Monday, May 16, 2022

Is Pakistan getting closer to Israel?

Delegation poses for a picture. Twitter/ @ShireenMazari1
Delegation poses for a picture. Twitter/ @ShireenMazari1

  • Pro-Israel civil group Sharaka sponsors Pakistani-American delegation's visit to Israel, apparently to promote Pak-Israel ties.
  • Sharaka works for connecting Israel with Gulf countries.
  • Ex-Human Rights minister Shireen Mazari criticises visit to Israel.

ISLAMABAD: A Pakistani-American delegation visited Israel last week apparently to promote Israeli-Pakistani relations, according to foreign media reports.

The visit was sponsored by a pro-Israel civil group Sharaka (“Partnership” in Arabic) established in 2020 after the signing of The Abraham Accords and recognition of Israel by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain.

The group works for connecting Israel with Gulf countries. Presently, it has three operational divisions located in Israel, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates.

Sharaka, in a tweet, said it was “honoured to bring a delegation of Muslims and Sikhs from southeast Asia including the first Pakistani Jew allowed to travel to Israel to visit Israeli President Issac Herzog. The delegates spoke to the President about their efforts to develop relationships with Israel. ”

The Pakistani delegation was headed by a Pakistani-American lobbyist in the US, Aneela Ali. The delegation comprised Pakistanis as well as Muslims from other countries. A foreign media outlet said “the delegation met top Israeli leadership including Israeli President. Some 'famous' faces from Pakistani media fraternity are also part of the delegation. Some even work for state media.”

The delegation included Ahmed Quraishi who happens to be employee of the state TV.

The former Minister of Human Rights, Dr Shireen Mazari, criticised Ahmed Quraishi in a tweet. 

Responding to the criticism, Ahmed Quraishi tweeted: “Dr Shireen Mazari, today's self-appointed top PTI anti-Israel crusader, was DG ISSI (Institute of Stategic Studies Islamabad) in 2005 when her boss, then FM Kasuri, held first official Pakistan-Israel meeting in Turkey, after which Israel waived import license requirement for for Israeli businessmen trading with Pakistan, saved her job by not objecting … to her boss … and continued in her position until 2008.”

Quraishi also tweeted Kasuri’s pictures with his Israeli counterpart.

In June 2021, reports surfaced about the visit of Imran Khan-led government’s advisers to Israel. PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto had stated then that there is something fishy about Pakistani officials’ visit of Israel. After a few days, the advisers denied the visit.

An Israeli newspaper, Israel Hayom, had reported the visit citing its sources in Islamabad. The then advisers, Moeed Yusuf and Zulfi Bukhari, had denied the report. Those days, social media was also rife with reports that since Imran Khan’s former spouse belongs to a Jewish family, attempts are being made to establish relations with Israel. These attempts went to the backburner due to country’s fragile economy and political crisis. Isreal has established diplomatic relations with the UAE, Egypt, Jordan and Bahrain. 

Originally published in The News