New Delhi: India believes Pakistan’s proposed plan to recognise Israel by establishing diplomatic ties with it will have “no future” and will not affect the geopolitical landscape in West Asia, but will only weaken its Kashmir cause.

While Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has said recognition of Israel is “not under consideration”, Islamabad is actively working out details of establishing diplomatic ties with Tel Aviv since its policy of supporting the Palestine cause has never yielded anything on its Kashmir cause, diplomatic sources said.

A report in the Middle East Eye in November said Prime Minister Khan admitted to being under pressure to recognise Israel.

Sources also said the real reason why Pakistan will be “forced to” take this unprecedented step is because it has come under considerable pressure from the Arab world, especially Saudi Arabia. This comes even as Riyadh itself has been smoothening its ties with Tel Aviv but cannot be explicit about it under the Arab Peace Initiative, also called the Arab Peace Plan, which was signed in 2002.

Meanwhile, India believes it will not be an easy task for Pakistan to normalise ties with Israel despite active backchannel talks between both the countries for several years now, according to official sources.

In 2005, former Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri had held a high-level dialogue with then Foreign Minister of Israel Silvan Shalom, which is regarded as the historic first meeting between the two countries.

In recent history, in 2018, a private business jet reportedly flew to Islamabad from Tel Aviv. While the Pakistani government denied the claims, this happened a day before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was to arrive at Oman, which was a first visit by an Israeli leader in last 20 years.

‘Tremendous Pressure’ From US

According to the official sources, Pakistan is also under “tremendous pressure” from the US, and particularly from the outgoing American President Donald Trump to make Islamabad a party to the Abraham Accords, which seeks to maintain peace in the Middle East.

“These ongoing normalisations are largely symbolic in nature. This has two broad dimensions – one, the actual “normalisation” of diplomatic ties, and, two, the timing. Pakistan is under pressure to normalise ties with Israel from two sources — the Trump administration and Saudi Arabia, specifically, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman,” said Talmiz Ahmed, former Indian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Ahmed added, “Donald Trump is anxious to leave behind as his legacy his success in achieving the normalisation of ties with Israel by several Arab and other Muslim countries. The Saudi crown prince wishes to play a supportive role in this regard to get into the good books of the US’ right-wing and pro-Israel lobbies whose support he will need if he has to fend off pressures on human rights from the incoming Joe Biden administration.”

Kashmir Issue

India believes that supporting and recognising Israel will only backfire Pakistan’s “so-called Kashmir cause”, an issue that it consistently raises at the UN, according to sources.

Also, with the incoming Biden administration, New Delhi believes this is going to change if President Trump is not able to coax Pakistan into recognising Israel before he exits the White House.

“The notion of Pakistan normalising relations with Israel strikes me as utterly fanciful for the foreseeable future. I say this not just because of the immense political risk of such a move, given the strong opposition across Pakistan — including among powerful Islamist stakeholders — but also because of the Kashmir issue,” said Michael Kugelman, deputy director and senior associate for South Asia at the Wilson Center in Washington DC.

Kugelman also said that Pakistan has long linked the Palestinian issue to the Kashmir issue, and from Islamabad’s perspective, recognising Israel would badly undermine its credibility as a champion of the Kashmiri cause.

Meanwhile, the UAE is also playing an active role in this since it signed the Abraham Accord. The matter was discussed between UAE and Pakistan during the visit of Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan to Islamabad in January this year.

According to Kugelman, some informal and behind-the-scenes ties talks between Pakistan and Israel, however, cannot be completely ruled out.

In fact, last month, a Pakistani business jet, which is only used by their army for secret meetings, was believed to have landed in Amman for holding talks with Israeli officials. The information was tweeted by Avi Scharf, Editor of Haaretz, an Israeli English daily.

Renowned Pakistani columnist Ayesha Siddiqa had stated in a tweet: “If policy not under consideration then what was Pak Army aircraft PA-9834 doing in Amman for 2 days & reported by Israeli media? (sic)”

“If Pakistan were to normalise ties with Israel, it would also getting into the good books of the US right wing, whose backing it might need if Biden were to raise concerns about Pakistan’s affiliation with the Taliban and other extremist groups and thus threaten Pakistan in terms of the FATF (Financial Action Task Force),” added Ahmed.