The violence in the Palestine region has led to a ceasefire. However, it is a temporary solution, and tensions in the Middle East could flare up again at any time.
Being Pakistania, our sympathies are always with the oppressed Palestinians. Before Independence, at the historic Jalsa in Lahore on March 23, 1940, a resolution was also passed to show solidarity with the Palestinians. All Pakistani governments have supported the Palestinians cause in every way, beyond political affiliations. Unfortunately, the Palestinian issue, which has been on the UN agenda for the last century, is still unresolved.
The ancient city of Jerusalem is generally considered a sacred place for the three major religions of the world (Islam, Judaism and Christianity). There is also an ancient building in Jerusalem dedicated to the great Sufi poet of the Subcontinent, Baba Fariduddin Ganj Shakar. It is believed that he stayed there 800 years ago during the Hajj pilgrimage. Baba Farid’s poetry is part of our religious book Guru Granth Sahib. That is why Jerusalem is also a sacred place in the eyes of the Sikh and Nanak Panthi Hindu communities of Sindh.
After World War II, the newly-established United Nations, in its Resolution 181 (ii) passed in the General Assembly in November 1947, proposed a plan to divide the land of Palestine into two independent and sovereign states. According to the resolution, the Palestinian Arabs would have their own independent state of Palestine and there would be a Jewish national state of Israel.
This plan was supposed to come into force after the withdrawal of British troops from Palestine and before October 1, 1948. However, after widespread bloodshed, the establishment of a Palestinian independent state under the auspices of the United Nations was postponed. The territories of the proposed Palestinian state, West Bank and East Jerusalem came under direct control of Jordan whereas Egypt took control of the Gaza Strip. As a result of 1967 and other wars, Israel succeeded in occupying the complete area of Jerusalem along with the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, the Sinai Desert, the Golan Heights, and other territories gradually.
In my view, much of the responsibility for the Palestinian issue lies with Britain, which promised Jews a national homeland under the Balfour Declaration but did not ensure the protection of the rights of non-Jews before the military withdrawal. The attitude of the Arab neighbouring countries and internal differences of the Palestinian leadership also resulted in harming the Palestinian cause, providing opportunity to Israel to play the victim card. Similarly, the US was also criticized for vetoing UN resolutions in support of Israel.
Today, people belonging to all religions of the world must step forward and play their due role in order to ensure sustainable peace in the holy land of Palestine. The sanctity of Jerusalem must be maintained on the pattern of the Vatican City. The United Nations must implement its resolution for establishing the sovereign country of Palestine, under the two-state solution.
Jerusalem must be declared an international city under the joint control of representatives from all religions, and its doors must be opened for religious tourists coming from all corners of the world.
The writer is a member of the National Assembly and patron-in-chief of the Pakistan Hindu Council.