by Waseem Shehzad (News & Analysis, Crescent International Vol. 48, No. 8, Safar, 1441)
At a time when Pakistanis should be focusing on Indian atrocities in Kashmir and the lynching of Muslims in India, some people have begun a campaign clamoring to recognize the Zionist State of Israel. Triggered by the notorious journalist Kamran Khan through a tweet, the issue is now widely discussed in Pakistan’s secular circles.
Numerous arguments are advanced, all revolving around India’s unilateral usurpation of Kashmir and how to confront it. All of them are flawed and merely reflect the ruling elite’s inability to deal with challenges in a clear and courageous manner.
Let us enumerate these arguments advanced by the secularists. They also miss no opportunity to bash Islam and the Ummah calling it dead. It is their understanding of the Qur’anic concept of the Ummah that is flawed. They have assumed that Muslim rulers lording over nation-states that emerged from the bowels of colonialism constitute the Ummah. It is the Muslim masses, not their oppressive rulers, whose hearts ache for suffering fellow Muslims everywhere. But such concepts are beyond the comprehension of drawing room revolutionaries.
Those Pakistanis clamoring for Israel’s recognition advance one or more of the following arguments:
1. We have no quarrel with Israel; it is the Arabs’ problem and they have stabbed us in the back by not supporting us on Kashmir. By recognizing Israel, we will get even with the Arabs.
2. If Pakistan has diplomatic relations with Israel, its diplomats would be able to neutralize Indian machinations by freely interacting with their Israeli counterparts.
3. The Israeli lobby in the US is very strong and it would help Pakistan’s case in Washington.
4. If Pakistan has diplomatic relations with India, our most impla-cable enemy, what is the harm in having relations with Israel?
Let us consider each argument individually. Firstly, Pakistan’s non-recognition of Israel is not to appease the Arabs. Israel is a colonial settler entity, exactly what India is in Kashmir. True, Arabian rulers have abandoned the Palestinians but that is no reason for Pakistan to follow suit. By recognizing Israel, Pakistan would lose the legal and moral ground to argue that India should quit Kashmir. If Pakistan recognizes one occupation, how can it argue against the other?
Secondly, the argument that Pakistani diplomats would be able to neutralize Indian propaganda if they interacted with the Israelis is false. If these diplomats, for whatever reason, have failed to convince Arabian rulers with whom they have deep religious, cultural, and historical links, what chance would they have with the Zionists? Senior retired Pakistani military officers are currently serving in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Both regimes and many others also rely on Pakistan for protection with Pakistani troops deployed there. Despite such close links, Pakistani diplomats have failed to make much headway.
Thirdly, there is no doubt that the Israeli lobby in the US is very strong but it requires a stretch to assume that this lobby would help Pakistan. The Israeli lobby acts to advance only Israeli interests. It does not care even about US interests. Does Jonathan Pollard ring a bell? The navy analyst in possession of sensitive intelligence data was secretly passing it on to Israel despite the US financing the Zionist entity for decades and sharing much intelligence data with it. And Israel in turn was selling this information to the Russians. No two countries in the world have deeper relations than the US and Israel yet Israeli lobbyists do not hesitate to bite the very hand that feeds them.
Fourthly, to say there is no harm in Pakistan establishing diplomatic relations with Israel when it has relations with archenemy India is equally false. Consider this. Suppose a Muslim is addicted to alcohol that is forbidden in Islam. Unfortunately many Muslims in positions of power and authority are fond of drinking; it is considered a sign of “progress” and “modernity.” Could that person then argue that since he drinks alcohol, he should eat pork as well? Even the most secularized Muslims would recoil in horror at such a suggestion. The correct approach for Pakistan would be to cut off diplomatic relations with India until it relinquishes its illegal occupation of Kashmir and not establish relations with Israel.
Pakistani secularists often take refuge behind Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s example. Let us recall what he did when David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, wrote to him soon after Israel was established seeking recognition. Jinnah did not even bother to respond to Ben Gurion’s message.
Pakistani secularists also habitually bash Islamic groups and organizations accusing them of being responsible for all of the ills afflicting society. While religious groups have many faults, they are not responsible for the mess the country is in. It is the secularists that formulate Pakistan’s policies, which have created these problems. They must take full responsibility for the ill-conceived policies that have engulfed Pakistan in so many crises.
The current debate about Pakistan’s recognition of Israel while intensified recently, dates back to the time of General Zia ul-Haq. He allowed the Israelis to work with the Afghan mujahidin during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. General Pervez Musharraf took up this policy when he grabbed power. On September 14, 2005, he had shaken hands with then Israeli prime minister Arial Sharon (the butcher of Beirut) at a reception hosted by then UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. He even introduced his wife Sehba to the Israeli war criminal.
Two weeks earlier, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri had met his Israeli counterpart Silvan Shalom for dinner in Istanbul to advance Musharraf’s pro-Israeli agenda. Even today, the former dictator is vocal in pushing this line even as he has taken refuge in Dubai, escaping from serious charges at home.
Pakistani decision makers must internalize a few basic points. Kashmir will not be liberated through the UN, by the US, or with Zionist or Arabian support. It will require the collective effort of the Kashmiris as well as Pakistanis and their friends worldwide to bring about meaningful change. India can be forced to withdraw its occupation forces from Kashmir but it will require a lot greater effort than has hitherto been demonstrated.
One final point is in order. The West in general and the Zionist State of Israel in particular will never reconcile with a nuclear Pakistan. By recognizing Israel, Pakistan will be exposing itself to increased Zionist sabotage. Given the number of Pakistanis willing to sell their souls for a loaf of bread, the Zionists will be busy looking for ways to destroy Pakistan’s nuclear potential.
Far from gaining any benefit from recognizing Israel, Pakistan will expose itself to mortal danger. It is important to think through this policy carefully before plunging onto this disastrous course.