Pakistani-Israeli Relations: A True Opening, Or Merely A Trial Balloon?

Posted on Sunday, November 27 at 16:07 by jensonj
In January of this year, Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Perez was quoted in the Pakistani press as saying that Israel and Pakistan should have “direct, personal contacts publicly without being ashamed about it.” The report caused an adverse reaction in certain Pakistani circles. President Pervez Musharraf earlier had asked for an open debate on the subject, but the issue had died down, and nothing more was heard about it until the September announcement. According to an Associated Press report, former Israeli Ambassador to Washington Silvan Shalom said that “There have been contacts on different levels with Pakistani officials for several years.” Moving right along, President Musharraf, in New York for the opening of the U.N. General Assembly, shook hands with Ariel Sharon at a Sept. 15 reception and, two days later, addressed a dinner hosted by the American Jewish Congress. There, after receiving a standing ovation upon his arrival, he told his audience, “I am convinced that peace in Palestine will revive the historical ties between Islam and Judaism.” Although there may be some truth to the assertion, Islamabad constantly and emphatically denies that its talks with Israel were the result of U.S. pressure. However, Pakistan has been moving in this direction for some time, particularly since India established diplomatic relations with Israel in 1992 and the two non-Muslim allies subsequently have entered into several trade and defense agreements. Another factor pushing Pakistan toward Israel is Washington’s India-Jewish lobby, which Islamabad may seek to dilute—or duplicate.


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