Pakistan’s Foreign Office on Sunday categorically rejected reports that a Pakistani delegation had visited Israel in a bid to boost diplomatic ties between the two nations.
On May 26, Israeli President Isaac Herzog’s told the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland that he had met a Pakistani delegation, declaring it an “amazing” experience. “We haven’t had a group of Pakistani leaders in Israel in such scope,” he added.
Responding to media queries over Herzog’s statement, the Foreign Office clarified that the visit in question had been organized by a foreign NGO that is not based in Pakistan. “Pakistan’s position on the Palestinian issue is clear and unambiguous,” said spokesperson Asim Iftikhar. “There is no change whatsoever in our policy on which there is complete national consensus,” he added.
“Pakistan steadfastly supports the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination,” he emphasized. “The establishment of an independent, viable and contiguous Palestinian state with pre-1967 borders and Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital, in accordance with the relevant U.N. and OIC resolutions, is imperative for just and lasting peace in the region,” he added.
Israeli media outlet Haaretz, reporting on the visit, had noted that a 15-member delegation, including Pakistani journalist Ahmed Quraishi, had visited Israel to promote interfaith harmony between Muslims and Jews. The trip was organized by the American Muslim and Multi-faith Women’s Council and NGO Sharaka. The report had claimed that Quraishi and Pakistani Jew Fischel Ben-Khalid had both entered Israel on their Pakistani passports.
Since the reports have been published, the ousted Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-led government has sought to politicize it by alleging that this is part of the incumbent government’s plans to recognize Israel and implement diplomatic ties. Addressing a workers’ meeting in Charsadda, ousted prime minister Imran Khan claimed the coalition government had been “ordered” to recognize Israel at the behest of its “U.S. backers.” Representatives of the new government, including Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal, have denied this, stressing that no official or semi-official delegation from Pakistan has visited Israel.