Pakistan and Israel Dilemma: Positive Impact on Indo-Pak Relations?

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By: Sarfraz Rather

Pakistan has no direct conflict with Israel but has never established open diplomatic relations with Tel Aviv. Pakistan does not officially recognize the State of Israel, and its passport clearly mentions “for all the countries except Israel”. Historically Pakistan’s foreign policy has always been guided with the priority to contain India. Consequentially, its Israel policy has also been affected by the India quotient. Since, religion plays a major role in the political dynamic of Pakistan, whoever came to power could never go for a rapprochement policy regarding Israel. Also, the outer political atmosphere in the Islamic neighborhood was anti-Israel, as both the Arab world and Iran favored the Palestinian cause. Whereas, over the period of time the regional political situations have changed drastically and anti-Iran sentiment have gained more traction than the anti-Israel stand.

Contemporary change in the regional dynamics after the “peace deal” between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) which will further “lead to a full normalization of diplomatic relations” between both the states, has placed Pakistan in a difficult quagmire, especially after receiving the denial from Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to hold a Foreign Ministers’ meeting over the issue of Kashmir.

Moreover, with the American ‘global retreat’ both Saudi and UAE have set their priorities right to adjust the power balance in a way which suits their future regional dominance. Now the question lays in front of Pakistani PM, if he would take a U-turn from his position on Israel, which he diplomatically has made very clear that turning away from supporting the cause of Palestinians by forming ties with Israel would be equal to diluting their support for the Kashmiri freedom struggle.

Strategically, thinking with the changing security and political equations in the Gulf, Pakistan needs to re-assess its age old Israel approach. Also, as the conflict dynamics with India has changed post Balakot air-strike, in which Israeli weapons were used, the growing India- Israel ties and the change in the perception of Israel in the Gulf shall be taken as a wake-up call by Pakistan. Bound by present circumstances, Pakistan is bound to extend an olive branch to Israel which will surely define the future of Indo-Pak relations as well as the Pak-Gulf relations thereby changing the dynamics of the region.

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