The Pakistan government on Friday defended remarks made by its Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi in an interview with CNN, after they triggered allegations of anti-Semitism.
“Foreign Minister’s remarks made during his interview with the CNN cannot be construed as anti-Semitic by any stretch of the imagination. Any twist given to FM's remarks would unfortunately prove the very point he was making,” a Pakistan Foreign Ministry statement said.
In an interview with CNN host Bianna Golodryga, just after he addressed the UN General Assembly (UNGA) debate on Thursday, Qureshi said that “Israel controls the media" and had "deep pockets”.
"Israel is losing out. They are losing the media war despite their connections,” Qureshi began his remarks.
“What are their connections?” the CNN anchor interrupted.
“Deep connections” replied Qureshi, to which Golodryga said, “I mean… I would call that an anti-Semitic remark.”
— Bianna Golodryga (@biannagolodryga) May 20, 2021
When asked to clarify his remarks, Qureshi refused to back down even as he tried to justify his position.
“Well, you see, the point is, they have a lot of influence, and they get a lot of coverage,” said the Foreign Minister.
Qureshi’s comments triggered a massive backlash in the US, with fellow journalists agreeing with Golodryga’s observations about the Pakistan politician.
— Mehdi Hasan (@mehdirhasan) May 20, 2021
Earlier, during his speech at the UNGA, Qureshi called for “accountability” for what he described as Israel’s war crimes in Gaza over the previous 11 days.
"As we speak, people in Palestine are being killed with impunity. Death echoes in every home in Gaza,” Qureshi said.
The Pakistan Minister offered that a coalition of troops from “willing” nations could be constituted and deployed in Palestinian territories.
“If the Security Council cannot agree to send a protection force, a coalition of the willing can be formed at least to provide civilian observers to monitor accession of the hostilities,” he said.
Soon after the General Assembly debate, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Hamas announced a ceasefire in the 11-day conflict, which began after militants rained down rockets on Israeli cities, prompting air force raids by Israel inside the Palestinian territories.
Hamas’ first rocket strikes came on 10 May, three days after Israeli police raided the compound of Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam. At least 200 Palestinian worshippers were injured in the police action, which attracted criticism from around the world.