Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi “categorically” tells UAE’s top diplomat that Islamabad won’t establish ties with Tel Aviv “until a permanent solution to the Palestine issue is found.”
Pakistan says it has told the United Arab Emirates (UAE) that Islamabad will not recognise Israel until a “concrete and permanent settlement” of the Palestinian issue is reached.
“I categorically presented Pakistan’s stance on Israel to the UAE’s foreign minister that we will not and cannot establish a relationship with Israel until a concrete and permanent solution to the Palestine issue is found,” Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told reporters on Monday.
Qureshi’s comments came just a day after his visit to the UAE, which was seen by many as “crucial” amid rumours that Islamabad had secretly sent a messenger to Tel Aviv.
Islamabad has denied the reports, mainly from Israeli media.
Responding to questions regarding alleged pressure from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and other Gulf states for recognition of Israel, Qureshi said he has explained to his UAE counterpart the “depth of emotions and feelings” Pakistanis have about Palestine and Kashmir.
Qureshi said the UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan “fully understood our feelings” on the two issues.
Pakistan’s core interests
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan made headlines last month when he revealed that Islamabad had been under pressure from some “friendly” nations to recognise Israel.
Although he stopped short of naming them, many believe PM Khan was referring to Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
“We have to make decisions keeping Pakistan’s interests in view and not because of any pressure. We have a policy and we are still steadfast on it,” the Pakistani foreign minister said.
UAE, Bahrain, and Morocco recently established diplomatic and economic relations with Israel.
In recent years, Pakistan’s ties with the traditional Gulf allies have taken a hit due to Islamabad’s “neutrality” on several issues, including the war in Yemen and the blockade of Qatar by a Saudi-led Arab alliance.
Riyadh also seems irked by criticism from Islamabad over its lukewarm stance on the long-standing Kashmir dispute.
Last month, the UAE stopped issuing new visas to citizens of 13 countries, mostly Muslim, citing coronavirus fears.
The decision took effect on November 18 and included citizens from Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Kenya, Lebanon, Tunisia, Algeria, Turkey, and Iran.
But many Pakistanis say allowing flights from the US and India –most-affected countries by Covid-19 – shows UAE’s double standards.
Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry says it was assured that the visa restrictions were temporary in nature and were imposed due to the outbreak of Covid19 pandemic.