Hours after the Palestinian ambassador to Islamabad was recalled from his post, Pakistan came out in defence of the envoy, whose presence at a rally organised by Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed had sparked outcry from India.
“The people and Government of Pakistan respect the Palestinian Ambassador’s active participation in events organized to express solidarity with the people of Palestine,” Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) said in a statement.
Islamabad also viewed Hafiz Saeed’s participation at the event in Rawalpindi on Friday (Dec 29) with relative latitude, observing that his designation as a global terrorist by the United Nations does not entail that he can’t exercise his right to free speech.
“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,” the MoFA said.
They said that the public rally on Friday was one of many such meetings attended by the Palestinian envoy and was “another demonstration of the Pakistani strong sentiments in support of the Palestinian cause.”
Earlier in the day, India issued a strong demarche to Palestine after its ambassador to Pakistan, Walid Abu Ali, was seen sharing a stage with JuD chief Saeed during an event in Rawalpindi organised to express solidarity with Jerusalem.
Following this, Palestinian Authority described the envoy’s participation at the event as “not justified” and ordered his immediate recall from Islamabad.
“On the basis of the principled and firm Palestinian position, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates considered the participation of our Ambassador in Pakistan in a mass rally in solidarity with Jerusalem, held in Rawalpindi on Friday and in the presence of individuals accused of supporting terrorism is an unintended mistake, but not justified,” a statement from the Palestinian Authority (PA) said.
“Accordingly, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates, under the direct instructions of the President of the State of Palestine , decided to recall the Palestinian Ambassador to Pakistan immediately,” it said.