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‘Not a state channel employee’: Journalist Ahmed Quraishi in response to getting ‘fired’ from PTV

Journalist says visit does not represent Pakistan's stance on relations with Israel

Ahmad Quraishi, the journalist who recently visited Israel on a Muslim-Jewish harmony trip, has said that he was not a state employee, in response to Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb’s statement that he had been fired from the state media organization.

While speaking to Minute Mirror, Quraishi said, “I am not a state channel employee. I contribute to many Pakistani and international channels as a freelancer.”

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Quraishi’s statement came after Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb said on Monday that Quraishi had been fired from the state media organization – Pakistan Television Corporation.

“I am not sure in what context this statement [regarding his termination] was made. It is possible that it’s just a political statement since it seems to give the impression that the government is endorsing the narrative of its opponents,” said Quraishi.

For the last three weeks, a topic that always receives widespread media and public attention turned into the lead story of all the media houses.

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A delegation of Pakistani-Americans visited Israel, jointly organized by two NGOs, the Washington-based American Muslim Multifaith Women’s Empowerment Council (AMMWEC) and Dubai-based Sharaka, which represent business news from Israel and those Arab countries which support Abraham Accords.

The delegation also included journalist Ahmed Quraishi, who covers the Middle East and works for different organizations. Quraishi posted his picture on his official Twitter handle on May 13 of a Catholic church in Nazareth, the largest Palestinian Arab city.

On May 14, Quraishi posted his pictures on Twitter, showing him in Masjid-e-Aqsa, which was followed by an uproar on social media and later in the mainstream media. Many leaders from the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf started questioning the details of his visit from the government.

While explaining his journey to Israel, Quraishi said, “I did not travel on a Pakistani passport to Israel, but on a separate travel document which is standard practice for everyone visiting Israel when from Turkey or UAE or Pakistan. And my visit does not represent Pakistan’s stance on the relations with Israel.”

According to him, the Pakistani-American delegation’s visit was related to the Middle East and Abraham Accords. “PTI and ousted ex-PM Imran Khan are strangely promoting a debate inside Pakistan on relations with Israel, which is surprising,” added Quraishi.

In the delegation, there was another person who was in the limelight for raising the issue of travel to Israel during PTI’s government – Fishel Benkhald. The first Pakistani to have himself registered as a follower of Judaism on his identity card and passport, Benkhald travelled with Quraishi for the visit to the holy sites.

While talking to one of the delegation members, who requested anonymity, the scribe came to know that Benkhald visited the holy sites for the first time. Benkhald had also approached PM Khan’s government through the Citizens Portal and other means, and officials in the government facilitated the issuance of an identity card and passport to him with his Jewish religious identity.

“He applied for permission through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and was told no permission is required since he is visiting his holy sites,” said his colleague.

Members of the delegation saw Fishel excited and happy to have finally prayed at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem and to have visited the Temple Mount, which is holy to all three major monotheistic religions: Islam, Christianity, and Judaism.

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