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UAE-India ties

 

Satya Pal Singh. Editorial.XXII.VIII.XV

 

PAKISTAN CHECKMATED

 

 


Satya Pal Singh-fnbworld By Satya Pal Singh


 

PM Modi
with Crown Prince-fnbworld

 

It may have sounded amply discordant and sniping to some, but Prime Minister Narendra Modi brilliantly placed his narrative when he rued that despite a great traditional linkage and communion at people's level, it took 34 years for an Indian PM to reach Abu Dhabi. It looks incredible that a country that hosts over 2.6 million Indian diaspora, facilitates a whopping $60 billion two-way trade, has a sovereign wealth fund of $800 billion and honestly hates the evil of terrorism, had been left unnoticed for deeper ties all these years by successive Indian Prime Ministers. Abu Dhabi has taken its vast potential to new heights in areas of finance, technology, tourism and all else the human beings have under the sun and has ably reached out to the world beyond its oil wealth. It is, therefore, immensely gratifying that Modi has broken this jinx in his effort to wisely take this strategic partnership to another level of trust and mutual advantage.


The joint statement signed by Mr Modi and Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan mentions an upgraded "strategic partnership" status repeatedly in the text. While the statement focuses on trade, investment and energy, with UAE committing $75 billion (about Rs. 5 lakh crore) in investment, the dominant theme unmistakably is on security and counter-terrorism. Then, was the agreement drafted with India’s concerns about Pakistan in mind? Had it not been so, it would not have specifically stressed, among other things, the need to "coordinate efforts to counter radicalization and misuse of religion by groups and countries for inciting hatred, perpetrating and justifying terrorism or pursuing political aims." The statement sought to "denounce and oppose terrorism in all forms and manifestations, wherever committed and by whomever, calling on all states to reject and abandon the use of terrorism against other countries, dismantle terrorism infrastructures where they exist, and bring perpetrators of terrorism to justice.”


PM Modi
in UAE taking a selfie-fnbworld

 

The UAE is duly concerned that the threat of Islamic State in the Middle East, gradually engulfing Yemen and Libya, is now reaching the Emirate's neighborhood. The Indo-UAE pact is unambiguously meant to bring an effective check not only on terrorist activities and their infrastructure, but also on their financing patterns and networks. Since India has been a victim of terrific terror attacks for decades, it badly needs an effective crackdown on militants' fund-raising activities. This pact facilitates intelligence-gathering and sharing and a few other steps that may help dry the coffers of extremist groups that shed blood in India with their nefarious political agendas.


But what is happening here ? Why should UAE, Pakistan's largest trade partner and its biggest source of investment among Gulf nations, enter into an agreement with India that "targets a country with which its ties were said to be emerging into trust-worthy strategic partnership?" Explanation is simple : UAE lambasted Pakistan for deciding to not intervene militarily in the Yemen crisis and refusing to join Riyadh-led 10 nation military alliance. Abu Dhabi knows that Islamabad itself indulging in disastrous proxy war against India has no guts to fight terror anywhere on the globe.


Despite large UAE investment and trade, Islamabad consistently caused trust deficit to grow within the leadership of the two countries. We hear the Crown Prince once referred to then President Asif Zardari as “dirty but not dangerous", while Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was described as “dangerous but not dirty”, adding that he “cannot be trusted to honor his promises”. And Pakistan's roguery in terror pursuit has been the main reason why Abu Dhabi has been continuously falling out with this Muslim state.


UAE knows that in the wake of the cataclysmic Shia-Sunni divide, the rise of Islamist extremism is inflicting greater harm on the Muslim societies than it is troubling the rest of the world. What happened to the proverbial "Arab Spring" that was once believed to bring "region self-determination" at the base of a composite society that could be peaceful, free of racism, oppression, corruption of the West's corporate cronies that junketed on the Arab world's natural resources and an Islam without bigotry? Then, it looked ideally a stout protest against foreign subjugation and ill-treatment of all those suppressed people who loved their right to personal dignity and spoke for freedom. But alas, in course of time, the war against exploitation took awfully bloody turn, gave rise to cruel militancy and shattered that Great Arabian Dream!


That is why UAE has firmly stood against terrorism and extended its full support for any global action to combat ISIS terrorism, believing that such a war on extremism will "neither lead to marginalization of Sunnis, nor will it cause dismemberment of Iraq, nor will it invite intervention by foreign powers with subversive agendas." Abu Dhabi feels the security of Iraq being an integral part of security of the entire Middle East region, there is need for an urgent response and co-ordination of international efforts to meet the ISIS threat. UAE has been expressing such a resolve repeatedly at various international fora. At a UN Security Council meeting, UAE even objected to ISIS being described as ‘Islamic State’ and wanted the use of this term "rejected in line with the views of millions of Muslims who are firmly opposed to the destruction being perpetuated by a terrorist and criminal gang”


When UAE Foreign Minister Shaikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan spoke so vehemently at UN against ISIS, that is "trying to create safe havens for extremists in the Middle East and beyond," his statement was widely acclaimed both in the Muslim and non-Muslim world. He made it clear that as a peace-loving nation UAE wanted an "overall comprehensive strategy to fight not only ISIS, but also those who are wreaking havoc in Yemen, Afghanistan, Somalia, Egypt, Libya, North Africa and the African Sahel." He did not mention Indian subcontinent as the debate was focused on a particular region, but definitely had Pakistan in mind while using the word "beyond" in his forceful stand against the blood-hounding militants.


A surreal mix of rebels, self-proclaimed unbending activists, extremists and terrorists grouped into various militant outfits, namely Al-Qaeda, ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusra and many more, looking wholly directionless and confused. For instance, Al-Qaeda--founded by Osama bin Laden, Abdullah Azzam, and a few others--and its clans believe that ISIS had gone off track. But then, is Al-Qaeda on the right track? Syrian, Iraqi and Iranian regimes caused ISIS to take birth, which overtime became a frightening monster. UAE is keen on reining in this monster before it is able to devour greater part of humanity. Abu Dhabi is concerned that ISIS has reached the Indian state of Kashmir, duly propelled by Pakistan. If Islamabad is slighting India today by obliquely spurning the latter's dialogue offer, it's because its interference in India through the proxy war and the misguided separatist elements has emboldened it. I think time has come for us to build and promote more strategic partnerships within the Muslim world. 


An Indian PM's visit to UAE, cited as long overdue, marks the beginning of a new strategic relationship in a world of changing opportunities, challenges and multiple transitions. Abreast of a common security threat and strategic concerns in the region, India and UAE have resolved to firmly fight the menace of terrorism. Visiting Modi told his hosts that "he wanted to see UAE emerge as India's foremost partner in trade and counter-terror measures." In an address that brought to the India diaspora some ecstatic moments, Modi described UAE as a "paradise built in a desert with unmatched vision...I am very optimistic about this visit...I am overwhelmed by the honor his highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan extended to an Indian PM." In a departure from protocol, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and his five brothers received him at the airport. He was also accorded a ceremonial reception there. It's a measure of Abu Dhabi exalting the status of a peace-loving India and its leadership, against a rogue state that believes in conflict, confrontation and bloodshed!

 

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