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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 1/11/21

Despite Saudi pressure, Imran Khan reaffirms Pakistan has no plans to recognize Israel

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Message Abdus-Sattar Ghazali
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The defining situation in Palestine is "exactly the same situation" in Indian-administrated Kashmir, Pakistan's prime minister has said, stressing that his country cannot recognize Israel and what Israel has done to Palestine.

In an interview with a Turkish television station, Khan said there are two reasons why Pakistan cannot recognize Israel?

"The situation in Kashmir is exactly the same situation in Palestine. If we recognize Israel's takeover of Palestine territories, then we also have to recognize what India has done in Kashmir, so we completely lose moral standing," he said.

On the second reason, which he prefaced with "much more importantly," he recalled Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan's policy regarding the issue, who said that unless injustice done to the people of Palestine is removed and unless the people of Palestine are given their homeland, Pakistan cannot recognize Israel.

Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) signed a U.S.-sponsored deal last September to normalize their relations, a move that was followed by deals with Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco. The normalization agreements have drawn widespread condemnations from Palestinians, who say the accords ignore their rights and do not serve the Palestinian cause.

Imran Khan's November interview

Tellingly, in November Prime Minister Imran Khan spoke of being under "pressure" from the U.S. and unnamed nations "with which we have good relations" to recognize Israel. Many commentators assumed that he meant Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E.

Speaking to a private Pakistani television channel in November, Prime Minister Khan admitted his government was under diplomatic pressure to recognize Israel: "There are certain things that we cannot discuss in public because of our good relations with (Muslim countries). We wouldn't want to upset them. Let our country stand up on its feet, then ask me such questions."

During his visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on December 17-18, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told the UAE Foreign Minister Anwar Bin Mohammed Gargash that Islamabad cannot recognize Israel until a "concrete and permanent settlement" of the Palestinian issue.

"I categorically presented Pakistan's stance on Israel to the UAE's foreign minister that we will not and cannot establish a relationship with Israel until a concrete and permanent solution to the Palestine issue is found," country's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told reporters on his return to Pakistan.

Qureshi's explanation came just a day after his visit to the UAE, which was seen by many as "crucial" amid rumors that Islamabad had secretly sent a messenger to Tel Aviv. Islamabad has already denied the reports, mainly from Israeli media, according to Anadolu News Agency

Pakistan returns $1 billion of Saudi Arabia's soft loan,

In December Pakistan has returned $1 billion to Saudi Arabia as a second installment of a $3 billion soft loan, as Islamabad reaches out to Beijing for a commercial loan to help it offset pressure to repay another $1 billion to Riyadh next month.

Analysts say it is unusual for Riyadh to press for the return of money. But relations have been strained lately between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, historically close friends, according to Reuters.

A finance ministry official was quoted by Reuters as saying: "We've sent $1 billion to Saudi Arabia," he said. Another $1 billion will be repaid to Riyadh next month, he said. Islamabad had returned $1 billion in July.

Saudi Arabia gave Pakistan a $3 billion loan and a $3.2 billion oil credit facility in late 2018. After Islamabad sought Riyadh's support over alleged human rights violations by India in the disputed territory of Kashmir, Saudi Arabia has pushed Pakistan to repay the loan.

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Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
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