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ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office, on Friday, dismissed the criticism on Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s interview with the CNN, in which he had criticised the Western media to be influenced by Israel, saying his remarks "cannot be construed as anti-Semitic by any stretch of the imagination."

As the debate started over the social media whether it was anti-Semitic or not following Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi in an interview with CNN on Thursday referred to Israeli’s “deep pockets” and “influence” over the Western media, the Foreign Office also clarified in a statement, saying: “Foreign Minister’s remarks made during his interview with the CNN cannot be construed as anti-Semitic by any stretch of the imagination.”

“Any twist given to the Foreign Minister’s remarks would unfortunately prove the very point he was making. The right to freedom of expression must be respected equally by everyone,” Foreign Office spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri said.

Foreign Minister Qureshi had lashed out at Israel for “controlling” the Western media and having “deep pockets”. “Israel is losing out,” Qureshi said in response to a question by the CNN anchor as to whether there was going to be any ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.

The interview was broadcasted before a ceasefire was agreed on Thursday.

“They’re losing the media war, despite their connections…The tide is turning,” Qureshi had said.

Asked about the connections he was referring to, the foreign minister laughed and said: “deep pockets.”

“What does that mean?” the journalist asked.

To which, Qureshi replied: “They [Israelis] are very influential people. They control the media.”

Responding to the widespread criticism, especially by the Western journalists on Qureshi’s remarks dubbing these as “anti-Semitic”, Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari also took to Twitter to defend the foreign minister’s remarks.

“Ridicule Islam and our Prophet [PBUH] and spread Islamophobia by claiming it as ‘freedom of speech'. When we highlight Israelis ‘deep pockets’ and influence over Western media and govts, it gets labelled ‘anti Semitic’! Massacre Palestinians and claim it's right of self defence,” she stated in a tweet.

“Time to reject and counter this false narrative. Enough is enough. We cannot be bullied or blackmailed by such narratives because we don’t bear the burden of the history the West is trying to shift on our shoulders,” she further stated.

Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) secretary-general Farhatullah Babar also came out in support of the foreign minister who stated: “I don’t hold any brief for Shah Mahmood Qureshi but really don’t understand how remarks that Israel has ‘deep pockets’ and great influence in media be regarded by any stretch of imagination as ‘anti-Semitic slur’.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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