Qureshi calls on Muslim nations to unite over Israeli action against Palestinians

Published May 12, 2021
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi speaks to the media in Multan on Wednesday. — Photo courtesy PID
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi speaks to the media in Multan on Wednesday. — Photo courtesy PID

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Wednesday said that Pakistan is concerned about the recent violence in Palestine, adding that Muslims countries needed to unite in order to raise awareness about the issue.

Speaking to the media in Multan about Prime Minister Imran Khan's recent visit to Saudi Arabia, he said: "The premier met with the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation's secretary general and contended that there was a need to unite the Muslim Ummah on the issue using this platform.

"We can raise our voices individually [but] the issue will be noted when all 57 OIC members voice their support. A lone Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Malaysia and Indonesia can't do anything," he said.

Qureshi also said he had received a call from his Turkish counterpart who explained to him the proposals — keeping in mind the situation at Al Aqsa — that would be discussed and presented in the latter's meeting with the Saudi foreign minister.

The proposals included calling an emergency ministerial session of the OIC on the Al Aqsa situation to raise a voice against the use of force by Israeli security forces and to call an emergency session of the UN General Assembly, he said.

The Turkish foreign minister had asked for his opinion to which Qureshi had voiced his support after consulting with PM Imran.

"This is a matter of our belief, human rights, international law and challenging an apartheid regime and we are ready to do that," said FM Qureshi.

Earlier, the Foreign Office (FO) had strongly condemned the air strikes by Israel in Gaza that resulted in deaths and injuries to innocent Palestinians, including children.

"This is yet another reprehensible action during the holy month of Ramazan. Indiscriminate use of force by Israeli forces against defenceless Palestinians defies all humanitarian norms and human rights laws. Pakistan calls upon the international community to put an end to the blatant use of force by Israel and flagrant violation of human rights of Palestinian people," the FO statement said.

"Establishment of a viable, independent and contiguous state of Palestine, on the basis of internationally agreed parameters, the pre-1967 borders, and with Al Quds Al Sharif as its capital, is the only sustainable guarantee for peace in the region," the statement added.

OIC envoys deplore Israeli actions against Palestinians

A day earlier, the OIC, at a meeting in New York, unanimously endorsed Pakistan’s proposal for issuing a joint statement deploring the Israeli actions against Palestinians.

The meeting also approved a proposal from the ambassadors of Turkey and Saudi Arabia for mobilising international support to convene a special session of the General Assembly on the situation. The OIC envoys set up a core group of member states as well to highlight this issue at the UN. Pakistan is a key member of this core group.

The ambassadors of OIC member states held this urgent meeting at the United Nations to show their angst at the Israeli aggression and unequivocally condemned the recent use of “brutal” force by the Israeli forces against Palestinians in East Jerusalem.

In a statement issued after their meeting, the OIC ambassadors said the Israeli attacks on Palestinians in East Jerusalem, Sheikh Jarrah and Gaza were against all humanitarian norms and human rights laws, especially in the holy month of Ramazan.

The envoys urged the world community to immediately stop Israel’s attempts to evict residents of Sheikh Jarrah who have been living in that neighborhood for decades.

Saudi delegation to visit after Eid

During today's press conference, the foreign minister also provided details on the premier's recent visit to Saudi Arabia. "A direction for the future was set," he said.

He said that Pakistan always had good political and strategic relations with the kingdom in the past but termed it an "ad-hoc arrangement".

However, now a new agreement has been reached and an institutional arrangement and mechanism has been decided which PM Imran and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman have signed, he said. "We call this the Saudi-Pakistan Supreme Coordination Council."

He added that there would be regular engagement under the council and that it would have three pillars: a security and political pillar to be led by Pakistan's foreign minister; economic outreach to be led by Pakistan's finance minister; cultural, information and communication cooperation to be led by Pakistan's minister for information and culture.

"There were three aspects to the talks we had," Qureshi said, adding that one meeting was the "delegation-level talks" which included the prime minister, the crown prince, Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, and Saudi and Pakistani ministers.

After that, the premier and the crown prince had another one-to-one meeting and then a "small group meeting" which included the prime minister, Qureshi and Gen Bajwa from the Pakistani side and the crown prince, defence minister and interior minister from the Saudi side.

"We had a small group meeting and we openly talked about [...] bilateral, international and regional issues. We listened to each other in a very good and friendly atmosphere and presented our point of view.

"They shared their developments with us and we presented our thinking in their service," Qureshi said, adding that it was decided after the meeting to have another one between him and his Saudi counterpart.

Qureshi said he had a meeting with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud. Giving details of the meeting, Qureshi said a delegation of senior Saudi officials would visit Pakistan after Eid and have a meeting with senior Pakistani officials at the Foreign Office.

"Their foreign minister will visit Pakistan keeping those talks as the basis," said Qureshi. He added that he had requested his counterpart to visit for at least two days and the Saudi foreign minister had agreed.

Qureshi also added that on the basis of the institutional arrangement, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman would also visit Pakistan soon. "It was decided that we have to give our relationship a new direction towards economic cooperation."

The foreign minister said that the crown prince had developed a plan for Saudi Arabia's development, Vision 2030. He said that labour would be required for those investments and thus it was decided to reserve a specific quota for Pakistani labour.

"New opportunities of livelihood will be created for hundreds of thousands of Pakistanis through this in Saudi Arabia," he said.

Qureshi said that five agreements had been signed with Saudi Arabia and gave details on one he had signed which he said was "worthy of mention". "Saudi Arabia has decided to give a further $500 million to Pakistan," he said, adding the money would be for hydropower projects

He said this would allow Pakistan to move towards renewable energy.

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