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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s national political leadership along with civil society and intelligentsia, Tuesday while unanimously condemning Israeli aggression against Palestinians especially in Gaza have stressed the need for immediate joint action to stop an unfolding humanitarian disaster in Palestine and criminal negligence of the Western powers towards it.

Speaking at the National Palestine Conference organised by Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) Pakistan here, the representatives of all the political and religious national leadership, they expressed serious concerns over the humanitarian situation in Gaza.

They said that according to official figures, 2,780 Gazans, including 900 innocent children, have been killed and around 9,600 have been injured since the Israeli aggression started on October 8. Israel’s brutality has also claimed around 90 lives in the West Bank. Daily life is on a halt and critical infrastructure has been destroyed.

The participants said that the real solution to the Palestine issue and unrest in the wider Middle East is the establishment of a free, autonomous state of Palestine with Jerusalem as its capital. This conference calls the global community to recognise Palestine as an autonomous state in order to prevent any further bloodshed.

Speaking on the occasion, Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) chief Sirajul Haq said that Muslim rulers should not wait until Gaza was reduced to rubble, urging them to take immediate action to prevent such a dire outcome.

Haq asserted that the people of Pakistan had demonstrated their unwavering commitment to the Palestine cause, stressing that this spirit had the potential to challenge Israel and America.

In a joint declaration, the participants of the conference said that Israel has intentionally targeted hospitals, schools, worship places, buildings carrying civilian populations, non-combatants including children, women and elderly, humanitarian workers, human rights activists, and media professionals in its offensive on Gaza.

This is a blatant violation of universal human rights and international humanitarian law. The UN Security Council, International Criminal Court and human rights organisations must play their effective role and hold war criminals accountable for their notorious crimes.

The declaration further said that Israel has been trying to deceive the world and walk away from its war crimes by justifying its brutality as a reaction to Hamas’ provocation on October 7.

In reality, the Hamas offensive was itself a reaction to the illegal occupation, ruthless dispossession of indigenous people and brutalities that Israel has been carrying out for 75 years.

This forum is of the view that the conflict did not start on October 7, 2023; rather, it began with the occupation of Palestinian land in 1948. The Palestinians have been deprived of their land and their homes have been occupied for more than seven decades. Therefore, while immediate cessation of the current violence is imperative, finding a real and lasting solution to the conflict is equally crucial.

Global powers, the UN and its bodies are duty-bound to take decisive steps to stop Israeli aggression on Gaza and the West Bank. The supply of food, water, electricity, fuel and medical support also needs to be restored immediately.

All UN bodies must take practical action against the violation of human rights by Israel and ensure the protection of civilians irrespective of their geographical and political affiliation.

Moreover, it needs to be acknowledged that Israel is a racist state that bases its laws and policies on apartheid and hatred discriminating on the basis of religion and race. A civilised world must isolate such a rogue state.

The global community must not wait for a massive humanitarian disaster and must exert pressure on Israel to stop its bombardment and siege of Gaza.

Regional powers need to play their role in bringing the conflicting parties to the negotiation table for immediate de-escalation and ensuring an uninterrupted supply of humanitarian aid to Gaza. The UN must act swiftly and decisively to establish a sustainable framework for a just and equitable resolution to the conflict.

Some Muslim countries have raised strong voices on the recent escalation. However, the collective response of Muslim governments cannot be considered satisfactory, keeping the gravity and intensity of Israel’s aggression in view. Muslim governments and organisations need mutual consultation for a strong and unified stance.

The global community requires practical steps to stop Israel from its brutal offensive in Gaza. The OIC, which was established to strategise the Palestine cause and protect Al-Quds, should immediately convene its emergency meeting on the issue with an aim to adopt a focused strategy.

The OIC should take Israel to the International Criminal Court for its war crimes.

Moreover, the Muslim countries need to reconsider their relations with the states openly supporting Israel for its atrocities in Palestine.

The Muslim world should also establish a “Global Palestine Fund” to extend humanitarian support, including food, medical aid, and other basic commodities, to the besieged Gaza.

Direct access to Gaza and the West Bank should also be maintained to expedite humanitarian assistance. The role of Palestine’s Muslim neighbours would be crucial in this regard.

Unity and cooperation between all Palestinian entities striving for the cause of Palestine is of key significance. Hamas and the Palestinian Authority must sit together to mend their differences for a unified struggle in the face of illegal occupation and aggression.

Muslim countries that have normalised ties with Israel and those considering this option should use this opportunity to reconsider their policies. While Israel has only intensified its occupation and atrocities on Palestinians, normalisation means legitimising its occupation and atrocities of over 70 years.

The states that have put their weight on Israel’s side in the current conflict, those who support irrational and illegal Israeli stance and those who stand neutral in this conflict must understand that military might and material resources neither decide right or wrong nor guarantee ultimate success.

This has been proved in several wars, even in the 21st century. Nations and states must not choose between right and wrong based on so-called national interests and prejudices. Israel’s actions in the Middle East and atrocities by India in occupied Kashmir have worsened only due to such selfish policies of global powers.

Academics, intellectuals, opinion leaders, and policymakers also need to understand that the current system of global governance, which is based on lust for power, selfish interests and unjust alliances, has only brought unrest, conflicts, and wars to the world. States should continuously be reminded to prefer principles over interests and base their decisions and policies on universal moral, ethical norms, and international legal requirements.

This conference highly acknowledges the just voices being raised in every part of the world. These voices have been warning Israel against its atrocities and illegal occupation while keeping aside their national, religious, ethnic and professional affiliations.

While several Western media groups have been exposed for their biased reporting in the current conflict, many journalists are trying to unfold reality while performing their professional duties in Palestine, the Middle East and other parts of the world.

They must be praised for the fact that they are fulfilling their professional duties despite many threats in the line of duty.

Pakistan has maintained its principled stance on the Palestine issue despite many internal and external pressures and lucrative offers. Historically, Pakistan has played a key diplomatic and political role at every important moment of the conflict. This forum calls for the government of Pakistan to come forward with a leading role in the current escalation, too.

The government of Pakistan needs not only to reemphasize its traditional stance but also to ensure moral, diplomatic and humanitarian aid for the Palestinian people.

The forum demands the government establish a “Palestine Fund” at the state level and make concrete arrangements to contribute to humanitarian assistance in coordination with the Palestinian Red Crescent Society, the UN, and other stakeholders.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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