Pakistan is urged to hire back a reporter who was fired during Israel visit

ISLAMABAD -- An American-based nongovernmental organization dedicated to promoting Muslim-Jewish relationships on Friday asked Pakistan's state-run TV to hire back one its anchors.

Pakistan is urged to hire back a reporter who was fired during Israel visit

ISLAMABAD -- An American-based nongovernmental organization dedicated to promoting Muslim-Jewish relationships on Friday asked Pakistan's state-run TV to hire back one its anchors. The anchor was fired after visiting Israel with an interfaith group last week.

The Mukhayriq Initiative has made the plea for justice. It was just days after journalist Ahmed Quraishi was fired from Pakistan Television and taken off air. Quraishi had visited Jerusalem and met with President Isaac Herzog.

Quraishi was part a 15-member Pakistani expatriate delegation that traveled to Israel. This visit was severely criticized in Pakistan, which is a predominantly Muslim country that has no diplomatic relations with Israel due to the Israeli-Palestinian war.

Pakistan's state-run TV posted on Monday that Qureshi, who had visited Israel in a personal capacity, was fired.

Pakistan's ex-Prime Minister Imran Khan was one of those who criticized the visit. He was a former cricket player who became an Islamist politician. Khan claimed that the visit to Jerusalem was meant to open the door to Pakistan's recognition of Israel, something which the delegation denied.

The government also stated that it does not intend to establish diplomatic ties with Israel.

Anila Ali (a Pakistani-born U.S citizen who lives in Washington) defended the visit and stated to The Associated Press earlier this year that the group was only trying to reconcile Muslims with Jews.

Ellie Cohanim (managing director of the Mukhayriq Initiative) stated Friday that Quraishi was "the target a political agenda for doing nothing but his job as a journalist."

According to her, Khan's criticisms led to Quraishi receiving threats to his own life. He was doing only the job of a good journalist (which is to find information on the ground and understand the issues firsthand).

Quraishi stated that he had visited Pakistan by private individuals and that he was not connected to Pakistan or its policies. He also said that he was being covered by me, an independent journalist who works in Pakistan and the surrounding region.

He said, "It is regrettable for any political party to politicize it for temporary political benefits."

In the past, Pakistan and Israel have made friendly overtures to one another. This was most evident when Pakistan's foreign ministers met at Istanbul in 2005 after Israel's withdrawal. However, there hasn’t been a major public push for the two countries to get closer, despite India tightening ties with Israel in recent years.

According to Pakistan's national data, 745 Jewish citizens are registered in Pakistan. Pakistan has a population of approximately 220 million.

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