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Thursday, February 22, 2024

Pakistan Bans New Year Celebrations in Solidarity with Palestinians

Pakistan’s caretaker prime minister, Anwar-ul-Haq Kakar, made a significant announcement on Thursday, declaring a nationwide ban on New Year celebrations. The decision was framed as a gesture of solidarity with the Palestinian people, particularly in light of Israel’s ongoing military campaign to suppress Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

In a televised address to the nation, Prime Minister Kakar emphasized the collective grief felt by the Pakistani nation and the broader Muslim world over what he referred to as the “genocide of unarmed Palestinians.” He specifically highlighted the distressing incidents, including the tragic killing of children, in Gaza and the West Bank.

Given the deeply concerning situation in Palestine and as an expression of support for the Palestinian community, the prime minister stated that there would be a comprehensive ban on organizing any events related to New Year celebrations across the country.

This move by Pakistan aligns with the widespread criticism from Muslim countries, including Pakistan, against Israel’s relentless military campaign. The international community, including these Muslim nations, has been calling for an immediate cessation of hostilities to address the growing humanitarian crisis in the region.

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The Gaza Strip, with a population of 2.3 million, has been grappling with severe shortages of essential resources such as water, food, fuel, and medicine, with limited aid reaching the territory. Prime Minister Kakar highlighted that Pakistan had already sent two relief aid consignments to Gaza, with plans for a third dispatch shortly.

The military actions by Israel, involving airstrikes and ground operations, have resulted in extensive destruction in Gaza, claiming the lives of over 21,000 Palestinians, as reported by the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry since October 7. The offensive was triggered by an incursion of Hamas militants into southern Israeli communities, resulting in casualties on both sides. The Israeli military has reported the death of 167 of its troops.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to continue the military campaign until the elimination of Hamas, designated as a terrorist organization by the United States and other countries, is achieved.

It is important to note that Pakistan does not have diplomatic ties with Israel and maintains a policy of non-recognition until the establishment of “a viable and independent Palestinian state.” This stance is consistent with the longstanding policy of numerous Muslim-majority countries. Furthermore, Pakistani passports explicitly state that they are “valid for all countries of the world except Israel,” preventing Pakistani citizens from visiting the Jewish state.

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