Aide to Pakistan's Imran Khan Denies Israeli Report He Visited Tel Aviv

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Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan (L); former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R)
Pakistan's Imran Khan and Israel's former PM Netanyahu. Khan's adviser denied traveling to Tel Aviv.Credit: Reuters, Ohad Zwigenberg

A senior adviser to Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan denied Monday that he had secretly visited Israel for meetings with senior government officials, following a report in Israel Hayom daily that a Pakistani envoy had visited Israel last November.

"DIDNOT go to Israel. Funny bit is Pakistani paper says I went to Israel based on "Israeli news source" & Israeli paper says I went to Israel based on a “Pakistani source”-wonder who this imaginative Pakistani source is. Apparently, I’m the only one who was kept out of the loop," Sayed Zulfi Bukhari tweeted.

According to the Israel Hayom report, Zulfi Bukhari flew to Israel from Islamabad via London. He was said to have met with foreign ministry officials as well as Mossad Director Yossi Cohen in Tel Aviv in order to pass on messages from Khan and army Chief of Staff Qamar Javed Bajwa.

According to the report, based "on a source in Islamabad", the visit came following “heavy pressure” from the United Arab Emirates. 

If confirmed, this alleged visit would not be the first contact between the two countries. In 2018, an Israeli business jet flew to Islamabad, staying on the ground for ten hours before returning.

Israel and Pakistan do not share diplomatic relations and last month Islamabad was harshly critical of Israel for its military actions during the latest round of fighting between the IDF and Hamas, which involved the most intensive aerial exchanges for years.

At the time, the Pakistani Foreign Ministry condemned both “Israel’s heinous attack on Al-Aqsa Mosque” and its airstrikes on Gaza, which it said violated “all norms of humanity & international law” and constituted an “indiscriminate use of force” against “defenseless Palestinians.”

“Strongly condemn Israeli Forces' attack esp during Ramazan on Palestinians in Qibla-e-Awaal, Al-Aqsa Mosque, violating all norms of humanity & int law,” Prime Minister Khan tweeted immediately prior to the outbreak of hostilities.

“We reiterate support for Palestinian ppl. Int community must take immed action to protect Palestinians & their legitimate rights.”

Following the fighting, a lawmaker belonging to Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party appeared to express approval of the Holocaust, stating on television that she remembered “a saying by Hitler who said he had spared some Jews to let the world know why he killed them. Today I have developed a firm faith in this,” the Jewish Chronicle reported.

Both Israel and Pakistan are slated to participate in the U.S. Sixth Fleet’s annual Sea Breeze exercise in the Black Sea. 32 countries will participate in the upcoming exercise near Russian-occupied Crimea, which Moscow has promised to closely monitor.

"The Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation will closely monitor the preparations and the Ukrainian-American 'Sea Breeze' exercises themselves...and if necessary respond appropriately to the situation in the interests of ensuring Russia's military security," the Russian Defense Ministry said earlier this month.

Last week, Russia said that it had fired warning shots and dropped bombs in the path of a British warship to chase it out of waters Moscow claims in the Black Sea off the coast of the Crimea peninsula.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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