Controversy sparked when Isareli media channel Haaretz reported that a 15-member delegation of Pakistani expatriates visited Israel. The delegation included American-Pakistanis, British-Pakistani and a Pakistani journalist. Alarming was the inclusion of the Pakistani journalist in the delegation as he visited Israel on Pakistani passport which clearly states that it is valid for all countries of the world except Israel.
Government of Pakistan and Foreign Office distanced itself from the visit and clarified that the Pakistani journalist visited Israel in personal capacity and that the whole visit was organized by NGOs that are not based in Pakistan. PTV announced the termination of the anchorperson in a tweet quoting Marriyum Aurangzeb.
Persons indulging in cheap publicity should have thought of their national interests first & last
In lieu of unacceptable actions, Pakistan Television has terminated the contract of an individual who proceeded to travel to a specific country out of his own accord. @Marriyum_A pic.twitter.com/L7HvlVnE5o
— PTV World (@WorldPTV) May 30, 2022
The trip was organized by the American Muslim and Multifaith Women’s Council and Sharaka—an International NGO that was established by young leaders from Israel and the Gulf after the signing of the Abraham Accords between Israel, UAE and Bahrain. Sharaka is primarily active in the middle east with offices in Israel and UAE and it strives for promotion of people-to-people relations of Israelis with Gulf nations. It must be noted that the delegation met Israeli President, who confirmed it in a speech at the annual World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting on May 26 in Davos, Switzerland. Thus, the visit can be regarded as major step by Israel in normalizing relations with Pakistan.
“And I must say this was an amazing experience. We haven’t had a group of Pakistani leaders in Israel in such scope. And that all stems from the Abraham Accords, meaning Jews and Muslims can dwell together in the region” Israeli President Isaac Herzog said about the visit.
Although Israel seems to be interested in normalizing relations with Pakistan, Pakistani society is highly polarized when it comes to recognizing Israel. A vast majority of Pakistanis are of the view that Pakistan must not recognize Israel as a sovereign state at any cost as it would legitimize Israeli-occupation of Palestine. Similar is the official stance of Pakistan, and this stance was once again reiterated by the government as it said 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.