President Dr Arif Alvi on Sunday termed reports of the alleged landing of an Israeli aircraft in Pakistan baseless and unfounded.
“Pakistan is not going to establish any ties with Israel,” President Alvi asserted, adding that Pakistan has supported Palestine because Gaza has also faced unprecedented atrocities like Kashmir.
He expressed these views while speaking to the media at the Islamabad airport, prior to departing on a three-day visit to Turkey on the invitation of his Turkish counterpart President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari also took to twitter on Sunday morning to rebuff the impression that a plane from the Jewish state recently landed in Pakistan for a brief period under mysterious circumstances.
“Interesting how Israeli media, with a plane fake news, managed to divert Pakistani media’s attention away from the important security issue of the Netanyahu’s Oman visit,” she said, “which has strategic implications for Pakistan if Israel gets a permanent foothold in Oman where US military already has a presence.”
‘Turkey is an important friend of Pakistan’
During his stay in Turkey, President Alvi is expected to hold bilateral meetings with his Turkish counterpart and leaders of other countries.
He will also address the inaugural ceremony of the new International Airport of Istanbul.
Speaking to reporters before leaving for Turkey, the president said Ankara is an important friend for Islamabad and has always supported it on all issues, including Kashmir.
“People of Turkey are our friends and brothers, we have been together since the Khilafat movement. I also appreciate Turkey’s struggle for democracy,” he added.
Pursuing the government’s ongoing austerity drive, the president travelled via a commercial flight. He set aside his protocol, waited in queues and got his luggage checked himself before going through the immigration process.
The editor of Israeli newspaper Haaretz’s English edition, Avi Scharf, sparked a controversy by claiming in a tweet on Thursday that a private Israeli business jet travelled to Islamabad from Tel Aviv and remained on ground in Pakistani capital for nearly 10 hours.
He said the jet made a brief stopover in Amman on the way to Islamabad because of which it got a new call sign and became an Amman-Islamabad flight.
The Civil Aviation Authority rejected the claim about a private jet from Tel Aviv visiting Islamabad and said there was no truth in any Israeli aeroplane landing at any Pakistani airport, while both the foreign minister and information minister described the reports about the Israeli plane as baseless.
Despite the government’s formal denial of the reports, opposition parties called for a “convincing explanation” on the matter.
The alleged mysterious trip occurred a day before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the first visit to Oman by an Israeli premier in over 20 years.
That visit too was kept secret until Netanyahu tweeted a video of a meeting and reception in Amman. Oman described Israel as an accepted Middle East state.
Yousuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah, the sultanate’s minister responsible for foreign affairs, told a security summit in Bahrain: “Israel is a state present in the region, and we all understand this.”
Pakistan does not recognise Israel and, therefore, doesn’t have diplomatic relations with it. Therefore, the landing of an Israeli aircraft at a Pakistani airport, except for emergencies, would be highly unlikely. However, it is important to note that the said aircraft is registered in the Isle of Man, but is operated out of Ben Gurion for chartered flights.
The two countries have long maintained undeclared contacts at lower level and the only known interaction took place on Sept 1, 2005 between the then foreign minister Khurshid Kasuri and his Israeli counterpart Silvan Shalom.