ISLAMABAD: Pakistani and Palestinian political leaders on Thursday pointed out an ‘inadequate’ support for Palestine cause from different Muslim countries and warned leaders of Islamic nations against internal divisions, saying fragmentation of Muslims served the Zionist agenda. They were speaking at a virtual dialogue hosted by the Islamabad Policy Institute (IPI) on Palestine – a call for action. The event, held in the wake of the latest flare-up in Palestinian territories due to Israeli aggression, was participated by government representatives and senior leaders of major political parties, who deliberated on how Muslim countries could practically help the Palestinians in this situation. Senate’s Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed, who also chaired the meeting, urged efforts for immediate ceasing of Israeli aggression, initiating efforts to break blockade of Gaza, including possibility of a flotilla of ships of various countries carrying medicines and food for encircled Gaza, and dispatch of humanitarian assistance to besieged Palestinians. He called for initiating war crimes trials against Israel as its forces targeted non-military installations including civilians and media. Therefore, Mushahid suggested a joint diplomatic initiative on Palestine led by Pakistan along with Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and Nigeria or any other likeminded country. He also slammed what he called ‘double standards’ and ‘hypocrisy’ by the US and its politicians on Palestine. INTRA-ARAB FACTIONALISM Special Representative of Prime Minister on Religious Harmony and Middle East Tahir Ashrafi called for a national policy on Palestine and Kashmir issues, which is above party lines so that a strong voice on these issues could emerge from here. He said that Pakistan should not become part of any intra-Arab or intra-Palestinian factionalism, which he feared could weaken the support for Palestine cause. He regretted that there were bigger demonstrations in the West in support of the Palestinians than in the Muslim world. However, he said that it was reassuring that in the past couple of weeks Saudi Arabia had become actively involved in the issue and is aggressively supporting the Palestine issue now. Parliamentary Secretary on Foreign Affairs Andleeb Abbas called for a broader international front in support of Palestine, which is not only restricted to the Muslim countries. “Pakistan is lobbying for a united, loud and impactful voice of Islamic world.” GREAT BETRAYAL Gen Raheel Sharif Pakistan People’s Party leader Senator Farhatullah Babar said that the recognition of Israel by four Muslim countries last year – Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Sudan and Morocco – was a great betrayal. He said that Pakistan should not take any action that could promote divisions in the Muslim would. He was of the view that the Islamic Military Alliance was a cause of contention in the Muslim world and it needed to be ended immediately. He said that former army chief Raheel Sharif, who is heading the military alliance, should either voluntarily step down or may be recalled. He proposed an aggressive promotion of narrative of Israel being the aggressor and perpetrator of war crimes. Speaking from Gaza, former Palestinian health minister Dr Basem Naim bemoaned internal divisions in the Muslim world and exhorted leaders of the Muslim countries to end their rivalries to focus on the strategic threat posed by the Zionist state. He said that the Muslim world should form a coalition to collectively call for ending violations of international law by Israel. Commenting on resolution by the Arab League, he said it contained very weak words. He said that the OIC resolution contained good words, but lacks the practical way forward. He appealed for humanitarian assistance for his people and said it could be channeled through international agencies. IPI Executive Director Prof Sajjad Bokhari said that the Muslim countries need to hold urgent defence talks and explore military and non-military options including the enforcement of a no-fly zone over Palestinian territories to help the besieged people there and restore peace and security in occupied areas.