In a recent development at the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) meeting, Pakistan’s Permanent Representative, Munir Akram, brought to light the contentious issue of the construction of the Ram Temple at the site of the demolished Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, India. This move by Pakistan signifies a continuation of the longstanding religious and political tensions between India and Pakistan. The issue, deeply rooted in history, culture, and religion, has garnered international attention, especially among countries with significant Muslim populations.
The Babri Masjid, a centuries-old mosque in Ayodhya, India, was demolished in 1992 by a large group of Hindu activists. This act led to widespread communal riots across India, resulting in significant loss of life and property. The site has been a subject of controversy and legal battles for decades, with both Hindu and Muslim communities claiming the land.
In November 2019, the Supreme Court of India ruled in favor of constructing a Hindu temple at the site, a decision that has been met with mixed reactions domestically and internationally.
Munir Akram, during the OIC meeting, expressed Pakistan’s condemnation of the construction of the Ram Temple on the site of the historic Babri Masjid. He referred to the demolition of the mosque as a “tragic” and “reprehensible act” and criticized the acquittal of those responsible for the demolition. Akram’s address is a reflection of Pakistan’s long-standing stance on the issue, which aligns with the sentiments of a significant portion of the Muslim world.
Further intensifying the issue, Munir Akram presented the contents of a letter written to the UN Alliance for Civilization. In the letter, Pakistan officially condemns the construction of the Ram Temple and articulates its perspective on the issue. The letter is an attempt to internationalize the matter, seeking broader support and possibly intervention from international bodies. The construction of the Ram Temple, which commenced after the Supreme Court’s verdict in 2019, has been a subject of national pride for many in the Hindu community.
The Indian government has maintained that the decision of the Supreme Court is a resolution of a long-standing issue, emphasizing the legal and democratic process that led to the verdict.
In India, the reaction to Pakistan’s move to the OIC has been mixed. The Indian government and many citizens view this as an internal matter and argue that Pakistan’s involvement is an unwarranted intrusion into India’s domestic affairs. Conversely, there are groups within India that sympathize with Pakistan’s stance, viewing the construction of the temple as a symbol of majoritarianism and a blow to secular values.
The international reaction to the construction of the Ram Temple and Pakistan’s recent move at the OIC varies. While many Islamic nations share concerns similar to Pakistan’s, countries with strategic and economic ties to India have been more cautious in their approach, often viewing it as a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan or as an internal matter of India. Pakistan raising this issue at the OIC could further strain relations with India. The two countries have a history of conflict and mistrust, primarily centered around the Kashmir issue.
The introduction of the Ayodhya dispute in international forums like the OIC adds another layer of complexity to the already tense relationship.
The Ram Temple issue, highlighted by Pakistan at the OIC meeting, underscores the deep-seated religious and historical tensions between India and Pakistan. While it represents a significant religious and cultural moment for many in India, it continues to be a point of contention and a symbol of religious strife for others. The internationalization of the issue by Pakistan seeks to draw global attention to what it perceives as a violation of religious rights and heritage. However, the outcome and impact of this move on international relations, particularly between India and Pakistan, remain to be seen in the evolving geopolitical landscape of South Asia.
The author is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in International Relations and is based in Islamabad. Mainly, focus on China’s Foreign Policy and the South China Sea.