Pakistan on Sunday categorically rejected the notion that any delegation from the country visited Israel, stressing that Islamabad’s position on the Palestinian issue was “clear and unambiguous” and there was no change whatsoever “in our policy” towards the Jewish state.
Responding to media queries regarding Israeli President Isaac Herzog’s talks at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, on May 26, in which he said he met a delegation of Pakistani-Americans, the Foreign Office said that the visit was organised by a foreign NGO, which was not based in Pakistan.
“Pakistan’s position on the Palestinian issue is clear and unambiguous. There is no change whatsoever in our policy on which there is complete national consensus. Pakistan steadfastly supports the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination,” the Foreign Office said in a statement.
“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 UN and OIC resolutions, is imperative for just and lasting peace in the region,” the statement added.
Herzog, while speaking about ‘The Abraham Accords’, brokered by the US in 2020, had said in Davos that he met a delegation from South Asia in Israel that included two Pakistani American citizens. He did not reveal the identities of the members of that delegation.
He said that he received a delegation of Pakistani expatriates, who lived in the US “together with other members of other countries in their region”, adding: “And I must say this was an amazing experience, we haven’t had a group of Pakistani leaders in Israel in such scope.”
An Israeli media outlet, Haaretz, reported that a 15-member delegation, led by two civil society groups, visited Israel in order to promote interfaith harmony primarily between Muslims and Jews. The trip was organised by the American Muslim and Multifaith Women’s Council and an NGO called Sharaka.
American-Pakistanis, a British Pakistani, a Pakistani journalist Ahmed Qureshi and Pakistani Jew Fischel BenKhald were part of that delegation, the report said, adding that Qureshi and BenKhald entered Israel on their Pakistani passports, making it the first-ever trip of its kind.
The delegation, led by Anila Ali – the founder of the American Muslim and Multifaith Women Empowerment Council – also made a visit to Yad Vashem, Israel’s national Holocaust memorial centre, to show solidarity with its victims, Haaretz said.
Meanwhile, Anila shared a photograph on Twitter of her meeting the Israeli president on May 12. In the photograph, she is presenting a book written by her father Qutbuddin Ahmed on the Pakistan Movement and Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah to the Israeli president.
Besides, former human rights minister Shireen Mazari expressed her “shock” at the inclusion of PTV anchor Waqar Qureshi in the delegation.
In response, Qureshi also took to Twitter and cited former foreign minister Khurshid Kasuri’s first “official” meeting with Israeli foreign minister in Turkey.
During a rally in Charsadda, former prime minister Imran Khan said that “slaves of the US” in the government would do everything that had been ordered to them. Lashing out at the government, he alleged that it would strike a deal with India at the expense of Kashmiris and also recognise Israel.
Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal, a senior leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), said that no official or semi-official delegation from Pakistan had visited Israel. “The participants in this delegation were Pakistani-Americans who have already explained themselves,” he stated. Iqbal reiterated that Pakistan did not recognise Israel.