by Tahir Mahmoud (News & Analysis, Crescent International Vol. 51, No. 8, Rabi' al-Awwal, 1444)
Last month several media outlets reported that a delegation comprising mainly overseas Pakistanis visited Israel (see here and here). The delegation led by a US-based physician, Dr Nasim Ashraf, met the Israeli President Isaac Herzog as well as officials from the foreign ministry. Another person in the delegation was the self-appointed crusader for empowering Muslim women, Anila Ali, also US-based. She is also a member of Sharaka, a group that emerged after the normalization of relations between several Arabian regimes and the zionist entity in September 2020.
This was the second time in less than four months that a Pakistani delegation visited Israel leaving little doubt that the intention is to pave the way for normalization of relations between the two countries. The earlier delegation in late May included Ahmed Qureshi from Pakistan State Television, PTV. When there was hue and cry in Pakistan about the visit, Qureshi was relieved of his duties.
Pakistan has no diplomatic ties with the zionist entity. The official Pakistani position is that unless the outstanding issue of Palestine is resolved, it cannot establish diplomatic relations with Israel.
So, what is motivating these individuals to make the pilgrimage to the zionist entity that continues to kill innocent Palestinians as well as incarcerates thousands of others? And what is the official position of the imported regime backed by the military on this issue?
Shehbaz Sharif, the army-installed prime minister, reportedly met an Israeli delegation in Qatar in August. There was much buzz in the social media about the secretive meeting in Doha although the Pakistan Foreign Office denied any such meeting.
There is much more to these visits than meets the eye. The trip organizer, Dr Nasim Ashraf, had served as minister of state in General Pervez Musharraf’s regime. In September 2005, General Musharraf had had a well-publicized handshake with Arial Sharon, the Butcher of Beirut, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting in New York.
Dr Nasim Ashraf boasted that he was behind the Musharraf-Sharon handshake although official Pakistani sources say that Islamabad had requested Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan to arrange a meeting with the Israelis. Then Pakistani Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri had met his Israeli counterpart Silvan Shalom in Istanbul on September 1, 2005 paving way for the Musharraf-Sharon handshake in New York two weeks later.
What has this got to do with the regime change operation in Pakistan? To answer this question, we need to keep in mind that the army in Pakistan controls all decision-making processes. Recognition of Israel has been its long-cherished desire, held in check only because the masses would not accept it.
Soon after Imran Khan became prime minister in August 2018, Pakistani officials and their paid agents in the media started to sound influential Pakistanis inside and outside the country about recognizing Israel. They argued that India’s diplomatic relations with Israel put Pakistan at a disadvantage. If Pakistan also had diplomatic relations, it would be able to present its point of view in Tel Aviv and neutralize some of India’s advantage.
When it was pointed out to these officials that if Pakistan were to recognize Israel—essentially recognizing Israel’s occupation of Palestine—it would not be able argue about India’s occupation of Kashmir. This was also explained in detail in Crescent International in 2019 together with debunking other, equally flawed arguments.
The timing of this campaign is important. The army wanted Imran Khan to take this unpopular decision and face the fallout. To his credit, Imran Khan refused, hence the plot to remove him. Of course, it was not achieved overnight; the army top brass felt that they could undermine Imran by allowing him enough rope with which he would hang himself. This did not happen.
Much to the annoyance of the army, Imran Khan and his team managed to stabilize the economy within two years and in the third year, it really took off. He was now seen as a threat to army’s total control of the country and had to be removed. It was achieved through what is referred to as the “no-confidence vote” in parliament but essentially dictated by the Americans.
Within weeks of Imran Khan’s removal, a Pakistani delegation landed in Israel. It could not have travelled without the army’s blessings despite its spokesperson denying having anything to do with it.
What is truly shocking is that the military in Pakistan has total contempt for the people. It considers them ignorant who do not know what is good for them. This is the job of the military, or more accurately the army top brass who consider themselves truly enlightened. This also explains the imposition of a bunch of criminals, murderers and rapists as rulers on the country.
The army likes politicians who are crooks with well-established criminal records. It is easy to blackmail such people and get them to do things that an honest person like Imran Khan would not do.
Why is the army anxious to recognize Israel? The men in khaki believe that it would open the floodgates of American dollars pouring into Pakistan. The army top brass is in the business of making money for which it is willing to sell the country.
The repeated visits by Pakistani delegations to the illegitimate zionist entity and open discussion in the media about the question of Israel’s recognition are all meant to pave the way for this eventuality. Should such a step be taken, it would lead to even more turmoil in Pakistan. Already reeling from an economic downturn exacerbated by massive floods, Pakistan may not recover at all.