Even as thousands are killed or maimed on both sides of the Gaza-Israel fence, there is one country that heaves a sigh of relief: Pakistan. For a variety of reasons.
First, the Israel-Hamas conflict took the world’s attention off a mysterious and potentially dangerous development in Pakistan, so much that there is hardly any report on it. On October 7, a deafeningly loud blast was heard at the township of Dera Ghazi Khan, where Pakistan has its Uranium enrichment facility. The sound was heard 30 km away. Nobody bought Pakistan’s ridiculous explanation that the sound was really a “sonic boom” caused by overflying fighter jets, which cannot explain the rush of ambulances and fire engines and the complete cut-off of internet and communications. Normally, the event would have been called into question, but thankfully for Pakistan, Hamas ignited the war with Israel and Dera Ghazi Khan has been forgotten.
Second, before the Israel-Hamas war, Pakistan was standing in the geopolitical highway like a rabbit hit by headlights, not knowing what to do in the emerging realignment of forces, with Saudi Arabia and Israel moving closer and some kind of thaw between Saudi and Iran. Pakistan, which had always taken an unequivocal, pro-Palestine stance, would have had to follow Saudi, its benefactor, a politically disastrous move domestically. But now Saudi and Israel are back to square one, Pakistan can relax.
Third Pakistan sees India getting on the wrong side of Saudi Arabia and Iran, though the MEA has reiterated its stand on a “sovereign, independent and viable” Palestine living side by side with Israel.
A telling comment by Dr Hasan Zafar of the University of Glasgow in an article in The Friday Times reads: “There is a lot on India’s plate already. So, Pakistan need not rush into dialogue with India — let them deal with their own problems first.”
The bitter irony is, to the economically beleaguered Pakistan a zephyr of relief has come from death and destruction in some part of the world.