Diplomatic censure, protests in Pakistan over US Jerusalem move

Supporters of a Pakistani religious party chant anti-American slogans during a rally in Islamabad, on Thursday. (AP)
Updated 08 December 2017
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Diplomatic censure, protests in Pakistan over US Jerusalem move

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has told the US that its decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s new capital is “unacceptable,” and has urged Americans to reconsider the move.
In a news briefing on Friday, Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammed Faisal said: “The people and government of Pakistan have noted with grave concern the move by the United States to shift its embassy to the occupied city of Al-Quds Al-Sharif, thereby altering the legal and historical status of the city.”
The spokesman went on to say that the US move constitutes a clear violation of the international law and UN Security Council Resolutions, particularly UNSC Resolution 478 of 1980.
“It would also sidestep decades of global consensus on this issue, undermine regional peace and security, as well as derail any prospects of a lasting peace in the Middle East,” he added.
Pakistan is also one of eight countries that called on the Security Council to take cognizance of this situation and take relevant steps in accordance with the UN Charter.
Speaking at a ceremony in Islamabad on Thursday, Pakistani President Mamnoon Hussain said: “Islamabad will take up this issue at (every available opportunity).”
On Thursday evening, Pakistan’s lower house of Parliament, the National Assembly, passed a unanimous resolution condemning the US decision. The resolution called it “a direct attack on the Muslim nation at a time when the Middle East is already beset with wars and conflicts.”
Pakistan’s ruling party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), said in a statement: “The decision of the US administration to recognize the occupied city of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel has come to us as a shock and deep disappointment. It has caused deep anger and anguish in Pakistan and the entire Muslim world.”
Sen. Sherry Rehman, vice president of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and a former envoy to the US, said in a statement: “Moving the capital to Jerusalem will fuel fires of extremism and exacerbate fault lines in an already volatile Middle East and strain the relationship of the US with its Muslim allies.”
Political and religious parties across Pakistan condemned the decision. There were protests in Islamabad and in many other parts of Pakistan after Friday prayers, condemning Trump’s announcement.
The US Embassy in Islamabad issued a security alert for its citizens, warning that some of the protests have the potential to become violent and warning them of “the need for caution and awareness of personal security.”
The embassy is temporarily restricting the movement of US government employees in Pakistan.
Nawaz Sharif, former prime minister and PML-N chief, slammed the US decision and said: “It is also a clear negation of solemn assurances made by early administrations and sets the most deplorable example of a breach of promises.”
Sharif supported Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s call for an emergency session of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to consider the situation. Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi will attend that session, the Foreign Ministry confirmed on Friday.
“Our response will not only have an impact on the destiny of the people of Palestine but on the future of the United Nations as well. We have to decide whether we want to live in a world governed by law and based on universally recognized principles, or if we want to revert to the law of oppressors,” he said.
 
 


Retired Lebanese soldiers in tense standoff with army during benefit cuts protest

Updated 19 July 2019
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Retired Lebanese soldiers in tense standoff with army during benefit cuts protest

  • Dressed in military uniforms, large numbers of veterans attempted to force their way through barricades set up to stop demonstrators reaching the city’s parliament building where a final vote on a controversial draft austerity budget was taking place
  • The meeting to vote on the 2019 draft budget came after a marathon three days of discussions

BEIRUT: Retired Lebanese soldiers on Friday came close to clashing with the country’s army when weeks of protests over planned benefit cuts reached boiling point in the capital Beirut.
Dressed in military uniforms, large numbers of veterans attempted to force their way through barricades set up to stop demonstrators reaching the city’s parliament building where a final vote on a controversial draft austerity budget was taking place.
A military source told Arab News that the Lebanese army leadership had decided to block access to Najma Square, in Beirut’s Central District, where Parliament members were sitting.
But former soldiers, joined by the parents of army martyrs and activists from the Sabaa and Communist parties, surrounded the building in nearby streets before attempting to push through barbed wire, concrete and metal barriers erected by the Lebanese army and the Internal Security Forces.
The protesters, waving Lebanese and army flags, got as far as the entrance to Maarad Street, on which Parliament is located, putting them in direct confrontation with the Lebanese troops.
Ten brigades of reinforcements were drafted in to help push back the veterans before protest leaders eased tensions by calling for a retreat to a nearby square to avoid any further clashes.
The meeting to vote on the 2019 draft budget came after a marathon three days of discussions. Before entering the parliamentary session, Lebanese Minister of Defense Elias Bou Saab said that “misleading the retired soldiers” would be “harmful to the image and demands of the protesters” and called on them to carry out “peaceful demonstrations.” He added that there had been mixed and confused messages regarding benefit cuts.
However, retired Brig. Gen. Georges Nader had vowed that protesters would not back off until the vote on their benefits was dropped.
Discussing the protests in Parliament, Samy Gemayel, president of the Phalange party, objected to the reduction in the army budget, to which Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri said: “This has been concluded on the bases of an understanding with the army and the military establishment.”
MP Paula Yacoubian said that “retired soldiers are trying to storm Parliament,” to which Berri said: “Those who want to storm Parliament have not yet been born.”
The row had centered on a controversial article concerning amendments to the country’s income tax act, and Lebanese Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil insisted on defending it. He said: “It does not cost the retired soldiers, for instance, more than 3,000 Lebanese pounds ($2) per month. This amount rises to 400,000 pounds for brigadiers.” He added: “Which country in the world gives a retiree 85 percent of his salary?”
After a meeting between the minister and Nader in Parliament, the retired brigadier general went out to reassure the veterans that cuts from their salaries in respect of medicine and income tax would be reduced. Less intense protests continued for more than three hours before Parliament approved the relevant article in the budget.
Meanwhile, Berri had started the Parliament session by reading a resignation submitted by Hezbollah MP Nawaf Musawi.