General Pervez Musharraf’s call for the recognition of zionist Israel, made during his visit to the US last month, hit the people of Pakistan like a bombshell. During a television interview on June 29, he called for an open debate in the media. “The debate should be serious. There should be no emotionalism of the extremists.” While calling for “open debate”, Musharraf left no one in any doubt about where his own preferences lie. “What is our dispute [with Israel]? We should think,” he said. While decrying the “emotionalism of extremists”, Musharraf went on a rhetorical flight of his own, clearly aimed at appeasing his American hosts as well as the zionists: “Should we be more Catholic than the Pope or more pious than the Pope or more Palestinian than the Palestinians themselves?”
Musharraf’s television interview was preceded by a statement on June 23 in Washington by Riaz Khokhar, Pakistan’s foreign secretary, who said that sooner or later Pakistan will have to recognize Israel, without explaining why he thought so. Is it necessary to recognize an illegitimate entity that has usurped the Palestinians’ land and perpetrates horrible crimes against civilians daily? If the logic of brute force were to prevail in Palestine, there would be even less safety and protection for the weak, no matter how just their cause. General Musharraf, however, must be held to his word; if he wants honest debate, then there should be one in which nobody should be above criticism.
First, let us consider the alleged urgency of recognizing Israel while it continues to occupy Palestine, as well as oppressing the Palestinians continually. Why was it necessary for Musharraf to make such an important announcement while in the US, and not in Pakistan? One cannot help but conclude that he meant to harvest as much publicity as possible, by means of the zionist influence in the US media, in order to appease the zionists and Americans. Further, why was Musharraf’s proposal not made through the elected parliament, in order to gauge the reaction of Pakistan’s people?
It must be pointed out that Musharraf went to the US without any elected officials, although he claims that he is determined to bring “sustainable democracy” to Pakistan. He made other policy pronouncements as well, without feeling any need to consult anyone in the military-created “democratic” dispensation in Pakistan: he pledged two brigades of the Pakistan army to support the American occupation of Iraq, continued support for the US war on “terrorism” (although it is now clear to everyone that it is really a war on Islam and Muslims), and to not upset India over Kashmir, in order to advance the American agenda in the region. In return for all this, he was promised US$3 billion in aid over a five-year period. This must first be approved by a hostile congress, described as zionist-occupied territory by American television commentator Pat Buchanan; it amounts to the grand sum of $5 per Pakistani per year!
Musharraf claims that Pakistan has no direct conflict with Israel, and says that if the Palestinians are prepared to deal with it, why should Pakistanis be “more Catholic than the Pope”? Israel is a usurper state that has illegally occupied the land of Palestine, in the same way as India has illegally occupied Kashmir. There are striking parallels between the two. Both areas fell under alien occupation at about the same time: India occupied Kashmir in October 1947, while the zionists grabbed Palestine, officially declaring their state in May 1948 although the European colonialists had been flooding the holy land much earlier. If Pakistan were to recognize Israel, it would have no leg to stand on in Kashmir. Perhaps this is what Musharraf has in mind; or maybe this is what the Americans had in mind to buy for a fistful of dollars. If so, it is a poor bargain.
What is the advantage to Pakistan (or any other Muslim country) of recognizing Israel? Both Egypt and Jordan have established diplomatic relations with it, but neither the people of Egypt nor those of Jordan have reconciled to this state of affairs. There is no interaction between the peoples of these countries and the Israelis who flock to them, disguised as tourists but in essence spies. Since diplomatic relations were established (March 1979), Egypt has been targeted by Israeli intelligence activities as never before; Jordan’s experience has been equally bad. In September 1997 Israeli Mossad agents using Canadian passports attempted to assassinate Khaled Mis’hal, head of Hamas’s political office in Amman, Jordan. The Israelis were caught by Mis’hal’s guards, but the Jordanian government of king Husain let them go. It would be naive to assume that the Israelis will behave according to diplomatic norms in Pakistan if similar relations were established between the two countries. In June 1981 Iraq’s nuclear installations at Osirak (outside Baghdad) were attacked and destroyed by Israeli planes, despite the fact that at the time Saddam Husain was fighting Islamic Iran on behalf of the west, and had offered to recognize Israel. On what grounds is Pakistan to hope for better treatment?
Pakistanis must bear in mind another point: in 1990, eight Israeli agents were caught in Srinagar by the Kashmiri mujahideen. Disguised as tourists, the Israelis were on a spying mission against Pakistan and were planning to sneak in for a possible sabotage mission against its nuclear installations at Kahuta. Israel has made no secret of its animosity to Pakistan and its nuclear installations, in common with India. There are strong relations between the Hindu fascists in power in India and the anti-Muslim zionists in Palestine. Given the Egyptian, Jordanian and Iraqi experiences, would it be sensible to establish relations with such a state that recognizes no norms of civilized behaviour and whose rulers are racists?
The Israelis do not spare even their American paymasters. Who has not heard of the Jonathan Pollard affair? Israel leads a parasitical existence, feeding off the American economy while people in the US are deprived of basic services, yet the zionists feel no compunction about spying on their patron and benefactor. Pollard, an analyst for the US navy, was for years passing the most heavily-guarded secrets to Israel, which in turn sold them to America’s then arch-enemy, the Soviet Union. Pollard was caught and sentenced to life imprisonment in 1985, but his wife was spirited away to Israel. No Israeli leader misses an opportunity to ask the US to release Pollard, although this American traitor was in constant touch with top Israeli officials throughout his career. If the zionists have such bad manners that they do not care even for their most ardent supporter, why should the Muslims of Pakistan (or of anywhere else) repose any trust in them?
If general Musharraf is convinced that his position is correct, then let him put it to a referendum; let the people of Pakistan have their say. Naturally, government-controlled television and radio stations would be freely available to those who advocate “normalization” of relations with the usurpers of Palestine, but the masses of Pakistan are likely to give a very different verdict. Let it be ascertained and respected; no amount of sophistry about Pakistan’s “national interests” will sway the people in whose name every claim is made without ever bothering to ascertain their wishes.
Two other points are in order: in Palestine, it is not the Palestinian masses, nor their genuine representatives, who are making deals with the zionists. Neither Yasser Arafat nor Mahmoud Abbas, the American/zionist-installed prime minister of the Palestinian Authority, stands for the wishes and rights of Palestine and its people. It is to the Palestinians’ credit that, despite suffering so much, and with the Muslim world virtually abandoning them, they have not lost hope. Their courage in the face of such overwhelming odds has inspired millions of Muslims globally. It behoves the Ummah not to belittle their sacrifices or determination. With their bare hands, the people of Palestine have taken on the mightiest army in the Middle East and given it a fitting response. This is more than what any army in the Muslim world can claim, apart from that of Islamic Iran.
The Muslim Ummah’s real tragedy is the fanaticism of the secularists among them. While decrying the extremism of others, the secularists are no less extreme in their views. In the 56 years of its existence, Pakistan has been ruled by every shade of secular nationalist. They have made a real mess of Pakistan and its affairs. While they have amassed huge fortunes, the masses have been even further impoverished; corruption has reached dizzying heights, and their crowning achievement is their total subservience to the US. With such a sorry record, one would think, they would be a little more circumspect in pointing accusing fingers at others, but not so. Their shamelessness has become their badge of honour.
If they truly believe in their cause and feel they can defend it, let them debate it openly and honestly. Hiding behind rhetoric and emotional claims to defending the “national interest” cannot wash for long. Already the U-turn on Afghanistan, under the pretext of serving the “national interest”, has blown up in their faces; the Pakistani embassy in Kabul was attacked and ransacked by a crowd of Afghans on July 8. Considering that Pakistan gave refugee to more than two million Afghan refugees, including Hamid Karzai, for nearly two decades, their attack on the Pakistani mission with impunity indicates the failure of Islamabad’s policies. This is not the first time such a thing has happened; another mob attacked the Pakistan mission in Kabul in September 1995, seriously injuring the ambassador and a military attache. In the recent attack nobody was assaulted, but the fact that its mission was targeted proves the failure of Pakistan’s policy in Afghanistan. Whatever else one may say about the Taliban, at least they were not ungrateful to their benefactors and friends.