Pakistan-Palestine Relations

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Pakistan and Palestine do not share any border directly but the citizens of both the countries are interlinked with each other by heart and would remain so forever. The bilateral relations between Pakistan and Palestine are decades old. The Palestinian Authority established an embassy in Islamabad on 31 January 2017. Pakistan remains a loyal supporter of the proposal for the creation of an independent Palestinian state, and in line with its pro-Palestinian doctrine, does not recognize the State of Israel. The Palestinian issue is a matter of great concern for Pakistan even for Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of the Islamic State of Pakistan. Considering its status as the first Qibla, he particularly played a crucial role in creating awareness of the issue. Barely two weeks before his demise on 11 September 1948, he warned the Muslim Ummah in his last Eid-ul-Fitr message and the Quaid said: “We all are passing through the perilous times. The drama of Power politics that is being staged in Palestine… and Kashmir should serve as an eye-opener for us. It is only by putting up a united front that we can make our voice felt in the counsels of the world”.

Before the creation of Pakistan, the concern of the Muslims of the subcontinent, for the Palestinian issue can be traced back to the unjust proclamation of the Balfour Declaration of 1917. The Indian Muslims had a substantial emotional and religious affiliation with the Caliph’s institution and other sacred places in the Middle East.  The Indian Muslims launched the Khilafat Movement to protect the Caliph’s institution, holy places, and Palestine. Unfortunately, the post-war treaties of World War 1 known Palestine as the British mandate, which permitted Jewish settlement and migration in Palestinian land. Since then, Pakistan has opposed the Partition Plan of Palestine. With every passing day, Pakistan has deepened its zeal and fervor to support Palestine’s cause. Within a few weeks, when Lord Balfour had acquired British support for the Jewish state within Palestine and General Allenby captured Jerusalem, Muslim League expressed great concern for the safety of Holy Places in Palestine.  Pakistani leaders have always placed themselves at the forefront of the “anti-Zionist” struggle and shown fervent efforts for the Palestinian cause.  In United Nations, during the debate on Palestine partition, no other Arab or Muslim figure presented such blatant and exclusive support for the Palestinians, except Sir Zafrullah Khan (first foreign minister of Pakistan).

In 1962, Pakistan officially announced an economic, cultural, commercial and diplomatic boycott with Israel.  In the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, Pakistan at the requests of some Arab countries sent its pilots to participate in the war. In 1973 during another war between Arab and Israel, Pakistan’s minister for foreign affairs and defense Aziz Ahmed condemned Israeli war atrocities in the UN General Assembly. After the 1973 Arab-Israel war, Pakistan agreed to train Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) officers in Pakistan. Pakistan frequently provides various forms of humanitarian aid to the Palestinian Authority. The government of Pakistan highlighted the issue of Palestine at every national and international forum. Arabian rulers have abandoned Palestinian support, but that is no reason for Pakistan to follow suit. The Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, paid an official visit to Pakistan in 2005, during his tour of Asia. During his stay in Islamabad, he had a meeting with the former president of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf and other officials. In his meetings, he made political talks with the Pakistani leaders regarding the current situation in the Middle East and the peace process between Palestinian Authority and Israel. However, the former President of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf, stated that Pakistan will recognize Israel’s sovereignty if the latter withdraws its forces from the Israeli-occupied territories and allows an independent Palestinian state to be established within the Green Line that served as the international border between Israel and the Palestinian territories from the First Arab–Israeli War of 1948 to the Third Arab–Israeli War of 1967. During the OIC Summit of foreign ministers in Islamabad in 2022, Pakistan pledged to take this issue at every possible forum and will continue to make efforts and support for the right of the Palestinian people. It is heartening, to see the cause of the Palestinian people being adopted by the civil society and rights organizations in Pakistan. Thousands of Pakistani men, women, and youth marched in major cities and towns protesting against the Zionist state’s barbarity toward a virtually incarcerated population.

Meanwhile, both states are working on an extensive plan to enhance trade, tourism, and cultural and educational exchanges for optimum bilateral relationships between brotherly countries. The Palestinian government is working out traders and chamber of commerce level collaboration with Pakistan whereas a separate economic desk will also be established at the Foreign Ministry of Pakistan. Tens of thousands of Palestinian students graduated from Pakistan including most of the ministers in every government of Palestine had graduated from Pakistan. Interestingly, more than 22 serving ambassadors of Palestine graduated from Pakistan. Against the backdrop of conflicts, post-pandemic shocks, and climate change, Pakistan called for “generous” political and economic support for the people living under foreign occupation like those in Palestine

The Palestinian Ambassador to Islamabad, Ahmed Rabei thanked the Pakistani government, the parliamentarians, the civil society and the people at large for their support for the people of Palestine. “What more can we Palestinians wish for when the whole of Pakistan is saying ‘Nahno Ma’ana Falasteen’, (we are all with Palestine). I know the hearts of Pakistanis are beating with the hearts of Palestinian people. We are thankful to you all”.

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