Pakistan’s Military Cooperation with Israel

Pakistan’s secret military cooperation with Israel raised serious questions about its circumventive policy towards the Arab world. During the last three decades, Israel and Pakistan had a constructive rapprochement to coordinate their stances on the Afghan issue and exchange military information. There was a turning point in the country’s foreign policy, when Pakistan worked closely with Israel in Afghanistan during the Soviet intervention in 1980s. After a successful operation against the Palestinians in 1970, General Zia-ul-Haq (From Pakistan) was awarded Jordan’s highest honour for the services rendered.

Gen Zia, who led the operation as Brigadier General deployed in Jordan at that time. It was said that in this war around 5,000 to 7,000 Palestinians were killed, although Yasser Arafat claimed the death toll was more like 25,000. The Operation was on the direct order of Jordanian King Hussein. Israeli General Moshe Dayan noted to King Hussein that:

“Hussein killed more Palestinians in eleven days than Israel could kill in twenty years.”

After the Operation Black September, Gen Zia became most favourite person to the state of Israel. At that time, Zia was the only figure in Pakistan Army whom Israel could trust and could make good political and military relations with his country. In Afghan war, Israel was one of the most important countries that assisted Pakistan in weapons and training to the Afghan Mujaheddin. Israel’s intelligence agency MOSSAD assisted Pakistan in training Afghans near the Pak-Afghan border.

The Russian weapons which captured from PLO in Lebanon by Israel Defence Force (IDF) were given to Pakistan and ISI supplied all weapons to the Mujaheddin against the USSR. Israel has accomplished many missions along with Pakistan because Pakistan and Israel are both good allies of the US. General Zia likewise, surprised many observers in March 1986, when he called on the PLO to recognize the Jewish state.

Operation Cyclone was the code name for the American CIA to arm and finance Afghan Mujaheddin prior to and during the Afghan/Soviet war. American CIA and Pakistani ISI worked shoulder to shoulder against the Soviet Regime. The USSR was the number one financier of Palestinian terrorist organisations such as the PLO. Pakistan’s ISI had established professional relations with Israel’s Mossad and had secretly passed on intelligence data to Mossad. ISI had intercepted information that Israeli civilians may be targeted in a terrorist attack in India during September and November 2008. It was reported by Wiki Leaks that Pakistan’s Lieutenant-General Ahmad Shuja Pasha was in direct contact with Mossad. In 2013, Britain’s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills revealed that: “In 2011, Israel allegedly exported military equipment to Pakistan via Britain; this equipment apparently included electronic warfare systems and aircraft parts”. However, Pakistan & Israel, both denied these claims.

In 2001, Pakistani Government through the ISI, passed intelligence to Israel about the Gulf States and the nuclear ambitions of Iran and Libya, whose programs Pakistani scientists had helped to build. In 2010, according to unconfirmed “leaked”(Wiki Leaks) American diplomatic cables, from October 2009, head of Pakistan’s intelligence agency ISI, Lieutenant-General Ahmad Shuja Pasha provided intelligence about potential terrorist attacks in India to Israel through Washington. According to the cable,

“Gen Pasha had been in direct touch with the Israelis on possible threats against Israeli targets in India.”

A few weeks before the cable was written, the Israeli Counter-Terror Bureau had issued a travel advisory warning of possible attacks against Israeli sites in India. In 2011, Israel was alleged to have exported British military technology to Pakistan.

In 2015, Israeli scientist attended the scientific conference sponsored by Pakistan Academy of Sciences held in Lahore, Pakistan. In August 1997, the Ex- Chief of army staff from1988-91, General Mirza Aslam Beg said:

“Pakistan has no direct differences with Israel, therefore, was a third party to the dispute… We have no conflict with Israel, therefore we should not hesitate in recognising Israel.”

Whenever Pakistan recognises and establishes relations with Israel, it will not be the first Islamic country to do so. Since it has no direct disputes with Israel, Pakistan is not under any compulsion to seek a “cold peace” with Israel, and therefore has several options to choose from.

These options according to a writer P. R. Kumaraswamy are the Turkish model, it means Pakistan can recognize Israel without establishing diplomatic relations immediately, like an Iranian model, it can follow the precedent set by the Shah of Iran and recognise the Jewish state, but maintain its relationship under wraps, however, in the Jordanian model, the country can imitate the Jordanians and maintain close political as well as military relations with the Jewish state without granting any official recognition, and finally, in the Chinese model, it can adopt the Chinese example and view military contacts as a means of promoting political relations.”

At least in the foreseeable future, the political status of the relationship is likely to be tentative. While maintaining and even intensifying political contacts in private, both Israel and Pakistan will probably be extremely reluctant to discuss the nature and intensity of their contacts and relationship in public. Israel’s Relations with Pakistan would help dilute Islam-based opposition toward Israel and Pakistan should move closer to Israel because there are no bilateral disputes or conflicts between them. In search of historical contacts between both Armies and Intelligence agencies; I have absolutely no doubt that both countries still collaborate in secretive operations and work together to achieve their military benefits in the region. Pakistanis are intelligent people who keep the country safe and strong through professional governance strategies and cooperation with other nations.

The Ex-Army Chief and Former President of Pakistan, Mr Pervez Musharraf once said in June 2003:

“What is our dispute [with Israel]? I have been saying: ‘Should we be more catholic than the pope or more pious than the pope or more Palestinian than the Palestinians themselves? Is this the right attitude or should there be some change in it? There should be national consensus on it.”

Israel wanted Pervez Musharraf to stay in power; it was Israel’s national interest making Musharraf strong and in power.  Israel was concerned about Musharraf’s wellbeing and wanted him to remain on the seat with power in 2007. According to the Wiki Leaks cables from Tel Aviv’s American embassy:

“The Israeli spy chief Meir Dagan met US under-secretary Burns and said that he was concerned about how long then-Pakistani President Musharraf would survive, saying: “…he is facing a serious problem with the militants. Pakistan’s nuclear capability could end up in the hands of an Islamic regime.”

Gen Pervez Musharraf knew that Israel is a reality and it is not going away from the map of the world, he always insisted that making good relations with Israel, Pakistan will get political soft corner in the world. Relations with Israel could help Pakistan on the world’s political stage. In his first interview with Israeli Newspaper Haaretz, Pervez Musharraf stated that:

“Israel is a fait accompli”

He states. “A lot of the Muslim world has understood that and I know many Muslim countries have relations with Israel, whether above board or covertly. So this is the change in reality I am talking about. Pakistan has to keep demanding the resolution of the Palestinian dispute… [But] Pakistan also needs to keep readjusting it diplomatic stand toward Israel based on the mere fact that it exists and is not going away.”

To establish good relations with Jews and Israel is a tenet of Islam, Islam teaches Muslims to make good relations with other religions and Islam permits its followers to engage with people of other faiths. It is in the supreme national interest of Pakistan to recognise Israel and make diplomatic ties because recognition of Israel could solve the Israel Palestine conflict which was spoiled for centuries.

About the Author
Mr. Noor Dahri is the Founder and Executive Director of Islamic Theology of Counter Terrorism- ITCT, a UK based Counter Islamist Terrorism Think Tank. Noor was born and raised in Pakistan. Noor Dahri has also worked with the London Police department for the last seven years. He has studied Forensics and Criminal Psychology from Oxford – UK and Counter Terrorism from International Institute for Counter Terrorism ICT- Israel. He is an author of "Terra Nullius: The Rebirth of a Land Without Peace"