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Pakistan’s Paroxysm over Palestine

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For all Pakistan’s frenetic diplomatic efforts and expressions of outrage over the conflict between the Hamas and Israel, the tenuous ceasefire between the two sides came as a result of Egypt’s quiet diplomacy and intermediation. While Egypt was playing a quiet and constructive role, Pakistan was indulging in diplomatic showmanship, in fact diplomatic one-upmanship, primarily aimed at domestic audiences and diplomatic dividends that Islamabad imagined will come with its strident advocacy of ‘Islamic’ causes. It appears that Pakistan has miscalculated and overplayed its hand, both at home and abroad?

Domestically, Imran Khan has got no real political boost by going ballistic over the whole Palestine issue. With absolutely nothing to show for back home, he has latched on to ‘Islamic causes’ – blasphemy against the Prophet, Palestine and Kashmir – to retain his following. In the process, he has rubbed the Pakistan Army the wrong way by sabotaging its efforts to try and normalise relations with India. The policy of stridency on the blasphemy issue has seen Pakistan isolated. Worse, the European Union has reacted quite strongly with an almost unanimous resolution passed by the European Parliament against the persecution of religious minorities and misuse of the Blasphemy Law in Pakistan. The EU is now considering withdrawing the GSP concessions given to Pakistani exports, something that will deal a body blow to Pakistan’s failing economy. On the Palestine issue, the Pakistani overzealousness could have serious adverse consequences – more on that in a bit. But the unkindest cut of all is that none of this has improved Imran Khan’s political standing back home. The Army is exasperated with his blundering ways. His own party is imploding. His allies are restive and the Opposition is baying for blood, what with new scandals erupting every day. The Pakistani street are seeing a surge of resentment with the rising inflation and joblessness.

Diplomatically, the Pakistani hysterics over Palestine could backfire. At one level, it has exposed Pakistan’s deep-seated anti- Semitism. The anti-Semitic trope of Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi in........

© The Times of Israel (Blogs)

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