Opinion: Why Pakistan should recognize Israel

"We can no longer blame the US, India and Israel for anything and everything that happens in our country," writer from Pakistan states.

PEOPLE WAVE Pakistani flags at a rally earlier this year. (photo credit: REUTERS)
PEOPLE WAVE Pakistani flags at a rally earlier this year.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Sometimes it becomes inexorable and practical to change the paradigms, let the past stay in the past and forget about historical incidents in order to open doors that lead to peace, prosperity and harmony.
History documents that Pakistan and Israel are never directly involved in hostility or disputes with each other. However, in showing solidarity with Arab countries and in support of Palestine, Pakistan has categorically refused to recognize Israel as an independent state since its inception. Our history books and widespread stereotypes have played a major role in filling our hearts and minds with hatred against Israel.
Considering the cost-benefit analysis and without abandoning support for the Palestinians here are some of the reasons to accord recognition to Israel:
1. To promote regional peace, foster inter-ethnic and interfaith harmony with understanding.
2. The strategic location of Pakistan and geographical location of Israel can definitely complement one another well.
3. To lessen the pressure of difficult neighbors. Such an increase in the list of allies can do wonders.
4. To better Pakistan’s image as a friendly and moderate Islamic state.
5. To boost the economy by building trade relations, importing foodstuffs, cotton, etc., since Israel offers a huge market, and benefiting with the Israeli export of military and agricultural technology.
6. To put an end to hypocrisy, because after devastating wars with India and with the Kashmir issue still unsettled even after scores of years, India was not only accepted as a state but voted a “most favored nation.” On the other side, Pakistan buys ammunition from Israel, lets Israeli products dominate its market and yet is hesitant to accept Israel as free state. (Robert Fisk highlights the arm deals in between Pakistan and Israel in his book The Great War for Civilization.) 7. Pakistan-Israel ties could be an advantageous move as Israel has great influence with the United States and India.
8. Opening academic and cultural exchange opportunities for students.
9. Allowing Muslim and Christian Pakistanis to visit their holy places in Israel.
10. Jews, Muslims and Christians share some commonalities in their faith, which can definitely promote interfaith harmony.
11. By establishing ties Pakistan can influence Israel with regard to resolving the Kashmir issue and can possibly play a part in normalizing relations between Palestine and Israel.
12. Lastly, policies are not decoration pieces. They are meant to change with the growing needs and for the protection of national interests and national security.
Pakistan has not accorded Israel recognition since its inception due to the Palestine issue, and fears that India-Israel connections are working against its security, ultimately affecting the sub-continental balance of power. However, there is dire need to wash out all the stereotypes which have existed in our belief system since our inception.
Firstly, we need to realize that it is not about Jews vs Muslims. It is more Israel vs Palestine, mainly over land disputes. There are nearly 400,000 Palestinian Christians among the sufferers in disputed lands.
Secondly, we can no longer blame the US, India and Israel for anything and everything that happens in our country.
Thirdly, Arab countries enjoy good relations with Israel. Even Turkey – one of our supporters – has good diplomatic relations with Israel. Furthermore, Pakistan extended its full support to some of the Arab countries against Israel, but Pakistan was hardly backed by Saddam Hussein, Yasser Arafat and many other Muslim leaders when Pakistan was in need of support.
Rationally, is there any reason not to have diplomatic relations with Israel? The need of the hour is to realize that Israel didn’t vanish from the map because Pakistan decided not to recognize it. On the other hand, Pakistan is getting nothing out of this rigid stance.
Our own country is riddled with humongous problems and disputes that need to be addressed before we point fingers at Israel’s intrusion into Palestinian land.
Pakistan must not only reassess the realities on the ground, but needs to readjust its diplomatic stance. Logical reasoning, a rational attitude and political maturity need to replace the emotional stance, aggressive slogans and baseless rhetoric. Making such changes democratically will be an uphill task, because foreign policy cannot be formed without consideration for public opinion. Education and balanced media can play major role in deeper understanding of such sensitive issues, issues that should be discussed in parliament, not in roadside restaurants and streets corners.
The author is from Pakistan, and works as a program assistant in the peace-building department of the Diocese of Raiwind-Church of Pakistan.