Netanyahu’s annex pledge ‘illegal and dangerous,’ says Pakistan

Pakistan's Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Faisal speaks to the media at the Foreign office in Islamabad on May 1, 2019. (AFP/File)
Updated 12 September 2019
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Netanyahu’s annex pledge ‘illegal and dangerous,’ says Pakistan

  • Islamabad supports the creation of an independent state of Palestine, says foreign office
  • Experts urge Israel’s land grab threat to be highlighted at UNGA along with OIC

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Thursday rejected any move by Israel to annex Jordan valley declaring it as an “illegal and dangerous escalation.”
Dr. Muhammad Faisal, spokesperson for the foreign office, said during a weekly press briefing that Islamabad strongly supported the demand for an independent Palestinian state and its policy remained unchanged in that regard.
“Pakistan rejects any move by Israel to annex Jordan valley which is illegal and dangerous escalation,” said Faisal.
He added that “Pakistan does not recognize the state of Israel and its policy on this is very clear. There is no such step in consideration at all to recognize Israel.”
The official said that “Pakistan has repeatedly called for an independent Palestinian state based on “internationally agreed parameters” and the pre-1967 borders with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital which would “guarantee sustainable peace in West Asia.”
In a controversial, televised statement on Tuesday, Netanyahu pledged that Israel would move to annex Israeli settlements throughout the West Bank if he won a stiffly contested election just a week away. The West Bank was captured by Israel in a 1967 war, but Palestinians, who signed interim peace deals with Israel in the 1990s, seek to make the area part of a future state.
Around 65,000 Palestinians and 11,000 Israeli settlers live in the Jordan Valley and the northern Dead Sea area.
After the announcement, Saudi Arabia has led the call to condemn Netanyahu’s remarks describing it as “a very dangerous escalation” and summoned an emergency meeting of OIC foreign ministers over the issue.
Dr. Hassan Askari, a Lahore based international relations expert, told Arab News that Netanyahu's pledge was aimed to gain political mileage during the upcoming polls. He said that along with the OIC, “the issue should also be highlighted in the upcoming UNGA session.”
“Pakistan’s stance on Israel has always been very clear as the country termed all Israeli actions as illegal and supported the Palestinian cause.”
Javed Hafeez, a former Pakistani diplomat and an expert on Middle East affairs, said there were striking similarities between the policies of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Israeli premier Netanyahu in terms of their expansionist designs. “They are trying to annex territories that do not belong to them,” he told Arab News.
Hafeez said that Kashmir is a disputed territory under the UN resolutions while “Palestine is not even a disputed territory. It is an Arab territory accepted by UN resolution. Israel must vacate Arab territory occupied during the war.”
He said that Saudi Arabia has taken the right initiative by summoning the OIC emergency meeting of foreign ministers and “Pakistan should be in the forefront during this conference to condemn this Israeli move.”
As an Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) coordinator on the issue, Islamabad tables five resolutions on Palestine every year. In May this year, Pakistan highlighted “Israeli aggression” in Palestine at the OIC summit in Makkah, chaired by King Salman bin Abdulaziz, during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
Dr. Faisal also clarified that the recently visiting UAE and Saudi foreign ministers “expressed solidarity with Pakistan and support for the Kashmir cause.”
The spokesperson said that the joint statement submitted by Pakistan during the UNHRC session in Geneva was supported by most OIC member states. “The joint statement shows the growing international disapproval of the Indian unilateral and illegal actions in Indian Held Kashmir. It also signifies the increasing global demand for lifting of the lockdown of Kashmiri population.”
He said that US President Donald Trump’s recent reiteration of the offer to mediate on Kashmir was rejected by New Delhi because India was “not ready.”
“We have always been ready for bilateral dialogue as well [as mediation] and we made many attempts [to hold talks]. We have always maintained that every issue can be solved through dialogue,” said the official.


Pakistan’s health care facility at Torkham border a big leap for Afghans

Updated 17 September 2019
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Pakistan’s health care facility at Torkham border a big leap for Afghans

  • Prime Minister Imran Khan will officially inaugurate the hospital on Wednesday
  • Afghan patients will no longer have to travel to other Pakistani cities for medical treatment, official says

PESHAWAR: Afghan nationals on Tuesday praised the Pakistani government for setting up an advanced medical facility at Zero Point on Torkham border crossing, saying it would serve many people who required medical assistance in their country.
Syed Bilal Hussain, media officer to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s health minister, told Arab News that the government would encourage Afghans to benefit from the “health care city in the border district of Khyber.”
“Afghan patients will no longer need to travel to other Pakistani cities for medical treatment because the Pak-Afghan Healthcare Referral Facility on Torkham border contains state-of-the-art paraphernalia. There are also highly qualified medical practitioners and surgeons who will treat the patients,” he said.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan will formally inaugurate the facility at Zero Point on Wednesday.
Yasir Hikmat, an Afghan national studying BS Computer Sciences at the COMSATS University Abbottabad, described the hospital as a brilliant step by the administration in Islamabad that would benefit poor patients who could not afford to travel to big Pakistani cities.
“This is a noble thing to do and will built ties between the two governments and their people. I pray this hospital lives up to the expectations of Afghan patients and offers them medical treatment for all disease under one roof,” he said while talking to Arab News.
Hikmat added the hospital would be more successful if Pakistan eases the visa regime for ailing Afghans who needed to travel on medical grounds.
Hussain said the vibrant Out Patient Department (OPD) at the hospital would function diligently to facilitate patients on a priority basis.
“The facility has a laboratory and labor room along with ultrasound and electrocardiogram (ECG) facilities,” he added.
Kiftan Bacha, an Afghan trader who frequently uses the Torkham border crossing, lauded Pakistan for establishing the spacious health care facility.
“It is really commendable,” he said. “Roughly 400 Afghan patients cross the border every day to get treatment at Pakistani hospitals. It was also a good idea since there is no such facility within the 15-kilometer radius of the Zero Point.”
However, he suggested that patients who reached the hospital should be treated by doctors even if they did not possess passports, visas or other legal documents.
Hussain expressed his optimism that the hospital would also positively impact the Pak-Afghan relations on political and diplomatic levels.
“We want to promote medical tourism from Afghanistan,” he informed. “The health care city will function under public-private partnership and provide wide ranging medical facilities.”
Sayed Alauddin, another Afghan student at the Department of Optometry in the Hayat Medical Complex (HMC) in Peshawar, noted that Afghan patients faced tough challenges while reaching Pakistani hospitals, adding that this facility would offer them huge relief.
“This will be a great service to ailing Afghans,” he said, “because the hospital on the border will help save time and money of poor patients.”