read about the Foreign Ministers meeting
Expected Recognition of
Israel Part of Agenda Given to Musharraf
Wajid Shamsul Hasan
September 5: The rapid moves that Islamabad has been making indicate
that Pakistan would soon become the 5th Muslim country to recognize
Israel, the other four being Turkey, Egypt, Jordan and Mauritania
while Morocco and Qatar only have limited trade ties. And the
credit for it would not go to any elected civilian leader but
to an absolute military dictator.
almost four years I have been writing that the recognition of
Israel was part of the multifaceted agenda assigned to General
Pervez Musharraf by powers that be in exchange for support to
him for perpetuating his authoritarian rule against the democratic
aspirations of the Pakistani people.
held first ever formal and public contacts with Israel in Istanbul
on September 1 at its own request brokered by Turkey. Officially
described as a historic breakthrough, Islamabad has claimed that
it had the backing of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and President
Mahmood Abbas of the Palestinian State Authority. While Saudis
have not yet come out publicly whether Pakistan's initiative had
their support, a spokesman of the PLA, however, has nailed Islamabad's
claim that the move had the blessing of President Mahmood Abbas.
Palestinian Authority said on Thursday that it was "worried"
about Pakistan's making high-level diplomatic contact with Israel
despite its occupation of east Jerusalem and the West Bank. "It
is not good to give Israel gifts before it really implements the
peace process, not only in Gaza, but in Gaza, the West Bank and
Jerusalem," deputy prime minister Nabil Shaath told the press.
"We are worried about this because it's not a good time to
start relations with Israel."
West Bank leader of Islamist fundamentalist movement Hamas denounced
the meeting and urged Islamic and Arab states not to fall into
the trap of seeing the Gaza pullout as synonymous with the end
of occupation as naively or advertently understood by Pakistani
leader General Musharraf and his Foreign Minister Mian Khurshid
condemn any relationship between an Islamic state and the Israelis
and we ask Pakistan to go back on this agreement, especially as
the Palestinian people have not yet been given their rights,"
said Hamas spokesman Hassan Yussef.
order to defuse hostile domestic and foreign reaction as that
of PLA, Musharraf has lost no time in stating that Islamabad would
not recognize Israel until a Palestinian state was established
while Israeli Prime Minister Sharon is insisting that he sees
no final status talks with the Palestinians in the foreseeable
According to diplomatic sources General Pervez Musharraf has been
under too much pressure from his pro-Zionist Western mentors to
recognize Israel. The Gaza pullout gave them the stick to browbeat
the General into taking initiatives that would soon foreclose
recognition. He had also been conveyed that a positive gesture
could mean further extension in the fast expiring insurance cover
to his absolute hold on power that seemed to be becoming more
of an embarrassment to Washington currently marketing democracy
as a global phenomenon.
this context Assistant of Secretary of State Christina Rocca had
not minced her words during her last visit to Islamabad where
she made it categorically known in the shadow of countrywide allegations
of massive pre-poll rigging in the local bodies elections, that
the United States would like to see 2007 general elections to
be completely transparent with even playing field for all the
political parties and leaders.
the footsteps of pro-democratic rumblings came the news that Musharraf
has accepted the invitation to address the powerful American Jewish
Congress following the visit of its key members to Islamabad as
his value-added guests. Sources in Islamabad had hinted that things
would start moving towards a thaw with Israel after Musharraf's
September visit to the United States. They had failed to gauge
the urgency propelling Islamabad.
desperation Turkish intervention was sought, a meeting was brokered
in Istanbul where Pakistan's Foreign Minister Kasuri had rushed
to reveal that his country had decided to "engage" to
hold talks with Israel after years as one of its harshest critics
because of what it saw as the beginning of the end of Israel's
occupation of the Palestinian territories.
PLA is extremely "worried" over a move described by
it as premature, Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, said
Israel hoped to use the Pakistan talks as a springboard for broader
diplomatic ties with Muslim and Arab countries that have long
spurned it. Shalom believes that his meeting would "finally
lead to a full diplomatic relationship with Pakistan as we would
like to see with all Arab countries." "We made a huge
breakthrough today...," Shalom said. "We think it will
be a very positive signal to Israeli and Palestinian public opinion
that there are some fruits from this withdrawal from Gaza."
a wider move to rope in other Islamic states to recognizing Israel,
Jordan's King Abdullah is also expected to visit Israel as early
as next week to lend his support for Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's
dismantling of Gaza settlements.
Israel's recognition is thus around the corner, not far away,
a matter of months and not years. Not that, such a recognition
would help Islamabad much though it would definitely help Musharraf's
personally as the man who can deliver. When in Washington later
this month, he would have a very depressive tale to tell to his
bosses how much he had personally to suffer for fulfilling Israeli
part of the agenda assigned to him.
one looks at the speed behind his moves, it seems that Musharraf
is half way through his agenda. He has already made solution of
Kashmir issue easier by surrendering to India Pakistan's traditional
stand on the UN resolution for plebiscite in Kashmir, not many
years ago for the civilian leaders it was something non-negotiable
Kashmir, he has delivered a great deal on Pakistan's nuclear program.
One of the most important issues assigned to him in the agenda
was the decision to roll back Pakistan's nuclear program. With
Dr. AQ Khan sitting on top of it, it would have been impossible
for him to dislodge even its single brick. Now Dr Khan has been
taken care of, rendered into a vegetable by design.
the day he was relieved from KRL in 2001 Pakistan has been on
the downward slide and Musharraf Administration has done it very
shabbily to self-branding Pakistan as being a rogue nuclear state.
His recent diatribe against Dr Khan directly involving him in
the North Korean deals shows a method in the madness, making a
scapegoat of Dr Khan while himself having the cake of his spoils
and eating it too.
Instead of defending a program that has practically immunized
the anorchous Pakistani generals from the Indian Army, Musharraf
and his men sacrificed the man who gave them this virtual "Viagra".
Our Generals are only capable of using their guns on unarmed civilians
seeking their democratic and fundamental rights and have no shame
in surrendering vital strategic locations such as Siachen to India
without firing a shot.
the Cold War Washington's agenda was multifaceted with the sole
objective of combating and minimizing the increasing influence
of Soviet Union. In the process, on the one hand, Islamists were
backed, picked up, pumped to counter Soviet influence in Middle
East and on the other, Israel was nurtured, nourished and nuclearized
to play the role of a bastion state to protect Western interests.
under a military ruler, General Ayub Khan, was roped into CENTO
(earlier known as Baghdad Pact) and SEATO to be part of Washington's
strategy to counter China. Although Washington always had a soft
corner for India but it lacked trust in it due to Sino-Indian
friendship until 1962. It also realized that Pakistan under one-man
rule would be more pliable and useful for its geo-strategic interests
in the region as against a democratic India.
was also the period when Pakistan continued to follow the Arab
line on Israel. It tagged its stand on Tel Aviv's recognition
to the policy of non-recognition by Saudi Arabia and other OIC
members although it had no common borders with Israel, no clash
of economic or strategic interests. Rather, both Israel and Pakistan
shared a common raison d' etre, their religions as founding pillars
of their states. Obviously Israel was left with no option but
to befriend India and support it against Pakistan.
the end of Cold War, Washington's Israel and Indian policies acquired
a new thrust. Pakistan under a civilian and democratically elected
Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was well oriented to rationalize
its foreign policy objectives and pursue its goals to acquire
greater respect in the comity of nations. While Bhutto stood by
her independence, Pakistan's much too interfering military establishment
went the other way. Though she refused to accept its dictations,
it pursued its own agenda, both overtly and covertly, on Kashmir,
relations with India, Israel and Afghanistan with Taliban in power
was its sole domain beyond the reach of Pakistan's Foreign Office.
She did not realize that those very Quislings who had been responsible
for making a horrible example of her father would make her homeless.
could best serve the foreign interests? Not civilian leaders,
was the answer. The Kargil invasion in 1999, a brainchild of Musharraf,
seemingly brought the truth home to Washington once again: In
Pakistan, it is the Army Chief that calls the shots.
Administration tried to save Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif by issuing
a warning as late as September 1999 that it would not approve
of a military coup in Pakistan. However, American generals and
CIA who had developed very close liaison and understanding with
their Pakistani counterparts since their deep throated collaboration
from the days of the Afghan Jihad, saw in the General the person
who could deliver for them on Kashmir, nuclear roll-back, Bush's
crusade against the Jihadi terrorists and recognition of Israel.
the horrendous tragedy of 9/11 led to the most profitable change
in his fortune. A pariah military dictator with whom no leader
of the civilized world, would shake hands became President Bush's
blue-eyed boy and his Knight Templar in his crusade against terrorism.
Just one line American ultimatum to him that "either you
are with us or with them" brought about from him the most
astounding U-turns in military history.
we come to the remaining part of Musharraf agenda which relates
to recognizing Israel. Musharraf believes that once he recognizes
Israel, he will buy a perpetual life-cover for his presidency
from Washington. His "incidental" meeting with former
Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres early in the year that led
to "brief talks" between the two had set the ball rolling
towards the direction of recognition. Answering a question Musharraf
on his meeting made matters further clear. "We are undertaking
great efforts for this to happen."
it may be recalled, had first launched his recognize Israel' operation
in June 2003 when he had said: "Recognizing Israel will not
bring down the skies, if the Arabs are recognizing it, we also
ought to reconsider our policies towards Israel." Looking
for an opportune moment Musharraf again floated the idea in October
2003 when he said: "We have been in support of the Palestinian
cause. If the peace process moves forward in justice, we can revise
our policy with Israel."
like Musharraf's "incidental" meeting with Shimon Peres,
former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto too had a chance meeting
with him at an international forum in Europe where the two shared
the podium with other top leaders including Gorbachev. Like his
invitation to Musharraf, Peres also invited Benazir Bhutto to
visit Israel. While Musharraf seems to have dropped the long-standing
position of Pakistan's support for the Palestinians, Ms Bhutto's
response was more appropriate. She told Peres that she will consult
Yasser Arafat (until then alive) before she says anything on the
issue of Israel's recognition or accepts invitation to visit Tel
difference between Bhutto's stand and Musharraf's has been obvious.
While she would not have liked to cause "worry" to the
people of Palestine, Musharraf has gone more than an extra mile
towards recognizing Israel since it would get him closer to Washington,
a step if taken by any civilian leader in Pakistan, would have
made Pakistani military establishment to hang him/her by the gallows.
conclusion, I share the view expressed by PPP spokesman Senator
Farhatullah Babar on the meeting of the two foreign ministers
in Istanbul that interfaith dialogue is the need of the time.
However, no unilateral decisions should be taken on issues that
will have an impact both domestically and in the Muslim world.
the regime taken its langri-looli (handicapped, lame)
Parliament into confidence, its decision would have become more
credible. On important foreign policy issues, solo flight and
individual decisions need to be avoided. Indeed, it is ironic
that a regime that criticized former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto
for meeting with a former Israeli Prime Minister at a Socialist
International Conference has now sought the good offices of Turkey
to facilitate the meeting with the Foreign Minister of Israel.
An apology to Ms Bhutto would surely be in order.
writer is a former Pakistan High Commissioner to UK