The World from Canada
By Muhammad Jazim
Otto Von Bismarck once famously remarked, “Politics is the art of the possible, the attainable – the art of the next best”. No possibility is really off the table in politics and when it comes to geopolitics and international relations, this notion finds unquestionable acceptance. Whether to recognize or not to recognize Israel was never really a notable item in Pakistan’s list of foreign policy considerations. However, the everchanging dynamics of international politics and the principle of politics itself suggests that nothing is set in stone. The notion of accepting Israel has found its way in our regular media discourse and given the strong trend of censorship in media, it raises eyebrows. Is the state wanting us to ponder upon this topic and prepare ourselves for the inevitable? The answer is an unfortunate yes. Prime Minister Imran Khan has been reported to have said on multiple occasions that he is under immense pressure from some ‘friendly’ countries. Well, you can never really say who is a friend or a foe in International Relations with certainty. The notion of self-interest is not just strongly entrenched in human nature but is also the only determinant in Realpolitik that Bismarck so proudly championed in the nineteenth century. Holding the nest Pakistani interest at heart, I gleefully invite you to explore the practical consequences of making this decision together with me in this newspaper column. Trust me, you are not off to an emotional ride but are set to read a plea based on logic and international politics that tell me that this will be an extremely horrendous decision that Pakistan needs to avoid at ALL costs. The only emotional coefficient of this equation remains the guidance about Israel of our founding father, the Quaid-e-Azam, and the thoughts of the Israeli founding father David Ben Gurion about the state of Pakistan. But first, let us do some real talk.
Pakistan will tremendously hurt its narrative about Kashmir and will not be able to gain any concessions as a result of swallowing this hard pill. Try answering this question. Just to secure the recognition from Pakistan, will Israel be able to coerce India into abiding by the UN Security Council resolutions about Kashmir? The answer is a big fat no. We cannot reject and protest against the oppression of an occupying force in our neighborhood when we legitimize an illegitimate occupation elsewhere. Try answering another question now. By recognizing Israel, are we improving our country’s unity, cohesion, and ultimately the law and order? The answer is a bigger no. The recognition of Israel will fuel sectarian tensions in the country as the sympathizers of the Shiite regime of the Ayatollahs would be most definitely be exploited by agencies such as RAW and their strong emotional bond with the Palestinian cause to develop a hatred of the state and ultimately, the Pakistan Army. A state that has seen so much sectarian strife, home-based terrorism by radicalized outfits, and broken law and order for decades must avoid making any decision that could lead to more chaos. This will certainly be one of those decisions. Who does not know that there is a tacit approval from Saudi Arabia to recognize Israel only because they see a common enemy in Iran? However, the backlash from a certain group should not dictate foreign policy in Islamabad but this is not just a certain group. The majority of Pakistanis, even those not Shiite Muslims, have a strong emotional connection with the Palestinian cause. History has taught us that whenever the will of the people is ignored by the state, its days have been numbered.
Respecting the sentiments and sensitivities of the Pakistani people has to be a paramount consideration in formulating Pakistan’s foreign policy. It is not emotional but the most practical and rational way forward. The reason for a strong attachment to the Palestinian cause in Pakistan has got nothing to do with an extremist mindset or a hatred of a “Jewish” state but it is a representation of a humane mindset, a just mindset, and a stateman-like mindset. If the Pakistani state laments about the fact that India is an occupying force in Kashmir, it must not show double standards by accepting Israel’s continued expansionism into Palestinian lands. Being in Canada, I have come across Jewish people and I have no qualms in saying that I met some of the finest people in the world from the Jewish community and this article is purely exploring the foreign policy approach of Pakistan based on its interest and historical position that would take a severe hit by deciding to recognize Israel. Some would label my analysis as showcasing ideological inflexibility, but I dare to ask them: What is there to gain by betraying the Palestinian and Kashmiri cause Pakistan has supported since its inception? History remembers and honors the brave and belittles those who negotiate from a point of weakness. It is important to stay on the right side of history and Pakistan is not yet come to the point where the survival of the state is linked to a betrayal of the Quaid-e-Azam. Pakistan is gleefully looking at a prosperous economic future with CPEC being fast-tracked. The Government of Pakistan is determined to boost exports and its praiseworthy handling of the pandemic has helped the country from economic doom and gloom. Future brings more opportunities as Pakistan can strengthen its relationship with Iran if the US wishes to bring back the Iran deal under the Presidency of Joe Biden. The Saudis and the Arabs have also much to gain from CPEC as they have already been invited by both China and Pakistan. Pakistan has already succeeded in having the Afghan Taliban sign the dotted line with the United States of America, so why can it not be confident of reducing hostilities between both friendly countries, Iran and Saudi Arabia. Pakistan must act as a leader in global peace and stability especially after rendering so many sacrifices in the war on terror to save not just itself but the world as a whole.
Now let us revisit the famous remark made by the Israeli founding father, David Ben Gurion, followed by the guiding worlds of the “Quaid-e-Azam” Muhammad Ali Jinnah.
David Ben Gurion: “The world Zionist movement should not be neglectful of the dangers of Pakistan to it. And Pakistan now should be its first target, for this ideological State is a threat to our existence. And Pakistan, the whole of it, hates the Jews and loves the Arabs. This lover of the Arabs is more dangerous to us than the Arabs themselves. For that matter, it is most essential for the world Zionism that it should now take immediate steps against Pakistan. Whereas the inhabitants of the Indian peninsula are Hindus whose hearts have been full of hatred towards Muslims, therefore, India is the most important base for us to work from against Pakistan. It is essential that we exploit this base and strike and crush Pakistanis, enemies of Jews and Zionism, by all disguised and secret plans” (The Jewish Chronicle 1967).
Perhaps it is time to prove to Mr. Ben Gurion that Pakistan stands not for Arabs but for Justice as it does for in the case of the people of the Valley of Kashmir. PM Imran Khan has ruled out recognizing Israel strongly based on this premise. PM Khan is following in the footsteps of the Quaid-e-Azam and his guidance with regard to Israel.
Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah: “My Eid message to our brother Muslim States is one of friendship and goodwill. We are all passing through perilous times. The drama of power politics that is being staged in Palestine … and Kashmir should serve as an eye opener to us. It is only by putting up a united front that we can make our voice felt in the counsels of the world.” (28th August 1948 Eid Address)