Pakistan in solidarity with Gaza cancels New Year celebration

Pakistan has banned New Year’s Eve celebrations to show solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza, the government said late Thursday, urging people to instead “observe simplicity”.

In an evening televised address to the nation, Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar said because of the situation in the Gaza Strip, the government had “completely banned all kinds of events regarding the New Year celebrations”.

Israel’s relentless aerial bombardment and ground invasion of Gaza, in retaliation for Hamas’s October 7 attack on Israel, has left much of the territory’s north in ruins, and killed at least 21,320 people, mostly women and children, according to the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry.

The October 7 attack by the Palestinian militants left about 1,140 people dead, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli figures.

Kakar said Thursday, “The entire Pakistani nation and the Muslim Ummah were deeply saddened by the genocide of the oppressed Palestinians, especially the massacre of innocent children, in Gaza and the West Bank.”

New Year’s Eve is usually marked in boisterous fashion in Pakistan, with fireworks and aerial gunfire — as well as a bank holiday on January 1.

Sharjah, an emirate of the United Arab Emirates, on Thursday banned New Year’s Eve fireworks over the war in Gaza.

The ban was “a sincere expression of solidarity and humanitarian cooperation with our siblings in the Gaza Strip”, Sharjah police said in a Facebook post.