India to officially protest presence of Palestine envoy at Hafiz Saeed meet
30 Dec 2017
India has not taken kindly to the attendance of Palestine's ambassador to Pakistan at a rally involving Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) chief and Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Saeed on Friday, particularly as it comes just days after New Delhi sided with the Palestinians to back United Nations resolution denouncing the US recognition of Jerusalem Israel's capital.
"We have seen reports in this regard. We are taking up the matter strongly with the Palestinian ambassador in New Delhi and with the Palestinian authorities," external affairs ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said on Friday, answering a query on reports and photographs of the Palestinian ambassador participating in the rally organised by the 26 / 11 Mumbai attacks mastermind.
Photos of the Palestinian ambassador to Pakistan, Walid Abu Ali, sharing the stage with Saeed and addressing the rally organised by the Difa-e-Pakistan Council at Liaqat Bagh in Rawalpindi were circulated on social media on Friday. The rally was organised to condemn the US move on Jerusalem.
A report in the Hindustan Times quoted officials as saying India would issue a "strongly worded demarche" to Palestine.
According to reports, Palestinian ambassador in Islamabad Walid Abu Ali attended a large rally organised by the Difa-e-Pakistan (Defence of Pakistan) Council on Friday morning. The DPC is an alliance of Islamist groups in Pakistan, including Hafiz Saeed's outfit.
One of the images posted on social media showed Walid Abu Ali sitting next to Hafiz Saeed.
The report said "several speakers at the gathering, including Saeed, also referred to the Kashmir issue and made anti-India remarks".
The external affairs ministry noted that the Palestinian envoy had been seen at the rally ''organised by the JuD chief and mastermind of the Mumbai terror attack Hafiz Saeed''.
The external affairs ministry was particularly incensed as the development came less than 10 days after India joined 127 other members of the United Nations to back a resolution criticising US President Donald Trump's decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The countries disregarded Trump's threat to cut aid to countries that voted for the resolution.
India and Palestine are also discussing a possible visit to Ramallah by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in February – seen by some here as a conciliatory gesture in connection with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's visit to India in January. If Modi's visit goes ahead, it will be his first to Palestine.
Officials here also noted that the Palestinian envoy was present when Saeed used the ''Tahafuz Baitul Maqdas'' rally to launch a broadside against India and to rake up the Kashmir issue by linking it to Palestine.
''We consider it our prime responsibility to liberate Kashmir from India. We will free Kashmir in fulfilment of Jinnah's dream,'' Saeed said, speaking in Urdu.
Saeed also referred to the controversial meeting between Kulbhushan Jadhav, an Indian national sentenced to death for alleged involvement in spying, and his wife and mother in Islamabad on 25 December.
''Pakistan let the family of Kulbhushan meet him out of kindness and goodwill, but India sent them with spy devices,'' he claimed.
The rally in Rawalpindi featured several jihadi leaders such as Saifullah Khalid of the Milli Muslim League, a political party formed by Saeed and Abdul Rehman Makki of the Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD), who condemned the US decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The event was attended by thousands.
The DPC is a grouping of some 40 extremist and jihadi groups that was formed by Hafiz Saeed and other extremists in 2012. It has campaigned for long for snapping ties with India and the US.