Tuesday, March 9, 2021

PDM’s anti-Israel rally: Is Imran Khan government going to recognize Israel?

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The Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) – a 10-party opposition alliance seeking to oust the government – is organizing an anti-Israel rally today in Karachi. PDM President Maulana Fazlur Rehman has announced that madressah students will attend the PDM. The perception is being created that a) PTI took money from Israel and India to win the General Elections and b) the incumbent government is likely to recognize Israel.

The PDM chief has said that Prime Minister Imran had “fought elections on money from India and Israel”. He said the PTI demanded instant justice in cases concerning others, but had submitted 50 requests to delay the foreign funding case against it. “They cannot remain rulers, they lied [and] hid foreign money,” he alleged.

“Israel and India are Pakistan’s enemies, you are using their money to make a person [the prime minister]. Pakistan is an atomic power, by making such a person sit on [the chair], they all become suspicious,” he said, criticising the government’s foreign policy which he said had cost Pakistan its regional allies.

PTI’s position

It is important to note that Pakistan’s Foreign Office has categorically rejected rumors that it was considering recognizing Israel, referring to them as “baseless speculation”. “Responding to media queries, the Spokesperson categorically rejected baseless speculation regarding the possibility of recognition of the State of Israel by Pakistan,” read a statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA).

The Foreign Office said that Prime Minister Imran Khan’s statements on recognizing Israel, in the past, had been “clear and unequivocal”.  “The Prime Minister has made it clear that unless a just settlement of the Palestine issue, satisfactory to the Palestinian people, is found, Pakistan cannot recognize Israel,” read the statement.

Read more: Pakistan backs two-state solution to Israel-Palestinian conflict: FM Qureshi

Experts, opinion makers and independent analysts in Islamabad believe that Pakistan’s popular discourse is unlikely to allow it to recognize Israel in the coming few years. It is also important to note the new alliance e.g. Turkey, Iran, and Malaysia as a new powerful bloc in the Muslim world is also playing an important role in Pakistan’s case. Pakistan is likely to stand by Iran and China in the coming years which may result in a paradigm shift in Pakistan’s foreign policy with regard to Saudi Arabia.

Maulana using everything to target Imran Khan?

Analysts believe that since the PDM has failed to garner public attention, it has now started using religious and Jewish lobby cards to target Imran Khan. In a program, Think Tank, prominent analyst Ayaz Amir has said that the PDM is no longer a serious threat to the government. “They [PDM] do not understand a few things. For example, PDM is not focusing on the common Pakistanis’ issues like inflation and sugar crisis,” he said.

Professor Hassan Askari Rizvi also agreed with Amir and maintained that “PDM should know that the governments cannot be toppled like this”. Prof. Rizvi also noted that the PDM has never been clear about its agenda. “Earlier they attacked Army and the Judiciary, now ECP is being targeted,” he explained.

Notably, in May 2013 Maulana Fazlur Rehman declared it ‘haram’ to vote in favor of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan and his candidates. He alleged Imran Khan for being sponsored by the West and the Jewish lobby. He also called Imran an agent of “Americans, Jews, Ahmadis and a person of ill character”.

Maulana further attacked Imran’s family and said that “a person who could not make his own children Muslim nor Pakistani, is dreaming of becoming prime minister of Pakistan and making the country an Islamic welfare state.”

It was interesting to note that when Maulana had to tell as to who said Imran was really an American or Jewish agent. Maulana confidently asserted that “I am asked, ‘what is the proof that he (Imran Khan) is an agent of the Jews,’ I say there is only one proof and it is my own responsible personality. I am so righteous that I would never talk ill against anyone. This is enough that Maulana Fazlur Rehman says that he is a Jewish agent.”

Arab world normalizing ties with Israel?

The Arab world has recently been seen resolving its conflict with Israel. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) normalized ties in August 2020. Bahrain and Sudan did in September and October respectively. Before August, only two Arab countries had official ties with Israel – Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994.

Before that, the Arab state’s official recognition of Israel was conditional on the end of the occupation of Palestinian territories and the establishment of the two-state solution on the 1967 borders.

Analysts believe that the UAE has its eyes set on acquiring the US-made F-35 fighter jets, which could potentially shift the balance of power in the region. Israel is the only country in the region that has F-35s but dropped its opposition to their sale to the UAE after it said the US had assured it that Israeli military superiority would be preserved.

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