Pakistani views on the Palestinian Issue

Pakistani views on the Palestinian Issue

United World International has organized an international webinar on “West Asia and Palestine” with participation from Palestine, Turkey, Syria, Iran and Pakistan on June 10th, 2021.

We will present the full text of the speeches held on the webinar in the coming days. Today we present the speech of Dr. Syed Muhammed Ali, Director of the Center for Aerospace and Security Studies (CASS) in Pakistan.

The speech is presented as delivered, the subheading were set by UWI. The complete video of the webinar can be watched in the link below.

First of all, it is my obligation to express my gratitude to United World International for this very timely initiative in organizing this international webinar on a very critical, contemporary international subject. It is a very great honor for me to share my country’s perspective on this very important international issue.

And before I get into the specifics of your very important topic of West Asia and Palestine, let me share with you and your august colleagues and friends that I think Pakistan’s commitment towards the Palestinian issue and the Palestinian Cause predates the creation of Pakistan, number One.

Pakistan defends in Palestine the principle it was itself created upon: Self-determination

And secondly, the support that Pakistani government or Pakistani people have offered and continue to resolutely express towards the Palestinian people is fundamental to our own concept and ideology, which led to the creation of the state of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. The concept on which the state of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan was created was the right of self-determination, which our great founder, Quaid Azam Muhammed Ali Jinnah basically struggled for decades.

So, our support for the Palestinian issue is principled and continuation of the principle and ideology on which the state of Pakistan itself was created. So therefore, it’s beyond geopolitics and it’s beyond history.

Let me for the benefit of our viewers share with you that 103 years from today, immediately after the signing of the Balfour Declaration, in 1018, the party Muslim League, which founded and created the state of Pakistan, passed a resolution in 1918, condemning the Balfour Declaration and the occupation of the Muslim holy sites and Jerusalem.

You all know Pakistan was created in August 1947. So, again, 8 years before the creation of Pakistan, the great founder of Pakistan, Quaid Azam Muhammed Ali Jinnah, he sent to envoys to participate in the roundtable conference on Palestine in 1939, it was Mr. Chaudhry Khaliquzzaman and Mr. Abdur Rahman Siddiqui. Snd they met also the grand mufti of Palestine, and extended all possible diplomatic support, political support. And Muslim League also created under guidance of our founder Quaid Azam Muhammed Ali Jinnah a Palestine fund, which helped generate money all across the undivided India from the Muslim population to support our Palestinian brother.

So our commitment is consistent, it transcends geography and history, and it is based on the fundamental principle on which the state of Pakistan itself was created. That’s the most important point.

Secondly, coming to the contemporary environment, I think very extensive and comprehensive presentations have already been made. So I’ll just briefly highlight some aspects, which deserve significant attentions and consideration, and a few suggestions in each domain for those who are interested in contributing to this very important, critical international security issue and also very important international issue.

Palestinian issue should not be seen as an ‘Arab’ or Muslim issue but as a question of humanity in general

And here I reiterate the perspective of earlier speakers that it weakens the Palestinian cause if you frame it in the context of an Arab issue or a Middle Eastern issue. It is diplomatically not a strong argument, because if it is an international issue, which is a litmus test for the contemporary world order, for the international institutions, for international law, for international norms, then you expect that this issue deserves the attention, support and intervention of the entire international community beyond all ethnicities or geography.

So therefore, my suggestion would be that the Palestinian issue should not be seen in the regional or ethnic context. That reduces the political and diplomatic support that our Palestinian brothers deserve and expect from the international community in general but obviously from the Muslim Ummah in particular.

Secondly, I am going to look at this issue academically but, mostly, the debate regarding Palestine is seen in three contexts: Geography, history and identity.

However, there are 6 dimensions in which it should be reviewed and reconsidered because of its unprecedented significance. The significance of the Palestinian issue today is more than ever before. Why is that? Because of 6 reasons.

The contemporary world order is tested in Palestine

Number One: It is a major human rights issue, but it is also one of the most critical test for the contemporary world order. Those countries, those powers which shaped the international system after the World War II, they established some international institutions like United Nations and some of its subsidiary bodies, like UNGA, United Nations Security Council, United Nations human rights commission and all that.

The fact that there are two issues, Palestine and Kashmir, which are the oldest outstanding unresolved issues on the UN agenda, represents a great failure of the world order, which emerged after the Second World War in 1945.

So, what I am saying is, and I am glad with have friend from Russia and other countries as well present here. They should take notice of the fact those powers, which shaped the international system 76 years ago, if they do not resolve the international issues according to the sentiments, expectations of the international community of the people, then not only with the transforming world order, the expectations, support, cooperation and commitment of the international community in general and the developing world in particular will reduce.

International institutions might lose trust

That will tantamount to weakening the international institutions, because if they do not intervene, if they do not live up to their charter, if they do not adequately address the grievances and concerns of all the international community, then they will not just lose hope, but with the emergence and resurgence of new powers and other powers, they will look elsewhere for alternatives. They will stop. So what is the greatest threat in the political domain, in the diplomatic domain to the international order is not a kinetic threat, not a military threat, bıt the gravest threat is when the international community, when the humanity stops trusting these institutions. When they do not look up to the UN and when they start looking elsewhere beyond the western dominated international system.

That is when they need to consider that it is not just the rise of China or resurgence of Russia but the disappointment also of the larger majority of the international community that will force them to look elsewhere through means and also through avenues other than the status quo of world powers. So that is my important first argument.

Palestine and Kashmir are similar situations – India behaves like Israel

Secondly, the Palestinian issue represents a great threat to international peace and security, because the use of force, the disproportionate use of force is unprecedented, in two theaters, in two issues: one is Palestine, the other s Kashmir. And very similar, because there is operation, there is occupation, there is discrimination, there is marginalization and even the tactics and strategies are in both Kashmir and Palestine.

In fact, we in Pakistan and the Muslims in India say that actually India is using the same manual that the Israeli forces are using in Gaza Strip. They are following the same example, the same methods, the same tactics.

So, we feel that these issues require a general, a global effort at raising the concern regarding that.

Third is the legal issue, because there are so many resolutions from the United Nations General Assembly, but they have not been implemented. So this is a great failure on the part of United Nations to fulfill its obligation towards all nations that deserve the right of self-determination, that deserve the all the fundamental rights enshrined in the human charter.

Third point is, that the geostrategic significance of this issue is very important, because the distribution of hard power is also changing. The distribution of wealth and knowledge is also changing, and while the knowledge, wealth and power is redistributed from West to East, from North America to Asia, then such oppression, such occupation and such brutalities cannot be sustained and expected and accepted by the international community.  

Rising and resurging powers should learn from mistakes of status quo

It is very important for the rising powers and also for the resurgent powers that they should learn from the mistakes of the existing status quo, and fulfill the obligations according to UN Charter. Those who are permanent members of the UN Security Council also must learn from the mistakes of the status quo and fulfill their obligation towards humanity and these disputes, so that they are able to lead the world in a manner which the 20th Century.

Now, coming to the fourth argument, which is regarding the value system. The Palestinian issue is a great and very significant issue in terms of how different value systems and different ideologies and different ways of life are perceived, respected and interpreted around the world.

It is not a coincidence my friends, that Islam, that Anti-Semitism and terrorism are disproportionately used against Muslim world and Muslim people. When something happens in Canada against Muslims, when something happens in New Zealand, that individual is not called terrorist. That individual is called somebody who is mentally unstable. But whenever there is a use of, an individual use of force or violence, than automatically international media, particularly western media automatically and immediately presents it as terrorism.

So these are challenges, which are not just humanitarian but also legal, geopolitical, ideological and intellectual. Now, what do we need to do? Very quickly and not to take a lot of time. But here are my suggestions for your kind consideration.

Number one, first off, the keynote speaker, I must appreciate that his keynote address represented confidence and hope, and he urged the rest of us to support them politically, economically, diplomatically, morally and intellectually. And that is something that they deserve. And that is not a Muslim obligation, that is the test of the conscience of humanity that, whoever is being oppressed, occupied and brutalized, deserves the moral, intellectual, diplomatic, political and humanitarian support.

This is no favor to them, this their right.

We need to unite diplomatically

Secondly, it is very important that we should be united. And here, I reiterate my first argument, that this issue should not be framed as an Arab issue, it should not be seen as a West Asia issue. It is an international issue, and that, when you present it as an international issue, then you can expect and demand international support beyond geography and ethnicity.

Therefore, we need to unite our diplomatic support at all multilateral forums, whether it is OIC, whether it is UN General Assembly, whether it is United Nations Human Rights Commission or any other forum.

I think there is a great need that all those who have expressed individual commitments towards the Palestinian issue must forge their ranks, close their ranks and unite their voices to build a stronger support base at the diplomatic level.

Also, what can they do diplomatically? I think it is very important that those who are sincere and committed to the Palestinian cause, they should demand that those countries which are providing high-tech weapon systems to Israel, which are being used against the unarmed, civilian population of Palestine, they should review their military cooperation.

Because the least they can do is to expect a moral commitment, a diplomatic commitment that the weapons, which are being provided to the state of Israel, are not used against the international humanitarian law and against the unarmed, civilian population of Palestine.

That is a great violation of international humanitarian law. And to respect that is the least that the international community can expect.

We should see through the divide-and-rule-tactics

Number three. I think my two previous speakers made a very important point that in the imperial era, which seems to have carried on in terms of tactics and  strategy, the policy of divide-and-rule, we need to see through this geopolitical game. And I think some very important points made by some other speakers, that we need to see through these ethnic divides and these geopolitics of using one against the other, isolating it, and then weakening it economically, strangulating it and building a narrative of disarmament and all those sort of things. We should see through these geopolitical strategies and develop a common consensus that any threat to international peace and security must be resisted diplomatically, politically and economically.

And I completely reiterate that recommendation by my earlier colleague who mentioned that the least that they can expect is to stop buying Israeli goods. That is the least you can do, if you cannot do anything else.

Palestine deserves humanitarian intervention – Responsibility to Protect (R2P)

But I think, I feel, that a case cam be considered, which can be gradually developed in terms of the responsibility to protect – R2P. That the people of Palestine deserve humanitarian intervention. How that can be brought about? I think my honorable colleagues from the diplomatic corps can use their experience, skill and wisdom how to build that case, but that is the least we can do to provide humanitarian assistance to those people who are being brutalized, bombed and killed on a daily basis. That is very important.

Muslim world should reject accusation of Anti-Semitisim strongly with logical and historical arguments and self-confidence

Last point is that the Palestinian issue as I earlier pointed out a challenge to the Muslim world in particular, because our way of life and our ideology and our belief system is under constant intellectual threat. And let me confess that we have failed to convincingly, logically, confidently and in a united manner come up with a narrative that represents the aspirations of the Muslim world on a common voice. That is very important, because it is about time that we recover from this constant allegations of terrorism and extremism. These metaphors have been used to castigate and negatively present the just, UN recognized movements of self-determination. It is very important that we must see trough this, and I think I completely endorse and reiterate the point made by earlier colleague regarding anti-Semitism.

We must confidently clarify, and we should not shy away from this debating and coming up with a logical and convincing response, that the concept, the narrative of anti-Semitism is inherently, is essentially rooted in the Western exploitation of the Jewish community. Whereas it is a historical reality that in the last 1400 years, no civilization has opened its arms and doors to the Jewish community as the Muslims did. And need no summonizing in terms of how we accommodated it in Syria, in Spain and in other countries.

The argument of Anti-Semitism is rooted in Western exploitation of Jewish Community

So, the behavior of the state of Israel after 1948 towards the people of Gaza, Palestine and East Jerusalem should not be confused, and the narrative and the allegation of anti-Semitism may have some logic based on how the Western civilization castigated, isolated, discriminated and violated the human rights of the Jewish community in the last few hundred years.

So when a Jew, a Jewish journalist, writer, anchor, scholar uses this term on the US and Western forums, think tanks, media, academia, that puts them on the back foot, because they are conscious of what they have done in Germany and in other countries.

But Muslims should not shy away. We have not done anything against the Jews. We are the only civilization, which respected them, accommodated them and gave them a place to live when they were being thrown away from Western Europe in the last 1400 years. We should clarify that.

And on the racial and ethnic issue, I think most of the people, as a Muslim I can say, unapologetically that Hazreti Ibrahim al Islam, who is called Abraham, had two sons. We all know that. Ismail and Isaac. The Arabs are the descendants of Hazreti Ismail al Islam. So the argument of anti-Semitism is inherently flawed and illogical, because the Arabs are as much descendants of Hazreti Ibrahim al Islam as the Jews are. So anti-Semitism doesn’t stick as an argument. So we should completely demolish it with logic, history and facts.

Support the right for self-determination

So, to conclude: What we need to do? We need to reinforce and support the right of self-determination of the Palestinian people. Pakistan has consistently, since its creation, supported the Palestinian people on the principle, because it is the same principle on which Pakistan was created as a state. So, supporting Palestine practically means supporting the ideology of Pakistan itself.

So that is very important, we should reinforce those who are fighting. Let me reiterate a quotation from the great founder of Pakistan, Quaid Azam Muhammed Ali Jinnah: As a cardinal principle of Pakistan’s foreign policy in 1948, addressing the US nation in March 1948 he said: Pakistan will never be found wanting in terms of extending its support for the right of self-determination and for those people who are facing oppression and fighting subjugation. That is a cardinal principle of Pakistan’s foreign policy. And I’m proud of it as a Pakistani.

And therefore, we should unite ourselves at diplomatic forums, in media, in think tanks, and I really appreciate this initiative by United World International.

We should do it more often and it should allow people from different parts of the world to share their ideas, come up with and find common solution and try to build a safer world which makes every nation, every people equally respectable. And we should learn from the exploitation of the western imperialism and learn and work together to recover the world from it so that the future generations of your and our kids are freer, more confident and they deserve and get the right that they, all the nations get anywhere in the world.

Thank you so much.               

United World International

Independent analytical center where political scientists and experts in international relations from various countries exchange their opinions and views.

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December 2022