AMBASSADOR Walid Abu Ali.
AMBASSADOR Walid Abu Ali.

ISLAMABAD: Palestine has recalled its envoy to Pakistan after India objected to his appearance in a public meeting on Al Quds along with Jamaatud Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed.

A statement by the Palestinian foreign ministry said: “The minister of foreign affairs and expatriates under the direct instructions of the president of the state of Palestine has decided to recall the Palestinian ambassador to Pakistan immediately.”

It said that the envoy’s participation “in a mass rally in solidarity with Jerusalem… in the presence of individuals accused of supporting terrorism is an unintended mistake, but not justified”.

Ambassador Walid Abu Ali had on Friday attended the gathering in Rawal­pindi’s Liaquat Bagh under the banner of Difa-i-Pakistan Council, a grouping of dozens of jihadi parties, in support of the Palestinian cause. JuD, which is the leading party in the alliance, had hosted the ‘Tahaffuz-i-Baitul Muqddas’ rally.

Besides speaking on Al Quds, leaders at the rally had lashed out at India for its oppressive actions to subdue the uprising in the occupied valley.

Decision follows India’s objection to ambassador’s participation in rally; Pakistan reaffirms support for Palestinian cause

“We consider it our prime responsibility to liberate Kashmir from India. We will free Kashmir in fulfillment of (Mohammad Ali) Jinnah’s dream,” Hafiz Saeed had said on that occasion.

The Palestinian envoy had been active after President Donald Trump decided to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel coordinating with political and religious parties’ reaction in Pakistan over the American move. A few weeks back, he had visited Army Chief Gen Qamar Bajwa, who had told him that Pakistan viewed Kashmir and Palestinian disputes similarly and both issues had “public, moral and political” support of the people of the country.

Palestinian envoy’s pictures with Hafiz Saeed, which were carried by the media, were noticed in New Delhi. The Indian government summoned the Palestinian ambassador in New Delhi to the ministry of external affairs to receive the demarche over Mr Ali’s participation in the rally.

“Government of India has strongly conveyed to the Palestinian side that the Palestinian ambassador’s…association with terrorist Hafiz Saeed, who is proscribed by the United Nations, at an event in Rawalpindi on 29.12.2017, is unacceptable. The concerns were conveyed both in New Delhi to the Palestinian ambassador and in Ramallah to the minister of foreign affairs and expatriates, state of Palestine,” the Indian ministry said in a statement.

As per the Indian statement, the Palestinian envoy assured that Palestinian Authority stood with India “in the war against terrorism, and will not engage with those who commit acts of terror against India”. More importantly, the Indian government was shortly communicated that Abu Ali was being recalled.

India was among the countries that voted in favour of a UN resolution that effectively rejected Mr Trump’s move and asked member states not to establish diplomatic missions in Jerusalem.

When contacted by Dawn, Ambassador Ali said he would not comment on the decision.

Pakistan reaction

Meanwhile, the Foreign Office said that Pakistan’s unambiguous and steadfast support for the Palestinian cause was well known.

In response to media queries about the Palestinian ambassador’s participation in the public meeting, the FO spokesperson said that Pakistan had always supported the two-state solution, with East Jerusalem, the capital of the Palestinian State. Pakistan’s unequivocal position was demonstrated in the rejection of the US decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Since then a number of rallies and meetings have been held in Pakistan, the official was quoted as saying in a press release.

He pointed out that Ambassador Ali had attended many of these meetings. The public meeting held on Friday was yet another demonstration of Pakistan’s strong sentiments in support of the Palestinian cause. The rally was attended by thousands of people from all walks of life. More than 50 speakers addressed the rally, including Hafiz Saeed. Contrary to the impression being created, the UN proscription does not place any restrictions on the freedom of expression.

“The people and government of Pakistan respect the Palestinian ambassador’s active participation in events organised to express solidarity with the people of Palestine,” the spokesman said.

Published in Dawn, December 31st, 2017

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