Leaders complain of inadequate support for Palestinians

Staff Report

Pakistani and Palestinian political leaders on Thursday complained of inadequate support for the Palestine cause from the Muslim countries and warned the Muslim leaders against internal divisions saying Ummah’s fragmentation served the Zionist agenda.

They were speaking at a virtual dialogue hosted by Islamabad Policy Institute (IPI) on ‘Palestine: A call for action’.

The event held in the wake of the latest flare-up in the Palestinian territories due to Israeli aggression was participated by Pakistan government representatives and senior leaders of Pakistani major political parties, who deliberated on how Muslim countries could practically help the Palestinians in this situation.

Chairman Senate Foreign Affairs Committee Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed, who also chaired the meeting, urged efforts for immediate ceasing of Israeli aggression, initiating efforts to break blockade of Gaza including possibility of a flotilla of ships of various countries carrying medicines and food for encircled Gaza, and despatch of humanitarian assistance to besieged Palestinians.

Government’s Special Representative on Religious Harmony and Middle East Tahir Ashrafi called for a national policy on Palestine and Kashmir issues, which is above party lines so that a strong voice on these issues could emerge from here.

Mr. Ashrafi regretted that there were bigger demonstrations in the West in support of the Palestinians than in the Muslim world.

However, he said, it was reassuring that in the past couple of weeks Saudi Arabia had become actively involved in the issue and is “aggressively supporting the Palestine issue now”.

Parliamentary Secretary on Foreign Affairs Ms. Andleeb Abbas called for a broader international front in support of Palestine, which is not only restricted to the Muslim countries.

She said, “One issue has been the lack of united voice in the Muslim world. Pakistan is lobbying for a united, loud and impactful voice of Islamic world.”

PPP Secretary General Senator Farhatullah Babar said the recognition of Israel by four Muslim countries last year – Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Sudan and Morocco – was a great betrayal.

Mr. Babar said that Pakistan should not take any action that could promote the divisions in the Muslim would.

He was of the view that Islamic Military Alliance was a cause of contention in the Muslim world and it needed to be ended immediately.

Former Palestinian Health Minister Dr. Basem Naim, speaking from Gaza, bemoaned internal divisions in the Muslim world and exhorted the leaders of Muslim countries to end their rivalries to “focus on the strategic threat posed by the Zionist state”.

The Muslim world should form a coalition to collectively call for ending violations of international law by Israel. Commenting on the resolution by Arab League, he said, it contained “very weak words”.

The OIC resolution, he said, meanwhile, contained “good words, but lacks the practical way forward.”

IPI Executive Director Prof Sajjad Bokhari said Muslim countries need to hold urgent defence talks and explore military and non-military options including the enforcement of a no-fly zone over Palestinian territories to help the besieged people there and restore peace and security in occupied areas.