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Pakistan dismisses reports of trade ties with Israel 

April 2, 2023 at 3:34 pm

Shoppers, traders, and individual buyers go about their business at a wholesale fruit market in Peshawar on April 2, 2023 [ABDUL MAJEED/AFP via Getty Images]

Pakistan has today denied reports of trade relations with Israel and has vowed to investigate any goods allegedly “exported” to the occupation state, with which Islamabad has no diplomatic relations.

On 30 March, the American Jewish Congress (AJC) issued a statement on “Trade Between the State of Israel and Pakistan,” claiming that the first shipment from the country had been received in Israel.

“This week, the first shipment of Pakistan-origin food products was offloaded in Israel, in a transaction that involved Pakistani-Jewish businessman Fishel Benkhald, based in Pakistan’s business hub of Karachi, and three Israeli businessmen from Jerusalem and Haifa,” the statement read.

However, spokesperson for Pakistan’s Foreign Office, Mumtaz Zahra Baloch dismissed the claims, saying “There is no change in the policy,” referring to Islamabad’s position on having no diplomatic or trade ties with Israel.

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A spokesperson for the Ministry of Commerce also said “Rumours about beginning of Pakistan-Israel trade are pure propaganda. We neither have nor do we intend to start trade relations with Israel,” while Commerce and Trade Secretary Sualeh Ahmad Faruqui denied sending any export consignment to Israel, stating that “any claims suggesting otherwise are mere disinformation and politically motivated.”

Earlier in the week, Karachi-based Pakistani-Jewish businessman Fishel BenKhalid announced on Twitter that he had successfully exported the first batch of Pakistani produce to Israel, including dates, dry fruit and spices and shared a video purportedly of his food items on display at a Jerusalem market.

According to the Ministry of Commerce, BenKhalid’s shipment was made through the UAE in a “personal capacity” and “was not supported by the Pakistani government and no banking or official channel was involved.”

Last year the Pakistani government dismissed claims of a policy shift towards Israel, after a reported visit of a “Pakistani delegation” to Israel. At the time, the Foreign Office said that the visit “was organised by a foreign NGO which is not based in Pakistan,” and that “Pakistan steadfastly supports the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination”.

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