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more loyal than the king

As a major Islamic nation, Pakistan has a duty towards the Muslim ummah which it must respect.

By Dr. Emmanuel Navon | February 2021

Pakistan belongs to a small number of countries that still do not have diplomatic relations with Israel. This is an anomaly and an anachronism. Israel has become a major power with global clout. It was ranked the eighth most powerful country in the world in 2020 by the index of the BAV Group (a consultancy) and of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Israel is a world leader in technological innovation; it has a powerful army and a dynamic economy; it has strategic relations with the United States and enjoys close ties with the world’s major powers; and it displays soft power too as a cradle of Western civilization and of the Abrahamic religions, and through the influential Jewish Diaspora.

Israel has diplomatic relations with six Arab countries: Egypt, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Sudan, Bahrain and Morocco. In addition, Israel has diplomatic relations with many non-Arab Muslim countries such as Turkey, Nigeria, Chad, Azerbaijan, Senegal, Kazakhstan and other republics of Central Asia. Israel used to have strong ties with Iran until the Islamic revolution of 1979. The fact that Israel has a strong relationship with India should not impede the establishment of diplomatic relations between Israel and Pakistan. Russia has relations with both Israel and Iran; the U.S. has relations with both Iraq and Israel; Israel has relations with both Turkey and Greece. The list goes on.

Talks of recognition between Israel and Pakistan are not new. Back in September 1956, Pakistan’s foreign minister Hamidul Haq Choudhury had declared that “Israel is a reality.” In the 1980s there were unofficial contacts between the Israeli and Pakistani governments on Pakistan’s nuclear program, as Israel wanted guarantees that Pakistan would not transfer nuclear technology to Arab countries and Pakistan wanted to make sure that Israel would not take action against its nuclear program. In August 1992, Pakistan’s ambassador to the U.S. said that her country should recognize Israel just as India did. A Pakistani official attended the funeral of Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin in Jerusalem in November 1995.

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The writer is an international relations expert. He teaches at Tel Aviv University and at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya (IDC), besides being a senior fellow at the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security (JISS) and at the Kohelet Policy Forum. He can be reached at

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