Why Pakistan Should Not "Engage" with Israel

Topics: Israel, West Bank, Gaza Strip Pages: 7 (2574 words) Published: June 18, 2006
Recently the Foreign Ministers of Pakistan and Israel met in Istanbul, followed by a handshake between Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, sparking speculations that Pakistan is going to accord recognition to Israel, a state whose existence Pakistan has denied up till now. This move triggered a nationwide debate - with some people in favor of the decision, arguing that Pakistan has no dispute with Israel and there are numerous benefits of recognizing the Jewish state, while others fiercely opposing the move. The Pakistani government's stance is that the decision to "engage" with Israel was taken in appreciation of Israel's recent withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, and that Pakistan's contacts with Israel will enable it to exert pressure on Israel to resolve the Palestinian issue in a just manner. This paper looks at whether the recent contacts and ultimately diplomatic ties with Israel are justified or not, keeping in mind the advantages and disadvantages of the decision. The purpose of this paper is to show that the reasons given by the Pakistani government for launching public contacts with Israel are not justified and establishing diplomatic relations with Israel until the creation of a viable Palestinian state, is morally wrong and not in the national interest of Pakistan. First of all, let us look at the historical position of Pakistan on the Palestinian problem. Pakistan opposed the creation of Israel, and always defended the rights of the Palestinians as a matter of state policy. The founder of Pakistan had opposed the creation of Israel in these words.

Every man and woman of the Muslim world will die before Jewry seizes Jerusalem. I hope the Jews will not succeed in their nefarious designs and I wish Britain and America should keep their hands off and then I will see how the Jews conquer Jerusalem. The Jews, over half a million, have already been accommodated in Jerusalem against the wishes of the people. May I know which other country has accommodated them? If domination and exploitation are carried now, there will be no peace and end of wars. (Khan) There was good enough reason for this stance taken by Pakistan. The Palestine issue was and still is very close to the hearts of Pakistanis. The occupation of Jerusalem, the third holiest site in Islam by Jewish forces had anguished Muslims all over the world, including Pakistanis. It was for this reason, keeping in mind the sensitivities of the Pakistani people and the Ummah in general, that successive Pakistani governments refused to acknowledge the state of Israel, though secret contacts with Israel have been going on for decades (Morrow). By initiating such a high level meeting with the Israelis, the Pakistani government has awarded implicit recognition to Israel. Other than the religious factor involved, the creation of Israel itself was illegal, as the state was created by displacing the Palestinians from their own homeland using violent methods. Donald Neff records in his article, the expulsion of Palestinians from their towns and villages in the following excerpt: In most areas the Palestinians were actively forced to flee or deliberately panic-stricken into fleeing with reminders of the 9 April 1948 Dayr Yasin massacre. After the capture of Lydda and Ramlah on 11-12 July, for instance, all men of military age were herded into camps, all forms of transport were commandeered, and the remaining residents were ordered to flee within a half-hour. (Neff 98) In most cases, large-scale massacres took place.

Indiscriminate slaughters were also committed. When Israeli forces entered the Galileean village of Safsaf they ordered the remaining of the original 910 residents to gather together. Reported a female eyewitness: "As we lined up, a few Jewish soldiers ordered four girls to accompany them to carry water for the soldiers. Instead they took them to our empty houses and raped them. About seventy of our men were...

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Neff, Donald. "US Policy and the Palestinian Refugees." Journal of Palestine Studies, 18.1 (1988): 96-111. JSTOR. LUMS Lib. 14 Nov. 2005
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