Pakistan is among the countries that has no diplomatic relations with Israel because of the lingering issue of Palestinian statehood, and says no government delegation has visited Israel.
A delegation of Pakistanis, including a former government minister, met Israeli Foreign Ministry officials in Jerusalem, the leader of the group and trip organisers have said.
The trip organiser said on Wednesday that the delegation included representatives from the American Muslims and Multifaith Women’s Empowerment Council and Sharaka, a US-based non-government group founded in the wake of the Abraham Accords, which was 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, told The Associated Press by phone.
He refused to give any further details about other members of the delegation.
Ashraf used to be Pakistan’s development minister and the chairman of the Pakistani Cricket Board.
Diplomatic ties with Israel?
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, urged Pakistan to establish diplomatic ties with Israel that would be in its best national interest.
She said Türkiye was a good example for Pakistan, as Turkish leadership established diplomatic ties with Israel in their national interest.
“If Türkiye can do it, then why cannot we do it,” she asked.
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.