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Pakistan and UAE: Reviving the old relations


News Analysis |

UAE’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan, the deputy supreme commander of UAE’s armed forces paid a one-day official trip to Islamabad on Sunday, Jan 6. Prime Minister Imran Khan personally received the crown prince at the Nur Khan Airbase, Rawalpindi. Violating the protocol, PM Khan drove the car to Prime Minister house himself as prince sat next to him.

The Abu Dhabi crown prince was given a guard of honor and a fly-past salute during a welcome ceremony at the Prime Minister House, followed by a one-on-one meeting. During the tete-a-tete talk, the two leaders deliberated on the need to strengthen the bilateral economic relationship and long-term investment framework; for that purpose, both agreed to form a joint task force to enhance trade between countries.

The major evidence of the manifestation of trust and relationships restoration between Pakistan and UAE is the shift of venue for the direct US talks with Taliban from Doha in Qatar to Abu Dhabi in the UAE.

For the delegation-level talks, the premier led the Pakistani delegation, comprising Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Finance Minister Asad Umar, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry, Interior Minister Sheryar Afridi, and Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua, while Sheikh Mohammed led the UAE side.

According to a joint statement issued after the visit culminated, PM Imran thanked the crown prince for the “generous” balance-of-payments support of $3 billion.” As per media reports,  the total $6.2bn financial package was announced for Pakistan by UAE  which comprises of $3.2bn worth of oil supplies on deferred payment and $ 3 billion in cash to State Bank of Pakistan.

Read more: Pakistan rolls out red carpet welcome for UAE crown prince

The Crown Prince’s visit, first by a UAE ruler in 12 years, depicted that two countries have finally left behind the long strains. After the last visit of Crown Prince in 2007 during Musharaf’s era, relationships between UAE and Pakistan started to get cold in Asif Ali Zardari’s tenure (2008-2013). Although countries remained engaged, the warmth faded away.

The UAE-Pakistan relationships saw a dip in Pakistan Muslim League-N’s government when PMLN leadership took the matter of Yemen Crisis to parliament and the parliament resolution recommended the then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to stay neutral on Yemen crisis; ultimately, Pakistan refused to send its troop to Yemen.

The visit of the Crown Prince, analysts opine, is a welcoming gesture and will help strengthen the proud legacy, bringing the progress and stability for both UAE and Pakistan.

The diplomatic sources claim that while the reaction of Saudi Arabia to Pakistan’s refusal wasn’t very hostile, UAE diplomats and key nobility expressed very strong reservations and felt betrayed as it expected help from Pakistan with which it had enjoyed close ties.

Since 2016, Pakistan’s national security institutions, the army, and the intelligence agencies have taken the lead in improving the relations with the ruling family in UAE. Chief of Army staff, General Qamar Javed Bajwa on 19 Nov 2018 visited UAE along with Prime Minister Khan; the fourth trip of COAS and second trip of PM Khan to UAE.

The major evidence of the manifestation of trust and relationships restoration between Pakistan and UAE is the shift of venue for the direct US talks with Taliban from Doha in Qatar to Abu Dhabi in the UAE. This is a huge regional realignment in which the analysts believe Pakistan military played a role in building up the confidence and restoring the trust between the three countries.

Read more: The Arab Crown Princes coming to Pakistan: What can Pakistan achieve?

Subsequently, Prime Minister Khan spoke to Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and COAS also visited Doha to assuage relationships with Qatar, who actually felt rejected by the shift of the venue of Afghan talks; a very wise diplomatic strategy to maintain good terms with both UAE and Qatar.

Analysts believe that it is a renewal of the old historic relationship between Pakistan and UAE that both enjoyed ever since latter’s creation in 1971 after the British withdrawal. The Islamic Summit Conference held in Feb 1974 in Lahore, hosted by Pakistan furthered the placid relationships between two. The then Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was able to forge a very personal relationship with Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founder of the UAE who remained head of affairs from 1966 to 2004. In 1971, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan became the president of UAE and remained the leader for 33 years.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan, the third son of Zayed bin Sultan is now the de facto ruler of UAE. Since his elder brother
Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan
, the president of UAE is ill, all powers have moved to crown prince Mohammad bin Zayed.

Read more: UAE Financial Regulations may soon become Pakistan’s next political scandal

Some media houses reported that it was a brief two-hour visit, a claim which was rebutted by Information Minister Fawad Chaudhary who said in his twitter post that Crown Prince was in Pakistan for three days and flew back from Islamabad on Sunday.

Sources claim that the crown prince was in Rahim Yar Khan for hunting.

The visit of the Crown Prince, analysts opine, is a welcoming gesture and will help strengthen the proud legacy, bringing the progress and stability for both UAE and Pakistan.