Pakistan hints at nuclear strike on Israel following fake news story


Pakistan’s defence minister has been criticised for tweeting a nuclear threat at Israel as a result of a fake news story.

Khawaja Mohammad Asif sent a message stating that “Pakistan is a nuclear state too” in response to a false article which claimed Israel’s former defence minister had threatened Pakistan with a nuclear attack.

According to the New York Times, Mr Asif was responding to a false report on which claimed Israel's defence minister said: “If Pakistan send ground troops into Syria on any pretext, we will destroy this country with a nuclear attack.”

On Friday, the Pakistani minister tweeted: “Israeli def min threatens nuclear retaliation presuming pak role in Syria against Daesh. Israel forgets Pakistan is a Nuclear state too.”

The Israeli statement was attributed to former defence minister, Moshe Yaalon, rather than Avigdor Lieberman, who took over in May.

Responding on its own Twitter page, Israel's Defence Ministry said: “The statement attributed to fmr Def Min Yaalon re Pakistan was never said.

“Reports referred to by the Pakistani Def Min are entirely false.”

As Pakistan refuses to recognise Israel, the two countries have no diplomatic ties.

Mr Asif was criticised for his outburst and Israel subsequently clarified that it had not threatened Pakistan.  

A senior Pakistani foreign ministry official said the faux pas highlighted the risk of relying on social media “which allows people to react without thinking through their response; and the fact that the defence minister does not appear to have consulted anyone”.

A former Pakistani ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Ali Sarwar Naqvi, also criticized Mr Asif.

“This was a very ill-thought statement without verification of the source of this news. The Foreign Ministry should have been consulted,” the retired diplomat said.

Mr Asif did not respond on Twitter and his original tweet was reposted hundreds of times.

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