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Analyzing an International Relations Taboo

This write up is in response to the recent efforts by Pakistani authorities to contact Israeli government through Jordan and the US to trace out few missing Pakistanis, that are suspected to be in Israeli jails. In this article, I will try to analyze why always Israel and Pakistan have to contact indirectly, what lay ahead and what could be the way forward? We have seen, quite a number of times, that Pakistan and Israel have used their embassies in Istanbul and Washington to mediate and/or exchange information. Although Israel and Pakistan do not have official relations with each other, nonetheless, there have been number of contacts between the two States 1. If we take a ride into the past of this tricky but interesting history of contacts and animosities, one comes to know that at number of times both sides have approached eachother directly or indirectly to establish diplomatic, political or trade relations. Because many in Pakistan do not know that there have been desires and attempts to establish relations from both sides, therefore, the subject of hardcore ‘International Relations’ remains a "Taboo" here. In this context, some examples are being highlighted before dilating upon what lay ahead, how this subject is needed to be seen and how this sensitive matter could be approached:

1) First attempt to establish diplomatic relations between Pakistan and Israel was made in 1947, when Israel's first Prime Minister David Ben Gurionsent a telegram to Muhammad Ali Jinnah but he gave no particular response 2.

2)  Another contact was established by Israel in 1949 for opening Legations in Karachi (the then Capital of Pakistan) or at least Trade with Pakistan, perhaps that was also not entertained.

3) In 1952, Sir Zafarullah Khan, Pakistan's Foreign Ministerpromoted his hard-line policies toward Israel, and pressed his policies toward the unity of Arab States. Thus Khan's policy worked to build strategic ties with Arab States 3.

4) The history of Pakistan–Israeli intelligence cooperation dates back to early 1980s, when Pakistan's President and Chief of Army Staff General Zia-ul-Haq allowed ISI to establish a secret directorate to deal with Israel's Mossad. In the eighties, there was reportedly strong coordination between two countries whereby their intelligence agencies collectively participated in ‘Operation Cyclone’ against the then USSR in Afghanistan. Intelligence offices were set up at both countries' embassies located at Washington D.C. 4where Mossad and ISI, with CIA & MI5, ran a decade long Anti-Soviet Operation. Under this operation, Israel proliferated Soviet made-weapons to the Afghan rebels fighting the Soviet Union in Afghanistan 5.

5) Former Foreign Minister of Pakistan Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri supported ties between Pakistan and Israel 6. In2005, the Foreign Ministersof both the countries held talks for the first time 7. However, following this meeting Musharraf said Pakistan will not recognize the state of Israel until an independent Palestinian State is established 8, although according to Musharraf, Pakistan will eventually recognize Israel 9.

6) Former President of Pakistan Pervez Musharrafhas openly spoken for the diplomatic relations with Israel. He is the first Pakistani Muslim to be interviewed by Haaretzwriter Danna Harman in London 10.

7) In2010, according to unconfirmed "leaked" American Diplomatic Cables, from October 2009, head of Pakistan's intelligence agency ISILieutenant General Ahmed Shuja Pasha provided intelligence on potential terrorist attacks in India to Israelthrough Washington. According to the cable, "He had been in direct touch with the Israelis on possible threats against Israeli targets in India." A few weeks before the cable was written, the Israeli Counter Terror Bureau had issued a travel advisory warning of possible attacks against Israeli sites in India. The cable also revealed that ISI had intercepted information that Israeli civilians may be targeted in a terrorist attack in India during September and November 2008 (following the 26 November Mumbai Terror Attacks that among its targets included a Jewish center - the Nariman House) and secretly passed on intelligence data to Mossad 11.

8) As per WikiLeaks, in 2010, Pakistan shared information, on a terror group, to Israel through its embassy in Istanbul 12.

9) In 2012, in Karachi, 20 minutes play was conducted with a title “The lost Jews of Karachi”written and directed by Veera Rustomji and performed at the 'Alliance Francaise Karachi' by the students of ‘Indus Valley School of Arts & Architecture’ 13.

10) Under Israeli law, Pakistan is a designated "Enemy State" and an Israeli citizen cannot visit Pakistan without a special permit issued by the Israeli Interior Ministry. An Israeli citizen who visits Pakistan, whether using an Israeli or foreign passport, is liable to be prosecuted on their return to Israel 14and similarly, no Pakistani national can visit Israel. But, according to Pakistan's Jang News, there continue to be multiple reports that many top Pakistani personalities and figures have visited Israel 15.

Despite hostilities against each other, both countries have similarity of creation on religious ideology. Some politicians from both countries have started to realize that normalization of relations is required.Some Israeli leaders believe, should diplomatic relations with Pakistan be established, Pakistan could possibly serve as a bridge between Israel and the Muslim World including Arab countries 16

In today’s world, continue to remain hostage to the past is not an option. There has to be a rational thinking on the part of both countries. Dependency & inter-dependency, of nation states, in a globalized world has increased than ever in the past. Sometimes, it is not understandable that we want to have excellent relations with those who created and helped the creation of Israel, but not ‘Israel’. Being Muslims, we have an excellent example of our beloved Prophet (PBUH) who alongwith his companions, relatives and family members lived side by side Jews in Medina. We also know that Muslim and Jewish communities are living cordially and peacefully in the western world. If individuals, of these two faiths, in their personal capacity, can live and work together all over the world, why can’t both the States? 

Did Pakistan ever finish its diplomatic ties with India on the grounds that India is not allowing Kashmiris the right of plebiscite. If Pakistan and India can live and keep High Commissions and Deputy High Commissions in each country, despite having fought three major wars besides countless skirmishes over contentious dispute like Kashmir, why can’t Pakistan and Israel establish relations at diplomatic, political or trade levels? Pakistan has already exercised and experienced a pleasant shift in its relations towards Russia whereby both countries have reinvigorated almost died diplomatic ties. It was a challenge for both the countries, where Russia knew fully well, that Pakistan had fought alongside USA, UK and Israel in the eighties to defeat her. It could also be taken as a diplomatic challenge by Pakistan’s foreign policy and foreign office. I am sure Pakistan has real and hardcore professional diplomats for the job. 

If many other Muslim countries like Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Nigeria, Niger, Turkey, Jordan, Qatar, Oman, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan can endure diplomatic and trade ties with Israel why can’t Pakistan put its diplomatic corps to challenge? Israeli-Pakistan relations can help Pakistan in furthering its international image and diminish isolation. It would, for sure, increase Wests’ interest towards Pakistan that is likely to reward Pakistan in both economic and political terms. Besides all this, Pakistan and Israel have approximately $ 1-2 Billion trade potential in different fields and both countries can learn from eachother's expertise in the fields of security, technology, defense and agriculture.

Six decades full of hesitations and hostilities have not wiped either Pakistan or Israel of the World Map. So, a pragmatic and dynamic thinking is required to be infused into this issue. In-spite of keeping aloof, and not realizing the importance for eachother, Israel and Pakistan are not serving any holy purpose. If, for Pakistan, it is a quid pro quo for Israeli hold of Palestinian territories, then be rest assured that if Pakistan continue to pursue same policy, it will not help either the Palestinian or Kashmiri cause. For a simple reason, had our policy worked as a pressure lever, by now it would have forced Israel to show leniency for the Palestinian State. Given the chance, Israeli–Pakistan relations could have a positive impact on Palestinian cause whereby Pakistan can use its diplomatic relations and the resulting influence for Palestinian State-hood.

History indicates, that Israel too has been desirous to establish diplomatic relations with Pakistan and the (leftover) Muslim World. Pakistan and Israeli diplomatic and political relations can act as bridge between Muslim World that could be used in the larger interest of the Middle East in particular and the rest of the Muslim world in general. Even Pakistan’s relations with Israel can impact Israeli-Iranian and India-Pakistan relations to quite an extent. Countries do not develop relations with eachother on the basis of religion, that has nothing much to do with the state affairs. Relations with states are based on national interests and if Pakistan-Israel relations can serve some national interests of both the countries, why not to exploit the potential? 

Exactly, as Pakistan helped China and the US to establish relations, good offices of China and the US can be utilized for establishing diplomatic relations between both Israel and Pakistan too. Similarly, many Muslim countries that enjoy diplomatic/ trade relations with Israel can play their part in furtherance of Israeli-Pakistan diplomatic ties. We must remember, that Pakistan being the only Nuclear Country in the Muslim World has an established and definite Political Role, that we have been historically hesitant to play. In the face of ever increasing turmoil and fast changing Middle East, Pakistan-Israel diplomatic and political relations are felt as necessity of time which could be in larger interest of the region.

‘Peace’ is the need of the day & ‘Hope’ is the foundation of everything in this world.


1 "Pakistan-Israel in landmark talks". BBC News. September 1, 2005. Retrieved May 5,2010.)

2Today, Israel (18 February 2013). "Could Israel and Pakistan be Friends?".

3Moshe Yegar (2007). "Pakistan and Israel"Dr. Moshe Yegar, Jewish Political Studies Review. Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. Retrieved 2011.

4 "Pakistan got Israeli weapons during Afghan war". Pakistan: Daily Times Monitor. July 20, 2003. Retrieved July 4, 2012.

5Charlie Wilson's War: The Extraordinary Story of How the Wildest Man in Congress and a Rogue CIA Agent Changed the History of Our Times, By George Crile, Grove Press, 2007, Chapter 10.


7 "Pakistan-Israel in landmark talks". BBC News. 1 September 2005. Retrieved July 4,2012.

8"Musharraf says Pakistan not to recognize Israel". People's Daily Online.Xinhua News Agency. September 2, 2005. RetrievedJuly 4,2012.

9 "Musharraf: Pakistan will eventually recognize Israel". September 27, 2006. Retrieved July 4, 2012.

10 "Relations with Israel could help Pakistan, says former president Musharraf"Haaretz. 6 January 2012. Retrieved 10 February 2012.

11Katz, Yaakov (December 1, 2010)."WikiLeaks: Pakistan passed terror intel to Israel".Jerusalem Post: International directorate(Jerusalem Post). Retrieved2010-12-02. &^ Barak Ravid (1 December 2010). "WikiLeaks: Pakistan tipped off Israel on terror threats in India"Haaretz. Reuters. Retrieved July 4, 2012.



14 Israeli Book of Laws, volume 2109, page 463 [3] in Hebrew)

15 Mian, Azeem M. (December 25, 2009), "PP's leadership connection to Tel Aviv"Jang Group of Newspapers: 1, retrieved 2009.

16 "Bhutto wanted ties with Israel, sought Mossad protection"Israel Today. December 28, 2007. Retrieved July 4, 2012.

Researched by: Saeed Muhammad

Published in May 2015

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