Pakistani's Islamic opposition party protests against diplomatic engagement with Israel

Pakistani's main Islamic opposition party denounced the country's decision Thursday to begin diplomatic engagement with Israel, and said it would hang out black flags in a day of protest against the move.

However, Pakistani officials said Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and Saudi King Abdullah supported the first public meeting between the Pakistani and Israeli foreign ministers. Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said the Pakistanis had informed the Palestinians about the impending talks, Reuters informs.

At the meeting, which Shalom called a "major breakthrough," the Pakistani foreign minister, Khursheed Kasuri, said his country had decided "to engage Israel" diplomatically in recognition of its withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.

Munawar Hassan, secretary general of Jamaat-e-Islami (Islamic Party), dismissed the Gaza pullout as a "farce" and said Pakistan's stance of not recognizing Israel must continue until there was a complete withdrawal from Palestinian lands.

Hassan said the six-party opposition Islamic alliance his party leads would stage a day of protest Friday against the meeting, which took place in Istanbul.

"We will greet Mr. Kasuri with black flags when he arrives back," he said.

"The evacuation from Gaza is just a farce," he added. "It's as good as robbers entering somebody's house forcibly and than leaving half of it after many years."

Israel has to date been frozen out diplomatically by much of the Muslim and Arab world, and Shalom said he hoped to open new channels of dialogue with the Muslim world and that the meeting would lead to full diplomatic ties with Pakistan, a Muslim country that has long taken a hard line against Israel.