Pakistan has long refused to recognize Israel as a nation, but that could be about to change. Israel –Pakistan relations appear to be moving toward a tipping point, at least if social media commentary is anything to go by.
Debate over Israel – Pakistan relations sparked on Twitter
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz questioned this week whether Pakistan is preparing to officially recognize Israel. It’s been 14 years since the only bilateral meeting between them, and there have been no major changes in Israel – Pakistan relations since then. Tension between the two nations has remained high with Pakistan backing the Palestinians over Israelis. Many Pakistanis see Israel as an enemy of both Pakistan and Islam. Both nations have taken military measures against each other over the decades.
Kamran Khan, editor-in-chief of Pakistan’s Dunya Media Group, started a debate on Twitter about improving his nation’s relations with Israel last week.
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High time Pakistan counter nefarious Indian designs with bold foreign policy moves. Our deepest friends making fresh alignments. No permanent friends no enemies. Why can’t we openly debate pros cons of opening direct and overt channels of communication with the State of Israel
— Kamran Khan (@AajKamranKhan) August 25, 2019
While most of the responses were angry statements arguing against establishing diplomatic relations with Israel, a few Pakistanis were open to the idea. This demonstrates that while most Pakistanis still hold the traditional Pakistani view of Israel, a meaningful number of them are now open to relations with the country.
Taboo no more?
Haaretz takes Khan’s tweet and the ensuing debate as a sign that the once-taboo subject of Israel – Pakistan relations is now entering mainstream conversation. Given that most of the comments are against relations with Israel, it seems that the Pakistani general public isn’t quite ready for relations to be established. However, some commenters suggested Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan or his government may encouraged the debate, possibly ahead of potential next steps toward Israel.
The News, a Pakistani newspaper, picked up the topic from Haaretz and added the English translation of one of Kamran Khan’s Urdu tweets. In that tweet, he noted that Israel has sought a relationship with Pakistan for the last four decades. He added that Pakistan has “always brushed aside such proposals so that our fellow Muslim countries do not feel ill about it.” However, he also noted that many of the other Muslim nations do have friendly relations with Israel and even India, which has long nursed a fierce rivalry with Pakistan.
“Time is thus ripe for Pakistan to take prompt decisions in its own larger national interest,” he declared, according to an English translation of the tweet.