PM expresses solidarity with Palestinians


-Says Pakistan stands with Gaza & Palestinians
-Mentions Noam Chomsky views on Gaza situation
-FM urges Muslim nations to unite against Israeli aggression
-Holds talks with other counterparts over Palestine issue
-48 Palestinians killed, scores injured in Gaza as violence from Israel escalates

By Ajmal Khan Yousafzai

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan Wednesday expressed his solidarity with Palestinian victims of Israeli violence.
“I am PM [prime minister] of Pakistan and #WeStandWithGaza #WeStandWithPalestine,” he tweeted, joining the millions of Twitterverse who sent out similar messages of support to the people of Palestine.
The prime minister also shared an excerpt of an article of American historian Noam Chomsky in which he mentions an old man in Gaza holding a placard that reads: “You take my water, burn my olive trees, destroy my house, take my job, steal my land, imprison my father, kill my mother, bombard my country, starve us all, humiliate us all but I am to blame: I shot a rocket back.”
The violence escalated after Israeli forces stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest site, attacking Palestinian worshippers using rubber-coated steel bullets, stun grenades and tear gas over the weekend.
At least 43 people have been killed in Gaza since violence escalated on Monday, according to the enclave’s health ministry. Six people have been killed in Israel, medical officials said.
Israel carried out hundreds of airstrikes in Gaza on Wednesday and Palestinian fighters fired multiple rocket barrages at Tel Aviv and the southern city of Beersheba in the region’s most intense hostilities in years. The heaviest offensive between Israel and Hamas since a 2014 war in the Hamas-ruled enclave has increased international concern that the situation could spiral out of control.
Pakistan condemned Israel’s actions and called for Muslim nations to stand by the Palestinians. The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) also condemned the airstrikes. It said that it “condemns in the strongest terms the repeated attacks by the Israeli occupation authorities against the Palestinian people.” The body also condemned “the Israeli occupation forces’ continuation of their colonial programs, building settlements, attempting to confiscate Palestinian properties, forceful eviction of Palestinians from their land”.
The OIC also demanded that “relevant international actors”, including the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), should implement resolutions and recommendations and “activate the necessary mechanisms to stop these violations”.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Wednesday urged Muslim nations to unite over Israel’s airstrikes on Palestinian civilian neighbourhoods to confront the Jewish state and solve the decades-old Middle East crisis with justice and a humanitarian approach.
Speaking to reporters in Multan, Qureshi said that Prime Minister Imran Khan, during his recent visit to Saudi Arabia, met with the secretary general of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and stressed the need to unite the Muslim nations on the issue using the platform.
“We [Muslim countries] can raise our voices individually [but] the issue will be noted [forcefully] when all 57 member states of the organisation voice their support. A lone Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Malaysia and Indonesia cannot do anything,” he maintained.
Israel continued its bombardment of the besieged Gaza Strip early on Wednesday, targeting several neighbourhoods after lone rockets were fired from the enclave.
It is the most intense airstrikes in Gaza since the bombardment in 2014. Health authorities in Gaza said at least 35 Palestinians — including 10 children — were killed in airstrikes on the Strip since late on Monday. At least 233 others were injured. The violence escalated after Israeli forces stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque — Islam’s third holiest site — attacking Palestinian worshippers using rubber-coated steel bullets, stun grenades and tear gas over the weekend. Pakistan condemned the violence the called on “the international community to put an end to the blatant use of force and flagrant violation of human rights of the Palestinian people,” a Foreign Office statement said.
The OIC, after convening a virtual emergency session on Tuesday to discuss the “aggression by Israel”, said that it “condemns in the strongest terms the repeated attacks”. The body also demanded that “relevant international actors,” including the United Nations General Assembly, should implement resolutions and recommendations and “activate the necessary mechanisms to stop these violations.”
Today, Qureshi said he had also received a call from his Turkish counterpart, Mevlut Cavusoglu, who explained to him the proposals that would be discussed and presented in his meeting with the top Saudi diplomat.
The proposals included calling an emergency ministerial session of the OIC on the situation in Palestine and calling an emergency session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), he said. Cavusoglu had asked for his opinion to which Qureshi had voiced his support after consulting with Prime Minister Imran Khan. “This is a matter of our belief, human rights, international law and challenging an apartheid regime and we are ready to do that,” said Qureshi.
During his visit to the kingdom along with the prime minister, Qureshi said thaat he had a meeting with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud. Giving details of the meeting, he said a delegation of senior Saudi officials would visit Pakistan after Eidul Fitr and have a meeting with senior officials at the Foreign Office.
“Their [Saudi] foreign minister will visit Pakistan keeping those talks as the basis,” said the foreign minister, adding he had requested Al-Saud to visit for at least two days and the latter 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,” he further disclosed.
Qureshi further said Riyadh decided to inject $500 million in Pakistan’s energy sector to further strengthen it. The Saudi assistance would help overcome the imbalance in the energy sector, he said, adding the investment is meant for alternate and renewable energy including solar, wind and hydel power.
The money would improve the country’s energy mix — a group of different primary energy sources — balance, he said. It would also help lower the tariff gradually and would impact the economy positively.
He said that Saudi funding would also focus on infrastructure development and investment in water resource projects. Qureshi said that the three-day Saudi visit was made on the invitation of the crown prince and it helped defuse the nefarious designs of detractors. He said that Pakistan enjoys brotherly relations with Saudi Arabia, however, the recent initiative of a supreme council brought it from an ad-hoc basis to institutional arrangement.
He further said 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.
The foreign minister further said that Saudi allocated a special labour quota for Pakistan-national workers under its 2030 Vision that involved massive investments. He said that the new jobs opportunities would benefit hundreds of thousands of people. Qureshi said that the issue of visas with Kuwait and the problems faced by Pakistani families living in the sheikhdom have also been resolved.
He said that there was a ban on the export of Pakistani oranges to Iran for the past 12 years which has now been lifted and it would benefit our farmers, exporters and the national economy.