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Pakistan ties with Israel? Why not, asks Musharraf

Former president of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf —AP photo

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan should consider establishing ties with Israel, said exiled former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, remarks likely to anger many in the Muslim-majority country where he hopes to make a political comeback.

Musharraf, who resigned in 2008 in disgrace, has said he plans to return to Pakistan this month, despite possible arrest, in order to participate in a parliamentary election due by 2013.

On Sunday, he is scheduled to address a rally via video in Pakistan's biggest city and commercial hub, Karachi, sources in his recently formed All Pakistan Muslim League said.

Speaking in favour of relations with Israel could make Musharraf more unpopular, especially among militants who made several attempts on his life with bombings because of his support for the US “war on terror” following the 9/11 attacks.

“There is nothing to lose by trying to get on Israel's good side,” Musharraf, a former army chief, told the liberal Israeli newspaper Haaretz in an interview carried on its website.

“Pakistan also needs to keep readjusting its diplomatic stand toward Israel based on the mere fact that it exists and is not going away.”

Israeli officials were not immediately available for comment on Musharraf's remarks.

CONSPIRACY THEORIES ABOUND Pakistan has been a staunch supporter of demands for a Palestinian state. Pakistan and Israel, however, have maintained covert contacts for decades, officials have said.

According to an October 2009 US diplomatic cable published by WikiLeaks, the head of Pakistan's main spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), said he had contacted Israel officials to head off potential attacks on Israeli targets in India.

A senior ISI official said the agency has never established any contacts not authorised by the government and which were not in the interests of Pakistan.

Many Pakistanis think Israel and the United States are constantly plotting against Pakistan -- a belief that inspires abundant conspiracy theories.

Musharraf, who came to power in a 1999 coup, said Israel's influence in the United States and its relations with Pakistan's main rival, India, can help Pakistan gain influence abroad.

The first public talks between Israel and Pakistan were held in 2005.

They were described as a “huge breakthrough” by then Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, but sparked fury in Pakistan, a nuclear-armed South Asian nation that is home to some of the world's most feared militant groups.

“I felt I needed to test the waters in Pakistan when it comes to Israel,” Musharraf said.

“We have been anti-Israel in Pakistan because of Palestine ... But I believe in realism and in assessing ground realities.”

Musharraf left office, and Pakistan, after his allies lost a 2008 general election and he faced an impeachment motion by the new coalition government for invoking emergency rule and suspending the constitution.

A Pakistani court issued an arrest warrant for Musharraf in February 2011 over accusations that he failed to provide adequate security to former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated in December 2007.

Musharraf was declared a fugitive of law after he failed to respond to a court summons.

He has denied suggestions that he, his security agencies, or the military were involved in Bhutto's murder.


Comments (51) Closed

Jan 07, 2012 12:55pm
His statement "that Israel exists is a fact" tells it all.It is time for the Hamas and the rest of the Palestinians face reality.You have your own internal problems which you cannot solve.Why are you getting involved in other people's issues?I am writing this there is going to be a deluge of objections to Musharraf's statement in your Dawn online replies.
Jan 07, 2012 05:59pm
I can not believe this man was ever in the honorable armed forces of Pakistan. He asks why not relations with israel??? The answer is in the Holy Quran. People like him try to convince us by giving us examples of Islamic countries and rulers having trade/economic ties with the jews.
Jan 07, 2012 06:30pm
Probably my knowledge of Quran is not good as yours. Can you please provide the surah and ayah number where Quran prohibits relations with a Jewish state? I also cant remember the name of the treaty prophet Muhammad PBUH signed with Jews after his migration to Medina. Please help!
Jan 07, 2012 01:33pm
what is Israel's stand on Islam and Islamic countries? Have ever these so called liberal minded people thought of? And also by voicing support for diplomatic ties with Israel, he is only putting his life in danger in country like Pakistan.
Jan 07, 2012 06:39pm
i guess you need to open your mind, he is not asking to go and make them your friends, but asking to create DIPLOMATIC TIES, if u see the picture residing in international society, you may understand, and as far QURAN is concerned, it surely for you the best guidance and creating ties in the interest of islamic state should not be a deal
k. khan
Jan 07, 2012 01:43pm
Almost all the Arab nations have relation with Israel officially or covertly. Why Pakistan has to stand back and watch. Our animosity will not change the facts. When are we going to learn to live on facts rather then on some illusion.
Jan 07, 2012 06:53pm
@Haider- The word "honorable" is debatable. As regards to trading with the Jews, there is no restriction in Islam. There are good and bad people in every community and the prophet of Islam himself made pacts with them when he arrived in Madinah. Musharraf is being practical but it should come after Palestinians have been given their due rights as it IS their land to begin with. With the Arab spring, it is time for Israel to face reality.
Jan 07, 2012 06:53pm
I think he is sensible and realistic man. there is no point in fighting with Israelis. must develop talks and both Israel and Palestinians should live with equal rights . Like all Pakistanis are not terrorist,all Jews are also not Zionists. they are just like us and specially the younger generation.
Jan 07, 2012 07:36pm
why not.zia also tried.keep your friends close but your enemies closer.if you consider them an enemy state.we lost the chance during zias time.
ali builder
Jan 07, 2012 07:34pm
all those who oppose Israel are foolish & naive. Allah gave us brains to tackle this issue without confrontation. Yes friends with Israel for Islamic republic of Pakistan's interest.
Jan 07, 2012 07:48pm
I supported Musharraf for his pragmatism, for not looting Pakistan, for holding as fair an election as Pakistan has seen, for opening the media, for not being vindictive towards his opponents, and most of all for not selfishly promoting his family members, relatives and clan. But expressing support for Isreal in this manner is going too far. How can any person who claims to be a muslim suuport an entity that is the root cause for all externally enforced problems and suffering on muslims around the world whether it is Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and soon to be Iran.
Jan 07, 2012 07:56pm
General Musharraf has a long history of coming out with most sensational statements and arguments in order to draw attention. On one platform he claims he had nothing to do with Kargil intrusion and on the other he claimed that he forced India to come to negotiation table. At one time he claimed that an agreement with India was almost reached on Kashmir and at other times he blames Indian leaders for intrasigence. On one hand he claimed there are no terrorist training camps in Pakistan and then he pledges on Jan4, 2004 that Pakistan's soil will not be used to launch attacks on India !!
hasan zaheer
Jan 07, 2012 07:58pm
for us pakistanis,israel does not exist bcz the jews have taken the arab land
Jan 07, 2012 07:58pm
Haider, please do not make up things about Islam or the Quran. If you're so sure this is in the Quran, would you kindly point out which Surat/Ayat?
Jan 07, 2012 08:20pm
There is nothing wrong with what Musharraf has said. It's high time the realities are accepted. Israel exists period. We can learn alot from having cordial relations with the Israelis, they are prominent in the field of science,medicine and law to name but a few disciplines. Whats wrong with sharing this intelligence and people to people contact? look beyond the narrow mindedness and embrace what Musharraf and no doubt Imran Khan will, once he comes to power. There's no room for extremism in our country.
Agha Ata
Jan 07, 2012 08:35pm
Today’s friend can be tomorrow's enemy and today’s enemy can be a friend of tomorrow. But maybe, the time hasn't come for Muslim countries for any change towards Israel.
Jan 07, 2012 10:14pm
On the contrary, by establishing diplomatic ties with Israel, we are getting involved in other people's problems. Turkey, Egypt, and Jordan have diplomatic ties and thus they are very involved in Israel-Palestinian issues. Pakistanis are completly out of it. Yes, establishing ties with israel might win us more military contracts and get us world blessing for our nukes, but how far are we willing to stoop to get that blessing? Surely not to the extent of extending a hand of friendship to a colonial power that has openly and ruthlessly crushed hopes and aspirations of a native people, leaving them no option but to fight, and openly supports tyrant regimes of its neighbours.
Jan 07, 2012 10:55pm
There is not one Ayat that calls for jihad against Jews and Christians. Not one Ayat. But Islam consistently, over and over, calls for jihad (struggle) against oppresses and tyrants. This is a mandatory duty of every Muslim man and woman, be that tyrant a Muslim or a Jew. Zionist regime is a tyrannical regime. That is a fact. To establish trade/ military ties with them, and thus further legitimize and strengthen their hold on the oppressed, is against the very grain of Islam. And besides, what do they have to do to earn our friendship? End colonial rule? Dare we make that demand? Or does it all have to be on their terms? Yes, we have a double standard. We do business with other tyrannical regimes too. But (a) that's no excuse, and (b) no other country on the planet today has so openly colonized and ruthlessly crushed its natives as Israelis are, and had wars waged at its behest, that in turn has led to millions dead, injured, or homeless. What advantage can there be to establishing ties with a regime that will make us a pariah in the Islamic world, and rightly so too. We all know that any kind of relationship with Israel will be no different than a relationship with US. That is the mindset of any nation that sees itself as God's Chosen People.
Yawar Shah
Jan 07, 2012 11:41pm
Our beloved Quaid wanted friendship will all the countries. When Egypt, Turkey, Jordan and other Muslim states are seeking peace with Israel, why not Pakistan? Former president Musharraf has the vision and courage, lacking in other politicians who have given in to the extremists and Taliban, who are destroying Pakistan and Islam, a religion of tolerance, peace and love.
Syed H. Imam
Jan 07, 2012 11:57pm
If we can have ties with India despite three wars and continued occupation of Kashmir and we can talks with Taliban after they caused so much destruction in Pakistan and continue to threaten our country and nuclear assets; so why not have diplomatic relationship with Israel. Relation with Israel does not mean that we have to abandon our support for Palestine.
Jan 08, 2012 12:54am
Musharraf is absolutely right and for several reasons. For one, Pakistan cannot help Palestenians at all as it is insignificant on the world stage despite being a nuclear power. Having relations with Israel will allow a channel for us Pakistanis to lobby the cause of Palestenians, and at least at present, Israel will see big value in having relations with us. Second, it is true to that Pro-Israeli lobbies and jewish community hold total sway over American politicians and goverment and given that we need trade channels, having a relationship with Israel will only help. Third, it never slips my mind that Palestenians have never supported the cause of Kashmir, they have played either neutral or somewhat even pro-india. I remember PLO leader Arafat flying over Pakistan to land in India, he could care less about Pakistan. Musharraf is 100 percent right, we need to look after Pakistan's interest first and foremost and this will only help. Regardless of the fact that like others, I feel extremely sad about the Palestenians and what they go through, opening up lines of communication will help everyone. Sometimes we have to start the path we like the least and sometime that turns out to be the path we needed to take anyways.
Jan 08, 2012 01:01am
Musharraf was thinking that Pakistan Court will absolved him of his abscond from the country.But politics is very abstruse and cannot be predicted what will happen next. May be Musharraf will alliance with IK !
Haroon Temueri
Jan 08, 2012 01:28am
Let me remind you Yawar about the agreement that our Prphet (PBUH) Muhammad (SWA)signed at Hudabia. I do not think I have to go into detail. Just take a look at the original map of Isreal and then take a look at at it as it exist today. You will find your answer why we must recognize Isreal. Recognition of Isreal doesnot mean that we abrogate the support for the Palestinian Poeple. By having recognized Isreal and being able to communicate face to face we may be able to help them change their mind and become a part of the solution for a Palestinian Home Land.
Haroon Temueri
Jan 08, 2012 01:34am
All I want to say to Mr. Hasan Nazir, "You are acting like a pigeon which sees a cat and closes it's eyes and than says to itself cat is gone."
Jan 08, 2012 02:12am
i think having ties with israel is a good idea. wake up, we have enough of our own problems before thinking about arabs. the rich arab states are not bothered so why should we. with regards to references about quran, it also teaches us to be fair and equal towards all human beings. afterall who are we humans to judge people on their religion. leave that for allah, and look at ourselves. we indeed are the worst followers of islam. i am afraid in our country common sense is not common, is it?
sayeed Hussein
Jan 08, 2012 02:14am
It is time we wake up to reality. Israel is not going to go away. I would like to see Pakistan to work with the Israel and America to influence the decision makers to allow Palestinian have a home. For those who quote the holy Quran should first read it and understand it. Jews and Christians are Ahle Kitab. Quran talks about Moses, Jesus and yes it talks about being not trusting certain members of the community but it also says your religion is with you and mine is with me. Israel has a lot of influence in India and it can be good for Pakistan to be friends to influence Israel. It has been 64 years for Pakistan and India to fighting each other yet Kashmiries are still suffering. Wake up. Think with head not with heart
Jan 08, 2012 02:35am
The Prophet of Allah (PBUH) did business with the Jews!
Jan 08, 2012 03:16am
Israel is there and there is nothing wrong in having good relations.
Jan 08, 2012 03:41am
Thank you. We Muslim need to stop believing what every Mullah has to say and dig into Quran our own self. Every Muslim need to read Quran in their native tongue and understand it. Don't just believe in any mourn with a mic in his hand. I think there is nothing wrong to be friend with Israel. Dialog solve problems. May be we can solve problems with being friends with them.
Jan 08, 2012 04:13am
For all the Pakistanis who pushed him out because they got board of him or manipulated by so called democratic forces, they deserved the mess they got. We are worst than situation in 1998. He was the only leader in the last two decades who did not cheated or looted Pakistan. He was true patriot and very competent who got on the wrong track after doing a lot of good because of US pressure to allow Benazir back. After 2007, all was history.
Jan 08, 2012 04:20am
Pakistanis and most Arabs seem to live in an Ostrich like world - if you don't acknowledge something, it must not exist. Musharraf has his own agenda for making such statements, he wants to be in the limelight. However, the general population in Pakistan should not behave like Ostriches.
Jan 08, 2012 04:33am
I am a Pakistani and for me Israelis have been in that land for centuries...was Jesus (PBUH) not born amongst Jews? Yes the establishment of the state may have been done wrongly but the Jews did have a claim on that land. All middle east was changed geographically after the fall of the caliphate....the fact remains - we need to look at our (Pakistan) best interest and then the Musim best interest...it is in our interest to accept Israel, have peace with India and focus on our economy and rooting out jihadis from amongst us.
Jan 08, 2012 04:38am
There is no harm in talking with Israel. Having read his interview, I have to agree with Musharraf on everything. Also, he was better leader than the current lot trying to rule us in Pakistan.
Azhar Zaidi
Jan 08, 2012 05:52am
Yes, we should recognize Israel. Egypt did long ago. Perhaps Pakistan could take leadership to help the region. Peace will be good for both Israel and Palestine. Musharraf has the carisma to influence the response of the leaders of that region.
Jan 08, 2012 07:05am
We are told that Muslims and Jews are cousins. Abraham and Inrahim are same.Sulaiman and Solaman are same etc then why on earth are you having hatred. Yes, you may disagreements on land but don't harbor such a ill feeling on religion.
Jan 08, 2012 07:23am
Why you bring the Holy Quran in this conversation.We believe in Holy Quran but do we believe and practice in its teachings. We are proud of practicing some rituals but never bother to care about other peoples rights, which is equally important.Every thing is me first at the expense of other peoples whether at roads, for jobs of every sphere of life.
Jan 08, 2012 07:44am
Learn to live in world of realities. Israel does exist. India can say same that Pakistan does not exist. It is better to negotiate for a better future for all including Palestine and Pakistan. It may be popular to say this but is right.
Jan 08, 2012 08:10am
Many of the Arab countries, including Egypt - the largest Arab country, have relations with Israel. Why should we continue to fool our self about a reality which is being accepted by so many Arab countries as well?
Jan 08, 2012 08:31am
I support relations with Israel in the interest of Pakistan.
Gaurav Arya
Jan 08, 2012 09:39am
Pakistan's rulers need to realize that there is a difference between "love affairs" and "foriegn affairs". Why this sentimentality? I dont see any Muslim country supporting Pakistan when it is in trouble, neither Saudi, Iran, Afghanistan or Palestine.
Jan 08, 2012 09:39am
I don't really understand the non acceptance of it . if you say we as Muslims should do that than why Jordan which is next to Palestine and has the majority of Palestinian population has ties with them and has embassies , Egypt has ties with them too which are very religious countries. Jordan let drink Israel from its Jordan river and Egypt let him take its natural gas resources. Soheil jamali
Gaurav Arya
Jan 08, 2012 09:46am
Friends, please do not wrongly quote the Holy Quran to spread the message of hate and alineiation. The Quran teaches love for fellow humans and is higly eccelectical and inclusive in it approach towards all religions. Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) chose war only when all other options had been exhausted, and that too only in self defence. Pakistan should have diplomatic relations with Isreal and all countries. As a soveriegn state, it should take decisions which are in its interest, and not because Israelis are occupying lands which are thousands of miles away. Pakistan must object to Israeli occupation but not having relations is being emotional, and it is harming Pakistan and not Isreal.
Jan 08, 2012 10:01am
Let me remind everyone here - All of the powerful Arab nations around Israel has relationship with Israel both political and commercial relationship. if you dont believe me then please gather your facts around Saudi-Isreal pipeline, Egypt-Isreal gas Pipline... if this is not enough Israel gets oil and gas on subsidised rate even the people of those nation get that price for their oil. This is just a small glance of what ties these Arab Nations has with Israel - on the surface they deny and oppose each other. I therefore ask all those Mulla and people who are bringing religion into this issue is what is the harm in having a political relationship with Israel and having a defense agreement with them that they will not attack each other... we need to be clever - even our Prophet had a treaty with non-muslims... the biggest question should be Why Arabs are not doing anything about their "so called" arab land - we Pakistanis aint Arab why do we have to suffer for Arab Land ? Wake-up Mulla, wake-up Intellectual religious people and put Pakistan First....lets be savior of our own land Pakistan before we talk about other Lands....
@ Unity
Jan 08, 2012 10:13am
This thinking develops among defeated people. Prophet resisted these powerful forces by unity and dedication among its rank. The problem with Muslim world is that every one is playing the game of enemies. Arabs as a whole are close to USA. Is this strategy helped them but rather helped Israel to be aggressor and arrogant. Pak should have been an ideal state by exercising unity at home and than uniting others but unfortunately there is no Sladdin or great person to lead the nation. Its people must think to whom they had voted in power.
Bob Ghori
Jan 08, 2012 12:11pm
I support Pakistan having good relations with Israel and India. Israel is a reality, a country of about 5 million talented people with annual export of 26 billion dollars, a strong and well trained armed forces if not the best but one of the best in the world. Some body said Smart people chose smart people as friend so why not make them friend and learn from them. Shoaib
Jan 08, 2012 01:59pm
hasan zaheer, the arab world leader acknowledge israel existence and have ties with it. especially, Saudi Arabia through USA. please wake up and look at the world around yourself.
Jan 08, 2012 08:17pm
I read most of the positive comments about Pakistan establishing Diplomatic ties with Israel and I agree to it without a doubt. Israel is in existence as a Country and we should recognize that. Lets keep religion out of politics and things will fall in it's proper place and this world will become once again, full of Love, Peace and Harmony! No religion preaches hate for anybody and neither our Prophet did nor the founder of Pakistan!
Jan 09, 2012 11:36pm
Take it easy brother Yawar, Sheetal, Shirin and other opposers. I live in toronto since last 10 years. My next door neighbor on the left is a jew and five houses in row on the right have white christians and one hindu. What am I suppose to do, walk in and out 05 times a day and look at them with un-friendly eyes and hatred. Or should I deal with them in kindness and friendliness as co-owners of the earth planet. Tolerance is the first important thing we muslims need to learn and adopt if we wish to be respected in the human society. We must learn to accept disagreements with open hearts and minds. Please remember...feeling of love and positivity has the power to improve any human relationships while the feeling of hate is negative energy and if not controlled...it is capable to ruin any possible human relations. God bless you all!
Jan 10, 2012 05:07am
Part of Pakistan's strategy of denying Israel recognition was to gain Arab support against India. However, that tactic hasn't worked as the Arabs love India, so why are we so anti-Israel? It's silly for us to be so pro-Arab when the Arabs themselves love India. Let us establish ties with Israel. The Saudis and Qataris already have (private) contacts with the Israelis after all!
Jan 10, 2012 06:44am
its either israel or palestine. cant support israel and palestine
Jan 15, 2012 10:30pm
Totally in favour of diplomatic ties with Israel--Musharraf is the best soloution for Pakistan no doubt about it... shame the naive single minded people dont realize this