Zulfikar Bukhari, former special assistant to prime minister Imran Khan on overseas Pakistanis, on Monday denied yet again the reports about covertly travelling to Israel last November to meet the head of the Israeli spy agency chief.
Following the reports of the visit in November last year in the Israeli newspapers, the opposition has demanded of the government to clarify its position and bring all the facts before the people.
Bukhari had dismissed the reports in December last year. He claimed that he had been with the Rawalpindi deputy commissioner at the time of the alleged November visit, as reported by the Israeli newspapers.
The Hebrew newspaper, Israel Hayom, published a news report regarding the alleged visit, quoting an unnamed source in Islamabad. Avi Scarf of Israel’s Haaretz newspaper said in a tweet that as per the report, Bukhari travelled to Israel to meet Mossad chief Yossi Cohen. He stated that the news report had been credited to a “source in Islamabad”, adding that it was published after permission from the Israeli military censor.
Refuting the claims, Bukhari said, “Funny bit is Pakistani paper says I went to Israel based on ‘Israeli news source’ and Israeli paper says I went to Israel based on a ‘Pakistani source’ — wonder who this imaginative Pakistani source is? Apparently, I’m the only one who was kept out of the loop.”
Meanwhile, Prime Minister’s Focal Person on Digital Media Arslan Khalid also dispelled the claims saying, “Bukhari had clarified last year that he was never sent by the government to Israel. This Israel-India-Pak fake news peddlers network is getting so boring and predictable.”
Khalid urged the media to “show a little maturity and not promote” the fake news. “The last time when the same propaganda was run, not only did Bukhari deny and sent a legal notice but the Middle East Monitor, who reported it, also had to apologise,” he added.
The rumours first spread after a news report claiming that an adviser of prime minister had met Israeli officials at the Tel Aviv airport in November 2020 after getting approval for the visit from the US, according to a private news channel.
The report had claimed that an unnamed adviser with a British passport was taken to the “foreign ministry of Israel where he met several political officials and diplomats and delivered the message of the Pakistani premier”. As Bukhari is also a UK national, many netizens presumed the reports referred to him.
Reacting to the development, the Foreign Office spokesperson said such reports “baseless and misleading”. “No such visit to Israel has been undertaken,” the FO spokesperson said, while responding to queries. the Foreign Office had rebutted similar false reports earlier on December 18, 2020.
“As reiterated earlier, there is no change in Pakistan’s principled position. Pakistan has consistently called for a two-state solution, with pre-1967 borders and Al-Quds Sharif as the capital of Palestinian State,” read an official statement.
However, after the latest claims, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari claimed that there were two meetings with Israeli officials by close aides of the prime minister. “The second meeting was with [National Security Adviser] Moeed Yusuf.
Talking to media at the Parliament House, Bilawal demanded of the government to reveal the details of Bukhari’s visit to Israel, saying that the government must bring all the facts before the people. “We also have very serious questions about Moeed Yusuf’s meeting,” he added.
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