There is an urgent need for Muslim countries to commit themselves to scientific and technological advancement. They must also take control of their own resources.
Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, as major Muslim countries, must rise above divisive tendencies and forge a collective will to confront common challenges to the Muslim world including the threat of obscurantism and violence.
They should enter into a regional framework of cooperation in the fields of education, science & technology, economy and counter-terrorism.
The prospects of turning the Islamic Military Coalition to Counter Terrorism (IMCTC) into an organization akin to a “Muslim NATO” that will combat terrorism, militancy and sectarianism should be seriously considered.
Representing one-fifth of humanity as well as of the global land-mass spreading over 57 countries, possessing 70 percent of world’s energy resources and nearly 50 percent of world’s natural resources, the Muslim world should have been a global giant, economically as well as politically. Rich in everything but weak in all respects, it represents only 5 percent of the world’s GDP and is totally a non-consequential entity with no role in global decision-making, or even in addressing its own problems.
Though some of the Muslim nations are sitting on world’s largest oil and gas reserves, the majority of Muslim countries are among the poorest and most backward in the world. Peace is the essence of Islam but, ironically the Muslim nations have seen very little of it, especially after the Second World War. Recent decades have seen tragedies being enacted on Muslim lands, especially in the Middle East and Persian Gulf where conflict and violence remain pervasive. Millions have been killed in these conflicts. They are the victims of wars that have been imposed on them.
However, they alone are responsible for their institutional bankruptcy, political and intellectual aridity, chronic deficiency in knowledge, education and science and technology as well as their aversion to modernity and modernization. To make things worse, there is no urge anywhere in the Muslim world to come out of its ostrich-like medieval mode.
It is time the Muslim world changed how it is perceived around the world to being viewed as a peace-loving, tolerant people capable of living in harmony as an integral part of humanity.
If history is any lesson, things never remain static. They keep changing as the world and its dynamics do by the inevitable process of change that is always inherent in the rise and fall of power. This was the crux of discussion at a diplomatic roundtable organised by the Lahore Canter for Peace Research (LCPR) on February 14, 2018 to explore how the Muslim world could recover its lost strength and glory to be able to play a global role commensurate with its size and economic strength.
The panelists consisting of Pakistan’s senior diplomats deliberated on the overall regional and global economic, security and political environment, and agreed things will not change unless the Muslim world puts its own house in order and takes control of its resources to build its common destiny commensurate with its size and economic strength. There was consensus among them that despite challenges, four influential countries, Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey have the potential to play an effective role in reshaping the destiny of the Muslim world.
This requires them to rise above their vested interests and divisive tendencies to be able to forge a fresh collective impulse that leads the Muslim world into a new era of unity and civilizational advancement, and to make it a strong, cohesive global entity in political, economic and security matters. They need to develop some kind of a cooperative mechanism between them, so as to mitigate rivalries, violence and instability in their region. They might also consider turning the Islamic Military Alliance to Fight Terrorism (IMFT) into an organization akin to a “Muslim NATO ” that will combat terrorism, militancy and sectarianism.
There is also an urgent need for Muslim countries to commit themselves to scientific and technological advancement. They must provide adequate resources to educate their peoples according to international standards. While Muslim countries may have serious differences over various issues, Muslim leaders must have the foresight to set aside these disagreements, at least when it comes to developing the Muslim World as a whole through investments in education and scientific research.
The focus on taking advantages of enabling factors like globalization and connectivity initiatives in the region was highlighted. Also, common threats such as climate change and extremism can be countered through cooperative efforts. It was emphasized that in order to expand its clout, Pakistan must focus on increasing its internal strength and improving its economic profile by using its resource base, physical capacity and developing institutions.