Prime Minister Imran Khan has revealed that he has been "under pressure" to recognise Israel, however, Islamabad will never establish relations with the "Zionist" state until a just settlement of the decades-long Palestinian issue.
In an interview with a private TV channel on Thursday, Imran Khan refused to name the countries that have been pressuring him to recognise Israel.
"Are they non-Muslim or Muslim countries that have been putting pressure on you?" the anchorperson asked in an attempt to get a clear answer.
"Leave this [question]. There are things we cannot say. We have good relations with them (countries),” the premier replied.
The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have recently established diplomatic and economic relations with Tel Aviv. Some other Gulf countries are also weighing options to normalise relations with Israel.
“Let us stand on our own feet in terms of economy, then you may ask these questions,” the prime minister said, referring to Islamabad's longtime economic dependence on some friendly countries.
He, however, made it clear that he has no “second thought” about recognising Israel. "I have no second thought to recognise Israel unless there is a just settlement, which satisfies Palestinians,” he went on to say.
Referring to the country's founding father, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, who time and again had refused to recognise Israel, the premier said Islamabad would continue to follow in Jinnah's footsteps vis-a-vis Palestine.
Israel, he observed, has had a deep influence in the US, which is another country pressurising him to recognise Israel.
"The pressure is because of Israel's deep impact (influence) in the US. This (influence) was in fact extraordinary during the Trump's stint,” he maintained.
Israel, not Afghanistan, real issue for Biden
Replying to a series of questions about Islamabad's future relations with US president-elect Joe Biden’s administration with special reference to Afghanistan, PM Imran said there will be no "change" in Washington's ongoing Afghan policy, which aims to bring an end to the 19-year bloody conflict through a political settlement in the war-torn country.
"Afghanistan is not the real issue. The real issue is Israel. It is to be seen how he (Biden) deals with that. Whether he changes Trump's policies (about Israel) or continues with them.
"I am not sure about Biden's policy on Israel, Iran, and Kashmir but I am sure there will be no change in (Washington's) Afghan policy. The Democrats too want to pull out of Afghanistan,” he contended.
India running out of options on Kashmir
About the Kashmir dispute, PM Imran opined that New Delhi's controversial decision to strip the disputed region of its longstanding semi-autonomous status in August last year has further bolstered the freedom movement and anti-Indian sentiments in the valley.
“After the Aug 5 (2019) move, India has been running out of options. It has brought the situation at a point where no one can join pro-India politics in the valley. Even their traditional allies have left them,” the premier argued.
Hailing Azerbaijani forces for liberating key territories of Nagorno-Karabakh, Imran Khan said: "They have shown exemplary bravery."
“There was no dispute on Nagorno-Karabakh. The whole world recognises that Nagorno-Karabakh belongs to Azerbaijan. They (Azerbaijanis) have just got back their own areas,” he said.