Palestine Recalls Envoy Who Met Hafiz Saeed in Pakistan
Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry has defended the presence of alleged 26/11 mastermind and LeT & JuD founder Hafiz Saeed at a pro-Palestine rally attended by the Palestinian envoy in Rawalpindi, in a statement in Islamabad, on 30 December.
The Pak Foreign Ministry’s response came after India conveyed to Palestine that the presence of its ambassador to Pakistan, Walid Abu Ali, at an event of JuD chief Hafiz Saeed, also a UN-designated global terrorist, was "unacceptable", the Indian External Affairs Ministry said on 30 December.
The Palestinian Authority described the incident as an "unintended mistake", but "not justified", read a statement. It also said that Palestine has decided to recall the ambassador immediately.
Walid Abu Ali, the Palestinian envoy, attended a large rally organised by the Difa-e-Pakistan Council in Liaquat Bagh in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, on the morning of 29 December.
Formed in 2012, Difa-e-Pakistan (Defence of Pakistan) Council (DPC) is an alliance of Islamist groups in Pakistan, campaigning for a break in ties with the United States and an end to any chances of warming of relations with India.
Hafiz Saeed, the co-founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba which was responsible for the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks that killed over 160, is a part of this council.
This public rally was attended by thousands of people from all walks of life. More than 50 speakers addressed the rally, including Hafiz Saeed. Contrary to the impression being created, UN proscription does not place any restrictions on the freedom of expression.Pakistan Foreign Ministry Statement
Hafiz Saeed, who carries a bounty of $10 million announced by the US for his involvement in terror activities, made several anti-India and anti-US statements at the rally, invoking Khulbhushan Jadhav and Kashmir.
The statement from the PA described Palestine as a "real partner" of India in its war against terrorism and also expressed its appreciation for New Delhi's vote in favour of the resolution at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on the issue of Jerusalem.
Earlier this month, India joined 127 other countries to vote in the United Nations General Assembly in favour of a resolution opposing the recent decision of US President Donald Trump to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital. This was in sync with Palestinian sentiments.
A spokesman of the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates said, “Commitment of the State of Palestine and its keenness to maintain strong and friendly relations with the Republic of India, as well as its support to the efforts made by the Republic of India in its war against terrorism.”
In her intervention at the NAM ministerial meeting on Palestine, which took place on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had said that the path to Israel-Jerusalem peace clearly lay in an early negotiated solution between Israel and Palestine based on mutual recognition and security arrangements.
(The story was originally published on 29 December. It was updated at 08.30 am on 31 December to reflect the Pakistan Foreign Ministry’s response.)
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