Recognising a reality...Israel
1947 and 1948, two regimes were individually carved out from the womb of two conflicting religions. Two sects struggled for what they believed was their right of a homeland; for freedom of faith. Two nations that are now standing at crossroads, where one has to recognise the other as a state born for reasons once adopted as its own.
Musharraf’s impetus to discuss the recognition of Israel as a nation disseminated a wave of resentment and incredulity throughout the nation specially the Islamic fundamentalists. Why was the issue broached they asked? Was it to gauge the public opinion or an attempt to exploit the exquisite opportunity to stay in the game by following the Bush-backed roadmap for peace in the Middle East? Or was it in fact, to provoke a fiery controversy nation-wide to ease off the pressure prodded from the Camp David pow-wow to accept a Jewish state?
Any move towards official recognition would be bitterly opposed by an influential alliance of Islamic parties. The presence of an Israeli embassy and consulates will provide a provocative target for violent attacks from Islamic extremists causing social and political turbulence. The Muslim sentiment over Palestine is touché, the issue being more poignant then political, and a focal point of Muslim unity rather then Arab states.
The Muslim blood is churned into emotional blackmailing whenever religion intervenes, so the path treaded towards recognition of a Jewish state must be cautiously validated as religiously and morally conventional, however lame that might sound in the political ring. Disregard of this could result in provocative and capricious Quranic references outlining the issue at hand and can consequent in dodgy deductions, as already demonstrated by defiant religious fanatics around the globe. Israel does hold holy places like Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third most important Muslim place of prayer after Mecca and Medina; The Dome of the Rock, believed to be the point from which Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) ascended to glimpse Heaven. It is their significance, access to them and the authority over them that is under question.
Well, should Pakistan sidestep its rigidity, alleged moral and religious obligation and accept Israel in order to survive? Muslim countries like Jordan, Syria, Egypt, Qatar, Morocco and Turkey have recognised that its time to stop pushing their own luck and trying to shove Israel off into the sea. They have exchanged embassies and the ire of their religious fanatics has dwindled after blowing off their steam.
Once the socialist Arab world recognises Israel as a state, then Pakistan should not have any particular reason not to do so too but odds of that happening before the Middle East conflict is solved are slim. Till then Saudi Arabia, UAE and Kuwait will take no steps towards recognition and unlike the former nations; these have backed-up Pakistan, financially and morally, since its independence. Can we now survive the condemnation of the Arab Street? Will this policy somersault plant the foundation stone of mistruth between Pakistan and the Arab states? Is time for Pakistan to take the cue or should is keep standing with somebody’s Albatross hanging around its neck?
Like it or not, the entire map of the Middle East is seemingly under US-piloted alterations and Israel will defiantly remain there, tiny yet massive. It’s sinking in to the Arab world that Israel is a fact established by America and unbiased history will identify America itself, as a state developed by the occupiers and not the original inhabitants. This political step too, has been taken by America and turning a blind eye towards Israel does not seem to be smart option.
A crucial move for Pakistan is to neutralize the Jewish lobby walking the corridors of power in DC, not to mention the imminent coalition between the pro-India and pro-Israel lobbies in the USA. This has to be done to facilitate securing of strategic ends whilst maintaining relations with US.
Earlier, had the strategic need to recognize Israel ever risen, it would have been next to impossible while India, a Hindu-majority state, kept it at a distance despite secret ties. For Pakistan, "Islam" and "Muslim solidarity" acted as barriers. But Pakistan has been idiotically sitting on the fence while India has fostered an alliance with Israel and has even managed to procure weapons from them. It has put diplomatic relations with Israel in full throttle ahead since 1992, without Pakistan avidly countering its moves.
Now continued, this approach will only feed the Indo-Israeli alliance to eventually threaten Pakistan’s national security; hence it’s been suggested that normalizing ties with Jerusalem might help to limit the scope of the emerging alliance with Delhi. But in accord of Israel’s recognition, will it provide defence equipment to Pakistan forming a natural axis with India? After all, it is currently selling weapons to both India and China and procuring arms from Israel has definite appeal.
Although Ze'ev Schiff, defence editor of the daily Haaretz stated that "Israel does not view its relationship with India as a step against Pakistan, and proceeds very cautiously in this sphere," we must not play blind to the fact that although Pakistan might be an elephant in comparison, but Israel is the tiny lethal ant as India’s ally and an angry Moses as an open foe.
Another tentative reflection is that increased Israeli diplomatic presence can also be used to apply liberal diplomatic coercing on Israel to take into account its policies toward the Palestinians for its larger and complicated diplomatic presence in that region. But it’s right to do so as an illegitimate state is argued by the opposing camp.
The political messiahs claim that this policy flip flop will jeopardize the Kashmir liberation movement, as both Kashmir and Palestine are occupied territories. So are we rejecting this only because Palestine was taken over by sheer force, by unconstitutional and undemocratic means? Or is it forced occupation along with objectionable policies? Right, perhaps somebody could explain the recognition of India that continues to occupy areas like Goa, Hyderabad Daccan, Juna Garh and Kashmir whilst defying all rules, pacts and agreements. Considered impartiality, is the Indian act of occupation of Kashmir any different from the Jewish act of occupation of land in Palestine. Recognition hardly means automatic approval of a country’s policies!
Pakistan acknowledgment of Israel will influence world politics, diplomatic recognition by a major Muslim country could set off a knock-on effect in the region and help to somewhat melt the enmity held by Muslim countries like Indonesia, Malaysia and Bangladesh etc and undermine the hard-line opposition against Israel.
With its diplomatic presence in Pakistan, it will be able to play a significant role in the geopolitics of South and West Asia. But then regular diplomatic relations with Israel will improve Israel's intelligence gathering in Pakistan, making Pakistan's nuclear assets even more vulnerable to an Israeli or Indian strike. On balance, if present border situations worsen, Pakistan military expects and prepares against a pre-emptive strike on its nuclear facilities from India as well as Israel.
So should we stand warned or take the plunge? Will the proposal floated remain a political whim or will it become a reality? Will Pakistan recognize Israel? Or is the question really ‘when’?