The Jakarta Post
Pakistani President Mamnoon Hussain says the voices of Pakistan and Indonesia, by the sheer size of their populations, can make a difference in the Muslim world, including in the search for a just solution for the people of Palestine and in fighting against the rise of religious extremism and terrorism. President Mamnoon took part in the Extraordinary Summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to discuss the Palestinian issue in Jakarta this week. He spoke with The Jakarta Post's Endy M. Bayuni. Here are excerpts from the interview:
Question: Can the OIC do more in the search for a just solution for Palestine beyond making declarations?
Answer: The OIC was founded because of the Palestinian problem. This is the biggest organization, or forum, after the United Nations. The conferences and deliberations by the OIC have been successful in the past. The Muslim ummah [community] succeeded in raising the Palestinian flag at the United Nations. Now, they [Palestinians] can tell their problems to people coming from all parts of the world at the forum of the United Nations.
The Palestinian people are resolved that they will continue their struggle until they reach the required goal of getting back their land, their houses and of making Al-Quds Al-Sharif [Jerusalem] the capital of their state. Insya Allah [God willing], the time will come that they will be successful in their endeavor, with the help of the OIC and other Muslim countries and their friends in the world.
But can't Pakistan and Indonesia, being the largest Muslim-majority countries, do more?
Pakistan and Indonesia, being the most populated countries in the Muslim world, have their own importance, and they are doing something for the people of Palestine, whether individually, or as is always a very strong point, jointly in some international forum such as the OIC. When they join hands, their voices are more strong, and are heard not only in the United Nations but also in different parts of the world. With this resolve by Indonesia and Pakistan, they will continue and will be supporting the Palestinian people in their struggle to get back their land from the Israelis.
Should there be a common OIC stance against the Islamic State (IS) movement that is threatening many Muslim-majority countries?
This IS or Daesh and al-Qaeda have created a great problem for humanity. They claim to be good Muslims but I think they are not Muslims at all. They are misguided people. Pakistan has a very comprehensive plan to combat the militants of these organizations. In Pakistan there is no organized presence of Daesh. There are individuals who claim that they belong to these organizations. The militancy in Pakistan was created by the war in Afghanistan, not by Daesh. Because Daesh is creating problems in different parts of the world, we [Pakistan] are with the Muslim countries, with the world who wants to fight against this menace.
The Sunni-Shia tension is tearing apart the Muslim world. Do you have any suggestion on resolving this?
The basic teaching and message from the Prophet, peace be upon him, was that all Muslims in the world are brothers. I don't think brothers should have such points of view like Sunni, Shia or segregation from any other points of view. This is not the teaching of Islam. A man can have his own ideas, his own faith. I don't think there is any serious problem because of this divide of Shia-Sunni. Even if it is there, I am sure forums like the OIC and other forums of Muslim countries will solve it. For example, on the recent problem between Saudi Arabia and Iran, I am sure we will be able to bring them together. In a day or two, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is going to visit Saudi Arabia and [Iranian] President [Hassan] Rouhani will be coming to Pakistan by the end of this month. If there is some issue, we will try to help and to end that issue between those two countries.
Is Islam compatible with democracy?
Islam gives basic rights to everybody. Democracy follows it and democratic systems have the same approach toward the rights of human beings. In democratic systems, governments always have in mind to bring prosperity and to keep in mind the rights of the different people of different segments. I don't think there is any conflict between democratic values and Islam. In democracy, most of the teachings in Islam we follow because they are mostly concerned with the values of human beings. Democracy is a system where human values come above all other considerations.
Can Indonesia and Pakistan work together in countering religious extremism and terrorism?
We are already working together against this militancy, terrorism and extremism. Pakistan is fighting an organized war against these militants, and we have achieved great successes. Indonesia and Pakistan are cooperating with each other. The whole Muslim world is conscious of the problems of these militant Daesh and al-Qaeda. I am sure that with the passage of time, the cooperation between different Muslim countries, especially Pakistan and Indonesia, will grow to more heights.