Pakistan to gain nothing by accepting Israel: IPS roundtable



ISLAMABAD, DEC 27 – Issues as delicate as the recognition of Israel must be addressed in line with the popular opinion and sentiments in Pakistan and through parliamentary debates as such a measure taken against the national ideology and policy environment will create chaos in the country. It was also deplored that the debate initiated on the issue in the policy arena by some vested interests is untimely and counterproductive as it does not present any vision and proactive plan to benefit from such a major foreign policy shift.

Rather, Pakistan does not seem to gain anything by accepting Israel in material terms in the security or economic arena except causing a casualty of its own national ideology, which is the real binding force of the Islamic republic.

This was the crux of the deliberation titled ‘UAE’s recognition of Israel and its implications for the Middle East and Pakistan’ which was held at Institute of Policy Studies (IPS), Islamabad. The session was chaired by Executive President IPS Khalid Rahman, and addressed by Ambassador (r) Javed Hafeez, Ambassador (r) Tajammul Altaf, senior IPS associate, Brigadier (r) Tughral Yamin, associate dean, Centre for International Peace and Stability Studies-National University of Science and Technology (CIPS-NUST) and IPS fellow, Brigadier (r) Said Nazir Mohmand, senior IPS associate, Naufil Shahrukh, GM-IPS and other members of the Institute’s research faculty.

Speaking from a diplomatic viewpoint, the discussion underscored that while it was important to carve paths of pragmatism from within the underlying grey areas of diplomacy and foreign policy, it is also imperative that no step was taken at the cost of the country’s identity, sovereignty or fundamental ideology. Likewise, it should also be made sure that no compromises were being made out of any fear, threat, or greed.

It was also pointed out that unfortunately, it was this argument of pragmatism that was being used on many occasion to get important decisions made without bringing them into public debate, and a similar attempt was being made in the case of Israel’s’ recognition issue as well, as it is very easy to anticipate that any such discussion in the public domain is less likely to garner much support.

Deliberating over the economic aspect, it was stressed that the real issue Pakistan was faced with was not its economic debt but extreme mismanagement of economic resources that was caused by poor governance. It was highlighted that Israel too was under considerable debt itself, but it was rather their efficient utilization of the loans that was turning out to be the deciding factor in making their borrowed money beneficial instead of a burden. Similarly, it was also pointed out that if the economic weakness was being deemed as the major reason behind the recognition of Israel, then why rich and self-reliant Muslim countries like UAE have chosen to walk that path?

Over the argument of security and intelligence sharing between Pakistan and Israel, the question was raised asking with whom such kind of cooperation would be against? If it was supposed to be against terrorism, would it still be relevant in the case of CPEC and Balochistan as these two were the major areas where the country was faced with growing threats, most noticeably from its Western neighbor?

The speakers also lamented that one of the biggest dilemmas faced by the Muslim world at present is that their leadership is not a true representative of its masses, and the phenomenon is not only rendering them ineffective at the international scale but also weakening them from within.

Overall, the participants were unanimous that the recognition of Israel was a sensitive and complex issue having many dimensions associated with it. It was reiterated that while it is true that any matters related to the country’s foreign policy should only be decided in relevant forums and not in streets, it was also not possible to disregard public opinion at any level, and thus either by convincing the people or by getting convinced, the decision-makers must always be on the same page as the public while making their call.