LAHORE - Participation of an Israeli-Arab lecturer in a scientific conference organised by the Punjab University recently has raised many eyebrows, forcing the quarters concerned to probe the matter and fix the responsibility for inviting the man from a country regarded as an enemy of Pakistan.

Another question being looked into is how the man skipped the watchful eyes of the security services, as the matter came to limelight only when an Israeli newspaper broke the story.

The conference of some 200 physicists and mathematicians from various countries was sponsored by the University of the Punjab, the Pakistani Academy of Sciences, the International Centre for Theoretical Physics and the International Mathematical Union.

Members of the security services, sharing some details on the issue with The Nation on Tuesday, put the entire burden on the host, the ‘invitee party’ of the Israeli-Arab lecturer, and said, “According to procedure, the security sections responsible for clearing the foreigners’ visits to Pakistan in most of the cases rely on the inquiries of the host who gives an undertaking about the visiting national of any country. The sections concerned run special background checks only for those foreign visitors who come on their radar for different reasons or fall in the grey or negative lists. There are no other avenues to check the background of a foreigner who has no previous record in the abovementioned categories and the only avenue is the confirmation of the information of the visiting guest from his/her host.”

“The security sections deputed to keep a watch on the activities of the visiting guests note their movements. They keep a record of their meetings with the people other than the host and the details about their residence in Pakistan through surveillance and tailing – a standard procedure.”

“In case of Ramzi Suleiman, the lecturer under discussion, the host university is responsible for not providing certain details concerning the man and the security services should launch a thorough probe involving the host of the Israeli-Arab lecturer.”

Former interior secretary Tasneem Noorani who had been privy to some of extraordinary events in the country’s history, sharing his views with this correspondent on the matter, endorsed the viewpoint of the security services and said, “The prime accused of this incident should be the host who knowingly or unknowingly kept some details from the field inquiry teams deputed for clearance of the foreign visitors entering the country. There must be one or more than one reference for the lecturer who attended the scientific conference hosted by the Punjab University.”

He added, “There are no strict measures or special background checks for allowing entry to the people of Palestinian origin. The foreign mission which issued visa to the lecturer had sent back his invitation details to Pakistan and after the inquiries of the security agencies concerned from the host, the same forwarded their reports back regarding the clearance of the visiting guest.”

At the same time, he proposed some sort of inquiry should also be carried out by the mission where the visa application of Ramzi Suleiman was filed.

About the prime security services looking after the clearance of the foreign visitors, he said that ISI and IB were the two main security agencies handling these issues.

Nobody at the helm of affairs is ready to name the authority who had invited an Israeli-Arab lecturer to a recently held international scientific moot at Punjab University, while the security agencies concerned were looking into the options to sort out this matter after it became public as a result of Israeli newspaper Haaretz’s breaking news.

The Israeli newspaper, Haaretz in its story, had quoted Ramzi Suleiman, who teaches at the University of Haifa and Al-Quds University, as saying that he was looking forward to attending another conference in Pakistan.  The paper quoted him as saying further, “The fact that he is an Israeli-Arab drew a positive response from many of the Pakistani scientists, who were interested in developments in Israel and the Palestinian Authority and spoke about the importance of cooperation in the field of science.”

The paper quoted Suleiman as saying that he travelled to Pakistan from Amman and received a visa after being invited to the conference as a Palestinian lecturer, but he did not hide his position as a researcher and lecturer at the University of Haifa.