ISLAMABAD: Caretaker Foreign Minister Jalil Abbas Jilani on Tuesday termed President Dr Arif Alvi’s proposal of a “one-state solution” to the Palestine problem as not being in line with the country’s principled and historic stance on the issue, as a PPP senator demanded the president step down over the controversy.

The foreign minister was speaking on the floor of the Senate when PPP’s Raza Rabbani sought an explanation from him over the controversial press release which was issued by the Presidency about Dr Alvi’s telephonic conversation with his Palestinian counterpart on Nov 10, in which he had reportedly suggested a one state solution to the ongoing crisis in the Middle East.

“If the two-state solution was not acceptable to Israel, then one state solution was the only way where Jews, Muslims and [a] good percentage of Christians could live to exercise equal political rights,” the original press release had quoted Dr Alvi as telling the Palestinian president.

Almost all news TV channels ran the president’s statement, which was also released by the state-run Associated Press of Pakistan.

No plans to make changes to 18th Amendment, Ishaq Dar tells Senate

The Presidency later retracted the press release and issued a new one, which omitted any mention of the controversial proposal.

The foreign minister said the Presidency had not sought an input from his ministry before issuing the press release, adding that he was not aware of the context in which the president had suggested the “one-state solution”.

Mr Jilani said that soon after the release of the president’s statement, his ministry had to issue a clarification, stating Pakistan’s official position on the Palestine issue.

That clarification, he said, was sent the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation Secretariat and other organisations concerned, including UN bodies.

Mr Jilani said that Pakistan had always suggested a “two-state solution” to the Palestinian problem based on the border of 1967 and in line with the UN Resolution No 242.

Resignation demanded

Taking the floor after the completion of the agenda, PPP’s Senator Raza Rabbani drew the attention of the foreign minister towards the controversy triggered by the Presidency.

“A contradiction was issued [after the press release]… but I demand resignation of the president over his statement,” said Mr Rabbani,.

He also asked the foreign minister to inform the house as to “what counter-measures has the government taken to overcome this disastrous statement that was issued by the president?”

18th Amendment

Earlier, speaking on a point of order, Leader of the House Ishaq Dar told the Senate that his party has no plans to amend the 18th Amendment.

Highlighting the historical context of the 18th Amendment, he said Charter of Democracy was signed by both the PPP and PML-N in 2006.

Although the PPP came to power in 2008, it was in 2010 that the 18th Amendment was approved, after comprehensive work on the National Finance Commission award and other issues.

Mr Dar noted that making a constitutional amendment was the right of the legislature, and added that there had been no directives from the PML-N leadership regarding any changes to the amendment.

On Tuesday, normalcy returned to the upper house — which witnessed commotion in the last three sittings due to a vociferous protest by the senators against a hastily passed resolution in support of military courts — as no member mentioned the controversial resolution.

The Senate session will now resume on Friday.

Published in Dawn, November 22nd, 2023

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