ATTEMPTS TO RALLY PAKISTANIS AGAINST IMPORVED RELATIONS WITH ISRAEL FAILS
News of the meeting in Turkey surprised many here, and hard-line clerics from an influential, anti-U.S. opposition bloc in Pakistan’s Parliament quickly responded with a call for protests in major cities across the country.
The rallies fizzled. At the largest, about 300 supporters of an opposition coalition of six Islamic parties, Mutahida Majlis-e-Amal [MMA] gathered in the northwestern city of Peshawar. Smaller protests were staged by the coalition in Quetta and Karachi. At a rally in Rawalpindi, near the capital, only about a dozen people showed up.
Moin Ansari explains
The harsh unending of criticism of Pakistan from almost all Palestinian groups deserves a response.
THE TABOO OF CRITICIZING PALESTINIANS HAS TO BE BROKEN: The Pakistani press regularly lambastes Musharraf . It is free to criticize almost any government in the world, except one. This article touches a subject that is taboo in Pakistan. The subject is criticism of Palestinian actions towards Pakistan. The Palestinians have long informed Pakistanis that their friendship with India is not at the expense of Pakistan. Has Pakistan been taken for granted? Nasser, and Arafat ignored the Pakistani point of view. Saddam was actually against Pakistan. The pictures of Arafat with Indira Gandhi saying"she is my sister" right after 1971 is etched in traumatized Pakistani minds still dazed by the devastating defeat in Dacca. This was the worst possible time for Arafat to have made that trip in a victory lap across India. He then supported the Indian position on Kashmir saying that Kashimir was an integral part of India. The Palestinian lack of support for the self-determination of Kashmiris keeps Pakistanis befuddled. These geo-political realities fly in the face of Bernard Lewis'" clash of Civilization" theory that pits all Muslims against the others.
At a Arab American Anti Discrimination Committee (ADC) function, not a word was said in support for Kashmir. I approached the president that every Friday at every mosque, and at every political event Pakistanis always work for the just cause of the Palestinians. At the next function, the ADC was mute on Kashmir again.
Palestinians informed Pakistan that they opposed countries based on religion, and therefore oppose the creation of Pakistan. Pakistanis ignored these statements and continued to support the cause of the Palestinians. For too long the Palestinian leadership has ignored the other major conflict in the world...Kashmir. Since 1947 Pakistan has supported the Palestinian cause, at tremendous cost to Pakistan. Pakistan is emotional about Palestine and Israel.
The Nasserite, Baathist and PLO socialists always found comfort with Nehru, either in the Socialist Internationale or the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). The Ikhwan ul Muslimeen opposed every Pakistani government in existence. The opposition never stopped at criticism of the government. Pakistanis are regularly portrayed as weak American lackeys in the Palestinian press. I have yet to see support for Pakistan from Hamas, PFLP, or Hizbullah.
The Palestinian course of action informs us that Palestinian priorities are not congruent with Pakistani priorities on Kashmir. It will be a cold day in hell when New Delhi recognizes the rights of the Kashmiris. It will be a colder day when the Palestinians do that.
PAKISTANIS"CANNOT BE MORE CATHOLIC THAN THE POPE:" As President Musharraf has said,"we cannot be more Catholic than the Pope, and more Palestinian than the Palestinians." In the face of five decades of Palestinian opposition to the Pakistan's stance on Kashmir, the time has come take a more evenhanded approach in the Middle East.
All of Palestine's neighbors have recognized Israel and have regular discussions with Israeli leaders. The Palestinians are fine with that. The PLO has recognized Israel. It is amazing that Pakistan is being criticized for talking to the Israelis by Palestinians who themselves talk to the Israelis on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. Mahmoud Abbas who recently visited India, could not utter a single word for Kashmir. Today, it is disingenuous, that he criticizes Pakistan for talking to the Israelis.
It is a tremendous anomaly that Pakistanis cannot go and pray at the Al-Aqsa. This helps no one. This is a tremendous sacrifice that Pakistanis have made over the past five decades.
Pakistan should recognize Israel at the right time, in consultation with the OIC and other Muslims. However this should not preclude Pakistan from dialogue, discussion, trade and tourism. All of this gives Pakistan some leverage over Israeli policies towards the Palestinians. It also informs the Palestinians that they must support other Muslims who are also suffering or have suffered in the past. Pakistan, Pakistanis, and Pakistani Americans will continue to support the cause of the two-state solution in the Middle East and should continue to discuss this with all parties in the Middle East.
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