Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that his government is under pressure to recognize Israel, insisting that Islamabad would never establish relations with the “Zionists”. Khan revealed this during an interview with a private television, where he stated that after the recognition of Israel by Arab countries including the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain, Islamabad is also being asked to recognize Israel, something that his government has rejected till now.
Meanwhile Pakistan’s foreign office ejected the media reports that claimed Prime Minister Imran khan said Pakistan was under “pressure” by the United States to recognise Israel. Terming the media reports to be ‘fabricated’, FO Spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri stated in a press release that the prime minister had clearly articulated Pakistan’s position that unless a just settlement of the Palestine issue, satisfactory to the Palestinian people, was found, Pakistan could not recognise Israel.
It is interesting that if Pakistan is pressurized by the US to recognize Israel, Why doesn’t it force Saudi Arabia to do the same? Infact Prime Minister did not mention the countries that are pressurizing Pakistan to recognize a Jewish illegitimate state but it is confirm that these countries would be Pakistan’s Arab allies. Saudi Arabi has been in catch 22 position on Israel as its most allies have been in the lap of Israel and now they want Saudia to do the same but if Saudia recognize Israel it would lose the status of leading Muslim country in the Sunni bloc and Pakistan would emerge as a new leader of the Muslim Ummah with a nuclear power.
Saudia definitely does not want to do so. She never wants to lose its status that give her immunity from all its wrongdoing being a so called leader of Muslim world. This is the sole reason that Saudi monarchs want Pakistan to first recognize Israel so that it would become an easy task and they would pretend that Pakistan has done the same so they are also following the same path. While Pakistan is economically a dependent country and most of the time it is at the largesse of the Saudi allies therefore they exert immense pressure on Pakistan.
Apart from this a faction of Pakistan society is also lobbying for this since decades. During Pervez Musharraf’s era the rumors were flying that Pakistan is going to recognize Israel but it could not happen. The only reason is that Pakistan soceity would never accept it. Even if Pakistan’s government thinks so, the religious faction and outfits will never allows this move.
Notwithstanding that the religious-cultural discourse that evolved in Pakistan as a result of the Afghan war is much more hostile toward Israel than simply the Palestinian issue, Islamabad cannot afford to build diplomatic ties with Israel due to its high cost for the Kashmir conflict — which for Pakistanis is a life and death issue. The human rights atrocities, media clampdown by the Indian government and efforts to change the demographics in Kashmir have similarities with what is happening in the occupied territories, which Pakistan cannot overlook without undermining its own case vis-à-vis Kashmir.
The American baggage also makes the issue extremely heavy. Pakistan wants to revive US military and financial aid, but that is long way from happening, so broaching the idea of recognising Israel would prove suicidal for Prime Minister Imran Khan or the military generals. Diplomatic relations might be digested better if Islamabad could prove to the public that it has visible benefits.