Pakistan urges UN, global Islamic body to reopen Al-Aqsa mosque for Palestinians

The Dome of the Rock mosque in the Al-Aqsa mosque compound is pictured in the Old City of Jerusalem on March 14, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 14 March 2019
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Pakistan urges UN, global Islamic body to reopen Al-Aqsa mosque for Palestinians

  • Politicians vow to stand by the cause and ask Israel to shun violence
  • Seek to highlight issue at all international forums

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s top politicians on Thursday condemned Israel for closing the Al-Aqsa mosque’s compound to Palestinians and urged the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the United Nations to take stock of the situation, reasoning that the move violated religious freedom and basic human rights.
On Tuesday, Israeli forces prevented Al-Aqsa mosque’s leader’s call for prayer and attacked Palestinians who had gathered outside “Bab Al-Asbat” to pray. Bab Al- Asbat is one of the main gates of the compound in the Old City of Jerusalem, which houses Al-Aqsa — the third holiest site in Islam.
“We strongly condemn Israeli aggression against innocent Palestinians and the forceful closure of Al-Aqsa mosque’s compound. This is inhuman and a clear violation of the UN charter for freedom of religion,” Omar Cheema, the ruling party’s secretary-information, told Arab News.
He said that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party and the government would raise the issue at all appropriate forums to “expose the atrocities of Israelis against Palestinians” who have been struggling against the Israeli occupation.
“We stand by our Palestinian brothers and urge the UN and other so-called champions of human rights to take notice of the closure of the mosque – a sacred place which is close to the heart of every Muslim,” he said.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem — where the mosque is located — during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. It annexed the entire city in 1980 in a move which was never recognized by the international community. Since then, Israeli forces have been trying to prevent Palestinians from offering their prayers at the mosque.
Things took a turn for the worse when on Tuesday some Palestinians — who had gathered to pray outside the compound — were attacked by the Israelis who pushed them out before closing the gates, alleging that they had set fire to a police station inside the compound. Earlier on Saturday, an Israeli police officer was filmed entering the mosque while refusing to take off his boots.
Chief of Jamat-e-Islami (JeI) Senator, Siraj-ul-Haq said that the OIC should call an emergency meeting over the situation and send a “unanimous message” to Israel from all Muslim countries over the closure of the mosque.
“Israel has been doing all this against Palestinians with tacit support of some major countries of the world, but we warn them all to back off for the sake of peace,” he told Arab News.
He added that the JeI would also contact its members across the word to raise the issue of Israeli aggression against Palestinians at all international forums. “Israel is an illegitimate state in the Middle East and we won’t allow it regulate our religious rituals and worship places like Al-Aqsa mosque,” he said.
The recent closure of the mosque has also sparked a social media frenzy as people across the globe took to the micro-blogging websites to vent out their anger against the Israeli forces. #KickOutTheIsraeliAmbassador was the top trending hashtag on Wednesday morning in the Middle East.
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz Senator Mushahidullah Khan said that the Israeli occupation of Al-Aqsa Mosque and Palestinian territory reflected the failure of the UN and other global bodies which are mandated to ensure peace by resolving the conflicts.
“Israel-Palestine conflict has become a flashpoint in the heart of the Middle East which can put peace of the whole region at stake anytime,” he told Arab News. “The forceful closure of Al-Aqsa mosque is one example of it and Israel is virtually calling for the wrath of the Muslim world by resorting to such silly tactics.”


Sharif's doctor warns of 'life threatening' cardiac, renal conditions if ignored

Updated 15 min 59 sec ago
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Sharif's doctor warns of 'life threatening' cardiac, renal conditions if ignored

  • His kidney disease is at stage 3 with kidney function further deteriorating, claims daughter
  • Punjab government spokesman says Sharif’s health stable, government providing all necessary medical facilities

LAHORE: The personal physician of former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Monday said that Sharif was at the risk of developing “life threatening” cardiac and renal conditions even as a spokesman for the Punjab government said the jailed ex-premier’s health was stable and he was receiving the necessary medical attention.

Sharif is currently serving a seven-year sentence imposed last year for failing to disclose the source of income that allowed him to acquire the Al-Azizia Steel Mills in Saudi Arabia. He has appealed.

“The medical condition of Mian Nawaz Sharif is worsening,” his personal physician Dr. Adnan Khan told Arab News. “Turning a blind eye to the situation and [having a] callous attitude towards his health can lead to life threatening health issues, cardiac and renal both,” he said.

Sharif’s daughter Maryam Nawaz has tweeted several times in recent days demanding that he be treated by doctors of his choice.

“Just got back after meeting MNS [Mian Nawaz Sharif],” she said in a Twitter post on March 23. “His doctor’s concern was not unfounded. The blood tests done yesterday reveal a further raise in his CREATININE levels which means his kidney function has deteriorated. His kidney disease is already at stage 3. The pain in the flanks persists.”

Dr. Shahbaz Gill, a spokesman for the Punjab government, denied that Sharif was being neglected by authorities and said his health was stable.

“The health condition of Mian Nawaz Sharif was satisfactory and the government was providing every possible facility to him,” Gill said in a video message on twitter. “He (Nawaz Sharif) always has a choice to get examined by any doctor in any hospital of Pakistan at any time.”

A urologist appointed by the Punjab government to examine the jailed former prime minister said in his report: “All lab investigations are within normal limits.”

The Punjab Minister for Health, Dr. Yasmeen Rashed, has also said reports pertaining to Sharif’s kidneys were “okay.”

Last month, Sharif was sent back to jail from the Services Hospital in Lahore after he refused to be shifted to any of the three health facilities offered by the Punjab government.

Members of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party accuse the Sharif family of using Sharif’s health as a ruse to get him out of the country. However, the family has been insisting for weeks that he is seriously ill and not receiving the necessary care.

On Monday, while speaking to journalists in Islamabad, Prime Minister Imran Khan asked why the Sharifs, who had ruled the country in the center and the Punjab province for decades, did not "build one hospital where they themselves could be treated," criticizing the former premier's demand of getting medical treatment in London.