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Wednesday May 22, 2024

Debate over Israel recognition: Comment

By Farrukh Saleem
September 26, 2023

The recognition of Israel by Pakistan is an extremely sensitive and an emotional issue. There are a hundred political, historical, and social factors at play. What is also extremely important is that contemplation of such recognition must be framed within the context of Pakistan’s distinctive circumstances and the myriad challenges Pakistan is grappling with.

Should Pakistan recognise Israel? Israel is known for its advanced technology sectors, including agriculture, cybersecurity, and water management. Diplomatic recognition could open up opportunities for trade and technology exchange, benefitting Pakistan’s economy. Israel has expertise in counterterrorism and intelligence-sharing. Cooperation in this area could enhance Pakistan’s efforts to combat terrorism.

Establishing formal diplomatic relations with Israel would enable Pakistan to engage in direct diplomatic negotiations, potentially fostering greater regional stability and cooperation. Recognition of Israel could improve Pakistan’s standing with countries that have close ties with Israel, potentially expanding our network of allies. Recognizing Israel will be seen as a step towards normalizing relations in a region marked by conflict and tensions. To be certain, recognition of Israel aligns with international norms and could enhance Pakistan’s standing in international diplomatic circles.

Should Pakistan recognise Israel? Israel’s recent discovery of substantial natural gas reserves in the Mediterranean has opened up exciting possibilities. Collaborating in the energy sector presents an opportunity for Pakistan to meet our domestic energy requirements, particularly in the realm of oil and gas exploration.

Should Pakistan consider recognizing Israel? As of my last update, 165 out of the 193 United Nations (UN) member states have officially recognized Israel. Notably, Egypt and Jordan have established diplomatic relations with Israel. Moreover, as part of the 2020 Abraham Accords, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco all forged normalized bilateral ties with Israel. Israel also maintains diplomatic relations with most countries in Western Europe, North America, South America, and Sub-Saharan Africa. Out of the 193 member states of the UN, the passports of five countries are not valid for travel to Israel-Bangladesh, Brunei, Iran, Iraq, and Pakistan.

On the flip side, Pakistan has a well-established history of backing the Palestinian cause and officially recognizing the State of Palestine. Any move towards recognizing Israel could be perceived as a departure from this commitment to solidarity. Furthermore, the majority of Pakistan’s population has traditionally been opposed to recognizing Israel, making any such move potentially fraught with domestic challenges. Not to forget that the State of Palestine recognised Israel as part of the Oslo I Accord.

In conclusion, the recognition of Israel by Pakistan is undeniably a complex and emotionally charged issue, intertwined with numerous political, historical, and social factors. Nevertheless, it is essential to assess this decision within the unique context of Pakistan’s challenges and aspirations.

The potential benefits of recognition are compelling: access to Israel’s advanced technology sectors, bolstered counterterrorism efforts, and the prospect of enhanced regional stability and cooperation. Moreover, aligning with international norms through recognition could enhance Pakistan’s global standing.

However, the weight of Pakistan’s historical support for the Palestinian cause and the domestic sentiment against recognition cannot be ignored. Ultimately, the path forward must be carefully deliberated, bearing in mind both the opportunities and challenges that recognition of Israel may entail. Pakistan’s decision, whatever it may be, will undoubtedly be a significant milestone in the country’s diplomatic history.