teachings of Islam. It needs to convene frequent meetings of the member states and its deputies and ensure following up with the recommendations and resolutions brought forward in those meetings. The objectives of PUIC can only be realized if proper implementation of recommendations and resolutions is ensured, otherwise all the time and resources will be futile. For an effective working of the PUIC, the member Parliaments need to be strengthened and empowered because only sustainable democracy can ensure that the rights and mandate of the people is upheld.
One of the key focus areas of the PUIC should be on strengthening parliamentary ties which can eventually lead to inter-state trade and economic cooperation since cooperation on the economic front is not as challenging to achieve as other sensitive political and strategic issues. It is also important to have a specialized mission rather than a very broad one given the resource constraints; the organization can then be able to chalk out practical and doable plans, which can be achieved in a timely manner.

Existing Challenges
“PUIC”: In your view, what are the most outstanding challenges that face the Islamic World today? How is it possible to address such challenges?
The imminent challenges facing the Islamic world are the growing trends of sectarianism, religious extremism and the growing divide between the different segments of society. However, these challenges did not develop overnight. The lack of inquiry-based education, shunning the culture of debate and inability to accept technological development have all contributed to increasing sectarian and religious extremism amongst the Muslim countries whereas the lack of sustainable development policies have contributed in deepening the gulf between the rich and the poor. Therefore, it is the need of the hour that research-based think-tanks are developed across the Muslim world that work on creation of new knowledge using guidance from the Quran and the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet (PBUH). Furthermore, multilateral dialogue among the Muslim countries should be increased to help understand the challenges faced and the strategies used to counter these. Similarly, the cooperation among the Muslim countries and the exchange of parliamentary experiences would enable the members to follow the success stories in the economic realm.

Terrorism.. Root Causes
“PUIC”: Terrorism and Extremism are current phenomena that are causing concern in many parts of the world. What in your view are the root causes of such phenomena? How may joint Islamic Parliamentary action eliminate them completely?
Terrorism and extremism have affected all the nations of the world but its impact on the Muslim world is far greater. The western media has on numerous counts blamed the Muslim countries for fostering terrorism and extremism. However, they ignore the fact that the Muslim Ummah is also a victim to these terror-led acts. Therefore, joint Islamic Parliamentary action is the need of the hour. Together, the Islamic community should address the issue of growing intolerance and develop a counter narrative. The purpose of this should be to address the root causes of terrorism and extremism including the lack of inquiry-based education, shunning the culture of debate, the inability to accept technological development, lack of education and awareness, poverty, unemployment and a lack of meritocracy, and foreign occupation of Muslim lands.

Confronting Islamophobia
“PUIC”: Islamophobia is spreading, especially in the Western Countries. What are the causes and ways to confront it?
Islamophobia is instigated to spread hatred against the Muslims and is nothing more than a conspiracy since one of the largest religious groups cannot be represented by an insignificant minority of miscreants who are maligning the image of Islam. There is no denying the fact that Islamophobia is not a new phenomenon despite the fact that Islam preaches peace and harmony. Over the years, the impact of Islamophobia on Muslims has increased manifolds, especially those living and/or working in the Western Countries. As a result of Islamophobia, Muslims constantly face marginalization in all spheres of public and social life. Therefore, it is vital that Muslim countries collectively work to address this issue. In order to confront Islamophobia, the Parliamentarians and experts from the academia, media and civil society organizations all have an important role to play. It is imperative that a well-researched counter narrative is developed, disseminated effectively in the media and translated into laws and policies.

Islamic Solidarity
“PUIC”: Islamic solidarity is still facing some obstacles, what, in your view are the most significant obstacles, and how can they be overcome? What are the necessary steps to build Islamic solidarity on proper and firm foundations?
Islamic solidarity is lacking on a global level. If we look at the OIC member states, it can be observed that most of the countries are undergoing political and economic instability. The prevalence of ethnic, sectarian, regional and economic divide among the Muslims has further aggravated the conditions and is one of the most serious obstacles facing Islamic solidarity. In addition to these challenges, one of the critical concerns is the longstanding unresolved issue of Palestine and Kashmir. The effective role of the institution in this regard is needed and there is a dire need for implementing the resolutions in true letter and spirit that have been passed in different OIC summits. Advocacy for peaceful settlement of conflicts prevailing in other Muslim countries is also needed.
PUIC needs to reaffirm its commitment by playing its role for the revival of unity of the Muslim Ummah by creating alliances among the Muslim countries as well as with the international community. PUIC also needs to strategize to defend the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of the member countries which can best be done by establishing joint action force of OIC states.

Parliamentary Diplomacy
“PUIC”: How do you perceive the role which parliamentary diplomacy may play in shaping a new world order which is more fair and beneficial to all the peoples of the world?
Parliamentary diplomacy has played an important role in improving relationship between countries. Through parliamentary diplomacy, countries forming the Muslim Ummah can address the prevalence of extremism and intolerance in their home countries and also work towards addressing the concerns of Western Muslims regarding Islamophobia. As both the government and the opposition are represented in delegations participating in parliamentary diplomacy therefore it would provide a more robust view of each country. By combining expertise and sharing resources through parliamentary diplomacy, the safety, security and economic well-being of citizens can be ensured.

Cultural Dialogue
“PUIC”: Dialogue among cultures and religions is deemed very relevant to contemporary human society. How do you envisage the bases and conditions of such a dialogue to be effective and fruitful?
It is highly unfortunate that Islam has become synonymous with intolerance in today’s era, particularly following the propaganda campaigns by the mainstream western media. We must play an active role in promoting the positive image of Islam, a religion, which respects other peoples’ beliefs and culture. Therefore, it is vital that the Parliamentary Union of the OIC member countries takes the lead in identifying universal values and then conducting an engaging and enlightening dialogue, as often our preconceived notions mar these dialogues. Therefore, special attempts must be made to increase communications and knowledge so that we are able to understand diversity and celebrate plurality.

Government and the Economy
 “PUIC”: In your view, what role, can parliament play in guiding their respective government to adopt the right economic policies according to latest scientific achievements and local conditions? Especially those Parliaments have deep relations with the people and more information about the local conditions.
One of the core functions of the parliament is oversight. By effectively exercising this right, it can play an active role in guiding the government on various issues including economy and foreign policy. In the National Assembly of Pakistan, a considerable number of Standing Committees for the respective ministries, Special Committees and Parliamentary Committees have been formed to ensure oversight of the government. These committees meet regularly to discuss government policies while also inviting members from the academia and industry to provide expert opinion on complex matters. Through the working of committees, it ivs ensured that the Parliament is able to enact laws that reflect the will of the people and are also abreast with the latest development in that particular field. Likewise, oversight tools of the Parliament such as questions and calling attentions etc. are very useful in keeping the government in line with the needs and demands of the masses.