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The mysterious plane

The PTI government needs to categorically address recent reports of an Israeli aeroplane landing in Pakistan. For it will no longer suffice to dismiss this as fake new or propaganda. Online news outlet Middle East Eye (MME) has run an exclusive report confirming that it is, in fact, true; while quoting Pakistani sources including a pilot as well as those working at the Nur Khan military airbase in Rawalpindi.
In light of such claims, the Centre needs to offer a credible explanation. For such a lack of transparency between state and citizenry gives way to conspiracy theories. No matter that the Foreign minister denied the rumours before Parliament. After all, Pakistanis have been here before. Such as when former Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani protested US drones before the National Assembly while consenting behind-the-scenes to a beefed-up programme. This is not to cast aspersions on Shah Mehmood Qureshi. But it is simply to point out that political leaders can be economical with the truth when it comes to keeping their fellow lawmakers abreast of certain developments. Sadly.
Hypothetically, the landing of an Israeli plane is big news since Tel Aviv and Islamabad do not enjoy diplomatic relations. Former General-President, Pervez Musharraf, broached the subject of recognising the Jewish state back in 2003. At the time, he had just spent two days at Camp David with then President George W Bush; returning with some $2 billion in aid. Predictably, this did not sit well with the religious right who threatened to launch a mass movement to oust him from power.
Fast-forward to today and pundits are busy speculating that, if true, Saudi hands could be at play. After all, Riyadh has just given Pakistan a $6bn-bailout package. And as is said, there is never any such thing as a free lunch. In addition, analysts point to the way the Kingdom responded to Donald Trump’s unilateral Jerusalem shuffle. Not to mention how some leading Saudi intellectuals went on record as saying that the Palestinian cause would no longer be the primary Arab concern. Therefore the conclusion, right or wrong, is that Pakistan may well have opened itself up to a change in policy.
The country is passing through turbulent times. It is faced with a resurgent and violent religious right as the recent riots and calls to have Asia Bibi executed underscore. At the very least, if the reports are true then the Parliament should be briefed in an in-camera sitting. After all, more details are likely to follow; potentially causing more unrest.
We, here at Daily Times, will support a shift in government policy if it serves the national interest. And if conducted in a transparent and democratic manner



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