Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom met with his Pakistani counterpart Khursheed Kasuri in Istanbul Thursday, paving the way for diplomatic ties between the two countries. What do you think? To send us your comments click here. *********************************************** Rebecca Wilkin, Pueblo, CO, USA: Great. Have ties to Pakistan. Just don't trust them. Tariq Shah, San Diego, CA, USA: I welcome the efforts of Gen. Musharraf and Israel to build relations amongst the Abrahamic peoples, but I do hope this will not hurt the formation of a free Palestinian state. However, I look forward to the day when we people from both sides can travel and meet one another. The only other thing that bothers me is when Jewish people feel surprised when someone mentions that the Palestine-Israel conflict is a main source of Islamic terrorism, it is true and Musharraf did not say anything that 99.999% of Muslims around the world would not agree with. Whether right or wrong, fair or not, that is the truth. Anyway, I send best wishes to the Israeli people and hope there wont be any event in the region that sends us back such as if Bibi Netanyahu gets power and takes us all back in time. Iqbal Hussain, Islamabad, Pakistan: Well, establishing ties with a state is not that bad of an idea, but it must be on one's own sweet will and not under someone else's pressure. Time will prove how both the countries establish diplomatic ties, and under what circumstances. Though a very thin number of Pakistanis who called themselves enlightened moderates were excited about the formally opening of links, a majority of Pakistanis were skeptic about the new marriage of convenience. They doubt the United States will use Israel's ties with Pakistan to force the only Islamic nuclear power to persuade brethren Muslim states to recognize the Jewish state. Let's see what happens in the days to come. Jahanzeb Durrani, Islamabad, Pakistan: I think sanity is finally prevailing. This process MUST continue (dialogue with Israel). In fact a lot of information regarding health & agriculture can be exchanged between the two countries. I personally feel that the Jews are the same good people of God as the Muslims, all disputes must and can only be solved by interacting and interfacing. Islam always historically looked after the Jews, take the instance of the reign of the Inquisition in Spain when the Jews along with the Muslims were persecuted by the Inquisition, and the Jews of Spain were given refuge in Turkey by the Ottomans. This can be verified by any body from the records. This is only a small example that there is no animosity inherent towards the Jews by the Pakistanis, I really mean it. Mohammad Jafferany, Minneapolis, Minnesota: I am excited to observe all the new developments between Israel and Pakistan ties. I give my praises to President Musharraf for his brave and courageous steps in attempting to establish potential ties with Israel. Israel is a ground reality. Pakistan has no direct confrontation with the Jewish state. Making bilateral ties could be beneficial not only for both countries but the whole world in general. It would help Israel in establishing relations with other Islamic countries also, as Pakistan is an influential and only nuclear Muslim country on the face of earth. Good Work Israelis and Pakistanis! Keep it up! Farhat Taj, Pakistan: I welcome the recent diplomatic contacts between Pakistan and Israel and wish that full diplomatic relations be established between the two sooner than later. I propose there should be people to people contacts between the two countries, especially in the media, academia, sports, and trade. I understand people in Pakistan need to know more about ordinary Israelis, their culture, their values, their aspirations and ways of life and the same need exists in Israel vis-a-vis ordinary people in Pakistan. I think the need can be addressed by making more direct people to people contacts. As a woman born and raised in Pakistan, I want to tell the people of Israel that most ordinary people in Pakistan are neither terrorists nor Islamic extremists, as some media reports would suggest. They are tolerant and peace-loving human beings. W. Ahmed, Riverside, Calif: It is so good to see so many Pakistanis coming out of their shells and discussing openly the necessity of recognizing the state of Israel. I only wish that they had been more considerate and open to this issue in the early 90's, politically, we would have been in a better position today. Pakistan should have recognized the state of Israel right after the sanctions hit us or should have at least opened the doorway for negotiations with some visible meetings between the dignitaries to release the pressure that was building up. We knew very well by then as to how effective the Israeli lobby was in the U S of A and we did not use our assets to our advantage. India did and put such a strangle hold on us that nobody could hear our screams for a long time. The next moment to open up with Israel came when Ehud Barak made the offer for peace and land to Arafat and Arafat refused it. That was the time for Pakistan to have realized that Arafat was not sane enough to take advantage of the peace plan and resolve the issue with Israel. We were totally blind in our foreign policy as to how we can deal with Israel. We were at a total loss of direction, we were clueless where this senseless issue of follow Palestine at all cost would take us. You could call it a lack of common sense and a lack of leadership on our part. We were, as the saying goes 'being more catholic than the pope'. Sadly one opportunity after the other was lost and India took advantage of every chance that it got to stick the knife in deeper. Nobody heard our screams, for they could care less. Palestinian authorities had done nothing for the cause of Kashmir over the years. They had better relations with India rather than with Pakistan. Israel has produced a masterstroke by not requiring any license for trade with Pakistan. Things are going to move at a very fast pace in the political circles and they will benefit Pakistan as well as Israel in the short as well as the long run. Musharraf has done a tremendous job in getting us from there to here. It is upon us to support him as much as we can and now is the moment to get out of the muck that we were stuck in for a long time. Some of the Pakistanis that are talking negative about the Jews and Israel, to them I would say that they have not openly talked to Jews. They don't have any Jewish friends. They simply don't know who the Jews are. JT, Los Angeles, CA, USA: Israel having diplomatic relations with Pakistan is a sham. Pakistan is a terror state. Tell me, why are many of the Al Qaeda leaders hiding in Pakistan? Perhaps because they have a lot of support from the local populace. They could chose to hide out in other countries, but they chose Pakistan out of thin air. Come on. Of course I can't go on without mentioning the famous Dr. Khan. What a great Pakistani hero. Khan has supplied nuclear technology to Iran and Syria which has undoubtedly helped the security of Israel! Good for the world. Yeah right. Just another pipe dream. The best thing that could happen to Pakistan is Indian atomic bombing the country and turning Pakistan into a parking lot. Sahab, Japan: First of all I would like to praise our president Musharraf on this bold step towards recognizing Israel, and would like to suggest to accept Israel as early as possible, it would be good for the Pakistani image as an educated and peaceful Islamic state. I want to send a message to all our Jewish brothers that don't hesitate to be in Pakistan its your own country we are all brothers as Pakistan is for other Muslims it's for you as well. I, as a student from Pakistan student learning in Japan, welcome Mr. Shalom to go to Pakistan as early as possible with out hesitation to make change for the peace of the world. Jeremy Paton, Oxford, UK: Good for the world, Pakistan, Israel, India and all other countries. A step towards the day when all nations will cooperate in the real war, against hunger. Ashfaque Mohammed Chinioti, Syracuse, NY, USA: Shalom to all Israelis. I am thrilled to see Pakistan and Israel start a dialogue. I have always had good friendships with Jews, and I have a good feeling about a Pakistan-Israel relationship. Also, in my opinion, many people in our countries don't know much about our background or cultures, so we should move slowly. Lets build a foundation for a good and trustworthy relationship. This is only possible if our young people interact with each other. Lets try to remove the misunderstandings that exist between some of our people and may be the media should take a bold step in this regard. Pakistani and Israeli media people should start interacting more. Alex, Jakarta,Indonesia: It is a good start for Israel to begin relations with an Islamic country. This will change public paradigm of the so called stubbornness of Israel towards Islamic countries. I really support this good idea. I pray to God and may all of us get God's blessing. Pakistan is ours and Israel is ours too. No one knows who's right or wrong before God. Let God decide not us as human beings. Have a nice relationship. Kenneth G. Lee, Safford, AZ, USA : I believe it to be very important for not only both countries, but more so for the world to see that not all countries are trying to isolate Israel. The lies spoken against Israel must not be allowed to infiltrate the minds of reasoning men and Pakistan's brave move should put doubt in those who are unsure of the truth. Both countries will prosper from this diplomatic tie. Remember that GOD will bless those who bless Israel and curse those who curse Israel. We must continue to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. Banaras Khan, Islamabad, Pakistan: Pakistan-Israel relations are nothing new. These relations did not have any major political impact in the past and also in future they cannot bring any change in the Middle East's political situation. Pakistan only has contacts with the US-allied governments in the Middle East; it is also the creator of Al-Qaida/Taliban etc. to deter Hizbullah culture by diverting or destroying the minority Sunni Muslim elements in the Middle East that are willing to fight against Israel. Pakistan - with an Ahmadi Sunni Government - cannot influence the Shias who form majority from Yemen to Syria and from Palestine to Afghanistan. This majority has proven to be a real power broker in the region and cannot be ignored in any case. Only Pakistan, with a declared and powerful Shi'ite Government, can play a decisive role in the Middle East by approaching fellow Shi'ites - otherwise it lacks potential to influence the region while Iraqi Shi'ite government has little to do in presence of Powerful Iran. Therefore the Pakistan-Israeli relations cannot be declared as strategic. Afroz Bakht, Dallas, USA: I am really surprised and a bit saddened after reading comments from some of our Indian and Israeli friends. Due to the experiences Israelis had with their neighbors, I can understand the caution or even mistrust expressed by them. But why are our Indian friends so bitter and negative about it? What do they have to lose if an overwhelming majority of Pakistanis want to do away with the mistakes of the past? People in Pakistan now understand the stupidity of the endless conflict between Palestinians and Israel. As reported by the BBC, the so-called Islamist parties called for a rally to protest against this new development. Turn out was about 200 people - in a city of well over 12 millions. As a Pakistani American Muslim, this made me happy and even proud. If this is not the proof that most Pakistanis are tired of baseless hatred injected by the hateful Jihadists in our society, then I do not know what is. Pakistanis, or other Muslims, have nothing to do with this territorial conflict and want to be friendly with the people who have given the world the idea of One-ness of God and the Golden Rule. Though he is technically a dictator, Musharaf is more sincere in killing the beast of intolerance and militancy then many of our politicians are. But he should not stop here. He should recognize Israel without delay. Let the Arabs, ruled by dictators and kings, resolve this mess for which they are to blame (for the most part), and let Pakistan defeat the internal militancy first and then work for the global peace. This will not happen until we recognize that Israel is here to exist; and has a right to exist as any other nation does; and a right to defend its citizens and its border from the brainwashed killing themselves and innocent civilians. Shalom and Salam to All. James Price, Haymarket, Virginia, USA: I agree entirely with Caroline Glick's recent JPost column on this subject ("Our World: Our Pakistani pals"). This relationship is as toxic as the one Israel established with the Palestinian Authority 12 years ago and was done with the same self-delusion. Caplin, USA: This is wonderful! Israel and Pakistan should become allies, because they are both sons of Abraham. Also, Arabs and Pakistanis are not the same - they are different culturally, politically, and, to an extent, religiously. Jews and Muslims will become closer as time goes on. Hopefully, relations between all religions will become better as our world progresses toward peace and reliance on G-d. Serge, Merksem, Belgium: I traveled twice in Pakistan and found there a beautiful country with welcoming and generous people. Talks between the two countries will benefit both, and should not be at expense of India or the Palestinians, on the contrary. Pakistan zindabad ! Ryan, Canada: I am a very big supporter of relations between Pakistan and Israel. We don't have big issues to solve, so why can't we live and recognize each other as one? Drew Alfonso, Kissimmee Fl: I don't think making friends with Pakistan is such a good idea. They probably want to make friends and than hurt Israel. Muslim nations hate Israel. Ikram, Sargodha, Pakistan: We should have recognized Israel much earlier. Now this is too little too late for Pakistanis. Better relations with Israel are something we, the majority of Pakistanis, want. No reason I see why we are still hesitant to come closer to Israel. Now, we want that this relationship to flourish by leaps and bounds. Asif Siddiqui, Kennesaw, Georgia: A very positive and much needed step taken by Pakistan that hopefully would pave the way for recognition of Israel and formal diplomatic relations between the two counties. There is a lot in common between the two nations and direct bi-lateral relations would be a good initial step in promoting trade and cultural ties between the two. I would like to see more high-level public meetings between the officials of Pakistan and Israel, trade and commerce agreements, cultural visits, education exchange programs, cooperation in science and technology and maybe joint military exercises. I wish the best for the people of Israel. Saif, Lahore, Pakistan: First of all my heartiest wishes to the people of Israel....I am not a politician, and not interested in politics, don't know what's the motive between Mr. Musharif but whatever is the case this is the right direction. I do not agree with the idea of "we accept you, if you do this" policy. I think our government should accept Israel Promptly without any delay. Being a silent observer I blame the British and the American for this Palestine-Israel mess, back in 1948 they could have settled this issue much more intelligently. This is the home of the Jews and has always been and there is no doubt about it. Reading the level of hatred and mistrust in this forum against us (Muslims and Pakistanis in particular) is not so pleasing. Fellows have you ever visited Pakistan and met the Pakistani common man. If not try it they don't bite. As far as Islam goes...there is no moderate or fanatic versions of it, there is only one Islam, and whether you like / admit or not, Islam is a very peaceful religion. I live in this country that everyone calls a terrorist state. Again wrongly accused, I lived here all my life and believe me it's a nice and free country. These fanatics psuedo Muslims are a pain in the neck of the locals as well, nobody likes them here. I have the first hand experience of these Pseudo Muslims, who in the name of the religion, kill. In my early youth, I was approached by these organizations in the name of Jihad and that time they were Americans and everyone's favorite. And moreover at that time world powers were more busy looking for new enemies. When they presented their ideology, it didn't even make slightest sense to me. I was lucky to have a good and rational understanding of Islam at an early age and moreover being a lover of books I was never interested in living a commando life. So my friends please stop abusing and blaming Islam without any reason. It's not Islam that is to blame for this mess around the word. AS far as India is concerned I always look at it as my own country or at least the closest relative and I was really excited when India and Pakistan shook hands. But tell me something, Indians if you hate us so much then why on earth you people are trying to become our friends. Is this not double standards? The bottom line is that we need to change our attitude towards each other and let not our children experience the hatred which destroyed half of life. Wish everyone a good luck. Let's be optimistic. Bill, Canada: Building relationships is always a positive step. HOWEVER, I find it somewhat two-faced for there to be "conditions" for recognition, given that Pakistan, and Great Britain were the ONLY countries to recognize and approve Jordan's annexation of the West Bank effectively precluding any sort of Palestinian state. As well, Pakistan did vote AGAINST UN General Assembly Resolution 194 back in 1948, but now is among those who proclaim the "right of return". So let it be seen as a positive first step, but there needs to be something other than unthinking automatic lock-step compliance with every action against Israel, and some public denunciation of the ilk of Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Yaakov Zelig, Formerly New Orleans: It won't last. As soon as Israel retaliates for a terrorist incident or if Israel should refuse to surrender Judea and Samaria en toto, then Pakistan will renege. Derek John, Vancouver, Canada: As a staunch supporter of Israel I applaud the brave decision by the Pakistani president to establish diplomatic relations with Israel. However, the extension of the Islamic hand of friendship I should be taken with a grain of salt and Israel should goose step and not rush headlong into this relationship. It should take time and analyze the underlying reasons for this sudden overture. On the other hand, India trying to belittle this relationship smacks of hypocrisy. India has been one of Israel's foremost adversaries in the U.N and the Indian claim that Jews were never persecuted in India, is only because the Jews were miniscule in numbers and posed no threat to the Hindu fanatics. All other major religions (such as Christians, Muslims, Sikhs and Buddhists) of significant numbers have been brutally subjugated and persecuted by the Indians. Fanatical Muslims and fanatical Hindus are two sides of the same coin and that is why Israel should not fall into a trap by these perpetual enemies. Peter Dalton, Miami: It is a profound statement when the normalization of relations between Israel and another Islamic state occures. Nothing but the best of hopes can come of the relationship. It will make both nations stronger and the persute of peace and security for each nation will be easier with partners like Pakistan. Pakistan was the first nation to come to the aid of the United States after September 11 2001. Pakistan has also been a world player in the UN Peacekeeping operations as seen in East Timor and Somalia. It would do Israel a great service to see the Kashmir conflict resolved peacefully as it would be a great service to see a world player like Pakistan help in ensure the peaceful existence of the Israeli State. Jesper Oesterhaab Mogensen, Aarhus, Denmark : I hope that the ties will not be to closed. I would rather prefer ties to India. Zafar, Pakistan : First of all as a Pakistani I can assure you that we accept Israel as country and right to live in peace. I also believe that Palestinian people should also get their own country and both Israel and Palestinian should live in peace. I strongly support Israel-Pakistan talks. I ask one question to anyone who is opposed to this Relationship, What have Israel done to us (Pakistan)? Nothing, SO why should we not be friends with Israel? Watch, WE WILL BE. To all those against this relationship.... Israel is doing something good please support it. Israelis are human beings also and don't forget that in the Quran God ordered us to believe in the Tora. To all Israel: You all are welcome! Tom Mason, Canada: Israel is ill advised to cozy up to Pakistan, an Islamic nation who strives to see Israel exterminated. Remember the Wooden Horse Of Troy!! Strictly business, no problem, but weapon sales to Pakistan will end up in the hands of their friends the PA. Biblical prophecy tells us Islam will attack Israel to claim Jerusalem at a near future date. Beware. Kalyan, Rajahmundry, India:The Gaza pullout decision is not an outcome of persuasion of any body from out side Israel. It is well known to everyone and obvious that Israelis never changed their positions(read "gave away land") on instructions from outside Israel. When the Israelis made a decision to leave Gaza, that is a strategic decision. Borne out of necessary situations. they are spending too much to protect the Gaza settlements. the costs just outweighed the benefits. Israelis strongly believe that, in this era of modern diplomacy, there are no permanent friends or foes, but only Interests are permanent. And it is in its own interests that they took this decision. Forming new diplomatic ties with Muslim countries is only a fallout of this. Pakistan has chosen a convenient time and excuse to the Arab world under the guise of the Gaza withdrawal. Ahmed Fawad Zakaria, Lahore, Pakistan : Many Indians who claim on this forum that the Pakistani masses are very anti-Semitic seem to have a very intimate knowledge of Pakistanis. Surely, they have mingled and talked to many Pakistanis all across the length and breadth of Pakistan and have also conducted countless surveys across all classes of Pakistani society. WHAT NONSENSE! It seems that Indians have nothing better to do than post their useless boring comments that do not add to the intellectuality of the debate at all. Living and Having lived in Pakistan all my life, I can offer a more authoritative picture. Let us be clear on one account: Pakistanis in general do not have any hostility towards the Jews and the comments by Pakistanis here reflect that sentiment. However, Pakistanis do object strongly to Israeli policies towards the Palestinians such as house demolitions, building of settlements, and overall lack of progress towards the Middle East peace process. Thus the differences are on state policy and not on race or religious prejudice. Another point to be emphasized is that Pakistan is not a country full of bloodthirsty terrorists. This is a perception that has been arrived at through the subjective focus by CNN, Fox NEWS, and other news outlets on 0.001% of the people who are indeed crazy. To all those people who have been had, I say, come and visit Lahore (Pakistan) and check out the latest Pakistani fashion, pop music, cricket craze, and people busy eating in quality restaurants! American food chains such as McDonald's, Pizza Hut, Subway, KFC, and Chicago Grill are all here. There must be at least 15 McDonald's restaurants just in the city of Lahore! Suicide bombings or fighting seems to be the furthest thing from the mind of the people here as young people here are more interested in getting the next pirated American movie on DVD or flocking to gyms to become like Schwarzennegger or rushing to take their SAT exams to get into US universities. With these activities, when there is a wholesale labeling of Pakistanis as terrorists, it is indeed laughable. Pakistan has to be the most unfairly represented nation on earth. One more point is that although Musharraf is theoretically a dictator but he seems to generally have his hands on the pulse of the people more often than not. The assumption that any Pak-Israel dialogue will not outlast Musharraf's tenure is pure rubbish. This conclusion is supported by Pakistanis' comments on this forum, the support that democratic parties have extended to this move, and the generally approving mood of the Pakistani public on the streets regarding this policy of engaging Israel. Navin Pai, India:This is good news. This will go a long way in increasing stability in the region. Only beware this should not lead to competition between countries to get closer to each other otherwise this will lead to escalation in tensions between countries in the middle. Abed Saedeh, Monterey Park, USA: It is about time for a radical change in the middle East Let us start to think about people, not 500 meters of land here and there, we are the sons of Abraham, we should love each other, let us start a new chapter, how long are we going to kill each other? This is a good start. Hamid Khan, USA:I think it is good for both countries people that they can understand each other. People of Pakistan do not hate Israeli people it was just a basic principal. Now every thing looks fine why not two great nations can become friends. Only India needs to worry about its dirty game that it is playing for a long time. Pakistan is a US ally for 58 years India always sided with Russia. India's glory is over now. India needs to worry about its game. Israel and Pakistani people have one grand father Abraham and one god and that's it. God bless USA Israel and Pakistan. V Kashmiri, Richmond, USA: I am surprised by this outpouring of joy over these ties by the Pakistanis on this forum, given that in private they blame everything from 9/11 to global warming on Zionist conspiracy. As for the Israelis on this forum lecturing Indians on their history, forget the past, look at the present and the future. The truth is Israel needs India more than India needs Israel. Name: Adnan Raja City and Country of residence: Chicago, USA E-Mail: email@example.com Message: Adnan Raja, Chicago, USA: I think its about time - both Israel and Pakistan were born out of similar ideoligies a year from each other. And as far as religion is concerned, Islam and Judaism seem to be the closest in terms of practices and codes of life. The reason why apparently 99.9% of Pakistanis on this forum are in favor of relations with Israel is that we have had a deep respect for Israel for a long time and we admire how she has managed to survive and prosper when surrounded by enemies through multiple wars. It shows resilience, strength and resolve - and we salute that. The only thorn on the side is when we hear an innocent Palestinian was killed by Israeli fire - that brings a tear to my eye but so does the news of an Israeli bus exploding with a suicide bomber. None of this is necessary. I send my best regards to the Israeli people and hope you can one day receive the hospitality of Pakistan's people on a visit to Pakistan - having been raised in Islamabad, I know you will be overjoyed. Hamid Hussain, Peshawar, Pakistan: Pakistan-Israel dialogue is in the best interest of many countries and is a reality. I am just sure that there is a great will among most people of Pakistan to built a solid relationship with Israel. Both nations have lived in fear of a big neighbor and survival has been difficult. So in a way being a Pakistani, I can understand the frustrations of ordinary Israelis as well. I do appeal to Palestinians to stop suicide bombings, respect the common Israeli individual, live peacefully, constructively and accept Israel as a reality. The Palestinians must learn history first and the fact that Israel is an ancient homeland of the Jewish people. They should realize that 90% of the prophets they believe in are Hebrew historical figures (e.g. Noah, David, Solomon, Jacob and Moses to name a few). Cynically looking, there are differences as well but they are far less than differences between say e.g. Christianity and Judaism or Hinduism and Judaism or Buddhism and Judaism. Some Hindus e.g. are very anti-semitic and practically hate every semitic religion. But in the current global village after all Israel and India do get along. So why cant the Muslim nations and Israel get along? I don't really see any reason except for the Arab ego to accept Israel. Its very similar to what the right wing fundamentalist RSS preaches in India in regards to Pakistan. I do have many Indian friends and I am surprised to see them oppose Pak-Israel talks. I guess they don't respect Israel that much after all and it's more a give-and-take relationship. Pakistan has its fundamentalists too but luckily they are few who always have been rejected in elections. There was no fundamentalism in Pakistan before the Afghan war. I guess we are paying a harsh price for that war. I hope for a better future of all nations. Regards to all! Khurram Zubairi, Atlanta, USA: It was great to read the what our Indian counterparts have been writing in regards to Pakistani-Israeli relations. I think it is a great move by both countries in normalizing relations, it is about time. On the other hand Indians are acting like little children and showing their true colors, that what efforts the Indian and Pakistani governments are doing in normalizing the relations Pakistani's can not trust the Indian people as the can not once have something positive to say about Pakistan, as we can all see that this is a move in the right directions and should be supported by all. Khalid Rahim, Toronto, Canada:I look forward to a positive response from the Saudi ruler towards Pakistan's move to establish relations with Israel. For decades Pakistan ignored the reality of Israel's place in the world forum.Just as Pakistan awoke from a deep slumber.I hope all factions in this turbulent land cast away shadows of hate and recognize each others right to live with equal rights. Ali Naqvi, Sydney, Australia: I find it obligatory to congratulate the government of Pakistan to come to their senses and took a bold step in the right direction. I would have been much more delighted if it would have come from an elected government. It is about time that Pakistan should shun their adopted policy of militancy and engage in meaningful dialogue. Leo Solomon, Nahariya, Israel: Our representatives should stop behaving like grateful puppies every time our adversaries throw us a bone. Inflating what has been achieved may enhance a politicians image, but it has the negative effect, for Israel, of making us seem needful and weak. We should move ,in a more circumspect way, towards amity with Pakistan so as to not put our growing friendship with India at risk. Ahmed Raza, Reading, England: Since Israel is bringing changes towards their policies, its time for Muslim countries to extend their hand for friendship. This is a step in the right direction. This should not be at the expense of Palestinian cause, however; I feel that as honest friends with Israel, we can persuade them for a peaceful settlement. As far as the Israel-Pakistan relationship is concerned, it's a bold step taken by both the countries. Hopefully other Muslim countries will follow. Also, this will help in eliminating terrorism from the world. I wish Pakistan and Israel all the best and hope that their friendship will bring positive results. Alexander Werner, Toronto, Canada: My question is to all Pakistanis: why are diplomatic relations between Israel and Pakistan linked by many to the territorial conflict between Israel and Palestinians? Obviously this link is based on religion, as there little in common between Pakistanis and Arabs, and, as I learnt from this forum, little sympathy exists between your peoples. If so, why does Pakistan maintain diplomatic relations with Russia, whose treatment of other Muslims (Chechens) is really rough and much worse than treatment of Palestinian Arabs by Israel. Remember that Israeli Arabs enjoy the same rights in Israel as Jews and try to immigrate to Israel by all possible means. Why do Pakistani people place faith before fairness? Peace is good for everyone. Kuldip, Chicago, IL, USA: It's good if Pakistan comes close to Israel, at least then Pakistan will accept the diplomatic policies of Israel, which now it loves to hate. In response to this, perhaps Israel will grant some billions of dollars to this terrorist nation. Pakistan loves to hate India for an unknown reason; maybe it tries to come out from the shadow of India. Perhaps Pakistan, when looking back, find themselves Hindu, as they feel their existence on earth is only 56 years old and that cause them to go at any extent to do anything against India. Anyways, ties with Israel will be good for this world too - then at least Pakistan can be easily monitored and suppressed if tries to get involved in any type of terror against India or the USA. Peter Sm, Mebourne, Australia: If Hamas objects to Israeli/Pakistani talks they must be good. They are terrified of any Israeli legitimacy. The radical left, their apologists, agree. It does not fit into the Hamas covenant for the destruction of Israel. Syed Ahmer Kamal, Chicago, USA: Shalom To All Israelis. It's very heartening to see Pakistani government making the right move. As a Pakistani living in United States, I appreciate the move of both the governments. I suggest that Pakistan should recognize Israel as soon as possible. The state of Israel is a reality and Jewish people have a right to live peacefully. I seriously think that Pakistan can play a very significant role in solving Israeli- Palestinian conflict if it has diplomatic ties with Israel. If Pakistan does not establish full diplomatic ties with Israel, then it cannot play any role in the resolution of this conflict. The next step should be for Pakistan to use its diplomatic channels with major Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, Malaysia, Indonesia, etc. and persuade them to recognize Israel. I think if all Muslim countries recognize Israel and end the constant sense of insecurity that Israelis feels from Muslims, then Israelis will be more willing to form a viable Palestinian state. The Muslim world should remember that if Israel is not assured its right of existence, then there can be no Palestinian state. As far as comments on Indian readers are concerned, it makes all of the reasonable people think that is why Indian interests are at stake whenever Pakistan develops friendly relations with any state. Indians feels threatened anytime Pakistan buys weapons or develops relations with any state. Israel should remember India is not a major Muslim country, it is Pakistan who can play a very critical role in making other Muslim countries recognize Israel. Israel should have to go back to pre-1967 war position, though, if it wants all Muslim countries to recognize it. Kalyan, Rajahmundry, India: There is not much that either Israel or Pakistan gains from having relations with each other. On Israel's part, all it can expect is that one of the Muslim nations - in this case Pakistan - will tone down its adversity of the Jewish state, at least diplomatically. And on Pakistan's part, materially or otherwise, they achieve nothing but growing alarm and protests from its people, who generally are always hostile to the very notion of talking to a Jew, let alone having diplomatic relations. Shahid Bashir, Atlanta, USA: Why are Indians being so paranoid? We know for sure that they are absolutely scared of the full capability nuclear strength and massive military power of Pakistan. Initially they thought that Pakistan could be subdued as they did to Nepal, Bhutan, Sikkim, etc. - their neighbors. When it came to Pakistan, they soon found out that India could be thrashed and comprehensively whipped if India tried any foolish venture... So is the case with Israel. After coming into existence in 1948, all the so-called goody-goody neighbors thought they could overrun it by military force, economic and political pressure. The outcome is clear. India and the goody-goody neighbors of Israel: Beware and wake up. Israel and Pakistan are the only two very proud ideological states in the world and surely not Nepal, Bhutan, Sikkim etc. of their region... All must understand very clearly that it is in Israel's interest to be friends with Pakistan and vice versa. It is the fanatic Hindu who are screaming their heads off as they see friendships developing between Muslims and Jews. It is the fanatic radical Hindus who feel insecure. That is what you read in this readers' column. No Pakistani is afraid of India. We pray and hope Israel and Pakistan become good friends. This will help Israelis learn more about the moderate Muslims more, as compared to their so-called goody-goody neighbors. Pakistanis have lots of experience with their forked tongued goody-goody neighbor. Max Rapaport, Israel: A number of factors seem to militate against these ties. In particular, official ties with Pakistan would greatly erode Israel's financial and military relationship with India, which could cost both the Israeli government and individual Israeli companies billions of dollars in economic damage. Further, official ties would almost definitely result in an increased terrorism risk by militant Pakistani Muslims hell-bent on destroying the relationship. Finally, we need to look at the Pakistani government's military policies, and in particular, its cavalier attitude towards nuclear proliferation, and its unsavory nuclear bedfellows (i.e. Iran and North Korea). This alone should cause Israel to wince at official ties! At most, there should be a gradual opening up of non-military trade between the two countries, and an unofficial (yet firm) and bilateral commitment to avoiding incendiary rhetoric. Given the potential landmines and given Israel's current (and, hopefully, future) economic ties to India, diplomatic ties to Pakistan may cause far more trouble than they are worth. Unlike the US, Israel cannot afford to choose both sides. Hassun Shareef, Karachi: It is not surprising that Indians are generally not happy with rapprochements between Israel and Pakistan. Pakistan may not be a billion-person country (400 million in poverty); it is nevertheless the second most populous Muslim nation in the world. In the next 40 years, it will be the fourth most populous nation and the largest (in terms of population) Muslim country. Indians for some reason are still stuck in the 60s figures in terms of population when they state India is more populous (Muslims) than Pakistan. Who is more populous is not the point. What are the similarities between Pakistanis and Israelis? Hmm a lot, for starters. Israelis, or Jews in general, are "people of the book". For that reason they are closer to our hearts than any other non-Muslim. Add to that dimension our lifestyles, which are so similar. Our familial mannerisms, our eating habits, our customs, our food, our importance to the singularity of God, our belief in David, Moses, Abraham, and on and on. There are so many similarities are affinities that it is sometimes beyond me why we are so quick in finding differences. It's these very similarities that allowed Jews to live in the holy-land for hundreds of years as Muslims ruled those lands. Yes there are issues, Palestine being the singular issue. Move that aside and Jews and Muslims are the closets religious groups in the world. This is also why perhaps that Pakistanis and Jews in countries like the US or UK get along so well. Ask many Pakistanis, and they will tell you fondly about these relationships. I for one had a Jew as my best friend throughout college. And my aunt and cousins also happen to be Jewish (uncle married a Jewish lady from Brooklyn). My view is that Pak-Israel friendship is here to stay. There will be many on all sides that do not want this to happen, but it will. And Pakistan and Israel are going to be strong true friends. And there will be troubling times in the future, but over time Israel will prove herself a strong friend as will Pakistan. All of this is not instead of India, but in spite of India. India should not make her relationship to Israel contingent upon Pak-Israeli relationship. It smacks of an adolescent nation not comfortable with herself, and is wrong and injurious to Israel. That is not what friends do. Samuel Cohen, USA: Yes we should be circumspect in all our relations. However, can all the Indians posting here explain their relationships (stronger - that the Pakistanis) with countries like Libya, Syria, Iraq, and with the PLA? Can Indians explain why Libya was caught committing terrorism in Pakistan during the cold war in Afghanistan working closely with Indian Intelligence? Can Indians explain why Iraqi diplomatic pouches were caught by the Paks with arms and bombs for saboteurs in Pak working with the Indian Intelligence RAW? Can Indians explain why they worked with Assad in Syria against the Paks? Can Indians explain why currently and in the recent past even after befriending Israel they continue to supply Iran with nuclear know-how, signed a strategic naval berthing agreement with Iran (when Pak itself has done no such thing - even though they have a religious affinity with Iran)? Can Indians explain why they allow Hitlerish groups like RSS with their concepts of Hinduvta and the purity of the Aryan nation to become mainstream and part of Indian education? Can Indians explain why many of them in the past and to this day support Hilter's views? I think the answers, or lack thereof, are some of the reasons why Israel and Pak can be friends. So Indians need to be more honest about their own ugly closets... Raj Bhatia, Mountain View, USA: This is no big deal. The full-fledged relationship when established will look exactly like the Egypt-Israel relations of today; frigid, devoid of any substance or commonality of interests or tastes, and pretty much useless to Israel. The substance of any robust relationship you see, goes beyond syrupy words. Comparing it with relations between India and Israel is a chalk and cheese scenario. There is no history of near bestial violence between Jews and Hindus. No Hindu scripture indulges in active Jew baiting. The primary threat to Hindu and Jewish lives comes from Islamic terrorists. Thus the security and economic framework for co-operation falls into place bottom up, from the people to the governments. Please go ahead and establish formal relations. It would benefit a few lazy bureaucrats who can land cushy embassy appointments. Hassan Fatyana, Toronto, Canada: While living in Canada, I'm inspired by the diversity, and the way we show our heartiest respect and tolerance to our fellow people who came here from nearly all countries, and different ethnic and religious background. So why can't this happen on the other parts of this planet? Let's look to the future, Pakistan and Israel, along with the West should join hands together to eliminate the menace of extremism and hate. They must work together on the basis of mutual respect to create harmony, tolerance and a healthy environment for our children and fellow citizens. Both countries should utilize their potential to enhance co-operation in the fields such as health, education, globalization, commerce and trade. I convey my best wishes and salam to the people of Israel. Go ahead, and good luck! R Sridhar, Harrisburg, USA: Looks like many Pakistanis are having orgasms at the evolving Pak-Israeli ties. Welcome to the world of real politics, but knowing the level of anti-Semitism in Pakistan, its ruler Musharraf has a long way to go if he really means business. For Israel, it is the right political move, what would be better than to have a Muslim country at its side, and if that country is a nuclear state, even better. By having good relations with Pakistan, Israel would like to wean them away from Iran. Israel's worst fear is that Pakistani's nuclear weapons would somehow find its way into Iran. Ujjal: It feels good when our Pakistani "friends" are flooding with feelings of "I love Israel" and "Shalom", not flame baiting. But most of them are from the US campuses, its widely known to all, and myself being a member of the university Hillel, that the very same people are the most Anti-Semitic people you would find anywhere in the world. What they expect is some kind of way of balancing ties between Israel and India vis- -vis "Israel and Pakistan," and that Israel would do the needful to achieve that goal. They expect to get weapons and what not. I'm tired of all this. Israel knows who can backstab them and who won't. Although, I fully support any country's relationship with Israel, but I think Israel shouldn't beg for some kind of "recognition". It's a country, end of the story. Stop caring whether someone recognize you or not, Israel. M.A. Butt, Qatar: Finally a dream comes true- the meeting between Foreign Ministers of Israel and Pakistan. I always supported diplomatic relations with Israel, as I believe that violence and war are never going to be a permanent solutions of Middle East problems. We, after years of violence, must understand that the best way to solve the issues are to engage with each other, and not isolate, it never works. Recent protest and low turn out against the foreign ministers meeting are a clear indication that majority of Pakistani's support the President on this issue, and the world must recognize majority of Pakistanis are peace loving people, who love peace loving people of every faith, after all we are human beings first. Syed Haaris Baig, Pakistan: I welcome the dialogue between Israel and Pakistan. Hopefully it will lead to positive developments in mutual relations between the two countries. I propose that Israel and Pakistan should allow student exchange programs to study our cultures and countries. Ishaac Moosa Akhir, Karachi, Pakistan: I am a doctor at a local hospital in Karachi, Pakistan. My family background is Sephardic Jewish and I know approximately 10 Jewish families who have lived in Karachi for 200 years or so. Just last week was the Bar Mitzvah of my son Dawod Akhir. I must convey to the Israeli people that Pakistani society is in general very generous and my families have never had any problems here. We live in full freedom and enjoy excellent friendships with many people here in Karachi. I welcome the talks, as I feel it will give me an opportunity to visit Israel if indeed diplomatic relations are established between Pakistan and Israel. Pakistanis are a wonderfully diverse and mixed culture, with central Asian and Indian heritage. I have been to India as well, though I found Indian society to be less tolerant, highly emotional and more anti-Semitic. Pakistanis respect people of all faiths because it is a doctrine of their Sufi version of Islam, which is very different from Arab Wahhabism. A minority (particularly in NWFP part of Pakistan) follow a form of Islam close to Wahhabism, but 90% of Pakistani society is very moderate or liberal. My message of peace to all in Israel. Best wishes for Pakistan-Israel friendship. I.M. Akhir Naeem, Canada: After reading Naresh's article all I can say is wow! This man is nervous. Is he trying to blackmail Israel? It almost seems as though he is saying that if you become friends with Pakistan, the Indians will hate you. But are not Indians and Pakistanis trying to be friends too? Mr. Naresh wants to know what Israelis and Pakistanis have in common? I can tell Mr. Naresh for what it's worth. Both Israelis and Muslims consider themselves to be sons of Abraham. We both believe in Moses. We are both circumcised. We both eat kosher/halal meat. We do not worship statues. We believe in one God. Mr. Naresh, should I go on, or is that enough? But most importantly, as a Muslim of Pakistani origin, I believe sincerely, politics aside, that both of our countries were carved out for the same reason. We have very much in common. No disrespect to you Mr. Naresh, but you will not even drink water or eat from the same utensils as a Jew because of your beliefs. Be that as it may, I am confounded. Why would you object to good relations between any nations? I would be the happiest person if all nations developed peaceful and friendly relations. After all, we are living in a global village. How long should this hatred go on? I am looking forward to the day when an Israeli can visit Pakistan and vice versa. Let us all move forward towards peace and respect of all humanity. Shalom and Salaam to all. Shameem Khan, Karachi, Pakistan: Shalom to all Israelis from Karachi! I sincerely hope for a better and prosperous future for the Israeli people. If there is a hope, there is a way. Let's remain positive and encourage the positive forces of our countries. P.S. Indians, please don't be jealous and post stupid messages on this forum. You are being exposed. Sandeep Gupta, Mumbai, India: Personally, I, being a Hindu, never really understood Israel's policy of occupying Arab land. This is very similar to how Muslims occupied our Hindu lands. I personally sympathize with Arabs more. Pakistan and Israel are quite alike. Honestly, I don't like both countries. They are small and a nuisance to their neighbors. They can go ahead and make contacts with each other, as it doesn't make any difference whatsoever to India. Naeem, Canada: As a Muslim of Pakistani origin, I have always believed in shaking an extended hand even if it was a hand of an enemy. And Israel was not an enemy to Pakistan. I am glad to see that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is moving in the right direction. There has to be a fair share of that land. A viable Palestinian state is absolutely essential for Israel's survival. While Israel is resolving its issues with the Palestinian people, I am glad that Pakistan and Israel have taken the first step towards establishing diplomatic relations. In many ways the country and people are similar. Both are based on ideologies and both were made out of a country that was in existence before. Both also understand and know why it was necessary. While I do not appreciate or condone Israel's heavy-handedness against innocent Palestinians, which is deplorable, I understand Israel's right to survival in peace and harmony. With peace Israel will become a greater nation. Pakistan has enough moderates to take the lead and show the rest of the Islamic World that Israel can be a friend. We can marry Jews so why can't we be friends with a Jewish nation? As friends we may be able to exert some influence on Israel to do the right thing and also to show Israel that they have sincere friends that they can count on who will not allow fanatics or extremism to harm them. It is a beginning of a new day and I hope and pray that both these counties become good friends. After all we are both followers of Abraham. Batya Dagan, Los Angeles, California, USA: Pakistan did not fall in love with Israel all of a sudden. Pakistan sees its archenemy India enjoying and benefiting from relations with Israel, so it wants to do the same. At the end of the day it is all about what is good for one's country. This is why Israel established relations with Germany. This is why Israel wants relations with all the Arab countries. The trick is to get the non-radical Muslim governments to make peace with Israel. By doing so, Muslim terror will find itself pushed out and downright rejected in the Muslim world as it is now almost everywhere else. The Muslim countries will be the first to benefit from calm and non-violence, and Israel will be right behind. Rick S., Los Angeles, California, USA: Israel should look to establish diplomatic relations with all countries. India should not feel betrayed since it has close relations with most of Israel's enemies including the Palestinians and Iran. Prakash, USA: Having long been a supporter of Israel and Israel-India ties, I have nothing against Israel having ties with anyone. I am sure that they are smart enough to figure out who their friends are and who they are not. I know enough about Israel to know that they choose their friends carefully, so if they decide on Pakistan, it will be after a lot of deliberation and not some simple offhand decision. It will not affect India-Israel ties, provided India does not mess up. It is up to India now to do a better job of proving how good a friend it is. Sami, New York, USA: In 1948, 2,500 Pakistani Jews were forced to flee after synagogues were burnt and Jews attacked. Many in Pakistan remain very anti-Semitic, and that includes some of the educated elite. Christians are killed in their churches, Shi'ite Muslims are murdered in their mosques by the Sunni majority, and Ismailis (followers of the Agha Khan) are discriminated against. Hopefully the Pakistani public will change their anti-Semitic attitudes about Jews, but this will take time. We should shake the hands of those who offer their friendship but we should still look over our backs. Relations with Pakistan - who gave nuclear secrets to Iran and helped the Taliban - must not be at the expense of our good relations with India, a country that never persecuted its Jewish population. Imran Raza, Milan: I am Pakistani living in Milan, Italy. Future relations with Israel no doubt depend upon independence of Palestine. So the meeting between foreign ministers or between presidents doesn't do anything. What is important is the Palestine issue, as already mentioned by President Musharraf in his recent statement, and the foreign policy of Pakistan. Alan Epstein, New York, NY: If Pakistan wants normal diplomatic relations and all that entails for the relations' own sake, I definitely room this is worth it. However, if this is a reward for destruction of Jewish communities in Gaza (and there is so much upheaval in Pakistan already over mere talks between the foreign ministers), then the proud and dignified Jews do not need a bone thrown at them by the Islamic world that Pakistan happens to represent at this time. A great deal of Muslims would love us if we continue to make more concessions, until there is nothing left. What's the sense of this all then? Salman Zahidi, Karachi, Pakistan: It was heartening to know that finally Pakistan & Israel have engaged diplomatically. To me there was no reason that Pakistan should accept Israel since there is no direct conflict between the two. However it's an open secret that both countries have had secret contacts, since Israel never opposed any of Pakistan's resolution over Kashmir over the years and Pakistan has never offered any kind of military offers to Iraq, Palestine or Iran. I think that by having diplomatic relations, Pakistan can directly urge Israel to resolve the Palestinian issue. Dan Pankowsky, Nashville, TN: Years ago when I was in graduate school, there was a very large number of both Indian and Pakistani students in my group and this was the first exposure I had to both them as friends and colleagues. When I asked a small group of my friends including both Indians and Pakistanis one evening about that they told me something that has stayed with me ever since: "Countries go to war, people don't". Muslims and Jews need to talk to each other -- desperately. Pakistan, with its close ties to the rest of the Muslim world, can play a critical role in opening real interaction and dialogue between Israel and the Muslim world. I hope and pray that this is the start of great things that will benefit us all. Ahsan, PAKISTAN: No matter what the president of our country does regarding betterment of relations or to ease the tension between Israel and Pakistan, the fact is this - nothing can be done. All Pakistanis hate Jews. We will never recognise Israel as an independent state. We all hate you. Fateh, Pakistan: I just want to say that all the Pakistanis who wish good relations with Israel must not forget that we are committed to solidarity with the Palestinians, who are our blood and whose blood is spilled every day by Israel. We have kept that bond for more than 50 years with Palestinians and we can not give that away just like that. Pakistan doesn't need Israel, even if we do have diplomatic relations with Israel they will never be sincere with Pakistan. India will always have an edge, why take this risk anyway? I have apprehensions about Israel and its motives. I also know that they have equipped India up to its teeth with modern weapons which God forbid can be used against us. I also recall that during our last 2 wars, which includes Kargil, Israel was guiding India to take down our planes and helping them logistically. I am not against peace and good relations with Israel but all that should come ONLY after the Palestinian issue is resolved peacefully. Shaun, Surrey, UK: Question to Israel - Why in the world you are rejoicing shaking hands with a rogue state? For starters here is a quick profile of your new-found friend: 1. Establishment of Taliban regime in Afghanistan by Pakistan. 2. Many trails for 9/11 investigation ending in Pakistan. 3. 7/7 bombers graduated in Masters of Bomb Making in Pakistan. 4. Dr. Khan nuclear shop's clientele includes Libya, Iran, North Korea and perhaps Bin Laden. 5. Sponsoring terrorism in Kashmir. 6. Musharraf's coup on democratic government. Khalid Khan, Toronto, Canada: This is one of best foreign policies to come out of Pakistan. As a Pak-Canadian citizen, I salute this move. Politically, there are issues that need to be resolved by Israel. But we have nothing against the Israelis or the Jews. We both have a small percentage of people against this move, but this will diminish over the time when we both start to see the real fruit of this friendship in the future. Sam, Ra'anana, Israel: I was surprised and delighted to see the overwhelming support for Pakistan-Israel relations from the readers in Pakistan. Everyone in Israel is excited and delighted. The story was front-page news in Israel, and reported very positively in the Israeli press. I think very few Israelis saw this coming, but everyone is positive about it. Musharraf will be under a lot of pressure from Islamic extremists in coming months to avoid the establishment of formal diplomatic relations with Israel. With the vocal support of Pakistanis, Musharraf can succeed. Joseph Levy, NY, USA: I welcome talks between Israel and Pakistan. India, on the other hand, is an important partner, though it must realize we cannot jeopardize our relations with the rest of the world for its behalf. After all India also recognized Israel 40 years after its existence and a lot had to do with its economic benefit policies. Israel must be accepted by other nations as well and if there is a mutual will to forge ahead then why not? Pakistanis are friendly, moderate and peaceful people and unlike Arabs follow a more moderate version of Islam. Hopefully nest 4-5 years will see us get more close to Pakistan. Nadir Husain, Montreal, Canada: My fear is that if Israelis are actually allowed in Pakistan, the Mossad might actually find a way to into our weapons facilities( essential for our defence) and spy on Pakistan. The second thing is that the rich Arab states might ban our workers from coming which will be a hard hit for our economy. I have no love for the Arabs, especially since how they treat Pakistanis in the Gulf. But I have no love for Israel, either. I think Pakistan should stay out of this mess and deal with our own problems. Forget Israel, forget Palestine -it has nothing to do with us! Eik Corell, Copenhagen, Denmark: Relations between two countries should not be contingent on the creation of a new state. This is not relations. This is political extortion. Cheri Crothers, Tucson, USA: When an Islamic state, such as Pakistan, even agrees to be at the same table with Israel, it is progress. Both countries could benefit from a warming of ties and it would set an example for the Gulf States to do the same. The fact that President Musharraf is even appearing in front of a Jewish audience is remarkable as many Pakistanis, even the educated in the US ones, are notoriously anti-Semetic. His statement that Islam has co-exissted with other religions is a good starting point and is very true- look at Turkey, where Muslims, Jews and Christians co-exist. Turkey, Egypt and Jordan, all of whom have relations with Israel, are the models for Pakistan to follow and will lead to prosperity and understanding for both nations. Dr. MJH Rahmani, UK: I am a British national of Pakistani origin. I fully congratulate and support a bold decision by an undemocratically elected General to recognise Israel, which was long overdue. I do not see any logical reason whatsoever not to have relations with Israel and its people. Pakistanis are treated with the utmost contempt and disrespect by Arabs. They tend to support India as regards the Kashmir issue. I see the Israeli/Palestinian conflict as a local one and both parties, I hope, will be able to solve it in due course. I do not see any reason to create more enemies for the sake of Arabs and Palestinians. Israel and Pakistan need to forge ahead and build on economic, social and defense relationship for the future. Nat, Jerusalem, Israel: It is heartwarming to read so many responses from ordinary Pakistanis seeking closer ties to Israel. Let me tell you outright that the feeling is mutual. In the United Nations over the years, Pakistan has always voted against Israel vis- a-vis its regional, not religious conflict in the Middle East and let us hope that will end now. We are all G-d's children regardless of race, creed or color. Syed Askar Abbas, Australia: I am a Pakistani who is studying in Australia. I look forward to a Pakistani-Israeli friendship and further future co-operation. It is time to look forward and live peacefully side by sides. Michael Stein, West Bloomfield, MI, USA: Rather than reiterate the common themes that many of your readers have touched upon, I'd like to add my own spin on the warming relations. In the summer of 2002, I predicted to an Israeli friend of mine that Osama Bin Laden would be captured by Israel, and I still hold to that prediction. As Musharraf has realized, the Mossad is the only organization that can help him find and capture Bin Laden, and I believe that is the carrot he is holding to Israel in order to officially recognize it (not the officially announced Palestinian State). Waqar Ahmed, Islamabad, Pakistan: It's nice to see the diplomatic ties between Pakistan and Israel. As a young Pakistani youth we all think that was a great move towards a great future for both communities, but we wont forget the sacrifices Palestinians have made. Despite all this we still support President Musharraf. We hope at the UN General Assembly Pakistani and Israeli counterparts will meet in NY and take further steps towards rebuilding relations. We are optimistic that one day I'll visit Israel and meet the people, hopefully that day will come very soon. Asif, Pakistan: I wish peace, love, dignity, equality, and friendship to our Israeli friends. It is and was extremely painful for us Pakistanis to see the killings of Israelis and Palestinians by any means. We Pakistanis never supported killing of Israelis in any form. We are all humans and must act like humans. We wish to see Israel as a great friend. We Pakistanis wish peace to our Israeli brothers and sisters. Paul Peters, New York, USA: I am an American who has a deep affection for Pakistan, Israel and India having close friends from all three countries. I have an intimate knowledge of the culture of all three countries spanning a period of 35 years. A friendship between Israel and Pakistan can only produce positive results both for the Israeli-Arab Conflict & for the India-Pakistan Conflict. The Israeli foreign minister was correct in his assertion that the meeting with his Pakistani counterpart has "tremendous" implications. Liz, USA: It looks as if the Pakistani people were secretly in love with Israel and were dying to see this moment and are overwhelmed by this historical meeting. I had no idea Israel and Jews are so loved by these people. If Pakistan is true to its commitment with closer ties with Israel why are the Israelis so skeptic? Give peace a chance guys before you condemn them all as terrorists or untrustworthy. By the way Nieuwenhuizen, Den Haag, Nederland: Israel is a 3rd world country as well and they have taken in Ethiopian Jews and Indian Jews and I am sure Pakistani Jews are welcome there too. Aali, Pakistan: It's very nice to see Pakistan and Israel coming close together. The Gaza withdrawal was a positive move made by Israelis but Israel has to do more to make us sure that they really want an independent and sovereign Palestinian state. Pakistan shall not forsake its Palestinian brothers (we cannot make a friend out of America whatever we do). Israel has to change its policy in the Middle East; if the state of affairs remains the same in the West Bank they shall not expect a healthy relationship with Pakistan. Irm Naz, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia: May the day come soon, when the world would enjoy peace and happiness. I support this move to establish contact with Israel. This will help to resolve the pending Kashmir and Palestine issues and further will help to build the relations between Muslims and Jewish. Sandy, USA: I have read the comments on the forum and am amused to see most Pakistanis are genuinely and sincerely interested in forming ties with Israel but what about the Israelis, or Jews for that matter. I think Pakistan should be very cautious; the public opinion about Pakistan is not very enthusiastic in Israel. Any speedy friendship with Israel would not serve in Pakistan's interest. Pakistan doesn't really have much to offer to Israel anyway. They would rather focus more on Arab states so Pakistanis you aren't losing much if you don't go ahead with these ties. How calm the Palestinian people have taken a back seat all of a sudden? Would you rather prefer Israel over them? Peter, Kuwait (Pakistani Origin): Welcome Israel. This is really day of great joy. I am Christian, born and brought up in Pakistan. Pakistan is a wonderful country. Pakistani people are amazing. They are friendly, innocent and know how to sacrifice. I personally have many incidents where many Muslims supported me against other Muslims. Pakistanis respect other religions and don't claim religious places. They are even happy to handover to other people as they believe God shall reward them. I was educated in Pakistan. Textbooks do not have any enmity against Israel. People are moderate and love peace until you really harm them. I have spoke many Pakistani friends and they are just happy, even many assume Israel is a holy place. Nieuwenhuizen, Den Haag, Nederland: As soon as relations will mprove, thousands of Pakistanis will try to escape the mess in their country and see Israel as a new (illegal) immigration destination. Don't let Israel be flooded by another wave of 3rd world poverty and misery refugees. Sajid Kaul, Lahore, Pakistan: I looked your paper up to find out why you would want to have ties with us. Out of a hundred responses on your website, only one is from an Israeli and that too suggested extreme caution. I am still trying to understand the significance of this. Mohd Waqar, New York, New York, USA: I salute all Pakistanis for their positive response to your newspaper. I read most of the responses, and there were some negative ones from Pakistanis and others. The first negative response came from Zaffar in Karachi, Pakistan, in which he said that President Musharraf has no knowledge of the Koran and quotes the Muslim holy book prohibiting Muslims from relations with Jews or other non-Muslims. I totally disagree with Mr. Zaffar and reject his claim. I think he should read the Quran in detail. For his information, I would like to tell him that in the Quran (surah Al-Imran, Ayat number 64) Muslims are advised to ask Jews and Christians to unite in their belief in one God. Mr. Zaffar, please don't send a message that would spoil the name of Islam. It's also amazing that Hamas, the Arab League and some other groups are against Pakistani-Israeli relations. Let's face reality. Palestinians and the other Arab countries have relations with Israel. Pakistan and Israel don't need advice from others about whether to have relations or not. I offer my hand of friendship to all Israelis. N. S. Raj, USA: It is an interesting development, perhaps one that has been going on undercover for a while. The Pakistanis who respond on this forum are a rich, educated, Anglo-Pakistani elite, and constitute perhaps 0.01-0.05 percent of the population. The Pakistani masses see Jews, and Israel by extension, as the "other." Many Pakistanis still believe that Jews planned 9/11. By contrast, there is popular support for Israel in India, and tens of thousands of Israelis visit India each year. Still, this does not preclude improvement in state-to-state relations and increased trade between Israel and Pakistan, which is to be welcomed. My point is that it will have limited impact at other levels, and any stability to such arrangements will depend on Musharraf continuing as "president for life." Mike: I am so tired of Israel caring about what others (i.e. India) think when we allow them to have close relations with the Arabs and vote against us at the UN. If the Indians don't like us cozying up to Pakistan, then they should start supporting Israel politically. Quid pro quo! Amir Ali, Peshawar, Pakistan: The article's analysis is correct but incomplete. Pakistan also wants to have more influence in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and it cannot do so without developing some sort of relationship with Israel. It is also part of President Musharraf's enlightened moderation agenda to have Muslims in contact with everyone - Hindus, Christians and Jews instead of just talking about it at home. I support this move to establish contact with Israel, though for domestic and moral compulsions, full diplomatic relations should not be established until there is a proper Palestinian state. M. Waqar, New York: It's a great chance for both Pakistan and Israel to establish diplomatic relations and understanding between the people of both countries. I am glad that the president of Pakistan is going to speak to Jews in New York. We should understand that Jews, Muslims, and Christians are religions of one God and Islam and Muslims recognize and respect David, Jesus and Mary. Islam even allows intermarriage with Jews and Christians, so what is the problem? I am from Pakistan but a US citizen. I am really glad that Israel and Pakistan are coming together slowly. I also salute to your newspaper for publishing the very nice article ''Analysis: Why is Musharraf warming up to Israel?'' Leslie Manners, Mumbai, India: General Musharraf is a shrewd man. Unlike many of his countrymen, he realizes that Pakistan is the only loser of a policy of cold-shouldering Israel. His moves are aimed at negating the increasingly closer ties between Israel and India. D. Harris, Brooklyn, NY: Why be surprised? This is what countries do in their self-interest. One hand washes another. In any event, we all know what each country stands for. Zed, London, UK: There needs to be a wider dialogue between the Jewish and Muslim peoples. There is too much mistrust and hatred between the peoples. This dialogue with a very influential Muslim leader is very much what both religious groups need. I'm sure both parties will have a political agenda as well, but turning your back and putting your head in the sand will not resolve any in differences. I wish those skeptical Indian respondents who claim Pakistan does everything Indian-centric would stop living in their box. If they can have cordial relations with Israel, why can't Pakistan? Moazzam Ali, London: I observed that many Pakistanis and Muslims are happy with this new move between Pakistan and Israel relations, but I was disappointed when I read comments of one Indian from Canberra, Australia. Every word was engulfed in poison against Pakistan and Muslims. He tried to prove that Pakistan is a non-democratic country and harbors terrorism. Pakistan has wanted diplomatic ties with Israel since the last decade and there has been an underground relationship between the two countries. I strongly contend that Islam is a religion of peace and Pakistan is key partner in war against terror. I think our Indian friends are not happy with this new move. They are claiming to be fast friends of Israel, yet on the other hand they were the best friends of Yasser Arafat. Mekhail Aparytai, Moscow: What is your Problem, Arab League? Why aren't you guys happy over Pakistan's step toward stabilizing the relations between the two countries for the promotion of peace and stability in the region? And by the way, why such a double game - On the one hand, you guys (Egypt, Mauritania, Turkey, Jordan, etc.) have already recognized Israel and have diplomatic ties. Wouldn't you like to tell the audience how many Christians have been killed by Indians in the last few years? If you don't have the numbers you can contact Amnesty International for the data. Farrukh Shafiq, Lahore, Pakistan: Zafar wrote: "I suggest that Musharaf read and understand The Book to understand the word of the Almighty." The very fact that the largest protest against the meeting was a gathering of 300 people in Peshawar, which has always been the most conservative city in Pakistan, reflects the genuine desires of the Pakistani people to shun aside extremism and embrace peace. The ball is now in Israel's court. It is sad, though, that the opposition to these talks has come more from Israel and its buddy India than it has from Pakistan, as seen by comments posted here. It is also ironic that India is so eager to prevent Israel and Pakistan from embarking on the road towards peace at a time when India itself is engaged in a peace process with its "backstabbing" neighbor. Whoever still thinks of Musharraf as a dictator does not know the Pakistani political system. There were general elections held in 2002 and now will be held in 2007! Suhail Malik: Pakistan and Israel both came into existence on the basis of religion and due to non-violent movements. By having direct contact with the Jews, we can and will convince them that they are not correct in what they are doing with Palestinians in particular and with Islam in general. Otherwise, they are normal beings as all others and have the right to live as others, including Palestinians. By having access to Israel we can open a lot of mosques in there and have a lot of religious centers in their capitol. Khalid Mahmood, Islamabad, Pakistan: It is the freshest news of the year. I hope the relationship will help solve the Palestinian problem as well as help both nations to come out of their ghettoes. Moid Ansari, Atlanta, USA: I am so thankful to President Musharraf for opening up dialogue between the two countries. I hope this will go a long way in establishing peace between the two religions! Iftikhar Ahmad, UK: I admire your editor-in-chief speaking on Pakistani TV with a message of hope and positiveness. I, as an ordinary Pakistani living in London, wish to extend my hand in friendship to all Israelis. We must work on confidence-building measures amongst people at all levels. Children of Israel are as innocent and lovely as the children of Pakistan or Palestine. Let us love them. Haya, Karachi, Pakistan: Does that mean we can come out of the closet and scream we love the Jews? Wilson, South Africa: This is a good sign. Dialogue is the way forward. Pakistan's main concern is its ties with India. If they can talk to India, then they can talk to Israel also. People opposed to it don't see the direction this world is taking. But they are a minority. If diplomacy can solve problems, give it a chance. Sofia, Islamabad, Pakistan: It is heartening to read so many comments reflecting positive reactions from Pakistanis and others around the world. However, it is a disappointment to read several skeptical comments from readers in India (yes, we know about the issues around Musharraf's government and democratic values, but let's not confuse or mix issues). While long struggles lie ahead (including breaking down biases and ignorance, charting out a course that will take all towards a peaceful existence), this bold step is a welcome move. Now, and gradually, it will be the responsibility of us educated, "enlightened moderates" of Pakistan to help our fellow citizens to hop onto the bandwagon - on a number of issues. Ali Raza, Houston, USA: I think this is an awesome move. Being of Pakistani descent, I would like this friendship to expand and grow between our people, and I can say very confidently that majority of Pakistanis would like that. You can see this from the demonstration of only 300 people in the most backward part of the country. We don't need these mullahs to dictate to us. Let the peace begin. Shiraz Mehmud, Karachi, Pakistan: Everyone is considering the enmity. I think people are discussing and considering just from an Islamic and Zionist point of view. Let us realize that we are living in a world considered as a global village these days. Why people are not considering the benefits that the two states could get if they formally recognize and accept each other. In terms of trade, finance, technology, defense, agriculture, medicine, industry and engineering, a lot could be gained on both sides. I admit that technologically there is no comparison between the two but think that the two were carved out in quite similar circumstances and due to almost similar reasons. Their problems were the same. If one has almost controlled the situation and has gone on the road to prosperity, why isn't it possible for the other to follow and learn from the experiences? And as far as the element of fundamentalism and extremism is considered, no one can deny that it is present on both sides of the court. In Pakistan there are quite a few opposing the change. The educated and moderates know the benefits that could be gained with this relationship. You have to think in the broader perspective. The shorter you get, the bigger are the chances that you will lose the opportunity knocking your door. Mayank, Canberra, Australia: In friendship, the minimum requisite is shared values and mutual respect. Here we have a theocratic, non-democratic state, which out of compulsions made a U-turn after 9/11 and is trying to take another U-turn in seeking friendship with Israel. Pakistan does not recognize the state of Israel and wouldn't recognize it until a Palestinian state becomes a reality, with Jerusalem as its capital. They are seeking friendship for more American aid to feed more suicide terrorists. Friends don't lay condition. Genuine friendship evolves, it's not tailor-made. Furthermore, Pakistan does not make its foreign policy. It picks it up from New Delhi. The sole mantra is "look what Indians are doing? How did they do it? Cut, Copy and Paste it." But even for copying you need to have brains. They ignore the context or the bigger picture, when other countries deal with India because of shared values, rich culture and heritage, pluralistic society, true democracy, growing economy with booming IT, pharmaceutical, telecom and bio-technology sectors. There is no commonality of interests between Pakistan and Israel. However, this is not to say that there should not be friendly relations between them. A more friendly relationship can only be developed between people who at least have something in common, but here we have two countries who do not have much in common. Here we have a country that does not even recognize a country with which they want to have a friendship. Are Pakistanis sure they want to have a friendship with something that does not exist? As far as India is concerned, it has nothing to worry about. This is the time we need to trust our Israeli friends, that they not hurt Indian sensibilities. Otherwise, they forget that India is the only country where Jews have not been persecuted. India is the only country where you can see a Jewish farmer, not just a businessman, politician, soldier, etc. Lastly, even if India and Israel give Pakistanis and Palestinians everything they demand on a plate, even then there would not be any peace. They would still harass us and kill us because we are non-Muslims, and for the alleged past atrocities committed on them. Sohail Khamisa, Karachi, Pakistan: I'm delighted to see that after decades the two countries have started diplomatic relations. Shalom, Israel. Shalom, Pakistan. Salem, Dubai: I would like to see more people of both countries getting closer, which seems difficult if not unthinkable now. It is so because of bigots in both countries have the higher voice. Normal people in the region are for neighborly relations, but politics and propaganda have a different agenda in which the issues are popularity contests at the expense of real issues of reconciliation. We have several sayings on decent Jewish history figures praised in Arabic, such as the loyalty of Al Samaoal and others. We can resurrect the good examples if there is a well. Bilal Ahmed, Karachi, Pakistan: A Historic day in Israel- Pakistan relationship, let me tell you 90 percent of Pakistan will support this move, I think Pakistan should have full diplomatic relations with Israel. People living in the West always see a negative framed image on CNN, Fox news about Pakistan and believe it's a society like Afghanistan or Iraq, I will tell them to see our society by your own eyes, see our culture, traditions, our electronic media which is now one of the most modern and powerful media in Islamic world and you will get educated about Pakistan. I don't believe in this nonsense that Musharraf is a dictator, I challenge any one to see his credentials in last six years what he and Shaukat Aziz has done for this country is simply remarkable, I see no reason for my Indian friends to take out there frustration, wish both countries success, long live Pakistan, long live Israel. Adnan khan, Toronto: I am a Pakistani and my best friend is Jewish, second being a Christian. Since I came here I have worked for lots of Jewish companies and they have supported me better than Pakistanis. My thinking has changed tremendously and I just keep my eyes away from the negative energy that is out there all over. I try to tell who ever whenever about my experience with my Jewish buddies. I love them, I care about them and they do the same for me.... We need to get out of that thinking and create peace. I have seen & met kids of Israel and have been good friend with them and personally speaking I think they are the friendliest people of all. I think the Muslim world should immediately work for peace with Israel and Israel should immediately find a solution to let the Palestinians have there country so that this hatred diminishing in our society. What Israel has done is brave and beyond imagination for withdrawing and now the ball is in our court to follow suit. Muslim world wake up for havens sakes and create peace for yourself. This is the time to built peace forever in the world... Farrukh, Lahore, Pakistan: Forging diplomatic ties is at the most only symbolic and far, far from enough. Years of violence, conflict and bloodshed have led to hatred, prejudice and suspicion of the other becoming deeply rooted within each of our societies. Many in Pakistan continue to believe that Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein are agents of Israel and that 9/11 was a Jewish conspiracy to discredit Muslims around the world and to continue occupation of Muslim territories. Vice versa, many in Israel continue to believe that Islam is a death cult, being Muslim is being a terrorist, and that the Muslim world is hell-bent over its complete destruction. If their intentions are sincere, leaders in both Pakistan and Israel must go beyond the symbolic and superficial and begin to explore ways to bridge the huge gap of understanding, mutual respect, friendship and peace between the masses of the two nations. What is needed is not the smiles and handshakes of the foreign ministers, empty and skillfully crafted words, and cunning, self-interested political diplomacy but rather men of substance, dignity and human grace men like Judea Pearl and Professor Akbar Ahmed. May God Bless the sons of Abraham! P.S. I am optimistic though that peace shall prevail. The largest demonstration against the meeting was a rally of three hundred people in a nation of more than a 150 million. Plus the demonstration took place in Peshawar, which is the most conservative city in the country. P.S.S I don't understand why the Indians are so vehemently opposed to this breakthrough. Ironic that the Indians warn Israel about Pakistan at a time when India itself is engaged in a peace process with its "enemy." S. Chauhan: I am an Indian. I support relations between Pakistan and Israel because it has the potential of reducing hatred between Israel and the Muslim world. I don't know much about Israeli attitudes toward India, but in the cold war days, leftist elites in India were arrogant toward Israel due to their sympathy with Palestinian leftist groups. However, in the last two decades, a lot has changed for the better in Indo-Israeli relations to mutual advantage. The road ahead for Pakistan-Israel relations will be rockier, due to the religious aspect to Muslim hatred. Also, the drivers may be suspect - some Pakistani newspapers claim this is meant to 'strike a blow at the Indian-Israel nexus' (meaning defense cooperation), and appease the powerful Jewish lobby in the US. Even though it may be a move to counter Indian engagement with Israel, this is a welcome step for the potential for peace it offers. I commend most of the Pakistani posts here for their tolerant tone. One did venture to paint an excessively romantic picture of Pakistan and Israel -- of both being survivors surrounded by hostile neighbors. This is proven false when you consider the wars of both nations -- Israel has a history of being attacked, while Pakistan has a history of starting wars and being involved in conflicts. Pakistani air force pilots flew against Israel in both the 1967 and 1973 wars. Uttam, India: Being a proud Indian and a Gandhian, much as I abhor violent means of attaining even legitimate ends, as in the case of the haplessly dispossessed Palestinians; a wider acceptability of Israel's occupation of Arab lands (and it's murder of innocent Palestinian men women and children) in the form of reaching out to the illegitimate state, is going to have real bad consequences for the by now wretchedly and hopelessly driven into a dirty corner, Palestinian people. The world knows how Israel was forcibly created. Only a cowardly Pakistan or any Bantustan will go the distance to abandon the cause of the Palestinians. Who wants to reward a murderous and cowardly tyrant of a country unashamedly backed by the unabashedly corrupt and immoral America and it's lackey, Britain. Mahathir was right when he said that these Shylocks rule by proxy. PUBLISH THIS IF YOU HAVE THE GUTS! Make no mistake- Israel will never ever decently give back what it has robbed. Will the US ever contemplate giving back America to the RED INDIANS? Yeah, as sure as a leopard will change its spots. Ali Khan, Detroit, USA: Your analysis Why is Musharraf warming up to Israel? by Herb Keinon continues to stoke the insecurity and suspicion that has led to Israel's ostracism from the community of Islamic nations. An over-emphasis on a mind-set of persecution seems to continue unabated. It is no act of great insight to say Musharraf wants to wedge Indo-Israeli relations but perhaps you should focus on the benefits to Israel from this budding friendship. Given economic and even military relationships, Pakistan may be willing to lend a more sympathetic ear (or not roadblock) Israel's dealings with Muslims. Unless you would like the state of Israel to live in a state of constant paranoia. This is a huge first step towards Israel's eventual ascendance into the comity of nations that are its immediate neighbors. No matter the security guarantees provided by the West, it cannot remain isolated for another 58 years. Andy Khan, Dallas, Tx, USA: I am really amazed at the comments of some so-called analysts and great thinkers. Their comments reflect their mindset and pessimistic attitude. To these people glass is always half empty. They cannot see the goodness of human spirit. If illiterate and ill-informed people make these kinds of comments, they can be forgiven, not these so-called educated and knowledgeable cynics. Only great people who have vision and courage can move forward, forgiving and forgetting the bitterness of the past for a bright future. A bright future that belongs to all, Muslims, Jews, Christians, Hindus and all the people of the world. If someone is working hard to achieve that, such a person should be appreciated and encouraged, not criticized and vilified. I congratulate Israeli and Pakistani leaders for this historic breakthrough. I salute President Musharraf for this bold and courageous step to make Peace with Israel. Regardless of political and ideological spin some people with vested interest put on this process. Peace is good for everyone. I pray that this momentum grows with time and all the countries in the Middle East make peace with Israel soon. When two nuclear powers sit down and talk peace, it is not only good for their two countries but for the entire world. Hopefully this endeavor will calm this volatile region a bit. World is a little bit safer today. Please God; bless people of Pakistan and Israel. Ben Zalman, Merrilville, Indiana, USA: "Beware of Pakistan "bearing gifts"! Do we really believe that Musharraf wants to be "pals" with Israel? Radical Islam flourishes in Pakistan. I doubt that Musharraf will ever visit Yad Vashem. When that happens I will admit my comments are wrong. Israel...don't let your guard down for a second! M Obaidullah Alvi, Karachi, Pakistan: It is a time of new world order in which nations ideologies, concepts and commitments are turned towards new world demands. Pakistan is country having leadership character of Muslim Ummah and it's initiatives make history. If Pakistan and Israel come closer as Turkey, Jordan, Egypt or India, people of Pakistan take a long time to forgive crimes sins of JEWS against innocent Palestinian Muslims during more than a half century. Bob Goldman: It is very encouraging to read the hopeful words of the good people of Pakistani origin, some of whom are now living in the US. Like young children in a park, whose natural instinct is to play together, we adults can be friends. So many Jews have been hoping for and writing about peace and acceptance for so long, that it is sweet to hear these good words and sentiments coming from our potential Moslem friends. A movement of love, acceptance, responsibility, open education and kindness must arise in the Moslem world, to wash away the stain of hatred, mindless terror, ignorance, poverty, sadness and frustration that permeates that world. Many things, great and beautiful, are possible in this world, for all of us. Tariq Hussain, Houston, USA: I have read all 10 pages of comments. Half are from Indians spewing venom just as they have for the last 50 years against Pakistan. The point they miss is that equal number of Pakistanis is approving with open arms this new initiative. I am appalled by the hypocrisy of Indians. When they kiss up to Arabs for cheap oil and have voted against Israel (just like Pakistan in the past), in every forum for 50 years, shouldn't they be the last one to speak against this move. Aren't they the one who have been anti West for more than 50 years and now because of economic benefits have cozied up to the west? Musharraf should be given every support to counter the extremists in his country. Of course he is doing it in his national interest. Would Israel talk to Pakistan if there were no benefit to it? I think we are wise enough to see that. Saeed Abbasi, Karachi, Pakistan: I am so happy that there is some one out there like Pakistani President who is now taking things into right direction. It's time to resolve issue instead of having differences. Pakistan's move is highly appreciated and I wish both countries would soon be able to officially tie diplomatic relationship. In the past years every government in Pakistan spoke so much but hardly did something for Pakistan and I think Mr. President is doing in a right way. I am the one who highly support my Country's government taking such a bold step and Mr. President deserves appreciations. This is the time for every nation to compete on economics rather on weapons. Wish also people in Israel also take a positive step toward our government bold decision and support each other's. Mr. President wishes you all the Best and hope this world become heaven for every race, religion, and country. Isaac Haskiya, Roskilde, Denmark: Shalom, Pakistan has always been one of the most virulent critics, not to say enemies, of Israel. As fanatic Muslims they are brainwashed to die for their faith, if they have to, while fighting against their enemy. Non-Muslims have lived in permanent danger both in Pakistan and in the neighboring country, India. How could we, Jews, expect any kind of civilized relation from them? The US thinks that Musherraf is a friend. They are wrong but can afford the mistake. We cannot! Minu Sistani, Lucknow, India: Musharraf is desperately trying to undergo an image makeover, specially after involvement of British Muslims of Pakistani origin confirmed in London bombing. People in this forum are unduly worried about India-Israel relationship, which will not be affected. Jews people being the smartest in the world understand that. It will also help India's Center off left Govt to pursue relationship with Israel more rigorously. The real issue here is: Iran. Pakistan is playing on behalf of Saudis to undermine the political rise of the Shiites in Iran, and now in Iraq. I do hope, Israeli leadership is smart enough not to make the same mistake what others did earlier, i.e., using Jihadis to undermine USSR in Afghanistan. Look at long-term goal, rather than short term. Its not the first time that, Pak's official policy is completely opposed to its popular position. Pakistan was closer to Israel during Suez Crisis than to Egypt. It was true during first Arab-Israeli war as well. Best of wishes to this new round of relationship. I do hope it sticks this time. Mahesh Lavannis, USA: Overall, this is a good thing - whatever comes out of it will demonstrate the level of maturity of Israeli politics - will they get seduced into the immediate short term benefits with Mush or stay on course for the long haul? Salahuddin Azam, Chicago, USA: It's a good thing that both Pakistan and Israel are talking about the peace process and Road map. General Musharaf will simply tell the American Jewish group and later if he met Sharon that Israel should pull out of the territories to pre June 6th 1967 borders and then it will be recognized by Pakistan and all the other Muslim countries. Pakistan has no personal interest in these talks except to support the Palestinian cause and extend a hand of friendship and recognition based on the Israeli actions. I personally believe that Sharon will defy and deny any such thing from Pakistan. But the good thing is that Pakistan will make its just and fair point clear to those who are just and believe in fairness and truth. Israeli government will not endorse it but will be in more trouble since it cannot influence Pakistan in any way. Pakistan does carry weight in the Muslim world like Iran where both are nuclear powers. Israeli government should come to its senses to what is going to happen to it if it did not heed or listen to the Pakistani advise. Obaid Khan, Texas, USA: I totally support the meeting between the two countries. I strongly support President Musharraf and his government. He is moving in the right direction. I look forward to closer ties between the two countries and encourage all Muslim countries to head in the same direction. And at the same time, work with Palestine to establish there state. Asif Ali Khan, Karachi, Pakistan:Being a Pakistani, I do have some reservations about Pak-Israel relationship. Pakistan is one of the most important Islamic countries that can play a pivotal role in establishing peace in the Middle East. Though the majority of Pakistanis still believe in what their founding father Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah said about the Jewish state: An Illegitimate child of the US and UK; yet so much water has flown under the bridge. Today's ground realities are different. I personally feel it is a good move for the peace of the Middle East, South Asia and the world at large. Israel, however, has to do a lot more to achieve this target. It will have to go back to its pre-1967 position, paving the way for an independent Palestinian state. If an independent Palestinian state is established, I do not see any harm in establishing a full diplomatic relationship with Israel. Ali Mubashir, Memphis, TN USA: Being an American citizen of Pakistani origin, I am very happy at this development. I feel it was long overdue. Relations with Israel or India are not related to each other. In the modern world and 21st century we should move forward. There should be a zero tolerance policy for religious, racial or any other form of prejudice. We should work together for issues like healthcare, education, jobs and economic prosperity for our populations more than any other issue. Pakistan wants and should have peaceful relations with India and Israel. Relations with either country or as a matter of fact with any other country of the world should be independent and benefit both the concerned countries. These days, countries work for the mutual interests of their peoples. I wish the people of Pakistan and Israel the best. Pakistani relations with Israel are not at the expense of India. India is a huge country with a great economic potential in the 21st century. The problems of India and Pakistan are the legacy of the colonial British Empire (policy of divide and rule). I think the majority of Indians and Pakistanis understand this. Saleem Memon, Aberdeen, USA: I personally don't like Musharaf and his illegal government but I appreciate his courage to come to the table to talk with Israel as it's one of the key player in the Middle East, and the only democracy in that region. We Pakistani do not have any personal conflict with Israel and it's only conservative mullahs of Pakistan who have created the hatred for Jews and Israel. I am one of the examples only to have changed when I came to the USA and realized that they are human beings like us, good and bad, honest and not so, exactly like any other group of people. I wish Musharaf could take strong stand and recognize Israel and end this painful chapter. Mani Malik, Monte-Carlo, Monaco: I am a US educated Pakistani citizen. I appreciate the move made by Musharraf. In my opinion Pakistan should have recognized Israel a long time ago. How can there be peace between Arabs/Muslims and Israel if Muslims refuse to accept the state of Israel? The Muslim world uses Israel as a scapegoat for all their problems. Anything that goes wrong in this world is somehow attributed to a Jewish conspiracy. In Pakistan most people have never met a Jewish person in their whole life so it is rather easy for the religious zealots to portray Jews as "monsters". However, there is a growing number of people in Pakistan who are not in any way anti-Semitic and would like to increase people to people contact. Only by knowing more about each other will we give peace a chance. The news media makes it seem like Musharraf is the only man in Pakistan who wants to recognize Israel. I will admit that the numbers who oppose recognition are greater than those who would like to recognize Israel. However, the news media should take notice of the growing numbers in Pakistan who would like to normalize relations with Israel. Most of the foreign educated Pakistanis I know are whole-heartedly in favor of recognizing Israel. Noor, Toronto: Two great nations surviving in hostile surroundings quite boldly, need to come close without bothering to look over shoulders. The proxy conflicts should be left behind. Sohail Warsi, Karachi, Pakistan: I am a Pakistani and have been following the exciting developments in Pakistan's relationship with Israel. I must convey that most people in Pakistan can be classified into 4 categories: 1) educated, 2) uneducated/poor, 3) moderate, 4) extremists. Bring born and raised in Pakistan, let me assure you I have seen the society very clearly. Numbers 1,2 and 3 above have never had any problem with Israel and will gladly welcome a relationship with Israel. Number 4 (the extremists and rogue elements), are a problem right now that will cry and make hurdles. I am quite sure, however, that this step by both Israel and Pakistan, will definitely be appreciated by most Pakistanis. Please accept my warm regards. Being an ordinary Pakistani, I respect Israeli people and their right for a secure Israel. Mohammad Waqar, New York, USA: It will be a great event if leaders of both countries meet in New York. The so-called religious parties of Pakistan did not even recognize their own leaders like Jinnah, Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, Allam Iqbal, so how can we expect them to recognize this great international diplomatic development of the century. If Jews and Pakistanis both prefer kosher food then they can have diplomatic relations too. Zeeshan Amin, New York, USA: Regardless of how the new steps between Pakistan and Israel proceed, I congratulate Israel on becoming a major factor in the geo-strategic game between India and Pakistan. I wish for Pakistan and Israel to establish close ties that allow both countries to remove the gulf that has developed between two of the world's great religions: Islam and Judaism. Fred, USA: As a Pakistani living here in the USA I sure like to see better ties between Pakistan and Israel. Life is too short and we can't live in disharmony forever. People of both countries have to realize peace is the only universal language spoken here and we as human beings can't afford any war or bloodshed. We should respect each other's people and religions. Better ties between both countries will bring stability in this world. Pakistan should crush all extremism and terrorism and Israel should give Palestinians what land is coming to them under the UN charter. Salam. Shalom. Adnan, Toronto, Canada: I think it's a good thing that our two countries have started talking, we should establish relations with each other. I think that the Indians posting here should calm down and not feel so insecure. Pakistan is a great country and a nuclear power; we retain the right to establish relations with any country as we please. Aslam M. Husain, Munster, Indiana, USA: Excellent news. I hope this would help to reduce the influence of extremists on both sides of the Palestinian question. We need courageous leadership on both sides. As a Muslim, I know how the poison of extremism has sapped the energies of much of the Muslim world. Looking around here, I love to see a day when Muslims are like Jews. Religiously observant yet very secured, secular, tolerant and highly competitive in worldly affairs. I know distrust developed over a period of time shall take time and effort. But the road forward is shinning. Sayed Jaffar, US: I think this will certainly be a new chapter and might act as a catalyst to resolve issues in the Middle East. This meeting should have occurred long time ago as there is no understanding why Pakistan delayed so long to recognize Israel. Pakistan being an important Muslim country and the only nuclear Muslim state has responsibility to act in order to have a proper balance between Israel and other Muslim nations. I think Musharraf should be praised for his courageous efforts to take such bold steps. Both Israel and Pakistan are key states in the Islamic world and they both have their own importance. Both Israel and Pakistan can guarantee peace and stability in this region. Especially when Pakistan enjoys great relationships with Saudi Arabia, Iran and Turkey it can use that to end hostilities between Israel and Iran. For any perspective or angle this is a great move for this region. I hope these talks should go further from here onward. Fawad Hussain, Lahore, Pakistan: This is a significant development. I believe most educated Pakistanis would support a dialogue with Israel. Even if the two countries do not see eye to eye on some issues, there is only one way to convey that message, and that is to talk. However, hostile comments from certain quarters suggest that there is suspicion regarding the motives of this move and therefore, it would be prudent to advance this process slowly and carefully. In the end, I am astonished how negatively and insecurely the Indians are reacting. Pakistan can play a role in facilitating the peace process between Israel and the Arabs and also the rest of the Muslim world. R. Saeed Many Indians on this forum have said that this move from Pakistan is just to counter India and it's a ploy as Pakistan wants to gain favor from the west and wants to improve its image and all that. What's wrong with that? India only recognized Israel in 1992. I would like to ask some of Indian friends that why it took them 40 odd years to recognize Israel. It was obviously to gain material benefits from the US as USSR was no longer a major player. So why is there all this fuss about Pakistan having made a contact with Israel? A nation always acts in its own interest and if Pakistan is doing that then what's the problem? India's recognition of Israel was not based on its love for Israel but it was an opportunistic move that had other motives. Musharraf's move is correct and I support it as well. The reason behind it is improving Pakistan's image. Pakistan is already getting some favors from west after 9/11 and I don't see this move as a ploy to gain more. This move will have other implications as well It puts pressure on Israel to pull out from rest of the West Bank. How? Well the world will realize that not all Muslims are fanatics who have some hatred for Jewish people. World will realize that Muslim countries are prepared to do what they are claiming to do i.e. recognize Israel. It's not an empty promise but it could happen. When world sees these moves, obviously it puts pressure on Israel as well and it has to respond positively. There is nothing wrong in it as I believe it's the case. Muslims work with Jews in US and I don't see any problems here. Why make this political issue into a religious one? It shows some of the Arab countries that the confrontational policies don't work. There is no need to blow the dispute out of proportion. This dispute is political and should never be turned into a religious dispute between Muslims and Jews. Musharraf's move just proves that. Also for too many years, confrontation has not yielded anything as Israel uses those acts of violence as an excuse for its existence. There is no use for wasting time for a policy which only needs to dead end. Mahmoud Abbas also realizes that and I think he appreciates Musharraf's moves. We should not rush into this as well. We have to first break the longstanding taboos. Many Muslims all over the world have been indoctrinated with hatred for Israel and it would take some time and education before they realize that it's not a big deal. Similarly, many Jews have been indoctrinated that Muslims hate Jews and that all Muslims want to destroy Israel. Then there are middle countries/people who have manipulated this by taking one side or the other just to get into good books of either the US or Arab countries. I hope this bold move by President Musharraf is seen as a positive and genuine step rather than a cunning move. I think he has taken a bold step and I just hope that Israel responds well to it and eventually solves this dispute with Palestinians so that we don't have any reason left to fight. And for those who are so upset by this move, there is such thing called as co-existence and you don't always have to eliminate others for your survival. I would urge Israelis to take it as a genuine step and don't look at it sarcastically. Israel's withdrawal from Gaza is starting to pay benefits and its settling of dispute with Palestinians would put pressure on Muslim countries to do as they say. After all, our goal is to achieve peace. Ahsan, Pakistan: Its very heartening to see two countries moving closer. It should also be remember they are the only two countries created on ideology. Their interaction is very necessary for the world peace. Peace, Ahsan Ahmad Raza, M.D., New York, NY: Irrespective of true motivation this bold step can only enhance peace and harmony. Pakistan must have a pragmatic rather than ideologically based foreign policy. Being a Pakistani I know that there is no animosity between the two countries. Arab countries have not always supported Pakistan and mistreatment of Pakistani expatriates by Arab countries is well known. It's about time that Pakistan break from the idiotic policies of the past and recognize where their own interest lies. Go Musharraf. Sal, London, UK: I am a Pakistani banker in London, and I have Jewish friends from Israel here. I think it is a step in the right direction to normalize relations. These days countries have working relationships based upon common interests. I don't see how Israel can suffer from this relationship. Pakistanis are open-minded and forward thinking and the rhetoric of extremism in Pakistan is all nonsense. As for Pakistan's position on recognizing Israel is concerned, I say it is just a matter of official announcement. Otherwise, you can gauge from the comments from most Pakistanis how they feel about Israel. M. Qazi, USA: This is a great day. Let peace prevail. Best of luck to both states. As a Pakistani-American I am extremely happy, but I am saddened by reading the negative remarks by our Indian colleagues. You see, just like Israel, Pakistan is an ideological country and we have faced the same horrors and holocaust at the hands of our rivals. Both the state of Israel and Pakistan are strong countries. Pakistan's relations with Israel are against nobody but are only to benefit our people. Like the Palestinians, Israelis too are victims that need recognition. As a novice student of Hebrew I will say: MAZEL TOV. Sami, New York, NY: Pakistan is one of the most anti-Semitic countries in the world. Israel should be very cautious and we must not harm our excellent relations with India, a country that never persecuted its Jewish population. Javaid Zargar, New York, NY: This is the beginning of a great happening in international politics. The potential of cooperation between these two great nations is going to be a great force to neutralize the terrorism. In addition, both countries will be gaining a lot by sharing scientific, technological and trade experiences. May God bless both nations. A. Khan I must salute Sharon and Musharraf for such a breakthrough, and I completely support relationship between Pakistan and Israel, Pakistan shouldn't compromise its international interests and friendships because of some crazy radicals. It is in the best interest of both countries. Besides, Pakistan is not an Arab country and it should follow in Turkey's footsteps. Israel is the home of courageous and hardworking people, and a victim of International Muslim Terrorism. Syed, Karachi, Pakistan and Chicago, USA: I disagree with reader Mark Rosenblit's characterization of Musharraf. He is not a dictator, much less a tyrant. Nawaz Sharif, Musharraf's elected predecessor was an illiberal leader who tried to turn Pakistan into a theocratic dictatorship. He tried to kill Musharraf by blocking the runways of the airport to prevent the landing of the airliner carrying Musharraf (and 200 other commercial passengers!) Fortunately, the Army stormed the airport, allowing Musharraf's plane to land with only a few minutes of fuel remaining. I don't blame Musharraf for taking the leadership of the country, given the circumstances, and Pakistanis widely welcomed Musharraf. He's a popular leader, and independent polls show that a majority of Pakistanis support him. Salman Ali, Lahore, Pakistan As a Pakistani citizen I am happy about the meeting of the foreign ministers of Pakistan and Israel. Ties between Pakistan and Israel are good for both countries. I hope and pray that the Israelis and Jews would not let any hurdles come between the growing Pakistani-Israeli ties. I ask all Israelis and other Jews to read the book "Charlie Wilson's War" which tells of clandestine Pakistani-Israeli links which helped destroy communism and defeat USSR in Afghanistan. Similarly as one of my Israeli brothers noted, India throughout its history till 1992 sided with the Arab world and only selfish reasons compelled it to establish ties with Israel. I hope that relations between Pakistan and Israel and Jews and Muslims continue to improve. Long Live President Musharaf, Hurrah to the ties between Pakistan and Isarel. Keep 'em up. Isaac Solomon Solson, Tampa,Florida, USA: Being a Pakistani Jew I am very much delighted and hope this dream come true very soon. I think this is a great opportunity for both the countries to have diplomatic relations with each other which can bring peace not only to the regions but to the whole world. If Pakistan is really sincere for true friendship then Israel will do whatever to get it done as was the case with Egypt and Jordan despite wars and oppositions. I think Musharaf should make it clear to the Arab world that in their previous wars no Arab country came forward to help the country, now is the chance to modify the foreign policy keeping aside the religion and caste. He has taken a bold step despite Islamic extremists and threat to his life. These two religions are the closest on earth and I wish them good luck. Jit Dutta, USA: It is desirable for Israel to gain wider recognition in the world in general and among the Islamic countries in particular as it softens Israel's isolation in the Middle East and opens up new political and economic opportunities. Hence it is good news that Israel and Pakistan had the first official meeting to 'engage' each other. However Israel should also keep in my mind India's sensitivities while cultivating relations with Pakistan. At the end of the day Pakistan's desire for relation is more of tactical ploy while India-Israel ties are strategic in nature. India and Israel should never lose sight of the bigger picture and the ground realities which tie the together. Solange Kelly, England: I wouldn't put much faith in Musharraf! Didn't he blame Israel for all the troubles pertaining to the so-called Palestine? Isn't he still persisting with the same mantra, mainly: He will not recognize Israel until the Palestinians regain control or our country Israel? By all means talk to these fellows. However, no further than that! Our friends have been and are the Indians. Absolutely. Boris Celser, Calgary, Canada: If Pakistan is already making it conditional to the establishment of a Palestinian state, then I'm against it. Pakistan's idea of a PA state, as previously stated by them, is the 1967 borders including Jerusalem. No way. Bhaskar, New Haven, USA: Relations between two states becomes durable, only when it can find footing in the street, amongst the people. Anybody with elementary knowledge of Pakistan knows that average Pakistanis don't even consider the rights of Israel to exist. I am very much for Israel-Pak normalization, which should help bring peace to Middle East. Unfortunately, it will not happen. Because Pakistan's goal is not to help bring peace, but pursue its weird idea of 'strategic balance' with India, completely forgetting that Indo-Israel relationship is based on long term goal, with street support. If it proves anything, it highlights that pressure is building up on Musharraf. If he follows the path which he proclaims publicly, it will be primarily good for Pakistan, and the world at large. Musharraf now has to walk the talk. Good Luck. Jawaid Khan, Chicago, USA: How a Pakistani-Israeli relationship proceeds, only time will tell. I am amused at how our Indian friends are reacting. Its amazing how insecure they feel about themselves. Abraham Muhammad Mufti, Albany, NY:As an American of Pakistani decent from North West Frontier Province, I am delighted with the news. What Pakistan needs is to establish full fledge economic relations between private business communities of both countries rather then establishing any government-to-government military ties. I am sure that Pakistan's President Musharraf, though an army guy will understand this key point. Both countries could start cooperation in the education sector with Palestinians and maybe Turks as partners of both the countries. Pakistan, a country of 160 million people could be a huge market for Israeli technical education to begin with, and later the sky could be the limit. I also believe that we Pakistani Americans who have a better understanding of both Pakistani and Jewish culture could play a vital role in bringing both societies closer. Afzal, Canada:Great move. Another right step in continuation with many that have preceded. I am surprised at the intolerance of some who actually think that an Israel-Pakistan relationship can actually hurt India? Wake up! India is not the only growing reality of SE Asia, Pakistan is contributing a lot as well. A GDP or 8+ % is nothing short of amazing if you think of the near bankrupt state of Pakistan only half a decade ago. An Israel-Pakistan relationship can further enhance the peace and balance in the SE Asian region, which in turn is bound to bring prosperity to the people of the region. Well done to both the countries for a great and meaningful initiative! Sajid, Finland:Shalom, Being a Pakistani, I welcome this positive step forward in building close relations between Israel and Pakistan. I would request my friends in Israel to watch out for the negative thoughts of Indians who will try their best to alienate Israel from Pakistan. I believe in the future there will be major breakthroughs in diplomatic relations between these two countries. Yeshar koach Israel! Vivek Verma:One has to understand that Pakistan's foreign policy, in fact ALL policies, stems from what India is doing. Their single point agenda in life is to look at their neighbors and try to emulate or undermine what they are doing. Since Indo-Israeli ties are touching new heights, with obvious benefits to both countries, Pakistanis have decided to drop all their so-called concern for the Arab world and try to woo Israel. I think Israelis are smart enough to see through Pakistani's objectives and even if they establish normal relationship with Pakistan, I doubt if Pakistanis have anything substantial to offer the Israelis except the export of Islamic fundamentalism from their madrasas. Farhan, Islamabad, Pakistan:It's a happy time when we are trying to build a friendly relationship with Israel. Speaking from the heart, we Pakistani people have no problem with Jews since they have many things similar to what we practice. But I will say that in order for there to be permanent peace Israel and its people should not deny the legal free right for Muslims living in Palestine to have an independant state. Gerry, Ra'anana, Israel:I'm not a diplomat, and I don't do nuances. What is sauce for the goose should be sauce for the gander. If it is okay for India to have close relations with Arab nations since 1948 and through the Nehru/Indira years, when they were quite anti-Israel, why should they have any right to object if Israel and Pakistan were to develop a closer relationship? Oliver Shalom, MD., Pittsburgh, USA:It is going to hurt Israeli interests as Pakistan is not sincere in making relationships with Israel. It is going only to hurt India's interests and Israel will end up distancing itself from India. India has always been a great supporter of Israel despite its large Muslim population. Pakistan tried the same with Russia but Russia realized it very fast and didn't jeopardize its relationships with India. Also, the Non-Resident Indian Lobby in the USA and other countries wouldn't like Israel's move to Pakistan, which will be construed as a rebuff to India. John Perry, New Jersey, US:Indeed, Israel needs to make inroads into establishing diplomatic relations with Islamic and Arab countries. However, normal relations with the neighboring Arab countries, including such allies of the US as Kuwait and Saudi Arabia are a far cry. In fact, the publication of their governments and airlines do not refer to Israel in their official maps. President Musharraf needs the support of Israel for two important reasons: 1) Monetary support from the US: He needs the friendship of American Jews and the Israeli lobby to ensure that there are no obstacles to American aid to his country. This, in spite of the fact that he has utterly failed to help Washington locate Osama Bin Laden. It's a balancing act between pleasing the US and appeasing the fanatical Islamic groups in Islamabad. 2) Irritating India: Since 1992 the relations between India and Israel have grown stronger. There is substantial trade including military hardware. The two countries are cooperating in their fight against terrorism. Besides, the 'Parivar Sangh' which includes the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, the Bharatiya Janata party and the Rashtriya Sevak Sangh, are strong allies of Israel and have deep rooted animosity towards Islam in general, and Pakistan in particular. Islamabad will thus weaken the strong bonds between New Delhi and Jerusalem by making overtures to the Jewish state. (The writer is a journalist from New York, edited the news India-Times and was the producer of TV India and all India Radio, USA) Shahid, Chicago, USA:First of all this is a proud moment for all Pakistanis and Muslims that Pakistan has taken this step to recognize Israel. I totally disagree with the analysts and the Indians on this forum that this is a ploy by Pakistan to either poke a hole in an Israel-India partnership or to please Washington, I think on the contrary, we have every right to become a global player and have good relations with all countries including India. Pakistan has a strategic role to play in South Asia and it is a sizable nation with 150 Million people who are eager to realize their true potential as peace loving people. I think my Indian friends need to cool down and appreciate the people of Pakistan whose majority is for better ties with all people of the world. My best wishes to my Jewish and Christian brothers in Israel and congratulations on this historic meeting. Shalom, Ban Gang, Kolkata, India: It is always good to make friends with others. But Israel needs to cultivate its relations with India, for the following reasons: 1.India is the one of the biggest buyers of Israeli weapons. 2.India's growing economy, where Israeli companies can invest specially in the knowledge-related industry. 3.Israeli pharmaceutical companies can invest in the Indian biotech sector, which is expected to grow. 4.Thousands of Israeli tourist go to India every year for vacations. 5.India and Israel are two countries who are victims of the same kind of terrorism. 6.As far as religion is concerned, both Hindu and Judaism are ancient. 7.Pakistan shows sympathy towards Islamic extremism. 8.Israel can gain much less in the arms market in Pakistan since the Chinese, French, and British-made are used. 9.Do not forget the thousands of people who have died in Israel due to Islamic terrorism, which has always had support from Pakistan in the name of freedom fighting. 10.India and Israel have a common cause and a common enemy. I think above things are enough to understand the core matter - why Israel should take India's side. Rehan Farooq, Houston, TX: This is a day of joy for moderate Pakistanis. We are finally joining the mainstream. Israel is a fact of life and has never done anything against Pakistan. In addition, we have only withheld recognition of Israel due to the Arabs, who have shown no support to Pakistan in its troubles with India. In addition, thanks to the Arabs, the plague of Wahhabism has been unleashed on our moderate nation. Mr. Musharraf has set the ball in motion and this will only lead to good things. I welcome my Jewish brothers with open arms. This is a day to be proud. Alan Picker, Giffnock, Scotland: Why should Israel jeopardize a workable relationship with India to gain some sort of grudging relationship with Pakistan? Its leadership is notoriously unstable and much of its population are ferociously anti-Semitic. I see no advantage to Israel in this useless arrangement. M. Shallwani: It is welcome news to hear that Pakistan and Israel intend to start some sort of communication with each other. Indeed, ever since the creation of these two countries on purely religious grounds, they have a lot to share. Pakistan was created for Muslims and Israel for Jews. Both are follow monotheistic religions and both have a lot more in common than either one has with any other religion, including Christianity or Hinduism. Also, both are forward-looking nations with an incredible amount of talent and scientific know-how. Further, there is no doubt that both are nuclear powers. Now if they talk to each other, it is bound to remove the tensions and distrust that exist between these two nations. Atif Siddiqi, Lahore, Pakistan: Finally! This is a joyful moment for both our countries. Long live Pakistan! Long live Israel! M. Ogilvy, Tel Aviv, ISRAEL: No harm in talking to Pakistanis, or anyone else. But, for heaven's sake, don't do it in the traditional Israeli style: don't go out of your way to hug ancient enemies who put on a superficial smile for the photo ops, but are far from parting with their old ways, old hatreds, old prejudices. Don't simply do what one of the Israeli ministers did on a recent visit to Turkey: after getting a public bashing from the Islamist Turkish Prime minister, the Israeli minister sheepishly smiled and declared that "only a good friend can heap such devastating criticism onto a neighbor." Stanley Cohen, London, UK: Diplomatic relations with Pakistan? Great! At the expense of close relations with India? Forget it! Jacob, Baltimore, Maryland, USA: This is ridiculous. Once again Israel has to justify its existence and grovel for Pakistan, of all countries, to recognize that it exists. President Musharraf's statement that his country would not recognize Israel until there is a Palestinian state is typically two-faced. Pakistan is a fa ade of a country that was ripped out the side of India because Hindus and Muslims could not live together. Too bad there are no refugee camps for Pakistan-forced displaced Hindus for President Musharraf to deal with. Maybe then Israel could make the condition of recognizing the existence of Pakistan subject to the creating of a new homeland for displaced Hindus. Until Pakistan can rein in its virulent fanatic Muslim clerics who spout anti-Semetic excuses for all their problems, Israel should approach these overtures very hesitantly. Richard Kaplan, Pittsburgh, PA, USA: "Meetings with Jews and Israelis, as the reaction to the Peres interview with Jang proved, aren't real popular with the Islamic extremists in Karachi." Don't make the mistake of distinguishing between "Islamic extremists" and Pakistanis in general when it comes to Jews and Israel. In general we aren't liked, respected. or considered desirable friends. President Musharraf's desire is to further connect to the US and the West, and to use relations with Israel as the conduit. There is no true need for us to establish relations, and no real benefit to it. I'd stick with India, a true pluralistic and democratic state that at least has values in common with us. Namdev, India: Mr. Musharraf is a shrewd personality with the thinking of a politician in uniform. His intention in having a direct relationship with Israel is to stop Israel from drifting towards India. It took the government of India 43 years to establish direct contact with Israel. Successive governments felt that it was good to align with Islamic countries surrounding Israel, even though they denounce India's actions in Kashmir. Some wise thinking by Mr. P. V. Narshima Rao and the next BJP Govt. had been successful in building a friendship with Israel, which will be a truer friend than the Muslim countries who feel that Pakistan is more Islamic, even though it has fewer Muslims than India has. The OIC (Organization of Islamic Countries) feels that Russia is more Islamic than India. The main intention of Mr. Musharraf is to stop the growing friendship with India and thereby stop, or at least hinder, the supply of sophisticated arms and to inhibit the Jewish lobby in Washington that supports Indian interests and the government of India in general. Mark, Rome, Italy: I would just like to applaud M. Waqar's comments regarding his support for the opening up of international discussions involving people of different faiths (albeit the one God). Why is it that whenever something positive happens in politics, sceptics around the world focus on the negative? I am sure that there is a cynical side to this new relationship, as no relationship is perfect, but let's look on the bright side and support what seems to me to be a positive step in the right direction. Stephen Hader, Charlotte, NC, USA: Israeli relations with non-democratic countries may serve short-term goals, but what happens when the next leader takes over in Pakistan or Eygpt or Turkey or Syria or Jordon or Lebanon or Iran or Saudi Arabia? Stay strong, it is the only wise policy. Iqbal Ratnani: Being an American of Pakistani origin, I am extremely pleased to see this move by Musharraf for following reasons: 1. Israel is an integral and important nation in world community. Israel is a "reality". The sooner we accept it, the better. 2. Jews are extremely ethical people and better friends than many others. Moreover they are 'ahle-kitab' and very near to doctrine of Islam. 3. With friendship to Israel, Pakistan can better serve and bridge Palestinian cause. 4. And oh yes! We can throw a spoke to Indian-Israel ties. 5. Beside Palestinian conflict (unusually hyped by mullahs for political reasons), both countries have no conflict. 6. Pakistan can serve as a big gateway for Israeli trade and politics. For Israel, it's better to have friend on the Iranian border particularly and in the Islamic world generally. God bless both countries in their endeavour for better ties. Venkatesh Naini, USA: This is a sly attempt by Pakistan to woo Israel, which has a close friendship with India, including defense pacts. Pakistan is an opportunist state with no clear policy on rooting out the Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism emanating from its soil. Israel should be careful in getting close to Pakistan, especially in light of its relation with India. Mike: I am so tired of Israel caring about what others (i.e. India) think when we allow them to have close relations with the Arabs and vote against us at the UN. If the Indians don't like us cozying up to Pakistan, then they should start supporting Israel politically. Quid pro quo! Amir Ali, Peshawar, Pakistan: The article's analysis is correct but incomplete. Pakistan also wants to have more influence in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and it cannot do so without developing some sort of relationship with Israel. It is also part of President Musharraf's enlightened moderation agenda to have Muslims in contact with everyone - Hindus, Christians and Jews instead of just talking about it at home. I support this move to establish contact with Israel, though for domestic and moral compulsions, full diplomatic relations should not be established until there is a proper Palestinian state. M. Waqar, New York: It's a great chance for both Pakistan and Israel to establish diplomatic relations and understanding between the people of both countries. I am glad that the president of Pakistan is going to speak to Jews in New York. We should understand that Jews, Muslims, and Christians are religions of one God and Islam and Muslims recognize and respect David, Jesus and Mary. Islam even allows intermarriage with Jews and Christians, so what is the problem? I am from Pakistan but a US citizen. I am really glad that Israel and Pakistan are coming together slowly. I also salute to your newspaper for publishing the very nice article ''Analysis: Why is Musharraf warming up to Israel?'' Leslie Manners, Mumbai, India: General Musharraf is a shrewd man. Unlike many of his countrymen, he realizes that Pakistan is the only loser of a policy of cold-shouldering Israel. His moves are aimed at negating the increasingly closer ties between Israel and India. Fasih Ali Khan, London, England: I support the government of Pakistan's move to at least engage Israel and try to play a constructive role in the Middle East conflict. We'd like Israel to show sincerity by pulling out from all occupied lands and stop suppressing the Palestinian people, and in return Pakistan will ask the Palestinians to show full restrain and start thinking logicallyâ€”since they and Israel have to live side by side forever, so why not in peace? Israel has to show its real commitment before this whole process starts. I'd love to watch it happening. Peace and harmony is Pakistan's message to all. Mohd Waqari, New York, USA: I congratulate The Jerualem Post for publishing the response of Pakistanis on this issue, it seems like majority of Pakistanis are interested in relations with Israel, and only a bunch of religious fanatics are against this development. The majority of Pakistanis are talented and modern, and they understand that it's time to have relations with Israel. The Bible, Quran, and Torah are all books of one God, and there are a lot of things in common between Jews and Muslims. President of Pakistan Mr. Pervez Musharraf is a very smart person and he understands the needs of today's world. I am sure your newspaper will continue to keep a positive image of this developement, and I hope your paper bring Pakistanis and Israelis together. I hope soon we can say: LONG-LIVE PAK-ISRAEL RELATIONS. Being a Pakistani of Pathani origin, I would like to share this with you that people living on Afghanistan-Pakistan border are Pathans and they also have Jewish background, its a story of lost tribes. Keep up the great job, Jerusalem Post. Tahir Razvi, Baku, Azerbaijan: Bravo Musharraf, this is a very healthy move. I am a Pakistani myself and I always thought that we have no problems directly and indirectly with the Jewish state- then why not recognize Israel and be friendly with them. Hamas or any other nation has no right to criticize Pakistan's move, our majority is very moderate, expect for some idiots like MMA people, who just like to play politics with a brand name of Islam. I have many friends who are Jews and we don't have any difference, then why I am not allowed to visit Israel or they are allowed in Pakistan? So I would like to ask a favor of Mr. Nabil Shaath and all those terrorist organizations such as Hamas or whoever: Stay away from us. We are a nation who of intelligent people, and our majority is against any kind of terrorism, so don't dictate us what to do. We are backing this meeting and hope that in the near future we will have full diplomatic relations with Israel, and we can be friendly nation. Abdel Karim Salim Sharif, Jerusalem: If the Arab countries of Egypt, Jordan, and Mauritania have already recognized Israel, and if the Palestinian Authority itself is negotiating directly with Israel (which is a de-facto recognition of Israel by the Palestinians) then I see no reason at all why Pakistan should not recognize the Jewish State. Even the former Soviet Union,which was the main suporter of Arabs against Israel, had diplomatic relations with Israel. Politics is the pursuit of self interest. Lew Steinfeld, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Definitely 100% for it. Ties with any Islamic country are important to break through the diplomatic isolation and for developing commerce. Commerce foments peace between nations. At the same time, it's a valuable example to set for other Arab countries to encourage normalizing relations with Israel. Muhammad Gilani,USA: This is a very big step indeed, especially since its seems it was initiated by Pakistan, notwithstanding the fact that there was always some sort of contact, however brief, from the Israeli side. As for the protestors, they only numbered 400 or so, considering that Pakistan is a country of some 150 million. Someone pointed out that the heart of al Qaida is in Pakistan. True to only an extent, since the majority have nothing to do with extremism. At times, they (average Pakistani) may speak out of patriotism or bond of faith, but that doesn't mean that they hate Jews or Israel. For that matter, the opposition in India has many times foregone warm relations with India at the expense of agitating Arabs. Lets not forget that there is no evil "Empire" today, because Pakistanis fought and led to the defeat of USSR, while some so called member of "Non-aligned Movement" worked simply as an extension of the USSR, namely India. What did upset me is opinions expressed by these friends of Israel, who now somehow feel threatened every time Pakistan tries to do something good. Let us not forget that Pakistan is the only Muslim super power and it would be beneficial for any country to be friends with a major Muslim country, economically and militarily. At the same time, it is a major endorsement and seal of approval for the present Israeli government and only reflects what is to follow once the Palestine issue is resolved. One last thing: As a Pakistani, there is a serious concern regarding Indo-Israeli defense relations. I hope that you will realize that this is the best time to address that and alleviate some of the concerns and show even more good faith. Sincerely, A proud Pakistani & Muslim. Zafar, Karachi, Pakistan: I think that Musharaf has not read the Holy Quran, which is the Only Book and is the word of Almighty Allah. Holy Quran says that Jews and Christians cannot be your friend and they are each other's friends. I suggest that Musharaf read and understand The Book to understand the word of the Almighty. Najib Khan, Pakistan: Israel & Pakistan have had a covert relationship for quite a few years now, from Iranian Jews being air lifted to Israel from Pakistan after the Iranian revolution, to the Israeli "assistance" Islamabad received during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Israel is a successful ideological state, able to accommodate its religious overtones with its secular institutions. Pakistan being the only other nation built on a religios ideology, has much to learn from Israel's successful model. Both countries are located in turbulent neighborhoods, & thus have to build a policy of self-preservation & a fierce notion of territorial integrity. As far as I'm concerned this a natural relationship that should be nurtured, with or without Washington or New Delhi's approval. As such I fully support Musharraf's address the AJC. Shalom to our Jewish friends. Abdul Salam, Islamabad, Pakistan: I welcome this move by the honored ministers of two brotherly countries(Pakistan-Israel). I also want to inform Israelis and Pakistanis to have a close look on Indians, now these Indians will try dirty tricks as they have seen Pak-Israel coming closer. Please be cautious. Pak-Israel Bravo. Mona, Pakistan: It's funny how some readers have such pessimistic views regarding Israel/Pakistan relations. It's a great move and is only opposed by the religious fanatics which indeed are found everywhere, not just in Pakistan, and which constitutes less than 15% of total Pakistani population. I hate to see how Western media projects such events. Most of us don't even realize if an anti-US or anti-Israel rally or protest even occurred today unless of course you watch the news. Lets face it: Israel will always have better and stronger relations with India no matter how close Pakistan and Israeli relations become, and there will always be apprehension on Israeli side as to not to trust Pakistan too much. It's not Pakistan that has attempted to establish ties with Israel; on the contrary, Israel has attempted to establish ties with Pakistan and other Muslim nations on several occasions and rightfully so, Israel is a powerful and very dominant country in world politics in its own right- and all Muslim nations and Pakistan realize that, SO what's the big deal if Pakistan is alarmed about Israel/India close ties, wouldn't India have the same response to see its arch rival have close ties with Israel and benefiting from it? The unfortunate reality is that most Israelis have never met or even seen a Pakistani in their lives and only base their opinions about us either through media or the Indian perception of us, but hopefully all that will change soon and I hope the Indians do put their money where the mouth is because Israel won't back out of establishing this relationship and hopefully neither would Pakistan. No matter what prompted Musharraf to take this step you will not hear an ordinary Pakistani oppose it who knows how much Islamic teachings and I mean true Islamic teachings lay stress on Judaism and its people and our salat or daily 5 times Prayer is not completed until we ask lord to bless the people and family of Prophet Abraham in our darood-e-Ibrahimi which are Jews and Christians. The love for Jewish people is found even in Pakistan even though it might not be open. It's time Israelis and Jewish people as a whole see the other side of Pakistan, which is tolerant, friendly, and very much embracing - that side is not ever shown through media or any other channels. And Pakistani leadership should only go ahead with the establishment of ties with Israel for Israel's sake only, not to please the US or to rebuke India. Most Pakistanis would find that unfavourable, we love Jews for what they are, yes there are many who do love them! For a normal Pakistani, clueless of politics, it's the Jewish people who matter, not the political strategies. We admire them for their resilience through centuries of persecution and pain.