Israel And Pakistan Ties


Context:

  • Foreign policy analysts have recently speculated about Israel and Pakistan's likelihood of forming diplomatic relations.
  • This is an indicator of the region's evolving geo-political dynamics and the increasing diplomatic influence and progress of Israel.
 

Struggle by Israel for diplomatic recognition:
  • It has repeatedly sought to resolve its international isolation and improve its diplomatic relations with as many countries as possible after Israel declared independence in 1948.
  • Turkey (1949), Egypt (1979) and Jordan (1994) are the only states in the region that have acknowledged Israel.
  • On the other side, in violation of the UN resolution, Israel was regularly cornered by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation ( OIC) for its occupation of Palestinian lands.
  • Israel has effectively cultivated diplomatic relations and strengthened its presence in its immediate neighbourhood, amid the relentless and relentless criticism by the Islamic world.
  • Israel has currently formed diplomatic ties with a majority of the 193 member states of the United Nations.
 

Ties between India-Israel:
  • In 1992, India formally formed full diplomatic relations with Israel. But because of mutual safety issues, both had maintained a clandestine relationship since the 1960's.
  • These two democracies have been brought together by several factors, but it is a reality that both have dealt with a long history of state-centric challenges.
  • The challenge faced by the combined Arab opposition in 1948, 1967 and 1973 has been resolved by Israel.
  • Whereas in any dispute since Partition, India has trumped an acutely aggressive neighbour like Pakistan.
  • Israel and India have also been victims of asymmetric warfare funded by state actors, such as terrorism. So, naturally, they both worked together in the area of counter-terrorism.
  • Due to the dynamism injected by Prime Minister Modi in India's foreign policy, India 's interactions with the States of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have strengthened significantly in recent times and now include economic and security relations.
  • The high-level political commitment to the West Asian region has been the hallmark of the Narendra Modi administration.
  • There is no question that Israel and the Sunni Arab states have been brought together by common concerns about Iran.
  • However, for the sake of greater economic and diplomatic influence, Israel continues to look beyond its immediate neighbourhood and, in particular, the Indo-Pacific zone has emerged as an area of focus for its activities.
  • While Israel established diplomatic ties with China at the same time as with India, their relations are largely limited to the economic domain due to the embargo placed by the United States on selling sophisticated weapons systems to China.
  • Israel, on the other hand, is extending its selling of arms and defence equipment to India and other Southeast Asian countries.
  • By building closer relations with populous Asian Muslim countries such as Bangladesh and Indonesia, Israel is also looking to expand its diplomatic presence in South Asia. Since, in the Islamic world, this will help Israel achieve greater credibility.
 
Investment activities in the Arab world:
  • Israel's implied relations to Pakistan, however, would hold a different set of geo-political dynamics.
  • The national interests of Pakistan would be better fulfilled by ties with Israel, especially because Israel exercises diplomatic power in Washington and could mediate recurrent US-Pakistan tensions.
  • A big point of convergence may also be their shared interests with respect to Iran.
  • However, any hopes of rapprochement between Israel and Pakistan seem far-fetched. The reality is that Pakistan is seen as the 'sword-arm' of the Sunni world.
  • Pakistan has greatly contributed to the stability of the monarchies of the Gulf, including Saudi Arabia and Jordan. In order to foster internal security, Pakistan has also stationed its military units in these countries.
  • In the Arab nations, Pakistani leaders such as Nawaz Sharif have pursued and obtained refuge.
  • Pakistan, just as the OIC has done for the Palestinian cause, has used the forum given by the OIC to whip up support for its stance on the Kashmir conflict.
  • It would erode its Islamic credentials if Pakistan were to develop diplomatic ties with Israel and contribute to a reduced support base on the Kashmir issue within the OIC.
  • If it tries to develop relations with Israel, Pakistan's deep state will also face immense pressure from its many domestic fundamentalist Islamist parties.
 
The Factor for Iran:
  • Iran is viewed by Israel as a powerful threat and the Shia-Sunni divide is also a point of contention between Iran and Pakistan within Pakistan.
  • Israel should not, however, expect Pakistan to be used against neighbouring Iran and risk the chances of sectarian violence worsening, provided that more than 20 percent of the population of Pakistan is Shia.
  • It is doubtful that Pakistan will take any negative measures that could destabilise its relations with Iran.
  • Pakistan 's Parliament rejected Riyadh 's offer in April 2015 to join a Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen's civil war to combat the Iran-backed Houthi rebels.
 
Conclusion:
  • India has balanced its relations between Israel and Palestine successfully, and Israel would hope to do the same between India and Pakistan.
  • It is not, however, in the interest of Israel to pursue diplomatic relations with a state perceived to be a supporter of terrorism and a hotbed of extremism.
  • While Israel has the sovereign right to decide on its foreign policy, it is unlikely to seek any relations with Pakistan for the time being.

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