The Foreign Office (FO) of Pakistan has denied having any diplomatic or trade relations with Israel. This comes after a recent statement by the American Jewish Congress (AJC) claimed that a shipment carrying Pakistani-originated food products had been offloaded in Israel. However, the spokesperson for the Ministry of Commerce stated that the press release was wrongly attributed as it did not make any mention of Pakistan’s official trade relations with Israel. The spokesperson also emphasized that rumors about the beginning of the Pakistan-Israel trade were pure propaganda and that Pakistan neither had nor intended to start trade relations with Israel.
The customs officials at the Karachi Port also confirmed that Pakistan did not send any export consignment to Israel, and any claims suggesting otherwise were merely disinformation for political purposes. Earlier, Secretary of Commerce and Trade Sualeh Ahmad Faruqui had also confirmed that Pakistan did not export any products to Israel.
On March 30, the American Jewish Congress released a statement on “trade between the State of Israel and Pakistan” claiming that the first shipment from the country had been received in Israel. However, the AJC’s statement did not suggest any official trade ties between Pakistan and Israel. It merely highlighted the efforts of entrepreneurs and technologists from both countries who were pursuing common prosperity.
Fishel BenKhald, a Pakistani citizen from Sindh with a Jewish background, who is a strong proponent of trade ties between Israel and Pakistan, was involved in the private transaction of the shipment. He is engaged in the business of the Kosher food industry. BenKhald had claimed to have exported the first consignment of dates, dry fruit, and spices from Pakistan to Israel via the UAE. However, the shipment was marked for the UAE and not Israel. Moreover, Israel removed the restriction of import licenses for Pakistani products in 2005. So, there was no need for any special licenses or permits to conduct this trade.
Despite the fact that the “trade” was not a direct trade on Pakistan’s behalf, the matter was unduly highlighted and treated as official trade. The FO spokesperson reiterated that Pakistan had neither diplomatic nor economic ties with Israel. Islamabad’s policy on Israel remains “unchanged.” Pakistan steadfastly supports the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination.
It is important to note that controversy over Pakistan’s ties with Israel had been stirred earlier last year over a reported visit of a “Pakistani delegation” to Israel. However, the FO spokesperson had clarified that the “reported visit in question was organized by a foreign NGO which is not based in Pakistan.”