World Neighbours 28 Oct 2018 Pakistan dismisses r ...

Pakistan dismisses rumours of secret visit by Israeli PM

Published Oct 28, 2018, 1:17 am IST
Updated Oct 28, 2018, 1:17 am IST
Imran Khan, who took over as the Prime Minister in August, had promised a “new Pakistan,” in his election campaign.
Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu (Photo: File)
 Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu (Photo: File)

Islamabad: There were rumours in Pakistan on Saturday that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had secretly visited Islamabad for talks.

The rumours were however, quickly dispelled by the government. Federal minister for information Fawad Chaudhry said the Israeli PM had never arrived in Islamabad.


The firebrand minister took to popular micro-blogging website Twitter and responded to a tweet of Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz)’s leader Ahsan Iqbal demanding immediate clarification from the Imran Khan-led government on the issue.

“The reality is that neither Imran Khan is Nawaz Sharif nor there is any fake Aristotle in his cabinet. We will not hold secret talks either with Modi or Israel. Had you really cared about Pakistan, we would not have been in this situation. So, don’t express worry as Pakistan is in safe hands now,” Mr Chaudhry said.

Mr Iqbal responded: “The way the minister for information lost his cool on demanding clarification, it seems something is suspicious.”

Earlier, the editor of Hareetz - an Israeli English newspaper - claimed that Israeli PM Netanyahu had landed in Pakistan on a secret visit. In a series o tweets, he said that PM Netanyahu and his delegation remained in Pakistan for ten hours.  

Civil Aviation’s spokesperson has also denied landing of Israeli aircraft at any airport in the country. The spokesperson termed it mere ‘speculations.’

Imran Khan, who took over as the Prime Minister in August, had promised a “new Pakistan,” in his election campaign.

Critics have questioned the legitimacy of his victory, as “the election was widely considered tainted” due to allegations of rigging and military interference. Some observers believe he could forge more functional relations with the United States and India - despite the US-India-Israel nexus being reviled domestically - while others are concerned he could further isolate the country from relations with the West.

Mr Khan has also faced long faced antisemitic conspiracy theories - his first wife Jemima Goldsmith had Jewish roots - and since becoming a more devout Muslim in recent years has talked of making Pakistan a welfare state according to Islamic tradition.

Pakistan, the world’s sixth-most populous country, has nuclear weapons and is located strategically next to India, China, Iran and Afghanistan.

Mr Khan is a former cricket star who made his debut for the Pakistani national team in 1971 at 18. Upon graduating from Oxford University in England, he rejoined the national squad team, playing from 1976 to 1992 and captaining Pakistan to victory in the 1992 Cricket World Cup.

He spent much of his time in London in the 1980s and 1990s, developing a reputation as a playboy - a past he has aimed to distance himself from. Mr Khan frequently visited London nightclubs, describing the club Tramp as his “living room.”

PM Khan married the British socialite Jemima Goldsmith in 1995 when she was 20 and he was 42. Goldsmith is not Jewish, but has ethnic Jewish roots and recounts being “made familiar with Jewish traditions.” Mr Khan’s Pakistani critics have long exploited her heritage to undermine his domestic political credibility. In 2013, political rivals wrote of his “Jewish connections” and spread “innuendos” about “Jewish financing.”

PM Khan even filed a libel suit against a politician who accused him of working as an “agent of the Jewish lobby.” The railways minister, Khwaja Mohammed Asif, wrote in 2017 that “Imran Khan’s relations with Jewish lobby are no secret.”

Mr Khan is critical of Israel. On Twitter, he repeatedly calls out Israeli policy toward Gaza, referencing “Israel’s continued oppression against Palestinians” and condemning US President Donald Trump’s move of the US Embassy to Jerusalem.