Former Pak President general Pervez Musharraf is known for making some pretty unorthodox gestures. He was the one who had walked up to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee during the SAARC conference right after the Agra summit fiasco and held out his hand.
He has been out of power for four years now, and has spent the greater part of that time in Britain. But he seems to have retained his penchant for unusual moves. Musharrf on Tuesday called for better ties between Pakistan and Israel as a way to wean Israel away from its pro-India.
Speaking to the Israeli daily Haaretz, Musharraf said “Pakistan has to keep demanding the resolution of the Palestinian dispute… (but) Pakistan also needs to keep readjusting its diplomatic stand toward Israel based on the mere fact that it exists and is not going away,” he said.
“The issue of India is another sensitivity in Pakistan – Israel has always been pro-India and against Pakistan ,” he said. The problem of course is that the Pakistani public is violently against Israel. A problem that Musharraf acknowledged. â€œYes. We have been anti-Israel in Pakistan because of Palestine, because the Pakistani people are on the side of the Palestinians and concerned for their plight. Right from the beginning, from when we got our independence in 1947 and Israel came into reality a year later, we have been pro-Palestine,” he said.
Musharraf pointed to his track record of defying Pakistani public sentiment to come closer to Israel. He had shaken hands to the Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon at the UN, he had spoken at the American Jewish Congress, and he had sent his Foreign Minister Khursheed Mahmood Kasauri to meet Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom.
One canâ€™t be sure if Musharraf means what he says, or that it is just posturing before his return to Pakistan between 25th and the 27thof January. Musharraf has made many a daring statement before, and his out of the box solution have generated much debate, but even for him befriending Israel might be a bridge too far. For Israel, to come closer to Pakistan at the expense of India, it might be well nigh impossible.