Senator Mandviwalla clarifies comment on ties with Israel

Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Senator Saleem Mandviwalla on Sunday walked back his statement calling on Pakistan to focus on its “interests” with respect to Israel, saying he never supported the recognition of, or trade with, the Jewish state, insisting that his words were being “distorted”.

The statement from the senator comes a day after he commented on the potential of Pakistan having diplomatic ties with Israel, saying the country should do what is in its own best interest.

In an interview, Mandviwalla, whose party is a part of the government, had said, “We should not stop dialogue and trade with any country. People criticise Israel [but] we have to look after our own interests.”

Pakistan does not recognise Israel and, therefore, doesn’t have diplomatic relations with it. The country has been a staunch supporter of a Palestinian state.

After the Abraham accords – a deal brokered by the US in 2020 which saw the normalisation of relations between Israel, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain – Pakistan had made clear that it cannot recognise Israel until a “just settlement of the Palestinian issue” is found.

Referring to the Middle East nations, Mandviwalla said they were negotiating and trading with Israel, adding that Pakistan must also do what suits its own interest. But on Sunday, he told a local media outlet that his words regarding Israel were being distorted. “I never wanted Pakistan to further ties with Israel or indulge in trade with it.” He insisted that recognising Israel was not in Pakistan’s interests.

The senator emphasised that his views on Israel were quite clear that Pakistan should not recognise it, saying, “I have made a similar statement in parliament also.”

He said Israel’s atrocities against unarmed Palestinians were known to the world.

“The silence of the global community against Israel’s oppression of Palestinians is worrying,” Mandviwalla added.