Palestine on Saturday recalled its ambassador to Pakistan who attended a pro-Palestinian rally alongside Jamaatud Dawa (JuD) Emir Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, according to a statement issued by its foreign ministry.
Palestinian Ambassador Walid Abu Ali on Friday shared the stage with the JuD chief at the Tuhaffaz-i-Baitul Muqaddas Conference in Rawalpindi’s Liaquat Bagh, organised by the Difa-i-Pakistan Council (DPC).
Saeed, who was last month set free from a 300-day-long house arrest, has been repeatedly accused by the US and India of masterminding the 2008 attacks on the Indian financial capital Mumbai that killed 166 people.
“… the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates considered the participation of our ambassador in Pakistan in a mass rally in solidarity with Jerusalem, held […] in the presence of individuals accused of supporting terrorism is an unintended mistake, but not justified,” said the Palestinian foreign ministry’s statement, without naming Saeed.
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The ministry said the decision to recall the envoy to Pakistan immediately had been taken “under direct instructions of the President of the State of Palestine”.
According to the Hindustan Times, the Palestinian move came after India strongly objected to the envoy’s presence at the DPC rally.
A statement issued by Indian Ministry of External Affairs, according to the report, said the Palestinian side “conveyed deep regrets over the incident and assured the government of India that they are taking serious cognisance of their ambassador’s presence” at the event.
The Palestinian foreign ministry in its statement said Palestine “highly appreciates” the move by India to vote in favour of a resolution asking the US to withdraw its decision to recognise Jerusalem as the Israeli capital at the United Nations General Assembly.
“… the State of Palestine affirms its stand with the Republic of India in dealing with its terrorist threats, as our nations are real partners in the war against terrorism,” the statement said.
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Hafiz Saeed was declared a global terrorist by the US and UN over his alleged role in the Mumbai attacks that left nearly 166 people dead, including Western nationals.
JuD is considered by the US and India to be a front for Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), the militant group blamed for the attacks.
UN proscription does not restrict free speech: FO
Reacting to media reports about the Palestinian envoy’s participation in the DPC rally, the Foreign Office said the people and Government of Pakistan respect the ambassador’s “active participation” in events organised to express solidarity with the Palestinian cause.
“The public meeting held yesterday was yet another demonstration of the Pakistani strong sentiments in support of the Palestinian cause,” said an FO statement.
The FO stressed that more than 50 speakers addressed the DPC rally, “including Hafiz Saeed”.
“Contrary to the impression being created, UN proscription does not place any restrictions on the freedom of expression,” it said, in a reference to Saeed’s address.
DPC’s movement for Kashmir, Palestine liberation
The central leadership of DPC on Friday announced a nationwide movement for the liberation of Kashmir and Palestine, and to protect the honour of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and the sanctity of Khatm-i-Nabuwat.
Addressing the rally which was attended by thousands of people, Saeed said India and Israel had formed a coalition that had the US as a patron. Calling Baitul Muqaddas the heart of the Islamic world, he said: “Trump has not only ignited war against Palestine, but also Islam. The US should abstain from wars. The US is on the brink of its own destruction. The supremacy of the US will be buried in Jerusalem.”
Palestinian Ambassador Ali, meanwhile, thanked Pakistan for their attachment to Palestine.
“Pakistan is the supporter of Islam and Muslims. With Pakistan’s tremendous support to Palestine’s cause, we do not feel alone. We have to ensure freedom and security of Masjid Al-Aqsa.”