The state of Israel is being greeted with growing acceptance by countries that once considered it impossible to reconcile with the Jewish nation. Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, along with many other countries, including Jordan and UAE, have been showing interest in developing diplomatic ties with Israel for the sake of national interest and for commencing changes in the politics of the Middle-East. It seems that differences regarding religion and ideology have not taken precedence over national interest.
Saudi Arabia now turns to Pakistan, hoping Pakistan adopts a similar stance towards the state of Israel. Pakistan has rejected Israel since its inception and stands in solidarity with the Palestinian people. In fact, the Pakistani passport is applicable for travel to all countries of the world except Israel. The Jewish nation has continued to illegally expand its territory onto the West Bank and Gaza Strip since 1948, committing human rights atrocities in seven decades of debilitating war crippling generations of Muslim Palestinians.
Some ponder whether this move by Saudi Arabia is linked to alleged ties of Riyadh with Israel. This, coupled with rising bitterness towards Iran, may have pushed KSA to accept Israel in the name of shared interests and at the cost of Muslim blood. It gradually became acceptable for countries in the Middle-East to recognize Israel, following the suit of UAE and KSA. It seems now it is Pakistan’s turn to feel the pressure to concede; what stance will the country take?
Jordon and Egypt were at the forefront in accepting the Jewish state; this was followed by countries in the Middle-East reviewing their policies regarding Israel. When it comes to conditions, it can be predicted that Pakistan might demand implementation of the two-state solution of the Palestinian cause before coming close to accepting the state of Israel. Saudi Arabia has set an unfortunate example for the Muslim world whose hands religious solidarity has suffered immensely. Despite being a relatively powerful state, it has relinquished its dignity in the face of diplomatic interests. There will be no dissent if other Muslim states follow in its footsteps, however; if a weaker state does put precedence of ideology over political & economic interests, it will be a symbolic move in history.
In the past, Pakistan has firmly stood tall in the face of external compulsion, and some believe that the country’s continued existence is a miracle in itself. As journalists mount pressure on the country to concede from within, will Pakistan stand this test? Whether or not there is any advantage to putting ideologies on a pedestal at the cost of national interest is another question altogether. Surely, Pakistan has suffered greatly from Covid-19, as has the rest of the world. Setting an anti-Zionist agenda as a reason for isolation suddenly seems childish in the face of increasing poverty and internal political dissent.
The Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), which is currently holding rallies in opposition to the allegedly establishment-backed PTI party in Pakistan, will surely receive sufficient fodder for their cause—disregarding the fact that any other political party from the PDM would have conceded under pressure if they were in power and would have found abundant means to justify actions. However, before PDM could react, it is the religious factions that will cause the most opposition. Groups such as the TLP and JeI will surely be antagonized. Muslim countries’ changing stance regarding Palestine was not well-received by religious factions in the country and was considered a deep betrayal.
Moreover, growing power in Iran has threatened the Gulf countries. The progressive change was influenced by the political stance of Middle Eastern countries towards Israel. Yet, Pakistan’s relations with Saudi Arabia have been quite challenging since Pakistan continues to remain neutral and indecisive when it comes to the Saudi-Iran divide. The icing on the cake is KSA’s refusal to bring light to the Kashmir issue in the United Nations, despite Turkey’s support regarding the idea of raising the Kashmir issue in the UN. However, this support may be due to Turkish favor of Sunni Muslim factions whereas, Iran is a Shia majority country. Pakistan is no stranger to sectarian conflicts; it has continued to brush them under the rug and impose media blackouts on sectarian violence. Now in order to resolve the Israel issue, Pakistan may finally have to address it.