Analysis & opinion

Is Pakistan going to recognize Israel?


Rumors about the Government of Pakistan recognizing the state of Israel and initiating diplomatic ties with the government in Tel Aviv have been doing rounds for quite some time.

The last time these rumors surfaced into the mainstream news was in October 2018. The editor of Israeli newspaper Haaretz’s English edition, Avi Scharf, had started the controversy by claiming in a tweet that an Israeli private business jet traveled to Islamabad from Tel Aviv and remained on ground in Pakistani capital for nearly 10 hours. He had said that the jet made a brief stopover in Amman, Jordan on the way to Islamabad because of which it got a new call sign and became an Amman-Islamabad flight.

While the Government of Pakistan dismissed those rumors soon after they got mainstream media attention, similar rumors have resurfaced again. Although this time around there is no private business jet involved, the rumors are more sinister and related to the Kashmir crisis.

Since India is not backing off from its stance on Kashmir and has kept the stranglehold on the valley stiffened ever since the revocation of the special status of Kashmir, imposing communication lockdown and a curfew situation, imprisoning tens of its leaders, Pakistan has tried almost all buttons available to push India to de-escalate the situation. From cutting off diplomatic, trade and cultural ties, Pakistan has raised its concerns for the rights of Kashmiris on all International platforms including those of the United Nations.

Unfortunately, its call to action has not really been satisfactorily responded to. To make matters worse, the Arab countries including UAE, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and even the Palestinian Administration honored Indian Prime Minister Narendar Modi with their highest awards.

Although the Trump administration offered to mediate on Kashmir, it has mostly played a very deceptive role by only issuing diplomatic statements without any follow up asking both Islamabad and New Delhi to back off. In the situation that the Kashmiris find themselves and combining the fact that it was only Pakistan that has been vocally asking the International community to pull India away from Kashmir, US should have particularly identified Indian atrocities. As it did not happen, seemingly out of some planned machination against Pakistan, coercing it to bend its stance as well as keep it on the lookout for a reliable mediator, suddenly appears the rumor that Israel, the new found ‘love affair’ of India, has offered to mediate on Kashmir with the condition that Pakistan allows the self-professed ‘Jewish state’ a diplomatic space in Islamabad.

These fresh rumors have generated all sorts of debate in the Pakistani society. From the hypocrisy of the Arab states to the strategic, diplomatic and economic consequences of the acceptance of the state of Israel, all sorts of opinions are being discussed. Pakistan being an Islamic state and the real vision of its founding father not fulfilled yet, it seems that the latest rumor is only pitched to create a polarization of sorts in the society as given this day and age people are prone to discuss all pros and cons of a matter. Whatever the case, broadly speaking, Pakistanis in general are not ready to give up on their long held stance of supporting the Palestinian liberation from Israel.

As these rumors are still hot and a lot of smoke is rising out of every platform wherever it is being discussed, the Foreign Office has cleared the air that Pakistan stands firm in its stance of not recognizing Israel as a country owing to the Palestine issue. This was said by the Foreign Office Spokesperson, Dr. Mohammad Faisal during a media briefing in Islamabad particularly arranged to address this issue once and for all.

The clarification on recognition and diplomatic ties with Isreal by the Foreign Office will only put the matter under the carpet and is surely to resurface once a public opinion is established.

Given the fact that the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and the Jewish community in the United State are the real power brokers in the United States of America, it is highly expected that the Trump Administration will raise the issue of mediation on Kashmir again and this time around it will have a different flavor. It is absolutely necessary that the state of Pakistan establish a clear narrative on this debate.