Bilateral, regional and international issues, with particular reference to Palestine and Kashmir, came under discussion when Palestinian President Mehmood Abbas and President Asif Ali Zardari, met at the Presidency yesterday. Mr Zardari reiterated Pakistan’s wholehearted support to the struggle of the Palestinian people for freedom, decrying the Israeli act of building settlement on the West Bank, in utter violation of international law. He underlined the urgent need to resolve these two long-standing issues. In response, Mr Abbas while thanking Islamabad for its steadfast espousal of the cause of Palestine emphatically asserted that despite Tel Aviv’s cruel tactics, the people remained determined to achieve their objective. On arrival at the Noor Khan Airport, President Abbas was greeted by Federal Minister Makhdoom Shahabuddin and on reaching the Presidency, where he is staying during his three-day visit, was given a guard of honour. President Zardari hosted a luncheon in his honour, which was attended by some federal ministers, the Azad Kashmir President and members of the diplomatic corps.

Though having a different origin, both the Palestine and Kashmir disputes have certain common features, the most important being that the local people (both Muslim) are struggling to get rid of the forcible occupation of their land by powers which do not feel any compunction about committing the most painful and humiliating of atrocities to maintain their illegal hold. Israel was installed in the heart of Palestine by imperialist powers, obviously against the wishes of the local population, depriving them of the land on which they had been living for well over 2,000 years; the overwhelming majority of Kashmiris being Muslim they wanted the accession of their state to Pakistan, as envisioned in the Partition Plan, but found their state going under the jackboot of a cruel military rule imposed by India. Both usurpers unhesitatingly defy the UN Security Council resolutions, peddling their own theories in justification of their occupation.

The disputes have been lingering on for more than six decades. The two peoples’ resolve to get out of the stranglehold of occupation forces has not wilted with time. There can be no better attribute to the goddess of freedom that all along they have borne the worst human rights abuses imaginable. The scenario constitutes a heartfelt cry for help to the international community.