Pak ex-minister Nasim Ashraf visits Israel

Thursday, Sep 22, 2022

ISLAMABAD: A delegation of Pakistanis, including a former government minister, met Israeli Foreign Ministry officials in Jerusalem on Wednesday, the leader of the group and trip organisers said.

Pakistan is among the countries that have no diplomatic relations with Israel because of the lingering issue of Palestinian statehood, and says no government delegation has visited Israel, foreign media reported.

The trip organiser says the delegation also included representatives from the American Muslims and

Multi-faith Women’s Empowerment Council and Sharaka, a US-based non-government group founded in the wake of the Abraham Accords, which were brokered by the Trump administration in 2020 and normalised relations between Israel and four Arab countries — the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco.

“Yes, I am in Jerusalem with a delegation to promote interfaith harmony,” Nasim Ashraf, the head of the delegation, said. He refused to give any further details about other members of the delegation. Nasim Ashraf used to be Pakistan’s development minister and the chairman of the Pakistani Cricket Board (PCB).

The trip comes more than three months after journalist Ahmed Quraishi, who also travelled to Jerusalem to promote interfaith harmony, was taken off the air by Pakistan Television after his visit.

Anila Ali, a Pakistani-born US citizen who lives in the United States and is one of the trip organisers, said that Nasim Ashraf was in Jerusalem to promote interfaith harmony. She urged Pakistan to establish diplomatic ties with Israel that would be in its best national interest.

She said Turkiye is a good example for Pakistan, as Turkish leadership established diplomatic ties with Israel in their national interest. “If Turkiye can do it, why we cannot do it,” she asked.

Anila Ali said Israel could guide and help Pakistan in improving the country’s irrigation system in the wake of the latest flooding, which has caused 1,569 deaths since mid-June.