FM Qureshi condemns Israel's 'barbaric act'

At least 20 people were killed, and 50 wounded in a Israeli attack on Gaza-bound aid convoy.

Agencies May 31, 2010

Pakistan's foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi says what Israel has done with the freedom flotilla is a barbaric act and in violation of international law.

Talking to Express, Qureshi said that his immediate concern is to get information about the three Pakistanis on the ship which was carrying relief goods for the people of Gaza. Qureshi said he tried to contact his Turkish counterpart which has not been possible, and that he left a message for the Turkish foreign minister.

Meanwhile Federal Interior Minister Rehman Malik contacted secretary general Interpol and asked him to get information about Pakistanis on board the freedom flotilla.


President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani strongly condemned the Israeli attack. They directed the foreign office and other concerned departments to get information about Pakistani senior journalist Talat Hussain and producer Raza Mehmood Agha. They emphasized that they would be updated about information to be received about Pakistanis who were on board.

According to a press release issued by the foreign office in this regard, the killing of members of the humanitarian mission, which also included women, is brutal, inhuman and constitutes a flagrant violation of international law and norms.

The statement said that the government of Pakistan is seriously concerned over the well-being and whereabouts of the Pakistani citizens and media personnel including Syed Talat Hussain and Raza Mahmood Agha who were on board the Flotilla.

The press release stated that the Foreign Ministry is in constant touch with its Missions in the region to ascertain the well-being of Pakistani nationals.

Aaj News called on the government to immediately use its best offices to ensure safety of its Executive Director Talat Hussain and his producer Raza Mahmood Agha, along with Nadeem Ahmed of Khubaib Foundation.

Chief Executive of Aaj News Asif A Zuberi said that Israel committed an act of naked aggression on unarmed civilians and attacked the aid convoy.

Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif and Governor Punjab Salman Taseer also condemned the Israeli attack and hoped that the foreign office will make for the safe return of the Pakistani journalists who were on board.

Farahnaz Ispahani, MNA and Member of the Standing Committee of Information and Broadcasting also condemned the Israeli action against the non-violent Freedom Flotilla and said the attack showed sheer aggression of Israeli government and its readiness to flout all norms of international law and diplomacy.

No contact has been established with Pakistani journalist Talat Hussain who was on board one of the six ships carrying aid to blockaded Gaza, after Israel attacked the convoy killing at least 20 and wounding 50.

Israeli warships attacked at least one of the six ships carrying pro-Palestinian activists and aid for blockaded Gaza. The al Jazeera satellite channel reported that Israeli navy forces fired at the ship and boarded it, wounding the captain.

The reports came just after daybreak, with the vessel still well away from the Gaza shore. Israel had earlier declared it would not allow the ships to reach Gaza.

There was no immediate comment from Israel, where public radio quoted an unnamed Arab journalist aboard a ship as saying the navy intercepted the activists and that shooting was heard.

Israeli officials said overnight the navy told the activists by radio to turn back toward Cyprus or head for the Israeli port of Ashdod to unload the 10,000 tonnes of aid, which Israel would then transfer to the Palestinians in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip.

The convoy set off in international waters off Cyprus on Sunday in defiance of an Israeli-led blockade of Gaza.

The flotilla was organised by pro-Palestinian groups and a Turkish human rights organisation. Turkey had urged Israel to allow it safe passage and said the 10,000 tonnes of aid the convoy was carrying was humanitarian.

Israel had said it would prevent the convoy from reaching the Gaza Strip, which is run by the Hamas group.

Israel's military censor on Monday blocked the reporting of any information about people killed or injured and transferred to Israeli hospitals after the navy stormed a fleet of aid ships destined for the Gaza Strip.

The Israeli Ambassador to Turkey was summoned to explain his country's storming of a Turkish aid ship sailing to Gaza.

Meanwhile in Istanbul, police protected the Israeli consulate from stone throwing protesters who tried to take over the building. A more peaceful protest later involved readings from the Qur'an and holding Palestinian flags. In Ankara, the Turkish capital, the Israeli Ambassador's Residence has also attracted a protest gathering.

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