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 concerns were conveyed both in New Delhi to the Palestinian Ambassador and in Ramallah to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates, State of Palestine.MEA statement
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.
The Ambassador of Palestine has participated in many of these meetings. The public meeting held yesterday was yet another demonstration of strong Pakistani sentiments in support of the Palestinian cause.Pakistan Foreign Ministry Statement
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.
They (Palestine) have said they will deal with this matter appropriately. It was also conveyed that Palestine highly values its relationship with India and stands with us in the war against terrorism, and will not engage with those who commit acts of terror against India.MEA statement
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.”
India did not speak on the floor of the Assembly in New York, but after Trump recognised the holy city of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, it had said that its Palestine position was independent and consistent.
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.)