Pakistan's government will eventually have to recognize Israel, but it would be political suicide to do so today, President Pervez Musharraf has said.
Such recognition would end any hopes of Pakistan serving as bridge between the Muslim world and the West, Musharraf said on Tuesday.
Musharraf, who addressed the UN General Assembly last week and is promoting his new autobiography in the US, said his considerable skills at walking a tightrope would not enable him to negotiate the firestorm that recognizing Israel would cause, particularly after its recent attacks on Lebanon.
"We cannot do something that sidelines us from the Muslim world," Musharraf said after a speech to the Weill Cornell Medical College.
Musharraf said his country would consider formally recognizing Israel only after the creation of an independent Palestinian state.
"It must be done eventually," Musharraf said. But he reiterated that the Palestinian issue must be resolved comprehensively, calling it a major contributing factor to every conflict in the Middle East.
He also touched on the anti-terror fight, saying that Pakistan was largely abandoned by the West in 1989, after playing a key role in ending the Soviet occupation of Pakistan
"Everyone left us high and dry" to deal with 20,000-30,000 mujahedeen fighters holed up in Afghanistan and 4 million refugees who crossed the border into Pakistan.
He said it was "disappointing" to hear criticism that Pakistan is not doing enough to fight terrorism."If we're not doing enough, I don't know who is," he said.