ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Monday used the National Assembly platform to give a call for countrywide peaceful protests against the ongoing Israeli aggression in Palestine on May 21 (Friday).
Winding up discussion on Israeli atrocities before leaving for Turkey, Mr Qureshi said Prime Minister Imran Khan had agreed to the proposal and he was making the announcement with his (PM) permission.
The foreign minister said Pakistan and Turkey had decided to move the United Nations against the Zionist atrocities on the Palestinian people, adding that he would be leaving for Turkey after the session where he would also meet Palestinian and Sudanese foreign ministers.
He said a demand would be made to convene an emergency session of the UN General Assembly where he and his Turkish counterpart would raise their voice for Palestine.
Talking about the situation in Gaza, he said first and foremost, a ceasefire should immediately be observed in Palestine.
Two important meetings on the Palestinian issue were held on May 16. One was a meeting of the OIC Executive Committee on Foreign Affairs and the other of the UN Security Council. The Security Council meeting was chaired by the Chinese foreign minister.
Mr Qureshi praised the Chinese leadership, saying “China tried to unite the Security Council and all members were convinced, but unfortunately the United States vetoed it”.
He, however, said it could not be done at the United Nations General Assembly.
He assured the lower house that the government would never ignore the issues of Palestine and Kashmir.
“Admittedly, the path is difficult, the world has a double standard but the truth carries great weight,” he added.
Mr Qureshi said at the foreign ministers’ meeting of the OIC Executive Committee, he strongly and unequivocally condemned the Israeli aggression against the Palestinians.
“In this regard, I contacted the foreign ministers of various countries, including the United States, China, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Palestine, and presented Pakistan’s position,” he said.
The foreign minister said people had taken to the streets in the western capitals to protest the serious human rights violations in Palestine. Demonstrations are also taking place in European countries and an EU meeting has been convened on Tuesday.
Mr Qureshi said in the age of social media, Palestinian voices could not be forcibly suppressed and media houses could not be bombed into silence.
He said Pakistan had a clear position that Israel, which was hell bent upon oppressing people in Gaza, should not be compared with the Palestinians who were facing barbarism.
“Today is the test for the Muslim Ummah’s unity. Human rights organisations must eliminate double standards and stand with the Palestinians,” Mr Qureshi said.
The lower house also unanimously adopted a resolution, expressing deep concern over the increasing violence and brutality perpetrated against the Palestinian people by the Israeli apartheid regime.
The resolution moved by the foreign minister strongly denounced the systematic and brutal disenfranchisement, exclusion and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people.
The lower house condemned the attacks by the apartheid Israeli regime on worshipers in Al Aqsa Mosque during Ramazan and attempts to stop the call to prayers.
It denounced and rejected the continuing practice of expanding settlements through forced evictions by the apartheid regime, which were in violation of Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
The resolution expressed Pakistan’s unwavering, political, diplomatic and moral support to the brave and resilient Palestinian people and called upon the Security Council to take necessary action under Chapter V11 of the UN charter.
Earlier, in his opening speech, Leader of the House in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif criticised Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi for his remarks that abrogation of Article 370 was an internal matter of India, saying it was tantamount to shaking the foundation of the Kashmir cause.
He, however, welcomed retraction of the remarks later.
About the situation in Palestine, Mr Sharif said: “We are racing against time”, and advised the foreign minister to lead from the front and do all possible lobbying to muster support for the Palestinian victims of terror.
He also drew a comparison between the situations in Palestine and Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir, saying there were similarities in the two.
He criticised Narendra Modi for imposing a permanent lockdown after abrogating Article 370 of the Indian constitution and said Muslims and other minorities in India were being meted out a highly discriminatory treatment.
Published in Dawn, May 18th, 2021