03 September, 2005
Pakistan and Israel had their first-ever "official" high-level talks in Istanbul on Thursday in a bid to normalize ties following latter’s pullout from the Gaza Strip.
Though, the meeting was considered the first-ever contact between the two ideological states which do not recognise each other, however, a backdoor diplomacy between the two governments was continuing for last various years. A Karachi-based defence analyst and a senior religious scholar from Lahore had been shuttling between Islamabad and Tel Aviv via Jordan during last four years.
Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom and his Pakistani counterpart Khurshid Kasuri met in Istanbul for what they called ‘historic’ talks arranged after Turkey played a mediating role to bring them together.
At a joint press conference with Mr Shalom, Mr Kasuri hailed the withdrawal of Israeli troops and
settlers from the Gaza Strip, which he said constituted a turning point for the establishment of a Palestinian state. However, the Israeli minister did not mention whether the Zionist state is going to pull out from remaining over 130 settlements.
On the other hand, the Palestinian Authority says it is ‘worried’ about Pakistan’s first diplomatic contact with Israel as the Jewish state continues to occupy east Jerusalem and the West Bank.
“It is not good to give Israel gifts before it really implements the peace process, not only in Gaza, but, the West Bank and Jerusalem,” deputy prime minister Nabil Shaath told reporters.
The Islamic Resistance Movement of Hamas has also denounced the meeting and urged Pakistan not to fall into the trap of seeing the Gaza pullout as synonymous with the end of occupation.
Although, Pakistan says its position on the Middle East crisis remains unchanged that calls for an independent Palestinian state with Al Quds as its capital, however, according to analysts, this sudden meeting has raised the doubts that Pakistan may change its stance as it did in case of Kashmir.
Israel has full diplomatic relations with three Arab states — Mauritania, Egypt and Jordan — and a handful of Muslim majority states, including Turkey.
1) Do you think it was the right time to commence dialogue with Israel?
2) What is your opinion about Palestinian leaders’ reaction on the meeting?
3) Do you see any US pressure on Pakistan in this connection.
4) Do you think the move aims to counter the growing Indo-Israel relations? .
5) What kind of reaction General Musharraf may face in the backlash of this new adventure?