Pakistan, several other nations to take united stance at UNGA: FM

Published May 19, 2021
ANKARA: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi being received by Ankara’s Deputy Governor Ismail Kureci at Ankara Airport on Tuesday.—PPI
ANKARA: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi being received by Ankara’s Deputy Governor Ismail Kureci at Ankara Airport on Tuesday.—PPI

• Qureshi, three other foreign ministers due in New York today for emergency session on Palestine
• Meets his Turkish counterpart to mobilise countries to help stop Israeli aggression
• UNGA president to visit Islamabad, Dhaka from May 25 to 27

UNITED NATIONS: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has said that Pakistan has joined hands with Palestine, Sudan and Turkey to take a united stance at the Thursday session of the United Nations General Assembly on Palestine.

The foreign minister is expected to arrive here in New York along with his counterparts from Turkey and two other countries on Wednesday to participate in the emergency session called by the UN General Assembly.

Mr Qureshi, who met his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu in Ankara on Tuesday, said Pakistan was establishing contacts with different countries in a bid to pressure Israel to stop attacks on Gaza, which have been continuing since May 10.

UN General Assembly President Volkan Bozkir earlier on Monday informed all UN members that Algeria and Niger, as chairs of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the Arab Group in New York, had asked for a general debate on “the situation in the Middle East” and the “question of Palestine”. In a letter to all member states, the UNGA president said he had decided to hold the meeting on May 20 as requested.

In a separate statement, Mr Bozkir said he would also pay official visits to Bangladesh and Pakistan from May 25 to 27. “I will be received by President Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Khan and will also meet Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi,” he wrote in a tweet. “I will give a speech at the National Defence University. I will also meet the UN country team serving in Pakistan.”

While the UN Security Council (UNSC) also held an open emergency meeting on Palestine in New York on Sunday, it failed to reach a consensus on the issue. The participants, however, urged Israel to stop evictions and demolition of Palestinians’ homes and called for an immediate halt to the Israeli aggression against the Palestinians.

After the UNSC meeting, China, Norway and Tunis demanded immediate cessation of all acts of violence, including destruction and eviction plans in the occupied Palestinian territories.

In a tweet posted on Tuesday, the Pakistani foreign minister said: “Pakistan joins hands with Palestine, Sudan and Turkey” to take a united stance at the UNGA emergency session on Thursday. “Pakistan stands firmly with the people of Palestine,” he added.

According to him, the diplomatic mission to Turkey was linked to Islamabad’s efforts to bring the international community’s attention to the worsening situation in Palestine.

A US scholar of South Asian affairs, Michael Kugelman, while appreciating Pakistan’s efforts to highlight the Palestinian issues, said: “Islamabad has a diplomatic opportunity in the coming days because its global advocacy on behalf of the plight of the Palestinians can get real traction abroad.”

After meeting his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu in Ankara, Mr Qureshi said: “Nothing can shake our resolve as we stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of Palestine in their legitimate right to self-determination.” He assured the Palestinians of Pakistan’s unflinching support for their right to have an “independent state with pre-1967 borders and Al Quds Al Shareef as capital.”

Earlier on Monday, a resolution in support of Palestine and condemning Israeli aggression was unanimously adopted in the National Assembly. It underlined Pakistan’s support for a two-state solution, as enshrined in the relevant UNSC and UNGA resolutions.

In Ankara, Mr Qureshi and his Turkish counterpart discussed ways to mobilise the international community to help stop Israeli aggression against the Palestinians. They reminded the international community that they had “a collective responsibility in ensuring necessary steps to help address the dire situation, restore peace, and facilitate a just solution.”

As part of Pakistan’s diplomatic endeavours, Prime Minister Imran Khan and FM Qureshi have reached out to several countries including Palestine, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Indonesia.

The foreign minister said it would be “lamentable if the international community remained silent on the Palestinian situation” and called upon the Muslim community in European countries to play its role in helping stop “Israel’s persecution of [Palestinians] in Gaza”.

Published in Dawn, May 19th, 2021

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