Saturday, February 02, 2008

Should Pakistan recognise Israel?

They say when a man gets desperate it starts showing in his actions. Musharraf’s recent tour to Europe and ‘accidentally’ meeting yet again is just another example of the attitude. International opinion about Musharraf is no more benign towards Musharraf so in order to prove that he is enlightened minded he keeps meeting the Israelis. Since Pakistan has maintained a foolishly stubborn or maybe clumsily hypocritical policy towards Israel he certainly believes it pays the dividend. While this might be a desperate action easily understandable, our Israel policy sure enough poses huge questions.
Why should Israel be the only place under the sun where a Pakistani is not allowed to go by his own government? Why should it be treated a foremost pariah when it poses no direct threat to Pakistan? If Israel is so evil, and that would imply that its human rights record is far grosser than any of our powerful allies or even us (which doesn’t seem to be the case) why should we be secretly working with it for last three decades? And above all, if the Arab states, being the actual party to Middle Eastern conflict, have recognised it, should we wait till the formal creation of an independent Palestinian state before recognising it?
There are certain secretive aspects of the story that might not be that much well known to the general audience. For instance if you have not read the Charlie Wilson’s War, you may not know that Pakistan kept receiving and redistributing the Israeli weapons during the Afghan Soviet conflict. Likewise, it is believed that the huge humanitarian aid that came to Pakistan through Turkey after the 2005 earthquake was actually sent by the Israelis. Israel has no record of open hostility towards Pakistan and many a times worked as a distant and obscure ally than an enemy. The moral aspects of the issue are interesting too. I know our Arab friends may get offended by the very idea but the fact remains that now every country is treating every other without consultation with any other friend. For example we have been told by all of our allies that India is a different reality and we should not worry about their improving relations with India. That’s true. But the real question is that when the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia after becoming the King chooses to first go to India as a guest of honour at its symbolic national day parade, should retain the same attitude towards the Israelis? Or if China has for all practical purposes revised its Kashmir policy, should we keep behaving as if Taiwan does not exist?
Pakistan’s attitude towards Israel has been mostly funny. For instance our passports have it in it published that we can go to any country except for Israel. Does it not imply an implicit recognition of Israel? Now we know that Musharraf is very unpopular. He is requested to place the national interest above his personal interest, and instead of giving half baked signals to Israel for personal and momentary gains, should recognise it when he is already on his way out. In this way at least he would be reducing the moral pressures on the future governments by different quarters and reducing the country’s burden of unnecessary hostilities. The right time to do it has arrived but it should be done for the nation not for one man.


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