After FM sends letter offering aid, Israel still awaiting official response.
By HERB KEINON
Despite an American Jewish Congress press release Tuesday saying Pakistan will accept aid from Israel and American Jewish groups, Jerusalem has still not heard from Islamabad whether it is interested in Israeli assistance.
Foreign Ministry Spokesman Mark Regev said Thursday night that Pakistan overwhelmed by a devastating earthquake that hit Saturday and killed an estimated 25,000 people - had not yet replied to Israel's offer of aid.
While Israel and Pakistan do not have formal diplomatic ties, Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom sent a letter Sunday to Pakistani Foreign Minister Khurshid M. Kasuri, extending condolences to the government and people of Pakistan, and making it clear that Israel was ready to help â€œin any way possible.â€ Shalom and Kasuri held the first public meeting between high-ranking Israeli and Pakistani officials in August in Turkey.
Eye of the Storm: Local coverage of earthquake >>
Humanitarian aid has been one way in which Israel has strengthened ties with some countries in the past, and even been able to make inroads with other countries with whom it does not have formal diplomatic ties.
The American Jewish Congress, which hosted an address by Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf in September in New York, issued a press release Tuesday saying that Pakistan will accept assistance from Israel and American Jews to help in the rescue and relief of hundreds of thousands of Pakistanis left homeless by a massive earthquake.
According to the statement, the decision to accept financial support and equipment from Israel came during a telephone call Tuesday from Musharraf to Jack Rosen, chairman of the American Jewish Congress-Council for World Jewry. Musharraf, according to the statement, also said Pakistan would warmly welcome help from American Jewry.
â€I am pleased that Pakistan will receive help from the Jewish community and from Israel,â€ Mr. Rosen said. â€œI call on the Jewish community to show its solidarity with Pakistani victims of the earthquake by joining the relief effort. The human face of natural disaster is the same wherever such disasters occur and regardless of the nationality, ethnicity, or religious faith of those who are victimized.â€
According to the statement, some American Jewish organizations such as the American Jewish Congress, the Joint Distribution Committee, and the American Jewish World Service -- are already raising funds for Pakistan relief.