Since the United Arab Emirates and Israel announced their normalization of relations, there has been much speculation that other Arab states—and even some non-Arab Muslim countries—will follow suit. But Pakistan, although it has no strategic conflicts with the Jewish state, won’t be one of them. Hussain Nadim explains why:
Pakistan’s policy regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict is a product of the late 1940s and early 1950s when the country was trying to establish itself as an eastern fortress of the Islamic world to mobilize Muslim support against India. This required solidarity with the Arab states that were foremost parties to a conflict with Israel.
The hope in Pakistan was that the Islamic world would reciprocate Pakistan’s support over the Palestine issue by supporting Pakistan’s stand on Kashmir against India. This, however, never happened because, for the Arab world, Palestine was an Arab-Israeli conflict not a Muslim-Jewish one, and Kashmir was a Pakistan-India conflict not a Hindu-Muslim one. . . . Some 72 years on, Pakistan’s policy on the Israel-Palestine conflict is dictated neither by principles nor by interests. It is dictated by inertia.
A key reason for this inertia is the way Pakistan sold the entire Palestine issue domestically through [using] religious sentiment and backing it up with out-of-context Quran verses. . . . Not only did this end up creating an unknown enemy out of the Jewish people, it also gave rise to conspiracy theories of all sorts inside the country that helped the ruling elite sway public opinion in whichever direction benefited their politics. For instance, when the current Prime Minister Imran Khan launched his political career in 1995, he was targeted for being a “Jewish agent” by the ex-prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s right-wing political party.