Economic Opportunities Will Emerge If Pakistan And Israel Develop Diplomatic Ties
In August 2020, UAE made a peace deal with Israel followed by Bahrain and Egypt in the following month. Since then, diplomatic relations between Israel and Muslim countries has been a most debatable topic. I have been reading a lot of speculations in media about Saudi Arabia and Pakistan; if these governments will accept the existence of Israel or not.
Pakistan and Israel are the two countries on world map, which were created based on religious ideology. That’s the unifying factor between Pakistan and Israel. Until now Pakistani government is showing old standpoint that there is no recognition of Israeli state, unless Jews and Arabs in Israel reach to any peaceful resolution. Pakistan government is trying to represent the country as a flag bearer of Islam and thus avoiding any diplomatic relations with Israel. While Pakistan should understand that Arab countries are no longer interested in keeping their historical stance over Palestine and Israel. Their perspective on foreign policy is changing according to new challenges and demands of economic growth.
Pakistani radical Islamic leaders are rejecting Israel because they compare Palestinian Muslims issue with Kashmir issue. I do not comprehend the comparison between Kashmir and Palestine at all because no Pakistani considers Palestine as a part of Pakistan. While Pakistan should continue to support the Palestinians it does not exclude the possibility of recognising Israel. Also, why are so called Pakistani religious leaders not debating about plight of Muslims in Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Myanmar?
For the sake of understanding our political stance better, I would recollect historical events to evaluate how strongly Pakistan has been opposing the Israeli state. In 1980s, Pakistani authorities were in touch with their Israeli counterparts. This was in the context of anti Soviet operations and communications continued for many years.
Former Pakistani President Mr. Pervez Musharraf was openly expressing interest in establishing diplomatic relations with Israel. In his opinion, Pakistan didn’t have any direct conflict with Israel. Reportedly, there was a diplomatic meeting between Pakistani and Israeli foreign ministers in Istanbul (Turkey), in 2005. However, there was no fruitful result of that diplomatic meeting because political leaders from Islamic parties strongly opposed any change of stance on Israel. On the other hand, Palestinian political leaders were certainly not pleased with the chances of Pakistan and Israel alliance.
We need to review our diplomatic and foreign relations with Israel. Pakistan should open economic trade with Israel and Palestinian Arabs both. Pakistani citizens have always been supporting the Palestinian people’s right of self-determination. The majority of the Pakistani population is negative about Israel because they have been shown a negative image of Jewish people by religious leaders. They often confuse Jewish followers with Zionists who are an extremist group. We find such extremists among all the religions.
Normalising diplomatic relations with Israel will only lead to a better economic corridor for Pakistan with other non Muslim countries as well. We cannot progress in a globalised era, unless we have smooth diplomatic relations with all Muslim and non-Muslim countries. We have seen in past decades that Pakistan has not been very successful in promoting trade relationships with other countries.
Israel is highly advanced in information technology; they have the highest concentration of high-tech companies in the world. Dan Senor wrote a business best seller on Israeli economy, called Start-up Nation in 2009. The book explains how Israeli state without any natural resources produces more startup companies per capita than larger developed countries like Japan, EU and Canada. As per 2018 data, Israel’s share of global Artificial intelligence start ups is about 10.5%. Literacy rate among Israeli citizens is 97.1% and 24% of the workforce holds university degree. Pakistan can build up economical value for its people by exchanging their knowledge, expertise and learning.
Pakistani government could arrange exchange programs for development of high-tech companies and start ups, and take joint initiatives in education and research and development for fueling economic growth. On religious aspect, Bait ul Muqaddas (known as first temple) is a holy place for Muslims and Jews equally. Pakistani Muslims will have a life time experience to visit their first Ka’abah, once the diplomatic relations are established.