Musharaf`s trial balloon to recognize Israel

Category: Asia, World Affairs Topics: Foreign Policy, Occupation, Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf Views: 6426

Pakistan Foreign Affairs Minister Khursheed Kasuri (L) and  Israeli Foreign Minister, Silvan Shalom pose at the end of their meeting, on Sep. 1, 2005 in Istanbul.

It appears that General Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan's military dictator since October 1999, is on a mission to legitimize Israel: and he is going about it with the zeal of a new convert.

On September 1, 2005, Pakistan's foreign minister met his Israeli counterpart in Istanbul. This was followed by a meeting between General Musharraf and members of the American Jewish Congress in New York.

Earlier, the General praised war-criminal Ariel Sharon as "a great soldier and courageous leader" for pulling out illegal and often murderous Jewish settlers from the Gaza.[1] Moreover, after the two "courageous leaders" shook hands in New York, the Pakistani General told reporters, "And that's very good." [2] Very good? The question is, for whom?

The General wants Pakistanis to believe that recognizing Israel will be good for their country. His minions in the government and media argue that this is a pragmatic, even daring, measure that finally breaks free from the 'archaic sentimentalism' about the Ummah - a 'vague concept' according to one columnist. Is this true? Or is the Pakistani dictator surrendering the national interest in order to perpetuate his own grip on power? This question deserves our sober consideration.

The claim that General Musharraf is acting in Pakistan's national interest strains credulity. The General has found regime salvation in what the US calls its 'war against global terrorism.' Instantly, on the night of September 11, he had seen the opportunity in America's putative war against terrorism - and seized it with both hands. Musharraf's compact with his American mentors was transparent. The US would support the General, and he would join America's 'war against global terrorism.'

This compact has been hugely profitable for the General. And he has never missed an opportunity to peddle its ethereal advantages for Pakistan even as he continues to surrender his nation's core values and interests. His method is simple. He has redefined Pakistan's 'national interest' to coincide with that of the United States. As he put it in June 2003, during a visit to Washington, "Whatever we are doing, we are doing in our national interest, and fortunately our national interest coincides with those of the United States, which is the beauty of our relationship."

The General's gains are clear; but what has Pakistan lost? Pakistan surrendered its territorial sovereignty to the US, handing over Pakistan's airspace and land bases to be used in a war against a friendly neighbor, Afghanistan. As a result, Pakistan lost the 'strategic depth' it had created in Afghanistan - though, not with the best means - by handing over Afghanistan to its strategic adversaries, the Northern Alliance and India. On its eastern border, Pakistan stopped supporting the resistance in Kashmiri. In 2003, after the American invasion of Iraq, the General tried desperately to send Pakistani troops to police the US occupation of that country, but, thankfully, that move was defeated by Pakistanis.

On the domestic front, the General has been supporting the US 'war against terrorism' by promoting a new-fangled ideology of 'enlightened moderation,' no doubt a product of neoconservative think tanks in the US. This is an attempt to shift Pakistan away from its core values of Islamic governance, law, morality and justice. The primary targets of this campaign are the madaris (the Islamic schools) and the Ulama, the historical safeguards against Western imperialism and state tyranny in Islamic countries. Now the US wants to destroy them under the pretext that they are 'breeding grounds of terrorism.'

The move to recognize Israel is merely the latest in the series of capitulations Pakistan has witnessed since September 11, 2001. It is an Israeli demand advanced through the agency of the US government. The General is being asked to give proof positive of his partnership in the 'war against global terrorism' by reversing Pakistan's strategic opposition to the unnatural creation of Israel. Pakistan's founding father had described Israel as the "illegitimate child of Western imperialism." Under Israeli-US pressure, the General is determined to turn Pakistan into an instrument for promoting Israeli ambitions in the Islamic world.

Much of Pakistan's media is now swamped with writers staking putatively 'nationalist' positions on the question of recognizing Israel. Suddenly, these writers are beginning to discover endless - and vital - advantages that will begin to flow to Pakistan once it normalizes relations with Israel. It only remains for these deluded Pakistanis now to celebrate the ancient ties - going back to Abraham - that have always bound the two fraternal nations. If the Zionists themselves were making Pakistan's case for recognition, they could not have sounded more specious. 

If the narrow nationalism that is being peddled in Pakistan to justify recognizing Israel were genuine - if Pakistani nationalism ever had a spine - it would remain suspect. It would be suspect because it fails to recognize the deep connections that bind the security and the welfare of Islamic countries. When Islamic governments ignore these connections, and stand individually on their sickly nationalisms, they encourage and facilitate the imperialist attempts of the United States and Israel - among others - to subjugate these countries, to pick them off one by one.

In this connection one may recall the disastrous experience of the Arabs with their 'nationalism.' At the outbreak of the WWI, the Ottomans allied themselves with the Germans in order to neutralize longstanding British and French imperial designs against their state. When the Turkish entry in the war threatened their position in the Arab world, the British sought to incite an Arab rebellion against the Ottomans. The Arab chieftain of Hijaz - Sharif Hussein of Makka - was picked for this service with promises of an Arab kingdom. These early Arab 'nationalists' even agreed to hand over Palestine to the Zionists. What did these gullible Arab nationalists receive in return for their betrayal of the Islamic Ottomans who had staunchly refused to cooperate with the Zionists? A vivisection of the eastern segment of the Arab world into paltry Arab fiefdoms, mostly controlled by the British, French and, later, the Americans. In addition, they helped to create Israel, which would engage in ethnic cleansing and endless wars against the Arabs into the indefinite future.

Let the Pakistanis also consider momentarily the implications of an Iran driven by nationalism alone to normalize relations with Israel. What if the two then joined hands with India to try to balkanize Pakistan? Drafting blinkered 'nationalist' arguments - or with appropriate inducements from Israel and India - the Iranians too could begin to see plenty of advantages in an alliance with Israel against Pakistan. Yet, the present rulers of Iran, a country whose claims to nationalism are more firmly grounded than Pakistan's, have remained steadfast in their support of the Palestinian cause. They understand that in the long run Iranian security depends on the success of Palestinian resistance to Israeli expansionism.

What are the much-trumpeted 'national' interests that Musharraf hopes to advance by recognizing Israel? One common argument starts by noting, with apparent alarm, the growing economic and military ties between India and Israel. Pakistan, it is argued, can neutralize these Indian gains by normalizing relations with Israel. The wishful thinking in this argument is quickly exposed. With its light-weight economy - currently, 12 percent of India's, and shrinking - Pakistan cannot even dream of matching the attractiveness of Indian markets for Israeli exporters. India's trade with Israel - including trade in military hardware - will continue to grow rapidly even with Pakistani recognition of Israel.

If anything should alarm Pakistan, it is not India's growing trade relations with Israel. After all, Israel is a mere one-third of one percent of the world economy. If India is our most serious adversary, economically and militarily, Pakistanis should rather worry about the rate at which they have been falling behind India in economic size, living standards, education, science, technology, and democratic institutions. Could the General make a start by eliminating the last deficit - in democratic institutions?

A second argument maintains that Pakistan can begin to mobilize Israel's powerful lobbies in the US, in particular AIPAC, for its own interests. All it has to do is normalize relations with Israel. The naivete' of this argument borders on stupidity. Yes, Israel hankers for legitimacy which only Islamic states can give it. It is the key that will unlock the doors to Israeli penetration of the economies of Islamic countries; this will allow Israel to undermine the Islamic resistance to Zionism from within these countries. Surely, Israel will dangle the moon before gullible Pakistani generals and diplomats. But recognition is like virginity. Once Pakistan loses it, Israel will move to its next Islamic victim. 

It is worth recounting here what one Pakistani newspaper - Daily Times - claims is Pakistan's chief leverage over Israel. It writes that "Pakistan will remain strategically more important [to Israel] as a Muslim state than India as a buyer of [Israeli] arms. India has offered itself as a partner in war; Israel actually needs a partner for peace in the Middle East." It is hard to fathom why Israel would turn to Pakistan - a country in South Asia - if it needs a partner for peace in the Middle East. Equally stunning, this newspaper has wholly bought into the Israeli canard that they had no partners for peace - even after the Oslo accords. Israel's expansionist agenda depends on ethnic cleansings and wars. It has never lacked for Arab states eager to capitulate - once it defeated the Arab armies in 1948. Peace has never served Israel's expansionist logic.

The General has repeatedly argued that there is no moral case now for denying legitimacy to Israel. If the Palestinians can recognize Israel, he demands, why should Pakistanis insist on being "more Palestinian than the Palestinians?" On moral consideration, this argument has no validity. Does a crime become legitimate if its victim - left undefended by society - 'accepts' his victimization? The Palestinian recognition of Israel amounts to nothing more than this. Abandoned by the world community - including the Muslims - some Palestinian factions chose the path of negotiation with their tormentors. In negotiations too, the Palestinians continue to reap a bitter harvest. Yet, instead of offering substantive support to the Palestinians, Pakistan's military rulers seek to legitimize Israeli crimes - on the plea that the victims have done the same. This cannot be deemed moral: instead, it is moral cowardice in the extreme.

The deluded Pakistanis who urge recognition must be told - and told repeatedly - that Israel has only one strategic interest in Pakistan. Israelis look upon Pakistan as a target for attack and dismemberment, and this for two reasons. As the second largest Islamic country - by far the largest in West Asia - it could someday challenge Israeli ambitions in West and Central Asia. More urgently, Israel views Pakistan as a potential nuclear threat. In either case, Pakistan interests Israel primarily as a target - a target for its F-16s, missiles and nuclear arsenal. This proposition holds regardless of how cravenly Pakistan seeks to befriend Israel. Israel will not tolerate a united and nuclear-armed Pakistan. Let Pakistanis ignore this incontestable fact only at their peril.

In closing, I would like to state - for the record - what I believe are the conditions which Israel must satisfy before the Islamic world - or indeed, the world - can willingly grant it legitimacy. Israel must dismantle its apartheid structure and remove all the barriers to the return and rehabilitation of the Palestinians it has pushed out of their homes since 1948. Once these conditions have been fully met, Israel - under whatever name - will cease to be an imperialist project. It will lose its expansionist logic. It can then become a native of the Middle East, and live at peace with its Muslim neighbors.




M. Shahid Alam is professor of economics at Northeastern University. His political essays are now available in a book, Is There An Islamic Problem (Kuala Lumpur: The Other Press, 2004). He may be reached at [email protected]. Visit his webpage at:

Is There An Islamic Problem

Is There An Islamic Problem - Essays on Islamicate Societies, the US & Israel.

The author has aptly dedicated his work to the victims of Empire, who die and are maimed by the thousands every day of the year including September Eleven. 

Price: $15

  Category: Asia, World Affairs
  Topics: Foreign Policy, Occupation, Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf
Views: 6426

Related Suggestions

The opinions expressed herein, through this post or comments, contain positions and viewpoints that are not necessarily those of IslamiCity. These are offered as a means for IslamiCity to stimulate dialogue and discussion in our continuing mission of being an educational organization. The IslamiCity site may occasionally contain copyrighted material the use of which may not always have been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. IslamiCity is making such material available in its effort to advance understanding of humanitarian, education, democracy, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law.

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, and such (and all) material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

Older Comments:
Anger is a natural reaction, but let us not forget that the vast majority of Pakistanis are opposed to recognizing Israeli terrorists. The only "pakistanis" who are for this are the Pakistani elite comprising of the most corrupt, backward, inferiority complex suffering cowards and charlatans, including third rate nationalists who would the first ones to abandon their country at the first sign of trouble. Anybody with half a brain need look no further the amount of damage America has suffered as a result of its "friendship" with Israel. The Pakistanis should expect plenty of "Lavon affairs" and "USS liberty" style benefits such a partnership will bring.


Pakistan belongs to those who either control or possess the resources:

1)Uncle Sam
2)the Punjabi Army & Elite
They alone decide everything by itself. Therefore, the government of Pakistan represents the "vested interest" - the privileged few rather than the needy many.

It is important to understand how wealth and resources are distributed and how they are used to rule the nation. It is equally important to understand the connections between power and money. And let's not forget the "divide-and-rule" strategies these elitist groups have so well learned from their colonial masters. These elites are not interested in the Hereafter or for that matter the common men and women - never mind the Palestinians, even their own in the smaller provinces of Pakistan.

They will sell their soul for a buck!

clear , focused and scholarly analysis

I know that every "true" Muslim firmly believes that Musharraf is down right ignorant. What kinda muslim surrenders themselves to evil acts? Not only is he putting Pakistan in more turmoil, it is as if he wants to bring down the whole ummah along with it.

Salam, A very good and clear article about Israel's strategy and the its movement but lots of naiveness. What the Muslim world needs are strong leaders who can can unite and stand up and be firm to Israel, US, UK, France and the likes. Just imagine....200million arabs standing on the Golan Heights and pissing in Israel - the whole country will be flooded. But what the so-called Muslim LEADERS DID? They prefer to talk about how the kafir should correct the Muslims JIhad, Fatwas and so-called "terrorism" in the kafirs point of view!!

Unfortunately for you Mr. Ahaz, Musharraf does not represent Muslims, rather traitors like yourself, he is just following your footsteps. He abandoned Islam and chose to be a disgraced Jew. How could you be clueless of your own self, nation and religion? Who betrayed God, Moses, Jesus and the rest of the prophets? JEWS!

I would much rather fight an honorable adversary who fights tooth and nail for his beliefs and for the rights of his people. One who does not cower, snivel and tremble like a woman and turn traitor to the cause of his own nation and religion. If Musharaf represents Muslims in general then I think our task is an easy one.

One betrayal after another.

More muslim countries will follow Pakistan eventually. The problem is we are not practicing muslims ourselves. That is one of the reason we do not have good leaders also. We are so much deviated from our sunnah, that we have cracks within ourselves. And that is why we are so many nations instead of one ummah. And that is why GW Bush & his pagan allies have made no mistake in taking full advantage of the situation.

In my opinion it is not Mr. Musharraf's fault that he wants to be the next 'brave leader' in line to betray the muslim ummah.

More will follow his example to earn the satisfaction of the pagan west. Leaders like Mushraf truly have no fear for their hereafter. They live for this world only.

We are now living in the zamana of fitna. Muslim countries WILL SIMPLY NOT have good, honest leaders who will stand by their ummah.

May allah subhanotall save us & not include us among the bad muslims... ameen.

I think Musharaf is a Hindu, if not at least I think his ancestor's blood is little too strong in him. That was just a joke. I think he needs to be removed, just because he did some heroic thing, which I highly doubt, he does not have a right to sell out Pakistan. I think he is an unknowing traitor and uneducated ideologue, some thing more dangerous then neoconservatives, he claims his hero is Mustafa Kamal. But he does not know that Kamalist are a minority in turkey (but powerful one) and he like his god, would go down in history as traitors to Muslims. We in Turkey look at him with pity and I hope he goes away soon.

Don't just single out Pakistan. What do you say about Turkey, Egypt and Jordan?

Who the hell cares if Pakistan joins hands with Israel. What is Pakistan, .., lets see if Israel can clean it. God bless Pakistan. Promote peace.

Basically, this author is using big words and overanalyzing petty gestures. Let's keep in mind that many of the Arab world's largest countries (Including the one's defeated in 1967), which pride themselves at being the most 'Islamic' in the world, have established recognition of Isreal a long time ago. Also, making personal remarks about Musharraf's charachter are a cheap shot. This man was involved in several dangerous missions as a member of Pakistan's elite Special Services Group Commandos, including several classified ones, he earned his position as the leader of Pakistan's Army by being loyal and concerned for Pakistan's interest. It is vital for Pakistan's survival and furtherment to deal with rivals face to face and at all levels, this obviously includes India and Iran. Shahid Alam's conspiracy theories are about as close to the truth as George Bush's war of the worlds imagination.

Let me say this, if the general think it will help him to do what American tell to do, he should just look Sadam Hussein then he will get the answer. They use him when they need him and when he is no longer usefull, he will be replaced. and those who thinks without Western government we will starve in death, just read this verse:9:28 O ye who believe! Truly the Pagans are unclean; so let them not, after this year of theirs, approach the Sacred Mosque. And if ye fear poverty, soon will Allah enrich you, if He wills, out of His bounty, for Allah is All-knowing, All-wise. so why are we runing after these people? Allah is Razak. he pay the food, not them or anybody else.

Muhammad I'm disgusted by your comment. Once I was disgusted by an Arab that showed a Russian Communist character, I nicknamed him, "The Soviet Arab". I have a nickname for you too, "The Zionist Paki".

For your first paragraph, why there ain't as much support for Kashmir as compared to Palestine the answer is simplier than you thought.
Firstly, which became first an Islamic domain, Palestine or Kashmir? Palestine was among the first "foreign"(Roman) regions to be claimed for Islam by the second Rashid(Omar,RA).
Secondly, al-Aqsa is the third pilgrimage place for the whole Islamic world which happens to be in al-Quds, Palestine. Is there a pilgrimage imposed by the prophet,pbuh, for Kashmir? I don't think so.
Thirdly, Kashmir is an ancient Indian territory that happens to be inhabitted by both, Hindu and Muslim Indians. The Zionists are descendants of the Khazars that represent the western imperialism and they have no place or origin in Palestine. Could you say the same about those Kashmiris that are Hindus and want to be part of mother India?

Your second paragraph, Why don't the Arab countries do something about Israel? Where have you been for half a century, man? Israel, USA and UK are in the Middle East killing the Arabs and you want to pact with them? Do you call yourselves Muslims, all those who would endorse a Paki-Israeli brotherhood? What do you have for brains, brother?

Your third paragraph, The prophet made trities with the Jews, it's true, but he didn't make trity with the Jews on the expense of the Ummah or other Arab tribes in Hijaz. It was the Jews on one side and the Ummah on the other. Remember the truth said in the Quran,"They will never be pleased with you unless you followed their religion." Deny this and become kafer, then kiss mother Zion on her lips and thus your prostitution to the Imperialistic West is complete.
People like you, Muhammad, make me sin, I have a sentance from Jesus,pbuh, for you:"Get behind me Satan".

Muhammad from USA:
I agree with your points that unfortunately all Muslims of today take their interests into account and not the ummah as a whole. This is our problem no doubt.

Under these conditions Pak must take care of itself. Certainly no Muslim (Arab) country is going to come to Paks help if it is invaded (just look at Iraq - if anything Qatar, Bahrain are helping in the slaughter).

But the question is does recognizing Israel help in making Pakistan better ? That is the real question for me and I don't believe it will.

It will not make the lot of Pakistan better as a whole - poverty will remain, corruption will remain rampant etc. It will benefit the elite few (who are already quite well off), it will certainly strenghten their power and will further hinder the development of democratic process (if such exists in Pak at all!!)

Over the last 20 yrs, Egypt, Jordan, Mauritania, Morocco have normalized relations with Israel. How has this helped them internationally and their people as a whole? All of them are mired in deep economic problems, countries which are stagnant in all facets of human development and unfortunately no changes in sight.

Like our prophet we should make deals with everyone - but this whole normalization seems to be political pandering and gaining favors.

In spring 2001 a deal was presented to Israel namely to implement UN resolution 242 and it will get what it craves most - recognition by Muslims.
That, I believe, should be the stand by Muslim leaders and people.


Most of this is true. Just one little comment on the concept of Islamic state. As of today there are none! and certainly not Pakistan, whichever madhahb one chooses to take the concept from...a land where people can't practise Islam in security IS NOT AN ISLAMIC state...However on this particular subject it's obvious musharaf is a traitor to the people he leads and their beliefs

I think Mr Alam's opinions about the so called 'Pak-Israel' relationship are grossly incorrect. First of all, ever since the two countries' foreign ministers have met, the Pakistani government has stated strongly that it WILL NOT accept official diplomatic ties with Israel as long as the Palestinian issue continues. Where Mr Alam has obtained this idea that President Musharraf is about to officially instate diplomacy is beyond me. A lot of debate has ensued ever since the two met. They merely TALKED. What is wrong with talking to someone? If the global Muslim community wishes for a peaceful resolution of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, how does it hope to achieve that without face to face cooperation with Israel? What the Pakistani government has done, is a lot more than other Islamic countries are doing now and have done before. Another problem with Mr Alam's comments is how he regards President Musharraf's alignment of Pakistani policies with that of the United States. First of all, imagine if Musharraf had gone against the United States in the war against Afghanistan. Can you imagine how detremental that would have been for Pakistan? The whole global community would turn against us. After the sanctions already in place, the country would have spiralled further into disarray, politically and economically. Now the idea of the world's richest and clumsiest military country in the world going against one of the poorest didn't sit well with me either. But do you actually think Musharraf had a choice? I don't. Mr Alam then goes onto say 'Pakistan surrendered its territorial sovereignty to the US, handing over Pakistan's airspace and land bases to be used in a war against a friendly neighbor, Afghanistan.' First of all America's invasion of Afghanistan was primarily focused from the western side of the country moving eastwards, using the bases they ALREADY HAD IN UZBEKISTAN. At the present moment there are NO American forces in Pakistan.

A lot of what is said in this article is true but is there any Islamic country today that looks out for the interest of others. The answer is no. With the world politics as is today, every country is for themself. And where is all the Arab support for Kashmir, it is an issue almost as old as the Palestinian issue itself. Where have all the mideastern countries been all this time. Just riding the banner of muslim thesedays does not get you much help from other Islamic states, you need to be able to prove it.

Why don't the Arab countries do something about Israel rather than criticize Pakistan. Israel was created because of the Arabs and they should be the ones to reap its outcome not Pakistan. Yes it hurts to see muslims being slaughtered but that is also happening in Kashmir as well. Pakistan needs to worry about its existence before any others. When the time comes for this Ummah to reunite I'm sure Pakistan will not stay back. Live today fight tomorrow.

The prophet made treaties with Jews when they were weak. Why should Pakistan not do so to solidify its existence and bring prosperity to its muslim residents. Once strong enough, it can change its stance. You can't win a war by being an obstinate fool. Sometimes short term interests must be sacrificed in order to achieve the long term interests.

You know something, the Pakis are bunch of ..India-haters. They are never to be trusted. They are fair weather friends. They have no feet to stand on their own, but will still like to borrow other people's shoes and act as if it looks nice on them. Busharraf thinks he can act like a cat who drinks milk with her eyes closed and thinks nobody is watching her. Good luck to you, but the Muslim world is watching! So AIPAC is going to promote Paki interest. I mean how stupid can the general and his country be?.. They are bunch of hot air ..kind.

First, I do agree with the article and the fact is this world is paraded by ignorant leaders, and sadly most of them are in the Muslim lands. Mr. Musharraf claims to be a brave leader but he himself is a leader who falls to the American foreign policy as if that is whats going to save their future in the world. Calling Sharon a 'brave soldier' is outrageous even if the man took all his troops out of the occupied land (which he prob. never will), he still will never be close to courageous. Courage is defined when there is strong resilience, and a rock-throwing person is no match for a tank with armor. The fact lyies that Muslim leaders have become in a state where they have no direction to take since they lack the true strength which is the strenght of God. They fall due to their anxiety, and if you look at the world, you have very few leaders who will look within themselves and do a self evaluation. The fact is the leaders show a broader perspective of the Ummah, which is that the Ummah is sick and the symptoms of this disease iclude in-fighting, differences & arguing, diseases like hate, love of power etc...
May Allah make the situation of this world better and spread this world with peace and love. Ameen

I agree with the author. I feel gutted every time a muslim betrays another muslim (thank Allah I don't see this very often) and to actually hear Musharaf (the leader of one of the largest muslim nations)betray the Palestinians by forming any kind of a relationship with the evil that is Sharon (or whatever his name is)is beyond forgivable. I don't know how he sleeps at night. Israel should be made to pay for the crimes it commits every day against humanity, not be rewarded for it. And does Musharaf think he is going to gain much from this? The yahood are well known for their dishonesty and unreliability. May Allah give the Palestinians more strength in their difficult struggle against this shaytan called Israel.

I am not a Palestinian or even an Arab but I don't need to be to speak against injustice.