Date :Friday, August 21st, 2015 | Time : 07:47 |ID: 1513 | Print

Disenchanted allies: Modi’s visit unmasks true face of gulf allies to Pakistan

SHAFAQNA - Recent visit of Indian PM has been a key headline under-discussion on media and politics. Apparently it is claimed by Indian media that purpose of visit was to strengthen ties and cooperation against terrorism however the real purpose seemed to be to take advantage of persisting UAE annoyance over the refusal of Pakistani lawmakers in April this year to step directly into the conflict in Yemen and take on Houthi rebels. The UAE has in the past been a steadfast ally of Pakistan, coming to its help on numerous occasions. During Modi’s visit, some of the language used was familiar.

But this time, it was directed towards India, with talk of historic and cultural links and other common bonds. More significantly, the issue of terrorism was also discussed. UAE on its part has blatantly treated Modi like a star, knowing full well his anti-Muslim past and anti-Pakistan rhetoric. Was Pakistan’s refusal to join the Arab coalition to go to war in Yemen so hard to digest? Is this love for Modi a way for UAE to rub salt in our wounds? Trust Modi to take advantage of the situation and milk it for all its worth. He stood there, in Dubai, and openly took digs at Pakistan and Turkey.

If Pakistan was so wrong in joining the war, did Modi want to put Indian troops in Yemen? Indian foreign policy has shifted gears from commercial to more strategic in recent times while Pakistan has faltered. Strong warnings from UAE were ignored and our leaders directed all focus towards pacifying Saudi Arabia with a few trips. For Modi these withering relations are easy and smooth landing fields. May it be the visit to Bangladesh, Russia or this time UAE, Modi knows where and how to fill the vacuum. Where was our premier meanwhile? In Belarus, a country most Pakistani’s would be hard pressed to locate on a map. Modi’s 26-country visit in just 15 months in power has changed the way in which India thinks about the world and vice versa.

These visits have yielded many results for a country looking to expand its economic and strategic prowess. May it be the economic cooperation with China, or bypassing Pakistan to endorse sub regional cooperation by signing the BBIN treaty with Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh, or going ahead with the contentious land agreement with Bangladesh, or going to UAE to sign multiple accords on bilateral cooperation, security and investments and ending his tour with allocation for a land for a first Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi. Islamabad will need to assess the situation and adopt its own counter-strategy.

The reality is that we just cannot afford to lose friends. Yes, old friendships, such as those with China, are being strengthened – but it is still important to have a diversity of friends. The squabble over Yemen is unlikely to last. But Islamabad will need to work hard to make amends and make further diplomatic overtures to a nation that has steadfastly stood by it through many bad times in the past.


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