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ISLAMABAD — Pakistan on Sunday denied rumors of commerce with Israel following a Jewish businessman’s tweet about efficiently exporting meals samples to Jerusalem and Haifa.

Fishel Benkhald, a Pakistani-Jew primarily based within the southern port metropolis of Karachi, went viral for tweeting about his first kosher meals cargo to Israel. The 2 international locations should not have diplomatic ties.

“Congratulations to me as a Pakistani. I exported the primary batch of Pakistan meals merchandise to Israel market,” he mentioned final week.

Benkhald shared a video clip exhibiting his go to to an Israeli market. He walks previous stalls with containers of dates, dried fruit and spices with product tags in Hebrew.

Pakistan denied having any diplomatic or commerce relations with Israel. “There is no such thing as a change within the coverage,” International Ministry spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch instructed media in response to queries about bilateral commerce.

Pakistan formally backs a two-state answer to the Israeli–Palestinian battle and has a longstanding place of non-recognition of Israel till an unbiased Palestinian state is established throughout the pre-1967 borders and with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Pakistan’s Commerce Ministry mentioned rumors of bilateral commerce had been “sheer propaganda.”

“Neither do we have now any commerce relations with Israel nor will we intend to develop any,” it mentioned in an announcement.

Benkhald, who’s a part of a dwindling Jewish neighborhood within the Muslim majority-nation of 220 million, efficiently transformed to Islam from Judaism in 2017. Though an announcement on his Pakistani passport says the doc is legitimate for journey to all international locations besides Israel, he’s the primary Pakistani to have formally carried out a pilgrimage there with the permission of Islamabad.

“Meals, commerce, music and tourism convey folks collectively. Let’s construct bridges,” Benkhald mentioned in his tweet.

Benkhald despatched meals samples to a few businesspeople in Jerusalem and Haifa via the United Arab Emirates, the place he met them at meals exhibitions, based on the Commerce Ministry. The ministry mentioned the cargo was not supported by the Pakistan authorities and no banking or official channel was concerned.

The American Jewish Congress earlier welcomed information of the cargo, saying it may have wider implications for the 2 international locations’ economies and for the area at giant. It mentioned Benkhald was on the coronary heart of a small, however rising Pakistani kosher trade exporting meals to totally different locations.

However there have been combined opinions in Pakistan about Benkhald’s enterprise. Shireen Mazari, a key chief from ex-Prime Minister Imran Khan’s occasion and former minister for human rights, criticized the federal government and requested how a Pakistani citizen was exporting to Israel immediately and visiting the nation on a Pakistani passport.

However an interfaith consultant from the present administration, Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi, mentioned Benkhald was permitted to go to Israel throughout Khan’s tenure.

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