After the landmark ‘peace deal’ was signed between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), brokered by the US, the Gulf state of Bahrain has agreed to fully normalize its relations with Israel as well.
Bahrain is only the fourth country in the Middle East, after the UAE, Egypt, and Jordan – to recognize Israel since its founding in 1948. However, Pakistan’s stance has ‘remained the same’ on the issue.
“Pakistan’s position on Palestine remains the same,” spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri of the Foreign Office of Pakistan said while commenting on the Bahrain and Israel peace deal.
“Peace and stability in the Middle East is Pakistan’s priority. There has been no change in Pakistan’s principled position on Palestine. We are committed to recognizing all the rights of the Palestinian people, including the right to vote,” he added.
Analysts have raised questions on Pakistan’s perpetual boycott of Israel blaming its incoherent foreign policy. According to Sumeera Asghar Roy, a PhD candidate at the China Agricultural University in Beijing and Hassan F. Virk, a Lecturer of Politics and Development Studies at the University of Lahore, Pakistan’s policymakers “succumb to socio-religious pressures, intensifying policy volatility, and that volatility read as a vulnerability opens Pakistan up to manipulation by stronger world powers.”
Religion has been central to Pakistan’s decade long rhetoric on the Israeli-Palestinian issue but with Arab countries now resolving issues with Israel is a blow to Pakistan’s stance which still remains unchanged.
“Pakistan is greatly perturbed by the introverted policies followed by Saudi Arabia and its neighbors with regard to India and simply can’t comprehend the inaction of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) over Kashmir,” wrote Khaled Ahmed, consulting editor, Newsweek Pakistan.
“They can’t grasp the Arab inwardness that ignores Kashmir, which they often equate with the Palestinians living under ‘Israeli tyranny’.”
Experts believe that the dilemma that Pakistan is stuck at is that if they give in to Israel then a precedent would be established on the Kashmir issue as well.
According to Nirupama Subramanian, talking to BBC, when the constitutional status of Jammu and Kashmir was changed a year ago, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan, only fought a verbal battle, which caused a great deal of public frustration with the government.
When Pakistan raised questions in the OIC about the removal of 370 from Jammu and Kashmir, Saudi Arabia said it was India’s internal matter. A frustrated Pakistan criticized the statement which antagonized Riyadh.
An angry Saudi Arabia demanded Pakistan repay part of the $3bn loan and has frozen a $3.2bn oil credit facility because of a dispute over how to deal with New Delhi on Jammu and Kashmir.
Roy and Virk emphasized that even though the Kashmir and rights of Palestinians have been central to Pakistan’s foreign policy, it has not achieved any results.
“India and Israel have celebrated more than a quarter-century of official ties. Pakistan, which focused its domestic energies and diplomatic capital in fighting for the right to Palestinian and Kashmiri self-determination, won nothing,” they wrote. “The state of Jammu and Kashmir has been annexed by India. Israel is on the verge of annexing the West Bank.”
Experts argue that the problem (of recognizing Israel) is very complicated as we have brainwashed our country in a way where anything linked to Israel is considered devilish. It can’t be solved in a day or two. Whether it is Pakistan’s military establishment or the government, the question of recognizing Israel is a huge political and diplomatic challenge for Pakistan.
Experts talking to the EurAsian Times stated that if Pakistan recognizes Israel, not only would Islamabad’s ‘Mision Kashmir’ get jeopardized but Pakistan’s state policy of supporting Kashmir and Palestine and the pledge of taking revenge from India and Israel would fall flat and could create upheaval in the country. The effort has to be gradual.