The illegal action of revoking articles 370 & 35A by India on 5th Aug 2019, which provides special status to the people of Jammu & Kashmir, was taken by India because of the resolution of Jammu & Kashmir has been pending with the United Nations Security Council since 1948.
In the presence of this issue, Saudi Arabia invited Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on a state visit and he was awarded the highest civil award of Saudi Arabia and announced a 75 million USD investment plan in India.
Moreover, Middle East countries did not stop there as the UAE also invited the Prime Minister of India and awarded the highest award of UAE. They announced to build 1 temple in UAE for the worship of the Hindu religion, and MOU were signed with the investment of 60 million USD in India. Another project of an underwater train from Dubai to Mumbai was also announced.
Read more: Whither the Arab and the Muslim world?
These steps were taken by Middle East countries after the Indian government revoked article 370. UAE went one step ahead as the foreign minister of UAE stated that Jammu & Kashmir is the internal issue of India.
However, the Pakistani foreign office remained calm on this statement and no policy statement was issued by the Pakistani government on the double standard played by Middle East countries.
One year has passed on this issue and still, the people of Jammu & Kashmir are under the siege of the Indian Military. No voice has been raised by any Muslim country on the Kashmir issue except Turkey, Iran & Malaysia.
Middle East under US pressure?
So currently what is happening in the Middle East, especially in Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and Iraq, is a series of the same episode played by the USA, Israel & India in the region. After the huge bomb explosion in Lebanon, within a week, statements have been issued by the USA, Israel & UAE regarding peace agreement and resuming the diplomatic channel between Israel & UAE.
According to the statement issued by UAE, cooperation will be in the field of trade & investment, energy & security. However, the UAE has also said that we will support the people of Palestine at the international level. It seems that both countries are not only resuming diplomatic relations but also strategic partnerships because why have they signed security cooperation?
It shows that Middle East countries are under the pressure of the US administration. It’s not simple economic cooperation between two countries but it is a part of a greater plan of USA to put pressure on Iran in Persian Gulf and strait of Hurmoz and establish naval & air station in UAE to monitor Gulf of Oman, Arabian Sea & Persian Gulf and monitoring of Gwadar port and CPEC projects in the region.
This is due to the fact that last year, India failed to gain a strategic position and put pressure on Pakistan.
Role of Israel
This year, the standoff at Ladakh Indian Army failed and China has attacked Indian positions and captured main locations and killed more than 20 Indian soldiers. Currently, India has been expelled from the Chahbahar project by Iran. Indian military power has been exposed so as an alternate, Israel is selected for this project to put pressure on Iran & Pakistan through the Arabian Sea and the Persian Gulf.
Now, the picture is clear that the USA, India, Israel, Australia & Japan are on the same page hence, the involvement of Israel will be increased in Middle East affairs. It seems that UAE is going to provide Naval & Airbase to Israel for putting pressure on Iran in the Persian Gulf and also to disrupt the activities of CPEC Projects in Gwadar.
UAE was not happy with the development of Gwadar port and also was not in favour of the CPEC Project. So now it is clear UAE is also becoming part of this plan.
Therefore, now the time has come for Pakistan to revisit relations with Middle East countries and formulate new foreign policy according to the national & economic interest of the country.
Reducing dependence on the Middle East
It’s the right time for Pakistan to establish good diplomatic relationships with African, South East Asian countries and with South American countries for creating new trade & investment destinations in these countries according to the current global scenario.
In the current security scenario, it’s become imperative for Pakistan to establish a combined naval base with China at Gwadar and also an Airbase to monitor & protect the trade & investment activities in the Arabian Sea & Persian Gulf.
Pakistan should align good relations with Russia, China, Turkey, Iran, Indonesia & Malaysia for future economic partnership. Pakistan must also stop relying on Middle East countries and military aid and training must be halted to Middle East countries in the national interest.
In the case of the Middle East countries expelling labour from Pakistan, it is not an issue as there are many opportunities for the Pakistani people in different countries.
A need for a proactive approach
Pakistan is a country full of natural resources. 60 per cent of the population belongs to the young crowd so it’s a good sign for the economic development of the country.
Also, it is not a landlocked country as it has connectivity with other countries so there are many opportunities for trade and investment. Apart from this, job opportunities can be created through the public-private partnership. There is also potential in the tourism sector and the blue economy of Pakistan.
Hence, it’s time for Pakistan to review relationships with Middle East countries and should not depend economically on them.
The population of Pakistan is 210 million and armed with nuclear power. Now it’s time for shifting the paradigm towards Central Asia, East Asia and especially China. Pakistan must adopt a proactive foreign policy in the current scenario to safeguard the national & economic interest of Pakistan in a better way.
The writer holds an MPP from KDI School of Public Policy and Management Seoul, South Korea, an MA in International relations and an LLB from Shah Abdul Latif University KhairPur. Currently he is working as an Assistant Director in the Board of Investment Pakistan. The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.