Musharraf (L):  Links ties to Israel
with larger Arab-Israeli peace
Acknowledging that the issue was a "very contentious one in Pakistan," Musharraf said that events in the Middle East demanded his attention.

  

He was speaking at the end of a three-day visit to France, the last leg on his four-nation tour undertaken in part to woo foreign investors.

  

"There is a requirement at this moment for Pakistan, because of this peace process which is moving ahead, to analyse its relationship with Israel and review it in our national interest," he told a press conference in Paris.

 

Consensus

  

"We will try to develop national consensus" on the issue of whether to recognize Israel, the Pakistani leader said, adding that full implementation of the Middle East peace road map "will really dictate our final stance."

  

Musharraf sparked the wrath of powerful Islamic parties in Pakistan by calling for a public debate on the issue earlier this week in an interview with a private television station.

  

Radical religious parties in Pakistan, already angry with Musharraf for his alliance with the United States, his efforts to modernise Koranic schools and his crackdown on extremist groups, fiercely oppose the recognition of the Jewish state.

  

In response to his critics, Musharraf said, "Wise nations and wise people foresee events. It is the unwise who react after events have overtaken situations. We would like to be a wise nation."