This was stated by FM Jalil Abbas Jilani on his arrival from New York in his first press conference after resuming his office

Shakeel Ahmed Kalyana
Chief Editor Daily Relation Times

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan said on Thursday there was no change in its policy on Palestine and it was, and would remain the same in future, as the policy was linked with the rights of the people of Palestine.

This was stated by Foreign Minister Jalil Abbas Jilani on his arrival from New York in his first press conference after resuming his office.

“There is no such thinking of any changes. We have not changed our policy on Palestine. Pakistan always decides on such issues keeping its national interest on top. There is no change in our policy regarding Israel … our policy is linked to the rights of Palestinian people,” he added. In the background of reports that Saudi Arabia and some other Muslim states were trying to formalise relations with Tel Aviv, Jilani made it very clear that Pakistan did not have diplomatic ties with Israel and pointed to its policy where it adhered to a two-state solution in accordance with the relevant United Nations and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) resolutions as well as international law, with pre-1967 borders and Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine.

“Whenever we decide on the matter, we will keep our national interests on priority,” he added.

For Pakistan, he pointed out, the Palestinians’ issue of right to self-determination was similar to that of Kashmiris.

Turning to the recent events where a Sikh separatist leader was assassinated in Canada, and Canada blamed India for the killing, Jilani said though the incident was unfortunate, the fake mask of India had slipped and it proved what Pakistan had been highlighting for decades.

All over South Asia, he said, India’s policy of assassinations and espionage had been seen.

“Unfortunately, assassinations have become a global agenda for India and there is much concern at the UN about it,” he said.

The minister said that in his interactions in New York with world leaders, they all expressed concern over India’s actions, and many suggested that the UN should investigate the matter.

“This matter will not die down easily” as India had not given a satisfactory answers on the issue, he added.

Responding to queries on Afghanistan and reports that a large number of Afghans had been told to leave Pakistan, Jilani explained in detail that the cabinet had approved a policy in which it had been decided that all illegal immigrants would have to leave Pakistan, and the policy was not Afghan specific.

“In no country in the world can anyone live illegally. We will take strong steps to ensure that all illegal immigrants leave Pakistan,” he said. However, he clarified that the policy did not pertain to Afghan refugees, who were legally living in Pakistan.

Speaking on the ongoing militant attacks in Pakistan from Afghanistan, the foreign minister said that Islamabad and Kabul were engaged on the matter and Afghanistan should shoulder the responsibility of the attacks.

“In our recent meeting, there was a commitment that Afghan soil won’t be used against Pakistan. I hope the Afghan government will abide by their commitment and we hope there won’t be a repeat of incidents that we saw recently,” he said.

The issue of Islamaphobia, said Jilani, was a very important issue for Pakistan and was taken up recently at the UNGA. There was condemnation for “this wave of Islamaphobia”, he said and several countries asked the UN should take a step to stop it.

“The UN has declared March 15 as the UN day for Islamaphobia,” he said.

Dismissing reports that Pakistan was violating any international law by purchasing fuel from Russia, Jilani said, “Pakistan’s relations with Russia are improving and we have not really done anything which is different from other countries. I don’t think Pakistan, by purchasing these items from Russia, has violated any sanction law or any international law.” Without naming India, he said Pakistan’s neighbour was also purchasing fuel from Russia.

To a query that India was denying Pakistani cricket fans visas to watch the World Cup 2023, the foreign minister said that New Delhi was bound to issue visas to Pakistani cricket fans as per the rules, set by the International Cricket Council (ICC). On threats to Pakistan from its eastern border, the minister replied that Pakistan knew how to protect its sovereignty and integrity and would take every step to protect itself. “I cannot discuss everything here but all options are open,” he added.

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