A file photo of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and his former aide Sayed Z. Bukhari (right). | Photo: Twitter/@sayedzbukhari
A file photo of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and his former aide Sayed Z. Bukhari (right). | Photo: Twitter/@sayedzbukhari
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New Delhi: Sayed Zulfikar Bukhari, a former aide to Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, denied Monday that he had secretly visited Israel in November 2020 for meetings with senior government officials.

Taking to micro-blogging site Twitter, he said: “DIDNOT go to Israel. Funny bit is Pakistani paper says I went to Israel based on ‘Israeli news source’ & Israeli paper says I went to Israel based on a ‘Pakistani source’-wonder who this imaginative Pakistani source is.”

Bukhari’s comments come a day after a report in Israel Hayom daily, quoting “a source in Islamabad”, claimed the alleged visit was organised following “heavy pressure from the UAE”.

Bukhari, a British-Pakistani politician, served as a special assistant to Prime Minister Imran Khan until his resignation on 17 May over alleged involvement in the Rawalpindi Ring Road scandal. He belongs to Pakistan’s ruling party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and was a multi-millionaire businessman before joining politics.

The Israel Hayom report said Bukhari flew to Israel from Islamabad via London last November. It added that he met foreign ministry officials as well as former director of Israel’s national intelligence agency, Yossi Cohen, in Tel Aviv to pass on messages from the PM Imran Khan and the Pakistani Army chief.

Bukhari first dismissed rumours about the alleged visit last December, following reports claiming he had met Israeli officials at the Tel Aviv airport in November. However, Bukhari has said he was with the deputy commissioner in Rawalpindi at the time.

The governments of Israel and Pakistan do not share diplomatic relations. Last month, Islamabad harshly criticised Israel for its military actions during the recent round of fighting with Palestine militants.

Also read: India’s offensive cyber capability more focused on Pakistan than China, UK think tank says

Middle East Monitor ‘took down’ report about Bukhari’s visit

In his latest tweet, Bukhari shared screenshots uploaded by Dr Arslan Khalid, focal person to Pakistan PM Imran Khan on digital media, about the “fake news” surrounding his overseas visit.

It included a screenshot of an email from London-based news site Middle East Monitor, dated 23 December 2020, in which the publication purportedly said it had removed an article about the alleged visit from its website, following a complaint by the Pakistani government.

“We accept Mr Bukhari’s refutation of the claims made in the report and sincerely apologise for the inconvenience it has caused. We are prepared to issue a public apology to him in terms agreed by us,” read the screenshot.

Also read: Why countering ‘low-tech drone terror’ is going to be a big challenge for India


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