Former aide to Pakistan PM made secret visit Israel: Report

Sayed Zulfi Bukhari, a former special assistant to Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, had made a secret visit to Israel last year in November and held meetings with foreign ministry officials and the head of Israeli intelligence, a report in an Israeli newspaper, Israel Hayom, claimed, citing “a source in Islamabad”

Jun 28, 2021
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Pakistan-Israel

Sayed Zulfi Bukhari, a former special assistant to Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, had made a secret visit to Israel last year in November and held meetings with foreign ministry officials and the head of Israeli intelligence, a report in an Israeli newspaper, Israel Hayom, claimed, citing “a source in Islamabad”.   

The former aide, a British Pakistani businessman, served as Khan’s special assistant on overseas Pakistanis and had resigned only last month. The report claimed he conveyed a message from Imran Khan and Pakistan Army chief Gen Qamar Bajwa to senior foreign ministry officials in Israel and then Israeli spy chief Yossi Cohen.

According to the report, Bukhari arrived at Ben Gurion airport in Tel Israel from Islamabad on a connecting flight to London in the last week of November 2020. He allegedly took advantage of his British passport. The Pakistan-Israel contacts were the outcome of “heavy pressure from the UAE”, the report added.

However, Bukhari, taking to Twitter denied the claims. 

The two countries don’t have diplomatic relations. 

Earlier in December 2020, too, the newspaper had reported a covert visit to Israel by a “senior adviser to the leader of a large Muslim-majority country.” At the time, the report had mentioned the senior advisor as being a “British citizen”. 

Significantly, the newspaper said that it published the country as Pakistan, after getting clearance from the Israeli military censor, a unit of Israel Defense Forces that guard secret and sensitive information against publication. 

Earlier, media reports in Pakistan had also claimed of Pakistan reportedly having been under “heavy pressure” from a friendly country to engage with Israel. 

It came after influential Muslim countries such as the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco normalized relations with Israel. The development in the region reignited a debate within Pakistan’s political and diplomatic circles about rethinking its position on Israel. 

However, Imran Khan last year said that they “cannot ever accept Israel as long as Palestinians are not given their rights and there is no just settlement”. Earlier, Pakistan’s former military dictator Parvez Mushraff had openly called for a rethink on the country’s policy towards Israel. 

 (SAM)

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