January 22, 2024 Special Dispatch No. 11086

Pakistani Columnists On Israel-Hamas War: 'The Families Of The Martyrs Are Gradually Becoming Part Of Hamas'; 'The Possibility Of The War Against Israel Turning Into A Guerrilla War In The Future Cannot Be Ruled Out'

January 22, 2024
Palestinians | Special Dispatch No. 11086

In recent articles, Pakistani columnists discussed the lack of a united response from Islamic nations to the Hamas-Israel war in Gaza, especially in light of South Africa's case against Israel in the International Court of Justice. The writers wonder if the Pakistani army should respond.

One of the articles, titled: "Israel Before The International Court of Justice," is written by columnist Mirza Ishtiaq Baig in the Urdu-language newspaper Roznama Jang. A second article, titled: "A Divided Muslim World," is written by Shahid Javed Burki, a former finance minister of Pakistan. Both articles acknowledge that a divided Muslim world has failed, and is failing, to act against Israel during the ongoing Hamas-Israel War.

Mirza Ishtiaq Baig, in his column, expressed dismay at the lack of response from the Muslim world, stating: "Islamic countries and their representative organization, the OIC [Organization of Islamic Cooperation], have remained completely silent on the genocide of Muslims in Gaza."

"There remain enormous differences among the countries of the Muslim world. Given those differences, would some of them get involved directly or indirectly in helping the suffering Palestinians who have already lost more than 22,000 people to Israeli assaults?" wrote Shahid Javed Burki in his column in The Express Tribune.

Journalists at the Karachi Press Club hold an anti-Israel protest.

Following are excerpts from Mirza Ishtiaq Baig's article as translated from the Urdu:[1]

"The Sad Aspect Is That No Islamic Country Has Filed A Case Against The Israeli Aggression On Gaza In The International Court Of Justice"

"This matter is commendable that South Africa has filed a case in the International Court of Justice against Israeli atrocities in Gaza, in which the Israeli aggression in Gaza has been described as genocide and it has been said that Israel's aim is to destroy the Palestinian nation and race. Several human rights organizations have already said that Israel's policies toward Palestinians are tantamount to genocide. However, the Israeli Foreign Minister [Eli Cohen] has expressed his anger while rejecting this step by South Africa.

"Remember that during the Bosnian War in the past, 72-year-old former Yugoslavian general Slobodan Praljak, guilty of war crimes and genocide against Muslims, was found guilty by the International Court of Justice for the genocide of Muslims in Bosnia and was sentenced to life imprisonment. After the end of the Bosnian War, the case against Slobodan Praljak was heard at the International Court of Justice; and after being sentenced to life imprisonment by the International Court of Justice, he committed suicide by drinking poison in the court itself.

"The sad aspect is that no Islamic country has filed a case against the Israeli aggression on Gaza in the International Court of Justice, and this case has been filed by a non-Islamic country. Islamic countries and their representative organization, the OIC [Organization of Islamic Cooperation], have remained completely silent on the genocide of Muslims in Gaza because many of the countries in the organization are not in favor of taking a strong action due to American and European pressure and their commercial interests with Israel.

"However, the positive aspect is that the people of Muslim countries have openly come forward against Israel. And individually, the boycott of Israeli products by Muslims has proven to be a good strategy due to which the economy of America and Israel has suffered a lot; and sales of their companies' products have fallen by more than half. Some of the younger children in my family have also refused to eat the products of Israeli companies; and [they have] made it clear that they will not use companies' products that are associated with Israel."

"The Israeli Aggression Has Made Gaza A Breeding Ground For Jihad Against Israel"; "The War Against Israel Will Continue Forever And Israel's Dream Of Occupying The Palestinian Territories Will Never Be Fulfilled"

"Similarly, in other Islamic countries, especially Morocco, which [I] visited in recent days, there used to be queues to get foreign fast food. But today they are deserted. If ground realities are considered, then the Palestinian people cannot afford any kind of war. Because they don't have enough military resources to fight a force like Israel, which is backed by the United States. The Palestinians have neither a regular army, nor are they equipped with modern weapons as Israel is.

"Gaza has been completely destroyed by the Israeli bombing, while other Palestinian areas are also being destroyed as a result of the bombing and the Palestinian people of these areas are forced to leave their homeland. The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has expressed his concern that there is an attempt by Israel to worsen the situation in Gaza to the extent that Palestinians will migrate across the border on a large scale, so that Israel can succeed in the settlement of Jews in the Palestinian territories.

Mirza Ishtiaq Baig's article.

"The Israeli aggression has made Gaza a breeding ground for jihad against Israel, where the families of the martyrs are gradually becoming part of Hamas; and 23,000 members of the families of Palestinian martyrs are ready to seek revenge for the martyrdom of their loved ones. Thus, the possibility of the war against Israel turning into a guerrilla war in the future cannot be ruled out.

"Israel, by brutally bombing the Palestinians, thinks it will succeed in its nefarious purposes. But it has forgotten that in the future, the children of these 23,000 martyr families will grow up with the spirit to avenge the killings of their loved ones by Israel. And thus, the war against Israel will continue forever and Israel's dream of occupying the Palestinian territories will never be fulfilled."

Following are excerpts from Shahid Javed Burki's article, originally in English:[2]

"How The Countries With Large Muslim Populations Have Reacted To The Operation Being Conducted By Israel In The Gaza Strip"; "They Have Shown Little Unity Of Purpose"

"[T]he question is being asked whether the countries where the majority of the population follows the Islamic faith would also get pulled into the conflict. This would be of concern for Pakistan which has, after Indonesia, the second largest Muslim population in the world. How [are] the policymakers in Pakistan and the citizenry react[ing] to the ongoing Israeli assault?

"I will answer this question in two parts. One, how Israel was involved in creating Hamas as a counterforce to the secular Palestine Liberation Organization, the PLO? Every day brings in news that must hurt those who are sympathetic to the cause that Hamas is pursuing. As I write this, there is news that Israeli agents assassinated Saleh Arouri, a senior Hamas leader, who was living in Beirut. He was second-in-command of Hamas's political office. He was the guest of Hassan Nasrallah, the head of Hizbullah, a militant group that has the support of Iran and is a part of what Tehran calls the 'Axis of Resistance.'

"[There are] those who view the Muslim world from the outside, and fear its impact on the Christian West, [and] see it as an undivided geopolitical entity. How [have] the countries with large Muslim populations reacted to the operation being conducted by Israel in the Gaza Strip? [They] have shown little unity of purpose. There remain enormous differences among the countries of the Muslim world. Given those differences, would some of them get involved directly or indirectly in helping the suffering Palestinians who have already lost more than 22,000 people to Israeli assaults?

"Iran, through the various groups it has aided to establish, is getting engaged with Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Houthis in Yemen that are already actively involved in the conflict against Israel and the United States. Would Pakistan, with the world's second largest Muslim population after Indonesia, also get pulled in? I will answer this question in two parts. One, it is not well-known that Israel played a role in building up Hamas as a counterforce to the secular PLO. Two, what is the likelihood of the widening of the conflict to include other Muslim countries?"

Hamas "Traces Its Origins To Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood Which Was Born In 1928 As A Religious And Social Reform Movement But Has Been Blamed By The Authorities In Egypt For Fomenting Jihadist Violence"

"Neil MacFarquhar, writing in The New York Times, underscored the critical role Israel has played in developing the political structure in the areas dominated by the Palestinians...  Hamas, the militant group against which Israel has gone to total war, after the militants found their way into the Jewish state in an operation executed on October 7, 2023, has its roots in Egypt.

"It traces its origins to Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, which was born in 1928 as a religious and social reform movement, but has been blamed by the authorities in Egypt for fomenting jihadist violence. The organization [the Muslim Brotherhood] was believed to be behind the assassination of Anwar Sadat, the Egyptian president, who was working hard to modernize his country and improve its position in the world. It was also actively involved in the political upheaval associated with the 'Arab Spring' of 2011.

"'Israel once allowed the group to grow as an Islamist counterweight to the more mainstream and secular Palestine Liberation Organization,' writes MacFarquhar. According to this account, Israel is now shedding a lot of Gazan blood to destroy the organization it played a role [in] increasing its importance, in an effort to reduce the power of the PLO. The PLO was then headed by the legendary Palestinian leader, Yassir Arafat, who negotiated the so-called 'Oslo Accords' with the Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who was assassinate[d] by a young Jewish extremist.

A street protest in Pakistan demanding a free Palestine.

"MacFarquhar wrote: 'In one of the first, notorious efforts to dismantle Hamas in 1992, it deported 415 of its leaders and allies, dumping them in a buffer zone along the Israeli-Lebanon border. Over the months before their return, they built an alliance with Lebanon's Hezbollah, the most powerful Iran-backed militia in the region.'

"Scholars who specialize in the Middle East and the Arab world are highly skeptical that all the killing that has resulted in the post-October 7 Israeli operation would bring the results Israel and the United States are seeking."

"With Large Numbers Of People In Uniform [Of The Pakistan Army] Equipped With Domestically Produced Modern Weapons, Pakistan[i] Help Was Sought On Occasions By The World Muslim Community"

"Pakistan has the largest military force in the Muslim world. It focused on developing its military prowess to protect itself from India. The Hindu leadership of that country never reconciled to the British decision to spit the colony they had governed for 200 years into a predominantly Hindu India and a predominantly Muslim Pakistan.

"From the time Pakistan became independent, the Indians tried to undo the Partition. To protect itself from these assaults, Pakistan invested heavily in developing its military, putting hundreds of thousands of people in uniform and giving them modern weapons. When India tested an atom bomb, Pakistan followed suit. It went on to develop a credible nuclear arsenal.

"With large numbers of people in uniform equipped with domestically produced modern weapons, Pakistan[i] help was sought on occasions by the world Muslim community. This happened at least three times and involved Pakistan's help to the UAE, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia. It sent air force pilots to the UAE to train its people to use modern fighter planes. It sent a brigade under the command of then-Brigadier Zia-ul-Haq to manage the flow of Palestinians from the West Bank of the Jordan River to Jordan.

"In one of my dozen or so meetings with President Zia-ul-Haq, I asked him about the nature of Pakistan's involvement in Jordan. His response was clear: He didn't want to discuss what he and the brigade he commanded did in Jordan. For several years, Pakistan stationed a full division in Saudi Arabia to protect the religious sites in the Kingdom from possible attacks from some of the dissident forces.

"Is there a role for Pakistan in the Middle East as the situation in that region comes under pressure from the actions being taken by Israelis? In ... [a future article] I will take up the question of how the developing situation in the region could possibly involve other countries of the Muslim world, including Pakistan."


[1] Roznama Jang (Pakistan), January 3, 2024.

[2] The Express Tribune (Pakistan), January 8, 2024. The original English of the article has been lightly edited for clarity and standardization.

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