National interest is supposed to be of prime importance for any prudent global actor in international relations. Unfortunately, in the case of Pakistan, sentiments, emotions and the adherence to the friendship of a few nation states is valued in its foreign policy prospects. Pakistan is currently under a complex dilemma where it has a decision to make whether it will, or not accept the state of Israel.
A great uproar among the Muslim countries of the world has heard when the United Arab Emirates became the first Gulf country to give Israel a de-jure recognition, followed by formal set up of a bi-lateral relationship. Not only has the UAE taken this bold step, but it is also steadfast in making other Middle Eastern Muslim countries to accept Israel. Israel, in a historical context, has been subjected to antagonism from all the Muslim countries around it. Even though some of the Muslim countries do recognize Israel, which added UAE into the count. Most countries have given Israel partial recognition, while others only provide a de-facto recognition.
It was called into question whether Pakistan is ready to accept Israel as a state, to which the prime minister of Pakistan outrightly rejected the possibility of giving Israel formal recognition. Pakistan stands firm on its stance and relates Israel’s existence as a mirror towards its own issue of Kashmir and alleged Indian occupation, in the Palestine issue. Though it was earlier foreseen that a recognition might be on the discussion table where an Israeli plane had landed in Pakistan in September 2018. Even in the current times, protest are being held over the act of UAE, where a certain fundamental faction of Pakistan is totally against the idea.
The fact that is to be pointed out here is the recognition of Israel is not connected to the Kashmir issue in the direct sense, therefore the basis to not accepting the country is very vague. Besides, the issue of Kashmir has by far lingered on for 73 years, with a lot of territory under Pakistan’s control being lost in conflicts, and the other made a part of India with the lifting of article 370 last year- both moves for which Pakistan could do nothing about as of yet. The situation is same of the Middle Eastern state who had earlier protested Israel, but slowly and gradually, now ultimately have started to accept Israel one by one. Moreover, the most pressing fact is even Palestine accepts Israel as a nation, closing all the debate with its similarity to the Kashmir issue.
Pakistan not recognizing Israel is basically Pakistan’s turning away from the truth. Israel is an unchanging reality, that could not be undone by all the Muslim Gulf combined, let alone Pakistan’s unrecognition.
On the other hand, Israel is one of the most advanced countries of the world with prime technological advance, a robust economy, a great military and an even better ally. The countries that establish cordial relations with Israel (like India) benefit greatly in terms of trade, military weapons, surveillance systems, defense systems, educational and service exchange and many more to quote. Pakistan following the same path could benefit from a potential Israeli partnership, which Israel has, time and again, signaled in the past.
The recognition if analyzed critically is greatly in the national interest of Pakistan, in all terms mentioned. If Pakistan could, with Israel, create economic and military ties, Pakistan may get its hands upon some of the best commercial value products, businesses as well as one the best weaponry, arms, defense systems as well as surveillance systems. Furthermore, Israel is prided to be one of the most educated nation in the world with strong values, morals and attitudes. Cultural and educational exchanges can be a great addition to the educated diaspora of Pakistan with this act.
Even though the recognition cannot be given overnight due to multiple antagonistic factors that exist within the society of Pakistan- particularly of religious factions. This can be neutralized by a simple sociological- psychological called ‘gradual indoctrination’. All states with steadfast foreign policy objectives, when understand how any decision will be greatly in use of their national interest, but fail to hold public consent over it, introduce an idea slowly and gradually. They indoctrinate small pieces of information, acceptability, viability and great benefit of that idea by making it appear from little to robustly in the mass communication of the country. An idea is repeated again and again in the mainstream until it attracts attention and acceptance.
Furthermore, as Pakistan, in the goals of the current government, is highlighted to be an aspirant of the ‘State of Medina’, in those times as well, pacts of mutual cooperation, trade and exchange were signed with the indigenous Jews by the Muslims, making that one of the earliest examples of the conduct of International Relations in realpolitik in the Muslim world. The Muslims of that time did not bring their religious differences to the table, so if a similar model is to be followed, so shall the formal acceptance of Israel be made into a reality.
Pakistan, in fact, to some factual extent does grant recognition to Israel, as if anyone would be questioned regarding it in the Pakistani public, no one would deny Israel being a successful country. Moreover, Pakistan and Israel have neither been engaged in any conflict till date, nor are there any tensions among both the states, except Palestine, not giving a formal recognition in such a scenario, therefore seems baseless.
The recognition of Israel as a state, is therefore, in complete interest of Pakistan. The conduct of international relations in realpolitik does not work with sentiments or emotions attached to a certain jargon, but on the strict facts of realism and national interest, something Pakistan should realize and act towards accordingly.
*Hareem Aqdas is a student of International Relations from Quaid-I-Azam University, Islamabad and a former exchange student to the U.S. for a course in Leadership and Social Justice.