Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has brushed aside speculation about a diplomatic shift towards Israel, including recognition of the Jewish state, the Middle East Eye reports. Asked about the rumours, which were sparked following recent debates in the Pakistani media, at the Asian Society in New York, which Khan flew to for the United Nations General Assembly, the Pakistani PM reassured the audience that Islamabad’s position on the issue has not changed since the foundation of Pakistan.
"Pakistan has a very straightforward position. It was our founder of Pakistan Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah who was very clear that there has to be just settlement, a homeland for Palestinians before Pakistan can recognise Israel", Khan said, as cited by the web-outlet.
The debates about forging formal diplomatic ties between the two nations were fuelled by Kamran Khan, the head of the powerful Pakistani holding Dunya Media Group, who suggested debating such a possibility on Twitter.
“Why can’t we openly debate pros cons of opening direct and overt channels of communication with the State of Israel”, he posted, also pointing to the escalating tensions between India and Pakistan.
High time Pakistan counter nefarious Indian designs with bold foreign policy moves. Our deepest friends making fresh alignments. No permanent friends no enemies. Why can’t we openly debate pros cons of opening direct and overt channels of communication with the State of Israel— Kamran Khan (@AajKamranKhan) August 25, 2019
Later, the country’s Defence Ministry commented on the matter, denying any change of course.
“As far as my visibility goes, nothing of the sort is happening. But this is a question related to the Foreign Office", a spokesperson said, redirecting the topic to the Foreign Ministry, which, however, has remained tight-lipped on the matter.
The speculation about Pakistan’s potential shift towards Israel were prompted by a report from October 2018, two months after Khan assumed the prime ministership, that an Israeli jet, carrying the Israeli prime minister, had landed in the Pakistani capital and stayed there for 10 hours.
Imran Khan’s government has had to deal with a worsening economic situation amid a hike in commodity prices as Pakistan has been witnessing a high rate of inflation over the past few months, as well as escalating tensions with their eastern neighbour India over Kashmir.