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Zulfi Bukhari denies Israel visit, again

28 Jun, 2021
Former SAPM on overseas Pakistanis Zulfi Bukhari denies he visited Israel.
Former SAPM on overseas Pakistanis Zulfi Bukhari denies he visited Israel.

The Prime Minister’s advisor Zulfi Bukhari rejects allegations of traveling to Israel shortly after Israeli newspaper published a story Monday claiming that he met head of Mossad in Tel Aviv last year.

Israel Hayom, which claims to be Israel’s “free of charge” paper, reported today in its Hebrew edition that the Israeli military censor was lifted on the news that Bukhari visited Israel in November 2020. This revelation immediately caused a stir on social media because Bukhari had blatantly denied these allegations last year when the news first surfaced.

Israel Hayom is owned by the late American businessman Sheldon Adelson, who was a donor and supporter of former American president Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Trump infamously recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in 2017.

The same newspaper had published last year that a “senior advisor” of a “Muslim majority, Asian country” visited Israel, also stating that the two countries have “no diplomatic relations.” Bukhari, who holds a British passport, and was until recently the Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on overseas Pakistanis and human resource development, was then suspected to be the person the paper was alluding to.

Bukhari, however, dismissed the claims, calling them a “social media propaganda,” declaring his presence with the deputy commissioner in Rawalpindi that day as his alibi. The Foreign Office also rejected any news of the Prime Minister being under pressure to “recognise Israel”, close to the same time the claims of Bukhari visiting Israel surfaced.

However, with Monday's latest revelations in Israel Hayom, Bukhari is under fire again, and speculations are rife about the authenticity of his previous statement.

Journalist Asma Shirazi also displayed her interest in the validity of the news.

Shahid Maitla, also a journalist, labelled the news as a “bombshell.”

Former Dawn columnist Cyril Almeida made a point about the Israeli military's role in allowing the press to release Bukhari's name.

Bukhari was quick to reject the allegations again, pointing to the dubious nature of the news by calling the source “imaginative.”

Focal Person to the Prime Minister on Digital Media Dr Arsalan Khalid also called the news “fake,” stating that news outlets which had reported the news last year apologised to Bukhari because the allegation was false.

PTI’s official Twitter account labelled the information “incorrect reporting.”

Despite the denials, another Israeli media outlet has also “confirmed” a Pakistani official’s visit to Israel, including Jewish media outlet Belaaz.

Last month Bukhari resigned from his position as SAPM after his involvement in the Rawalpindi Ring Road Project scam came up.