June 5, 2024 Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 1770

Anti-Israel Protests In Pakistani Cities – The Hamas Leaders' Engagements In Pakistan

June 5, 2024 | By Mantasha Ansari*
Pakistan, Palestinians | Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 1770

On June 2, 2024, Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan (JI), the largest religious organization in South Asia, organized a "Gaza Million March," which was one of the largest anti-Israel rallies in Pakistan. The stated goal of the march was to support "the resistance movement Hamas" and "the inhabitants of Palestine" and to condemn the Israeli bombing on Rafah.[1] The rally was part of a series of pro-Palestine, pro-Hamas, and anti-Israel rallies that have been ongoing in Pakistan since October 7 Hamas attacks.

The following day, the Urdu daily Roznama Jasarat, splashed several news reports about Israel and Palestine on its frontpage after the rally in Karachi. According to these reports, hundreds of thousands of men and women and people from different walks of life, including Islamic religious scholars, doctors, engineers, advocates, and students participated in the anti-Israel rally. The anti-Israel protestors chanted slogans such as "We are here, O Jerusalem," "We are here, O Gaza," "Slogan of God's Glory – Allah is the Greatest," and "Prophet, Prophet."[2] 

Hundreds of thousands of Pakistanis attended the Gaza Million March in Karachi on June 2, as seen in this frontpage report of Roznama Jasarat, an Urdu daily of Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan

Addressing the rally, Hafiz Naeemur Rehman, the emir of Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan, demanded that the Pakistani military intervene in support of Palestinians, stating: "The entire nation is ready to sacrifice for Palestine and Kashmir... The rulers and the armed forces of Pakistan should play their role. The legal status of Hamas should be recognized."[3] Hafiz Naeemur Rehman demanded that the "People's Party and Muslim League (N) should tell why they do not protest against Israel and support Hamas. From jail, Imran Khan... should clarify his stand regarding Israel."[4] The Pakistan People's Party and Pakistan Muslim League (N) are part of the ruling alliance, while Imran Khan, the former prime minister, is in prison.

The Jamaat-e-Islami leader, questioning what it considers a double standard that international organizations hold on Islamic issues, said: "We ask the United Nations: When the issue is of East Timor and the attack on Iraq, its resolutions are implemented but when the issue is Kashmir or Palestine, then its resolutions and the decisions of International Criminal Court are trampled upon [by the West]."[5]

On May 30, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif delivered a speech on Pakistani television against "Israel's crimes and barbarity" in Gaza and welcomed the decisions of Spain, Norway, and Ireland to recognize the state of Palestine.[6] "Today, after eight months, Israel's thirst for shedding blood has not ended. And along with Gaza, the worst attacks have begun in Rafah," the Pakistani prime minister said, adding that "today, the living eye had never seen such a painful scene as the festival of bloodshed that is playing out there."[7]

Shehbaz Sharif added: "I am very thankful to the world of Islam who are raising their voice fully at the Organization of Islamic Cooperation against Israel's crimes and barbarity, and are raising voice at the United Nations, in the Security Council. In the Gulf countries, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia [Mohammed Bin Salman] is leading in this. Along with this, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, and other countries are also part of it."[8]

Hamas Leaders' Engagements In Pakistan

Since the October 7 Hamas attacks in Israel, Pakistani religious groups have organized hundreds of anti-Israel rallies of various sizes at which leaders and representatives of Hamas have addressed Pakistani audiences.[9] Their activities involve telephonic conferences, their delegations' visits to Pakistan and engagements with media and the public, and direct address at anti-Israeli rallies. Two groups at the forefront of anti-Israel rallies in Pakistan are Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) Pakistan and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, led by Maulana Fazlur Rehman.

On November 2, 2023, Ismail Haniyeh addresses a rally organized by Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam of Maulana Fazlur Rehma

On December 6, 2023, a major anti-Israel conference of Islamic religious scholars was held in Islamabad, the Pakistani capital, by "Majlis-e-Ittehad-e-Ummat Pakistan," a network of Islamic religious organizations. At the conference, Ismail Haniyeh, who was the special speaker, addressed the participants by telephone, while another Hamas leader, Naji Zuhair, who had been in Pakistan in recent months, attended in person. The theme of the conference, which culminated in a joint declaration, was "The Sanctity of Jerusalem."[10]

At the conference, the Islamic scholars called for jihad against Israel. Ismail Haniyeh sought support from nuclear-armed Pakistan against Israel, stating: "If Pakistan threatens Israel, then the Gaza war can stop; Jews are Muslims' greatest enemy in the world."[11]

Not only Hamas leaders visit Pakistan to address anti-Israel rallies, but Pakistani religious leaders also go abroad and meet the leaders of Hamas. Sirajul Haq, then emir of Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan (JIP), met with Iranian leaders in Tehran before heading to Doha on November 6, 2023. In Tehran, he assured Dr. Khaled Al-Qaddumi, a Hamas leader, of complete support and aid from the Pakistani public. In Doha, Sirajul Haq, accompanied by Sabir Awan and Asif Luqman Qazi, met with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh and Qatari leaders to discuss Gaza.[12]

Sirajul Haq, like his successor Hafiz Naeemur Rehman, was also at the forefront of the anti-Israel movement, stating at an event in December 2023 that Hamas fighters are mujahideen and have achieved success in their conflict against Israel. He said that there was still much work to be done to ultimately secure victory in the struggle.

"We will fight the enemies on every front. We are 1.75 billion Muslims. We have access to nine seas, but because of the hypocritical rulers today, 1.75 billion Muslims are like a graveyard. 7,400,000 Muslim forces are watching the destruction of Muslims in Gaza," said Sirajul Haq, the then Jamaat-e-Islami emir, adding: "Our rulers have taken the path of hypocrisy and cowardice. The Muslims of the Islamic world are with the Muslims of Gaza. The future of the Muslim Ummah is bright; the promise of Allah to the Muslims will surely be fulfilled."[13]

On March 17, the Urdu daily Roznama Mashriq reported that Ismail Haniyeh, the senior political leader of Hamas, urged Pakistan to take effective steps on political, diplomatic, and legal platforms to halt Israel's ongoing aggression against the Palestinian nation. In a letter addressed to Prime Minister, Shehbaz Sharif, the Hamas leader emphasized the necessity of pressuring countries supporting Israel for an unconditional ceasefire, asserting their steadfast opposition to any plans aimed at eradicating the Palestinian cause at any cost.[14]

In the last week of March 2024, a delegation from Hamas visited Maulana Fazlur Rehman, the leader of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F), in Islamabad to express appreciation for his firm stance on the Palestine issue. Dr. Naji Zaheer, a leader from Hamas who was part of the delegation, said: "Israel's actions have reached unprecedented levels of brutality."[15]

Pakistani religious leader Maulana Fazlur Rehman met with Ismail Haniyeh in Doha, Qatar

In April 2024, Dr. Khalid Qadumi, who is the diplomatic representative of Hamas, met with Mufti Muneebur Rahman, the President of Tanzeem-ul-Madaris Ahle Sunnat Pakistan and the administrator of Darul Uloom Jamia Naeemia of Karachi. During the meeting, Dr. Qadumi briefed Mufti Muneebur Rahman on the current situation in Gaza. According to a report, Dr. Qadumi emphasized the steadfastness of the Palestinians in the face of Israeli injustices, saying that "Palestine is their ancestral homeland, while the Jewish settlers are seen as non-native occupiers supported by the United States and Europe."[16] He also expressed disappointment that neighboring countries and Muslim nations have not provided the expected support to the Palestinians, as reported by the Urdu daily Roznama Jang.[17]

Also in April 2024, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, the emir of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) of Pakistan, spoke with Ismail Haniyeh and offered condolences over the martyrdom of his sons and grandchildren in Israeli strikes. Allama Rashid Mehmood Soomro, the special representative of the JUI emir, also met with Haniyeh in Qatar and delivered a letter of condolences from Fazlur Rehman, as reported by Urdu daily Roznama Mashriq in April 2024.[18] This was not the only meeting. On June 3, 2024, Allama Rashid Mahmood Soomro participated in a conference organized by Hayyat-ul-Ulema Palestine in Qatar as a representative of Maulana Fazlur Rehman, the leader of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F).[19]

On November 2, 2023, Ismail Haniyeh addressed an anti-Israel rally organized by JUI-F in Karachi, stating: "The Ummah is witness that we are fighting a long war."[20] On November 5, 2023, Maulana Fazlur Rehman met with Khaled Mashaal and Ismail Haniyeh in Doha.[21] Khaled Mashaal described Maulana Fazlur Rehman as the "ambassador of Palestine in Pakistan" and emphasized: "It is obligatory upon the Muslim Ummah to unite against the Israeli crimes. The countries that advocate human rights are reaching Tel Aviv with ships filled with weapons. The Muslim Ummah should also enter the battlefield for the support of Palestinian brothers, support their mothers, sisters and brothers."[22]

The interactions between Hamas and Pakistani religious organizations highlight the long-standing, strong ties between the two sides, underlining the solidarity and support provided by influential Islami figures.  Consequently, Jamaat-e-Islami, a religious organization known for supporting jihadi commanders, has been regularly organizing anti-Israel protests in different Pakistan towns and cities since October 7 last year.[23]

The Jamaat-e-Islami leaders, speaking at one such anti-Israel Gaza Million March on January 15, 2024, rejected the idea of a two-state solution for Palestine, asserting that only a unified Palestinian state is acceptable. Labeling any support for the two-state solution as collaboration with American interests, the JI leaders called for Palestinian sovereignty. Hafiz Naeem-ur-Rahman, who was then emir of JI's Karachi unit, emphasized their unwavering solidarity with Hamas and pledged to boycott American and Israeli products as a form of resistance.[24]

Following are some images from anti-Israel protests in Pakistan:

The June 2 rally was one of the largest anti-Israel protests in Pakistan.

Poster by women's wing of Jamaat-e-Islami: "Israel does not accept any law of humanity."

On June 3, 2024, Islamic religious scholar Maulana Rashid Mahmud Soomro participated in a conference organized by Hayyat-ul-Ulema Palestine in Qatar as a representative of Maulana Fazlur Rehman, the leader of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F). Islamic religious scholars and muftis from 32 countries participated in the event. At the meeting Maulana Rashid Mahmud Soomro met with Ismail Haniyeh and Khaled Mashal, leaders of Hamas.

On April 21, women and children took part in a rally, organized by Jamaat-e-Islami, in front of the U.S. Consulate in Lahore.

As per Roznama Express of December 7, 2023, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh told a rally: If Pakistan threatens Israel, then the Gaza war can stop.

On May 31, an anti-Israel rally was also organized in Quetta, Pakistan.

Protesters at the Gaza Million March of June 2, 2024

*Mantasha Ansari is a Research Assistant at MEMRI's South Asia Studies Project.


[1] Roznama Jasarat (Pakistan), June 3, 2024.

[2] Roznama Jasarat (Pakistan), June 3, 2024.

[3] Roznama Jasarat (Pakistan), June 3, 2024.

[4] Roznama Jasarat (Pakistan), June 3, 2024.

[5] Roznama Jasarat (Pakistan), June 3, 2024.

[6] Roznama Jang (Pakistan), May 31, 2024.

[7], May 30, 2024.

[8], May 30, 2024.

[13] Roznama Jang (Pakistan), December 31, 2024.

[14] Roznama Mashriq (Pakistan) March 17, 2024.

[15] Roznama Express (Pakistan), March 31, 2024.

[16] Roznama Jang (Pakistan), April 9, 2024.

[17] Roznama Jang (Pakistan), April 9, 2024.

[18] Roznama Mashriq (Pakistan) April 18, 2024.

[19], June 3, 2024.

[20] (Pakistan), November 2, 2023.

[23] Roznama Express (Pakistan), April 21, 2024.

[24] Roznama Jang (Pakistan), January 17, 2024.

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