Pakistan is closely watching Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s historic trip to Israel as it can have serious implications on strategic stability in the region, a media report said today. The Express Tribune reported that Pakistan officially does not comment on bilateral visits of other heads of governments and states, but it is closely following Modi’s trip since it can have serious implications on strategic stability in the region. “Israel has long been a major supplier of arms and other defence equipment to India and those deals have deliberately been kept secret by the two sides. However, the two countries are now more open and publicly talk about their deepening defence cooperation,” the daily said.
India got access to some of the most modern defence technologies of America through Israel, defence analyst Lt-Gen (retd) Amjad Shoaib was quoted as saying by the daily. Gen Shoaib said India had greatly benefited from the defence and military ties with Israel. Dr Zafar Nawaz Jaspal, an international affairs expert, said growing defence cooperation between India and Israel would disturb strategic balance in the South Asian region. The Quaid-e-Azam University professor believes Israel assistance can propel India’s missile programme, something that would undermine Pakistan’s policy of maintaining credible deterrence, the daily reported.
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“One of the subjects on which the Indian media has created a lot of hype is the threat emanating from terrorism. It has worked hard to relate terrorism with Pakistan and blame it for virtually any terror incident occurring anywhere in India,” the daily said. Modi’s three-day visit to Israel is the first by an Indian prime minister to the Jewish nation. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu along with his entire cabinet went to Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport to receive Modi in a rare gesture. Modi, before leaving for Tel Aviv, told an Israeli newspaper that terrorism was a common challenge and said New Delhi and Tel Aviv “can cooperate even more closely” in battling it.
Former ambassador Ali Sarwar Naqvi believes that the Indian media is too much obsessed with Pakistan, saying: “No matter where Modi goes, India always tries to drag Pakistan along.” However, Naqvi was sceptical if Israel would go too far to appease India. “Pakistan is not under the immediate radar of Israel. Their (Israel) priority at the moment is Middle East.” However, Naqvi said their defence and military cooperation was something that had direct bearing on Pakistan. For Gen Shoaib, there is a lesson for Pakistan in the ever-growing close relationship between Israel and India.
“If India can cement ties with Israel while at the same time maintaining diplomatic ties with its enemy Iran, why can’t Pakistan also show flexibility in its foreign policy,” Gen argued. “Our foreign policy should not be merely aimed at appeasing any particular country. Rather we need to follow our own national interests,” he said. Some analysts have advocated maintaining working relationship with Israel, if not establishing full diplomatic ties, in order to further and protect Pakistan’s interests. In 2005, during former president Pervez Musharraf’s tenure, Pakistan and Israel established contacts and even foreign ministers of the two countries met in Turkey. However, things could not make headway further after that.