PM backs Twitter drive for solidarity with Palestinians

ISLAMABAD / MULTAN: To express solidarity with the people of Palestine, who are treated savagely by Israeli security forces, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday joined trending Twitter campaigns #We stand with Palestine and #We stand with Gaza.

Joining millions of Twitter account holders who have posted similar messages of support for the Palestinians under attack by Israel, the prime minister tweeted with a single line post: “I am PM of Pakistan and #We Stand with Gaza, #We Stand with Palestine.”

The prime minister also shared an excerpt of an article written by Noam Chomsky, the American philosopher and historian, in which he had mentioned an old man in Gaza holding a placard that read: “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.”

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Khan received a telephone call from President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the two leaders exchanged views on Israel’s heinous attacks on Al Aqsa mosque and the worshippers inside as well as on Gaza violating all norms of humanity and international law. They vowed to work together, especially at the United Nations, to jointly mobilise the international community to help stop these attacks, said a press release issued by the PM Office.

Discusses issue with Erdogan on phone; FM urges United Nations to intervene

They agreed that the foreign ministers of their countries would be working closely together to raise the Palestinian issue at international level.

The regional security situation also came under discussion between the two leaders. Appreciating Turkey’s role in Afghan peace process, Prime Minister Khan stressed the importance of a responsible withdrawal of US troops and said Pakistan would continue to extend all possible support to the efforts for a political solution for durable peace and stability in Afghanistan.

The two leaders discussed further strengthening of bilateral relations and agreed that the momentum of high-level exchanges between Pakistan and Turkey would continue. They also exchanged greetings on Eidul Fitr.

During his recent visit to Saudi Arabia, Prime Minister Khan had strongly condemned Israeli forces’ attack on innocent worshipers while praying in Al Aqsa Mosque. He urged the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the World Muslim League (WML) to bring together all Muslim states to give a robust response to Israel for atrocities in Gaza that have claimed lives of several Palestinians.

A day ago, Prime Minister Khan, during a telephonic interaction with citizens, had strongly condemned air strikes by Israel in Gaza that have resulted in deaths of and injuries to several innocent Palestinians, including children.

He termed it a “reprehensible action” during the holy month of Ramazan following the increased restrictions on fundamental freedoms of Palestinians and the attacks at Al Aqsa Mosque.

He also called upon the international community to put an end to blatant use of force and flagrant violation of human rights of the Palestinian people by the Israeli forces.

FM condemns Israeli air strikes

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has expressed concern over the Israeli air strikes on Gaza and urged the United Nations to intervene and seek an end to grave violations of human rights of Palestinian people. “The world body should hold an urgent meeting to take stock of the Israeli attacks on innocent Palestinians,” he said in a press conference at his native city Multan.

“Pakistan strongly condemns the Israeli army attacks on innocent Palestinians and the entire Muslim ummah has grave concern over the situation,” the minister added.

Mr Qureshi said during the prime minister’s recent visit to Saudi Arabia in which he accompanied Mr Khan, Turkish foreign minister telephoned him and urged him to discuss the Al-Aqsa Mosque issue with his Saudi hosts.

“We (Qureshi and his Turkish counterpart) discussed the convening of an urgent OIC meeting and a United Nations General Assembly session on the issue of Al Aqsa Mosque,” he said, adding that Pakistan had agreed to the Turkish initiative, while Iran, Turkey and Indonesia had backed the stance taken by Pakistan.

The foreign minister called for an urgent meeting of the OIC on the issue. “There was need that all Muslim countries should unitedly raise voice over the Palestine issue, which would make the world take notice of the Israel’s flagrant violation of human rights of the Palestinians,” he added.

The foreign minister said Saudi Arabia had also strongly condemned the attacks on the Palestinians.

About the prime minister’s recent visit to Saudi Arabia, Mr Qureshi said the Kingdom had decided to invest additional $500 million to strengthen Pakistan’s energy sector. “It would help overcome the imbalance in the country’s energy mix, as the investment for exploring alternative and renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and hydel power,” he added.

He said the three-day Saudi visit, undertaken on the invitation of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, had helped defuse the designs of “detractors”.

The minister said Pakistan enjoyed good relationship with Saudi Arabia. “With the initiative of Saudi-Pak Strategic Supreme Council, ad hoc arrangement has now been changed into institutional one, which would be based on three pillars: security and political pillar to be headed by the foreign ministers, economic outreach led by the interior ministers and cultural and communication one led by the ministers for information and broadcasting,” he added.

Mr Qureshi said the Saudi crown prince would pay his second visit to Pakistan soon and a delegation of Saudi officials would visit Pakistan after Eidul Fitr to be followed by a two-day visit by the foreign minister to finalise arrangements for the crown prince’s visit.

The foreign minister said Saudi Arabia had allocated a special manpower quota for Pakistani workers under its 2030 development vision, which would create jobs for hundreds of thousands of Pakistanis.

He said Prime Minister Khan, during his meeting with the OIC secretary general, discussed the Al Aqsa Mosque issue and stressed the need to unite the Muslim ummah through the platform of OIC. The issues of blasphemy and respect of Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and Islamophobia also came under discussion. “It was decided to activate some 65 million Muslims living in Europe to counter Islamophobia,” he added.

Mr Qureshi said the issue of visa with Kuwait had been resolved, besides the problems faced by Pakistani families living in that country.

He said Iran had lifted ban on import of Pakistani Kino (oranges), which was in force for the last 12 years. It would benefit Pakistani farmers, exporters and the national economy, he added.

Talking about Shehbaz Sharif, the minister said the PML-N leader should better face corruption cases instead of going abroad. “His brother Nawaz Sharif was allowed to go abroad on medical grounds on Shehbaz’s guarantee. However, Nawaz Sharif appears to be healthy as is evident from his political activities in London. Shehbaz is answerable to the nation and to the court in this regard and the court should take notice of the situation,” he added.

South Punjab

Mr Qureshi said job quota would be fixed for youth from south Punjab and a separate annual development plan (ADP) for south Punjab would be presented in the coming budget.

He said only 17 per cent of development budget of Punjab used to be utilised in south Punjab in the past and the rest was spent elsewhere in the province. “Now the development fund allocated for south Punjab under the ADP would only be utilised on the projects undertaken in the region,” he added.

Published in Dawn, May 13th, 2021

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