Pakistan on Thursday called for an immediate halt to hostilities in Gaza, as the Foreign Office “strongly” condemned the indiscriminate and disproportionate use of force by Israeli authorities against civilians in the war-torn region.
“We are deeply concerned about the fast-deteriorating and dire humanitarian situation in Gaza due to the inhumane blockade and collective punishment by Israeli forces,” said Foreign Office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch during a weekly press briefing. “The decision to cut off electricity, fuel and water supplies is unjust and should be reversed, as it would severely impact the lives of the Palestinians residing in the enclave,” she said, adding Israel must fulfill its obligations as an occupying power under international law to lift the blockade and allow unhindered access of humanitarian aid to Palestinians.
Describing the current cycle of aggression and violence as a “sad reminder” and a “direct consequence” of over seven decades of illegal foreign occupation, aggression, and disrespect for international law, she said had constantly warned against the serious consequences of Israel’s escalatory and provocative actions in recent months. “The unprecedented gravity of the situation demands urgent intervention by the international community,” she said, calling on the U.N. to play a proactive role in facilitating a ceasefire to alleviate the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza.
“The international community must work in concert for a just, comprehensive and lasting two-state solution with a viable, sovereign and contiguous State of Palestine on the basis of pre-1967 borders, with Al Quds Al-Sharif as its capital. Peace in the Middle East will remain elusive in the absence of such a solution,” she added.
To a question, she said Pakistan was in contact with other members of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Jeddah, where various options were being discussed to secure an end to the hostilities. “We have also noted the meeting which has been held by the Arab League, and we hope that the demands made by the Arab League are heeded to by the Israeli authorities,” she added.
Referring to Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK), the spokesperson lamented ongoing curbs on the genuine voices of the Kashmiri people. She said Indian authorities had, on Oct. 5, banned the Jammu and Kashmir Democratic Freedom Party for five years, making it the fourth Kashmiri party banned under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. “India should immediately reverse restrictive measures against political parties in IIOJK and release all political prisoners; so that the Kashmiri people can exercise their inalienable right to self-determination in accordance with the relevant UNSC resolutions,” she added.
To a question on the ongoing ICC World Cup in India and issues faced by journalists in securing visas, she reiterated that as the host, Delhi had the responsibility to provide seamless security for Pakistan’s cricket team and its officials. On sports presenter Zainab Abbas leaving India following outrage over tweets made nearly a decade ago, she said this reflected the “growing level of intolerance” in Indian society. “We hope that India will fulfil its responsibilities as the host nation,” she added.
Responding to a question on the earthquake in Afghanistan, Baloch reiterated Pakistan’s “deep sympathy over the situation, adding Pakistan stands in solidarity with its Afghan brothers and sisters and remain in contact with the Interim Afghan government to meet any needs they might have during the relief and recovery efforts.
She also reiterated that all illegally residing foreign nationals had till Nov. 1 to voluntarily leave the country or risk deportation. “There are different prescriptions within these laws including deportation. This process will be completed in a phased and orderly manner,” she said.
During her briefing, Baloch also announced that interim Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar would visit China from Oct. 17-18 on the invitation of President Xi Jinping to participate in the Third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing. She said he would hold bilateral meetings with President Xi and senior Chinese leaders and with a number of leaders attending the Forum.