How Israel-Pakistan Relations Could Be Established By The End Of 2020?

There are no diplomatic relations between Israel and Pakistan. Pakistan does not recognise Israel because of the longstanding Palestine dispute. There were, however, in the past efforts made to establish some relations between Pakistan and Israel, but not of much avail. EurAsian Times analyses the history of Israel-Pakistan relations and examine if both these nations can establish bilateral ties in the near future.

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The Pakistan Foreign Office yesterday (FO) asserted that there has been no change in Pakistan’s policy on Israel after many experts suggested that Pakistan should establish diplomatic relations with Israel. The suggestions of commencing ties with Israel came after almost all Arab nations did not criticize India for their actions in Jammu and Kashmir.

“Our policy on Israel is very clear and there is no change in it,” Dr Muhammad Faisal told reporters at the weekly briefing when asked if the government was mulling any change.

During Musharraf’s regime, there was some momentum to commence Israel-Pakistan Relations. The then Foreign Minister of Pakistan – Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri held a meeting with his Israeli counterpart in Turkey. Those efforts, however, could not make any progress due to strong public resentment.

The current Kashmir crisis has again triggered a debate in Pakistan on whether the country should revisit its policy towards Israel. Such suggestions stemmed from the fact that some Arab states have either given a muted response or sided with New Delhi over its decision to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.

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When Israel and Pakistan Worked Together

Despite no diplomatic relations between Israel and Pakistan, the Israeli and Pakistani military worked together during Operation Cyclone at the epitome of the Cold War. The Pakistani intelligence agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) closely worked with Mossad against the Soviet Union.

Both Israel and Pakistan sided with Washington during the Cold War whereas Islamabad’s arch-rival India sided with the USSR.

Sporting ties between Israel and Pakistan have been quite decent at the 2002 Wimbledon Open when Pakistani tennis player Aisam Ul Haq Qureshi teamed up with Israeli tennis player Amir Hadad. Despite condemnation from the Pakistan Sports Board, Qureshi responded “I would like to be talked about for my tennis rather than politics. If we can change people’s minds, then that would be a good thing.”

When the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited India, he stated in an interview regarding Tel Aviv’s relations with Pakistan “We  are not enemies of Pakistan and Pakistan should not be our enemy either.”

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Musharraf Advocating Israel-Pakistan Relations

Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has been advocating that Islamabad should consider establishing ties with Israel and this was not the first time Musharraf had made his views public on developing relations with Israel.

Musharraf remained a strong critic of Israel until 2005. But it was during his rule that the first-ever direct Pakistan-Israel contact was made, with the help of the then-Turkish president Ahmet Necdet Sezer. Since then, Musharraf, who resigned in 2008, has advocated the establishment of relations between Pakistan and Israel.

Addressing a press conference in Dubai earlier, Musharraf said relations with Israel should be established to counter India, drawing an interesting parallel between Pakistani and Israeli strategic realities.

Musharraf also placed on record that, as head of state, he had initiated contacts with Israel. “The Israeli leadership was quick to respond to my offer within 24 hours. I assumed that Israel wanted to create better relations with Pakistan. They still want it,” Musharraf said.

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“Pakistan has no direct conflict with Israel, and we are not a threat to Israel’s security. We believe Israel represents no threat to Pakistan’s national security. But our people have deep sympathy for the Palestinian people, and their legitimate desire for a state,” Musharraf said at that time.

In his speech before the World Jewish Congress, which only a few in Pakistan hailed, Musharraf had praised Israel’s move to pull out of Gaza. “In response to Sharon’s daring decision to pull out from Gaza, Pakistan has decided to establish formal ties with the State of Israel,” he said. However, Musharraf’s plan to establish Pakistan-Israel relations never actualised.

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Experts talking to EurAsian Times stated that Pakistan will eventually establish relations with Israel but it certainly will not be the first country to initiate. Many Islamic nations which in the past took a strong and aggressive stand against Israel, are now gradually warming up to the Jewish state.

The UAE, Bahrain and Oman have gone more public with their relations with Israel, while the Saudis have been little apprehensive. However, in 2018, the Saudi authorities in a landmark decision permitted Air India to use its airspace for flights between India and Israel.

Soon after, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman explicitly recognised the right of the Jewish People to have their own nation-state while collaboration between Tel-Aviv and Riyadh is no secret.

Additionally, the threat of Iran is solidifying a long-standing political affinity, and a growing behind-the-scenes alliance, between Israel, Saudi Arabia and Saudi Arabia’s Arab allies. Once the Arab World takes the lead (which could be around the corner with Mohammed Bin Salman at the helm), there is no doubt that Pakistan will immediately follow their footsteps.