Closer ties with Israel can help Pak vis-a-vis India:Musharraf

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Seeking closer ties with Israel, former president General Pervez Musharraf said the Jewish state is a fait accompli; relations with it can help Islamabad come closer to the strong Jewish lobby in the US and in its conflict against India.
Musharraf, who is planning to return to Pakistan on January 25 or 27, in his first interview to an Israeli daily “Ha’aretz” said getting closer to Israel would be in the interest of his country as “Israel has always been pro-India against Pakistan.”
He said defying popular sentiment in Pakistan, he shook hand with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon at the UN, spoke to the American Jewish Congress as the Head of the State and sent his foreign minister Khurshid Mahmoud Kasuri to meet the then Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom in Istanbul.
“I felt I needed to test the waters in Pakistan when it comes to Israel. Yes. We have been anti-Israel in Pakistan because of Palestine, because the Pakistani people are on the side of the Palestinians and concerned for their plight. Right from the beginning, from when we got our independence in 1947 and Israel came into reality a year later, we have been pro- Palestine,” said Musharraf, who is planning to return to Pakistan on January 25 or 27.
“But I believe in realism and in assessing ground realities. I think it’s necessary to understand the changing environment, analyse it – and respond. A lot has happened since ’48, and one has to adjust. Policies are made, yes, but when the environment changes, policies should change. Policies should not remain constant,” he said justifying his gestures towards the Jewish state.
“Israel is a fait accompli. A lot of the Muslim worlds have understood that and I know many Muslim countries have relations with Israel, whether above board or covertly. So this is the change in reality I am talking about”, Musharraf said.
“Pakistan has to keep demanding the resolution of the Palestinian dispute but Pakistan also needs to keep readjusting its diplomatic stand toward Israel based on the mere fact that it exists and is not going away,” he asserted.
In his interview, he said, the public gave a positive response to his initiatives completely forgetting the widespread furore it caused in Pakistan with the secular parties accusing him of playing up to the Americans and the religious parties threatening street protests to oust the government if it took even a small step towards the recognition of Israel.
His government had to immediately backtrack with both Prime Minister Zafarullah Khan Jamali and Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed reiterating Pakistan’s traditional policy toward Israel, and the Foreign Office jumping in and joining the chorus.
Musharraf however insists that “there was no negative fallout”, though admitting that “it was a risk”. There is always a risk in any new initiative. You can never be sure [what the reaction will be]. But a leader who is not prepared to take risks is not a leader. I believe that leaders should generally flow with public opinion. But there are times and issues where the public opinion goes astray, or is anchored in wrong premises – and to change that is the leader’s job”, he stressed.
Pointing towards a commonality between Israel and Pakistan, Musharraf said that they both owe their origin in religion. “Pakistan, like Israel, is an ideological state. That is the foundation of our creation. We are an Islamic republic,” he said. Musharraf, explaining the strong reactions in his country towards various actions that are perceived anti-Islamic, said “this goes towards explaining why Pakistani Muslims are much more sensitive about Islam than most other Muslim countries.
“We are extremely sensitive about desecration of the Quran. So we are wholly sensitive to the Palestinian plight and any new initiative regarding Israel has to be proposed very delicately.”
Asked about the recent furor caused by the statement of US ambassador to Belgium, who hinted that Israel’s political positions may explain anti-Semitism in Muslim countries, Musharraf in carefully chosen words said that “it may be correct”.
“It may be correct, especially when the Jewish community anywhere in the world immediately orients itself with Israel – on the Palestinian issue, but also on any issue in the Arab world,” he responded.

6 COMMENTS

  1. Can this man go away some where and lock himself in a cupboard ask some one to throw away the keys not to be found again. He has already done enough damage to Pakistan.

  2. Finally the zionist protege speaks his master's tongue! As he comes riding high on their shoulders making sure both the subjugated Kashmiris and Palestinians never rise from the abyss.

  3. Well said Mr former President.You are a realist and a pragmatist, I have in my earlier comments asked you to represent Pakistan abroad in a independent capacity. I doubt the
    the vocal majority will agree with you but your statement has come as a breath of fresh air i hope in Pakistan.Let us have a rational debate . The Palestinians have recognised Israel.I have disagreed a lot with you but this time you are right.I don,t think you have visited Israel but i have and what that country has achieved is remarkable! Let us not live in the calcified past but move on to the future.
    We are as old as Israel. Where are we compared to the "Zionist Entity"? Before somebody issues a fattwa on me i assure you i speak with pakistan,s interest at heart
    but i don,t,,carry my emotions on my sleeve. I am myself a product of ethnic cleansing of partition or was it genocide?

  4. Musharraf is right, he is the only leader after Jinnah.. always think of Pakistan First.
    Musharraf Zindabad..

  5. Pakistan is on fire and he is talking peace with a distant country. We are at daggers drawn with all our neighbours except China and this self claimed intellectual is talking of Israel. Why doesn't he talk about having good relations with India, Afghanistan, Iran, Russia etc. We will have to find solutions to our problems regionally.

    • You amaze me! Are we at war with Israel? Let us first find solutions to pakistan,s problems at home. Don,t mix up the issues. Musharaf is a realist. He has never claimed to be an intellectual.

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