After two weeks of vehement denials by Pakistani government that a private business jet flew to Islamabad from Tel Aviv (Israel) via Amman (Jordan) and went back, eyewitnesses have confirmed that such an airplane did visit the country.
A pilot, who spoke to Middle East Eye on the condition of anonymity, said that the flight was in the air next to him on October 24 just before it landed at a military airbase in Rawalpindi. One member of staff at the airbase said he saw a car pick up a delegation at the steps of the plane minutes after it landed.
The controversy began on October 25 when Avi Scharf, editor of the English edition of the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, claimed in a tweet that a jet travelled to Islamabad from Tel Aviv and remained on ground in Pakistani capital for nearly 10 hours.
Israeli 🇮🇱 bizjet flew from TLV to Islamabad, #Pakistan 🇵🇰, on the ground 10 hours, and back to TLV.
Cleared flight-plan with usual 5min groundtime trick in Amman
M-ULTI glex pic.twitter.com/haHn1NU73L— avi scharf (@avischarf) October 25, 2018
The alleged trip happened a day before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made his first visit to Oman in over 20 years. That visit was also kept secret till Netanyahu tweeted a video of a meeting.
Soon after Scharf’s tweet, rumour mills went into an overdrive, with many Pakistani journalists and social media users suggesting that Netanyahu had visited Islamabad before his surprise visit to Oman.
But the Imran Khan government dismissed the report, calling it a conspiracy against Pakistan.