By Abdullah Zahid.
After Maulana Tahir Ashrafi appeared on an Israeli channel, rumours of his visit to Israel went viral on social media. Tahir Ashrafi is a special representative of religious harmony in Pakistan.
A leading Israeli newspaper Israel Hayom, claims that a senior adviser to the leader of one of Asia’s largest Muslim countries has visited Tel Aviv and held talks with officials.
The newspaper, however, did not name the country or the adviser but made it clear that the country did not have diplomatic relations with Israel.
The Israeli newspaper says that due to censorship, it cannot name the Asian country whose delegation visited Tel Aviv because of diplomatic difficulties.
The statement comes in the wake of media reports that the South Asian Muslim-majority nation has been under United States pressure to reconsider its rejection of recognizing the Jewish state.
Separately earlier, the head of the Pakistan Ulema Council (PUC) said “Pakistan will not establish relations with Israel “at any cost.”
“Pakistan will not recognize Israel at any cost,” PUC president Tahir Ashrafi told reporters in Islamabad.
Ashrafi said Pakistan’s stance regarding establishing relations with Israel was very clear, adding that Islamabad would not recognize Israel until a just solution to the Palestine conflict was found.
“It is the clear stance of Prime Minister Imran Khan and his cabinet. The state of Pakistan including our people, armed forces, institutions and government, are on the same page regarding this issue,” Special Aide to PM on Religious Harmony Hafiz Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi stated.
To a question in a recent interview, the prime minister categorically rejected the reports of his cabinet member’s visit to Tel Aviv as “totally incorrect” and “fake news” and said it was part of India’s disinformation campaign recently exposed by EU DisinfoLab.
“It is totally incorrect. When we have a policy that we will not recognize Israel, why a minister will go there? And what he will do there? It is fake news,” he added.
The UAE was the first Arab country to normalize relations with the Jewish state after years of delays in improving Arab-Israeli relations.
Pakistan currently does not recognize the state of Israel over its thwarting of Palestinians’ aspirations for a state of their own. Israel captured the West Bank and East Jerusalem, the Sinai peninsula and the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights in the 1967 Middle East war. Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of their future free state, a demand Pakistan has supported for decades.