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ISLAMABAD: Political leaders from Pakistan and Palestine, on Thursday complained about the ‘inadequate’ support for the Palestine cause from the Muslim countries, as former Palestinian health minister urged Muslim world to shun their internal differences to deal with the ‘strategic threat’ posed by the Zionist state.

They were speaking at a virtual dialogue hosted by Islamabad Policy Institute (IPI) on ‘Palestine: A call for action’ in which they also warned the Muslim leaders against internal divisions, saying Ummah’s fragmentation served the Zionist agenda.

Speaking from Gaza, former Palestinian health minister Dr Basem Naim lamented internal divisions in the Muslim world and exhorted the leaders of Muslim countries to end their rivalries to ‘focus on the strategic threat posed by the Zionist state.’

He suggested that the Muslim world should form a coalition to collectively call for ending violations of international law by Israel.

Commenting on the resolution by Arab League, he stated that it contained ‘very weak words.’ “The OIC resolution contained good words, but lacks the practical way forward,” he pointed out. The former Palestinian health minister appealed for humanitarian assistance for the people of Gaza, saying it could be channeled through international agencies.

Senate Foreign Affairs Committee’s chairman Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed, who chaired the meeting, urged efforts for immediate ceasing of Israeli aggression, initiating efforts to break blockade of Gaza including possibility of a flotilla of ships of various countries carrying medicines and food for encircled Gaza, and dispatch of humanitarian assistance to besieged Palestinians.

He called for initiating war crimes trials against Israel as its forces targeted non-military installations including civilians and media.

He also suggested a joint diplomatic initiative on Palestine led by Pakistan along with Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, and Nigeria or any other likeminded country.

He also slammed the US “double standards” and “hypocrisy” on Palestine.

Prime Minister’s Special Representative on Religious Harmony and Middle East, Maulana Tahir Ashrafi called for a national policy on Palestine and Kashmir issues, which is above party lines, so that a strong voice on these issues could emerge.

He said Pakistan should not become part of any intra-Arab or intra-Palestinian factionalism, which he feared could weaken the support for Palestine cause.

He regretted that there were bigger demonstrations in the West in support of the Palestinians than in the Muslim world. However, he added that it was reassuring that in the past couple of weeks Saudi Arabia had become actively involved in the issue and is “aggressively supporting the Palestine issue now”.

Parliamentary Secretary on Foreign Affairs Andleeb Abbas called for a broader international front in support of Palestine, which is not only restricted to the Muslim countries. She said one issue has been the lack of united voice in the Muslim world, adding that Pakistan is lobbying for a united, loud and impactful voice of Islamic world.

“We needed a united Ummah for the United Nations to move on the issue,” she asserted.

PPP secretary general Senator Farhatullah Babar said the recognition of Israel by four Muslim countries last year, including Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Sudan, and Morocco, was a “great betrayal”.

He said Pakistan should not take any action that could promote the divisions in the Muslim would.

He was of the opinion that the Islamic Military Alliance was a cause of contention in the Muslim world and it needed to be ended immediately.

“Former army chief Gen Raheel Sharif, who is heading the Islamic Military Alliance, should either voluntarily step down or may be recalled,” he added.

He proposed an aggressive promotion of narrative of Israel being the aggressor and perpetrator of war crimes.

IPI executive director Prof Sajjad Bokhari said Muslim countries need to hold urgent defence talks and explore military and non-military options including the enforcement of a no-fly zone over Palestinian territories to help the besieged people there and restore peace and security in occupied areas.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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