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December 16, 2020 2:08 pm

Pakistani Officials Deny Rumors of Secret Normalization Talks With Israel

avatar by Algemeiner Staff

A masked protester sits next to a flag of Pakistan during an anti-India protest, in Srinagar, Nov. 25, 2016. Photo: Reuters / Danish Ismail.

Pakistani officials on Wednesday vehemently denied rumors that their country was making preliminary moves toward normalizing relations with Israel.

The Pakistani edition of the Saudi-based publication Arab News reported that Pakistan was rumored to be the major Muslim country that media sources said had sent a secret delegation to Israel for normalization talks.

There have indeed been rumors in the Israeli press this week that the recent series of normalization agreements between Israel and Muslim countries the UAE, Sudan, Bahrain and Morocco might be followed by a deal with an Asian Muslim-majority nation, but it was widely presumed to be Indonesia.

Two top Pakistani officials told Arab News that the rumors about Pakistan were “ridiculous” and a conspiracy against their country.

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Tahir Ashrafi, a special adviser on religious harmony and the Middle East, said, “It is an absolutely wrong news.”

“It is an attempt to create chaos, instability in Pakistan and malign us in the Muslim world,” he asserted.

He added that Pakistan — which has no relations with Israel — would never recognize the Jewish state so long as the Palestinians did not have a state of their own.

“It is the clear stance of Prime Minister Imran Khan and his cabinet,” Ashrafi said. “The state of Pakistan including our people, armed forces, institutions and government, are on the same page regarding this issue.”

Sayed Zulfiqar Bukhari, a special assistant to the prime minister for overseas Pakistanis, also shot down the rumors, saying they were “ridiculous” and “pathetic.”

He echoed his colleague’s claim that the rumors were a conspiracy to attack Pakistan, saying they were “lies and fairy tales” that were “putting lives in danger.”

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