Pakistan denies reports of trade relations with Israel

Islamabad, April 2 : Amid reports of an exchange of goods between Pakistan and Israel, the Pakistan Foreign Office (FO) and the Ministry of Trade and Commerce denied on Sunday having made any trade with the nation, media reports said.

The American Jewish Congress (AJC) had claimed that bilateral trade occurred with the offloading of the first shipment carrying Pakistani-originated food products in Israel.

Issuing a clarification over the purported trade, Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch said Pakistan does not have diplomatic or trade relations with Israel, Geo News reported.

“There is no change in the policy,” she stressed.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Commerce said that the AJC’s press release was wrongly attributed as it does not make any mention of Pakistan’s official trade relations with Israel.

“Rumours about beginning of Pakistan-Israel trade are pure propaganda. We neither have nor do we intend to start trade relations with Israel,” the spokesperson said, Geo News reported.

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.

“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, Geo News reported.

It also stated that the alleged trade was widely reported by both Pakistani and international media.

The AJC had stated that the two nations didn’t have diplomatic ties yet but their entrepreneurs and technologists “have forged ahead in pursuit of common prosperity”.

“Thanks to this initiative [alleged first trade] eighteen years ago, constraints and licenses that restricted Israel-Pakistan trade were abolished,” it added, Geo News reported.

BenKhald is a Pakistani citizen from Sindh with a Jewish background who is a strong proponent of trade ties between Israel and Pakistan. He is engaged in the business of the kosher food industry.


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