Pakistan maintains ties to Israel without having diplomatic relations. These are not full diplomatic ties but are meant to convey messages on critical issues to avoid misunderstandings. For example, Pakistan went on a high alert after our nuclear tests in 1998 when we received information India was considering allowing Israeli fighter jets to fly from Indian air bases to attack Pakistani nuclear installations. There was information that Israeli air force was present somewhere in India for that purpose. Pakistan conveyed to the US a warning: If Israelis participated in an Indian attack on Pakistan, then Pakistan will retaliate against both and not just India alone. This got the Americans worried and they arranged for a direct contact between the Pakistani and Israeli ambassadors in Washington. The Israelis gave the highest assurances they had no assets in India to be used against Pakistan. That contact diffused the immediate tensions.
Of course Pakistan was not imagining that Israel has a close military cooperation with India. Israel does have such cooperation.
In 1999, elite Israeli military units helped India avert a certain defeat in the Kargil heights of occupied Kashmir. The Israel military contribution in that small war was secret and largely remains so, but it was important enough to change the course of conflict. We are still not sure at what point Kashmiri and Pakistani fighters faced off with Israelis on the opposite side in Kargil in occupied Kashmir. Maybe Pakistani military would have more information on this. This Israeli participation in a Pakistani-Indian conflict would have remained a secret had not some Israeli diplomats in India alerted some Indian journalists, possibly as an attempt to show Indians how grateful they should be to Israeli assistance and, consequently, ensure more Indian orders for Israeli military hardware.
Israel is keen to have diplomatic relations with Pakistan. It is in Israel’s interest to win over a large Muslim nation. But whatever Pakistani contacts with Israel, Islamabad is not very keen on any immediate relations and can wait until Palestinians and Arabs sort out the dispute over Palestine and especially the question of Al-Quds, or Jerusalem, where Israelis want to control holy sites for Christians and Muslims.
A real Pakistani concern is how much Israel bolsters Indian military capabilities. In 2002, Pakistan Air Force shot down an Israeli-made unmanned Indian surveillance plane. So one can imagine Pakistani military planners are not happy with Israelis getting too much involved with the Indians.
We also need to be concerned about Israeli policy hawks who want an alliance with India because they believe the two countries can work together against Muslim nations. Many wiser Israelis and Indians understand such a policy would be suicidal for both. But such wise thinking is not enough unless it actually stops such an alliance from materializing. The verdict on this count is yet to come. One encouraging sign of this would be for Israel to hold back some technologies and weapons that India is sure to buy for one express purpose: to target Pakistan and fortify the brutal Indian military occupation in Kashmir. Let’s see how the Israelis balance this.
Overall, Israelis are keen to avoid talking or acting against Pakistan in public. They don’t want to see Pakistanis retaliating by helping Israel’s enemies. So you won’t see Israeli politicians or media condemning Pakistani nuclear program the way US officials and media do.
A little known fact: You can make telephone calls from Israel to almost all Arab and Muslim countries, possibly including Pakistan. But you can’t call Israel from Pakistan. Not that it really matters in the age of internet, but it gives you a clear idea where we and the Israelis stand in terms of policy red lines.
[Adapted from a note on Facebook where a young Pakistani politician asked about Israel’s interest in ties with Pakistan]