Students at the International Islamic University, Islamabad set up a stall that featured Israeli flags and pictures of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and a banner that read “Welcome to the land of peace and prosperity,” as part of their model UN exercise.
The display did not sit well with quite a few people, including another student group that accused the students behind the stall of supporting Zionism and smashed the display.
Later, the dean of the faculty of Management Sciences, a student affairs adviser and a female lecturer were suspended.
The university administration immediately canceled the event and formed a three-member committee to investigate the incident.
The reaction might seem harsh, but for most of Pakistanis even the word Israel is enough to send tempers flaring. Pakistan does not recognize the state of Israel and the two countries have no diplomatic ties with each other.
Pakistan may refuse to recognize the Israeli state and while the two may not have embassies on each other’s lands, to say that they have no relations with each other, would be incorrect.
On occasion, both Pakistan and Israel have used their embassies in Istanbul to mediate or exchange information with each other.
During the 1980s, the two periodically exchanged information when their respective intelligence agencies participated in Operation Cyclone against the Soviet Union fighting the mutual nemesis, communism.
Pakistan and Israeli foreign ministers met in September 2005 in Turkey. And thanks to WikiLeaks it was also revealed that the chief of Pakistan's intelligence agency ISI contacted Israeli officials to head off potential attacks on Israeli targets in India.
It might be interesting to note that the International Islamic University is no stranger to controversy. What the committee finds out and decides remains to be seen, but for now, suspension for the faculty has settled things down.