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  • Musharraf talks to Jewish leaders shocker!

    by Ahmad
    19th September, 2005 at 5:01 pm    

    President Musharraf says Pakistan will take steps to build ties with Israel yesterday, at a dinner with the American-Jewish congress. Talk about politics in Pakistan moving on! This follows on news a few weeks ago that Pakistan has held talks with Israel for the first time.

    It seems to be that Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza has had a changing influence on the Muslim World. The leadership of Iran has (tentatively) declared that a two state solution will not be opposed as long as the Palestinian people supported it.

    Pakistan knew it would attract criticism from its people and religious parties at home, but Musharraf let it be known that the two countries have been involved in landmark talks. Pakistan still claims that they have not recognised Israel however both sides agree that the meeting was a success.

    A few years back I would have disagreed with this but when you look at the humanitarian angle and the plight of the Palestinians it makes you think. I don’t live in Palestine, so I can’t be a judge on how good and how bad things will be.

    What I do know is that everybody wants peace and if that peace means recognising Israel, so be it. If a viable Palestinian state can be created alongside Israel, that is far better than Palestinians living in squalor and the fear of state brutality.

    As for the Israelis, they too wish peace and it would be great for them if they knew that they can live a life were they don’t have to look over their shoulders from oncoming attack from Hamas or the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade.

    The people that want to cause the trouble are the extreme Zionists (Christian and Jewish) who want to destroy the third most sacred place for Muslims (Masjid al Aqsa) and replace it with a new temple.

    On the flipside we have the terrorist groups such as Hamas, Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad, who gain popularity acting as the saviors of the Palestinian people who want to remove every single Jew out of Israel, dead or alive.

    These diplomatic talks will help, as the extremists from all angles will start scratching their heads and think “this is not going as planned”. Muslims will be more empowered than ever before with issues regarding Palestine as they can verbally put pressure on a nation they could now recognise.

    Arab nations can actively lobby against Israel on certain issues if they are disagreeable, and agree on issues that all the concerned nations can benefit from. This can only happen if Israel is recognised by the Arab and wider Muslim World.

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    Filed in: South Asia,The World

    14 Comments below   |  

    Reactions: Twitter, blogs

    1. leon — on 19th September, 2005 at 5:15 pm  

      One nuclear power wants to be friends with another nuclear power (who also is a very good friend of the US gov); not much of a story really…

    2. Arif — on 19th September, 2005 at 7:14 pm  

      I agree with leon that this has more of a military basis than a moral basis, but also with Ahmed, that this opens up some intriguing options for creative thinkers in Pakistan.

      If relations with Israel can be used to humanise Muslims and advocates for Palestinian human rights in the eyes of more Israeli people, that might be something. Israelis backpack around India, so why not Pakistan? When they are eventually forced into military service, maybe their experience of meeting Muslims in an atmosphere of friendship and hospitality will lessen their desire to humiliate Palestinians and collaborate with occupation.

      Of course, we have to learn to be hospitable and not demonise others ourselves…

    3. Anon — on 19th September, 2005 at 11:27 pm  

      Interesting piece on the last remaining Jews in Pakistan.

    4. Sunny — on 20th September, 2005 at 12:11 am  

      C’mon guys, let’s not be so cynical. Most international alliances are built these days around strategic interest. Why should Pakistan and Israel behave differently? Well they could do… but there is nothing wrong with thinking in such a way :)

    5. Rohin — on 20th September, 2005 at 2:09 am  

      Leon I think it is still a significant story. Not so long ago, before Naramsimha Rao and Vajpayee, India’s involvement with Israel was determined by Pakistan. Indira Gandhi was approached several times by Israel, but refused their offers of help so as to avoid upsetting Pakistan. Hence Pakistan now meeting with Israel is a significant change in the political climate.

      I don’t know much about defence etc, so I can’t say much more. Not sure what will come out of this.

    6. Saheli — on 20th September, 2005 at 3:55 am  

      It would be nice if this could be a friendship of two countries that have a lot of shared cultural and scientific interests and trade-the more friends-of-Arabs Israel has to deal with, as opposed to ignore in reciprocation, the better Israel has to treat its Arabs and Palestinians, and the more Pakistan intwines its people’s fortunes with other peacetime interests, the more peacebound it will be. Unfortunately that kind of shared-interests courtship usually comes last in geopolitics, not first. Diplomatic channels are almost always good.

    7. leon — on 20th September, 2005 at 10:42 am  


      I’d love to think that it would have that dimension but can’t see it really. Read any decent book about geo-politics and you’ll see this for what it is (it’s not much to do with cynicism either, just confronting reality!).;)

      Keep in mind that one country is run by a dictator and the other a war criminal; how much of this is really about the betterment of the people of those countries?

    8. Arif — on 20th September, 2005 at 12:12 pm  

      Leon, I know that political leaders don’t tend to work on such a dimension - especially not in these two countries at the moment - but I was making a point about how people within these countries can take advantage of such a situation for moral ends, despite the cynical intentions of political leaders.

      I mean, better to try to do something. But I take the underlying point I think you are making, that we shouldn’t be blinded to the actual motives of leaders, we need to be confronting them rather than buying in to their justifications.

    9. leon — on 20th September, 2005 at 2:44 pm  

      Indeed I sincerly wish that the people of each country will use this to a postive end but must admit i’m skeptical that it will come to pass…

    10. Fereeha — on 21st September, 2005 at 2:50 am  


      Regarding Rohin’s comment, the main reason Indira Gandhi and other Indian leaders tried evading the issue of accepting Isreal as a state, was not as simple as “upsetting Pakistan”.
      Pakistan and India sadly share a complicated history where both countries focus on their own interests rather than pleasing or upsetting each other.
      The main reason behind India’s stance of not recognising Israel until 1992 was a pressure from the Arab Muslim world and consideration for her own large Muslim population feeling.

      The thaw in US-Indian relationship after the cold war also played its part.
      Such has been the pressure of Muslim world over the world, that the whole issue of Pakistan- Israel has been taken out of all proportions.
      For India, it was a difficult situation being a democracy, for Pakistan, it is a matter of unprecedented proportions in the midst of religious fog created by those who have their own vested interests or misguided beliefs concerning this issue.

      The tension between Israel-Pakistan relations is again a result of the prevalent but vague concepts of “Muslim feeling” and “brotherhood”. The conflict is not between Muslims and Jews as a large number of politically motivated religious scholars in Pakistan imply.
      The reason Muhammed Ali Jinnah in 1948 decided to condemn Israel was not because it was a Jew state fighting against Muslims but that it was the illegal occupation aided by terrorism of one country over the other. However, through the decades, Pakistan’s stance over Israel has given vital blood to religious scholars preaching a convoluted picture of Islam and an additional lecture topic to the religious preachers in mosques.

      Over the years, Pakistan has unfailingly continued to follow the Arab line on Israel. It tagged its stand on Tel Aviv’s recognition to the policy of non-recognition by Saudi Arabia and other OIC (Organisation of Islamic Countries) members although it had no common borders with Israel, no clash of economic or strategic interests.
      It also clung blindly to the notion of “Muslim brotherhood” even when a glaring silence came back its way from Yasar Arafat and Palestine during the lonely wars it fought with its neighbour.

      Interestingly, Islamic Pakistan and Jewish Israel resemble each other on many grounds. Both are the only two countries to be made in the name of religion in the world and were both created within the same year.
      Both countries are based on ideology, with religion as the foundation and although Israel does not acknowledge, both have nuclear weapons. The agendas of the two countries are security-driven and both grapple with threats from neighbours who are reluctant or unwilling to accept them.

      Pakistan, as a state has castigated and condemned Israel ever since its inception in 1947, and has lent unwavering and vociferous support to the Palestinian cause.

      Pakistan, as a society officially does not acknowledge Israel’s existence, with Pakistani passport having loud inscription saying it denies the existence of the state of Israel and its public stages routine protests against Israeli policies.

      Conspiracy theories thrive on Israeli ingredients. Branding opponents “Israeli spies or agents of the Jews” remains a powerful political tool.

      For Islamic extremists, there is little or no benefit in improving ties with Israel.
      Pakistan’s largest religious group, Jamaat-e-Islami is still trying to play on Muslim feeling by uttering dramatic words instead of a more rational analysis.
      Syed Munawwar Hasan, Secretary General, Jamaat-e-Islami said in his statement yesterday: “The day Khurshid Kasuri, the Pakistani foreign minister, and his Israeli counterpart, Silvan Shalom, shook hands was the day of Miraj ( a holy day for Muslims). This was the day God showed Al-Aqsa mosque (the place sacred for both Muslims and Jews) to the prophet Muhammed. The Pakistani government is making fun of the Muslim sentiment and trampling on the preaching of Islam.”

      Such emotional and perverted stance from high authorities is certainly not going to help the government in making inroads to the uneducated majority of Pakistan.
      The public has to understand that their ideals and dreams aside, the situation holds a ludicrous current in itself.
      The fact that even the Muslim countries which share border with Israel and have been in direct conflict with it, have indeed established diplomatic ties with Israel should be a mirror to the transitory nature of Pakistan public and religious parties’ stance.

      The rapid moves indicate that Pakistan would soon become the fifth Muslim country to recognise Israel, the other four being Turkey, Egypt, Jordan and Mauritania while Morocco and Qatar only have limited trade ties. One theory indicates that Pakistan has Saudi Arab’s fill blessing in its new role.

      And probably the best part is the fact that for President Musharraf, this issue is yet another chance to secure his position in the redefined democratic government that he claims to have.
      While he can proudly answer to an inquisitive reporter that his uniform was indeed not questioned by the US president, he does not even consider it important to explain to his people why at this point in history, establishing ties with Israel has become the most important issue for Pakistan.
      While all major political parties are appalled that the issue was not even mentioned in the parliament, the public is expressing its concern at being left out. In the end, the Pakistani public will get another speech by Mr Musharraf who would then express what a major victory he achieved for Pakistan. The so called free broadcast media would hail him a hero and people like me would remain to wonder how he could once again get away with that?
      While I consider the stance of the maulvis on Israel not just boringly emotional but also dangerously manipulative of public, I do realise the power it holds on the minds of people. To mould this sentiment is essential, but to ignore it, would probably be lethal!

    11. Sunny — on 21st September, 2005 at 10:59 pm  

      Good analysis Fereeha, agree with pretty much all of it.

    12. Iain — on 22nd September, 2005 at 12:20 pm  

      It seems you missed out one arab recogniser of Israel.

      The Palestinian Authority- finally dear God- in Feb 2005 (after PA full ratification in 1996 prior to Arafats second intifada, after 1993 Oslo Accords full recognition of both states).

      Saudi Arabia has also offered Arab League full recognition rather than the end of the economic boycott by AL alone and existing limited recognition.

      Given that Israel and Pakistan were created in very similar circumstances for the same stated reasons then this has taken a long time coming. Pakistans’ history has been far more religious, oppressive, sectarian, bloody and corrupt than Israels has ever been- but hey- I am sure that is not for ‘cultural’ reasons.

      The evil racists who these days use ‘Zionist’ as a proxy for Jews would like it to go the other way but then they are just sad losers who are getting more desperate every day as ‘Islam’ slowly wakes up and modernises. And with any Providence the pepople will recognise and rejects the Islamists ideologies of hate for what it is and their standing policy of victimising muslims everywhere.

    13. Sajn — on 26th October, 2005 at 12:18 am  

      I would just like to add a couple of points.

      Firstly although there are similarities in the creation of Israel and Pakistan, there is also one major difference. Pakistan was formed out of land that where the Muslims were a majority whereas Israel was created by displacing the majority population.

      Secondly, although Musharaf has brought this out into the open it should be pointed out that there has been contact between the two states for a couple of decades now.

      Finally, I think the influence of the so-called religious parties is over-estimated. Most Pakistanis don’t seem to be that bothered by the issue.

    14. gaurav — on 22nd November, 2005 at 10:58 pm  

      Israel, in recent years, has enculcated close ties with India. This recent manouvre may be a way to pre-empt that relationship.

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