Conspiracy against Pakistan foiled (Daily Times (Pakistan))

A section of the print media carried the news that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his recent visit to the UAE had told the authorities: If all the Arab countries including Saudi Arabia show indifferent attitude to defence cooperation with Pakistan, then India will extend full cooperation to Arab countries on all defence-related matters including Yemen. But India has miserably failed in using Muslim countries against Pakistan, as Saudi Arabia has rejected the Indian offer for defence cooperation, and Saudi king and Khadimul-Haramain Sharif said in categorical terms that Saudi Arabia would never allow any conspiracy against Pakistan to succeed. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has informed formally the government of Pakistan and defence authorities with regard to the Indian move, besides holding out an assurance that no Arab country including Saudi Arabia will ever become part of any conspiracy against Pakistan. Rather, Saudi Arabia will fortify its ties with Pakistan more than ever before.

In March 2015, after statements from the Leader of the Opposition Syed Khursheed Shah and others demanding that the matter be discussed in parliament, Federal Defence Minister Khawaja Asif had told the National Assembly: Pakistan has only pledged to safeguard the territorial integrity of Saudi Arabia on Saudi request. We will not take part in any conflict that could result in differences in the Muslim world, causing fault lines present in Pakistan to be disturbed and aggravated, which will have to be borne by Pakistan.. However, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had made it clear that any threat to Saudi Arabia’s territorial integrity would evoke a strong response from Pakistan. Of course, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are brotherly countries, and both countries have stood by each other in testing times. But Pakistan did not like the division of the Muslim world on sectarian lines.

Pakistan rather wished to contribute towards bringing them closer. However, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Muhammad Garhash had warned Pakistan of having to pay a heavy price for taking what he called an ambiguous stand. Pakistan should take a clear position in favour of its strategic relations with the six-nation Arab Gulf Cooperation Council. Though our economic and investment assets are inevitable, political support is missing at critical moments, Gargash had added. Of course, there are a large number of skilled and unskilled workers working in Gulf countries, and they are not receiving dole but working hard and contributing towards their development. Though Pakistani expatriates’ remittances from the Gulf countries are substantial and help the economy, yet the foreign policy of Pakistan cannot be determined on this basis.

It appears that such statements were meant to push Pakistan to contribute troops to the coalition. During his visit to the UAE on August 16-17, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi tried to capitalise on the misunderstanding between Pakistan and the UAE that had emanated from the statements of UAE officials. He tried to spoil relations between two Muslim countries by insinuating that Pakistan threatened the stability of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries because of religious extremism. It was reported that India and the UAE agreed to coordinate efforts to counter radicalisation and misuse of religion by groups and countries for inciting hatred, perpetrating and justifying terrorism or pursuing political aims. In a veiled reference to Pakistan, the joint statement said that both sides denounce and oppose terrorism in all forms and manifestations, and call on all states to reject and abandon the use of terrorism against other countries.

The UAE has had very close all-round ties with Pakistan. It was one of the three countries that had recognised the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. The UAE and Saudi Arabia had in the past stood by Pakistan during wars with India. Both countries had expected Pakistan to join them in their military operations in Yemen. Narendra Modi during his visit to the UAE tried to stir up feelings by telling the Arab countries that they had been let down by Pakistan’s unwillingness to do so, in view of its relations with Iran. Narendra Modi was basking in the glow of perceived success in creating a breach between Pakistan and the Arab countries. Saudi Arabia remembers that Pakistan had sent more than a division of troops to Saudi Arabia during the first Gulf War, when its security required it.

The question is whether India would send a few brigades of troops to fight against the Houthis in Yemen? Of course not, because India has institutionalised state-to-state relations with Iran, whereas with the Gulf countries it has only economic relations. There is much euphoria in India that the national security advisors of India and UAE would meet every six months, which is a part of establishing a comprehensive strategic partnership vis-a-vis fortifying defence relations, including organising regular exercises and training of naval, air, land and special forces, and working together in coastal defence. The UAE investment institutions will be encouraged to raise their investments in India through the establishment of a UAE-India infrastructure investment fund, with the aim of reaching a target of $ 75 billion to support investment in India’s infrastructure. But these are only MoUs and one would not know for sure if any of them would materialise.

However, what is surprising is that the UAE extended support to India’s candidature for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council, as the two countries called for an expeditious reform of the UN body. The assurance came after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s talks with the UAE leadership, including Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Once again, this is an effort to put pressure on Pakistan to submit to the will of kings, autocrats and plutocrats. The ineptness of the rulers is evident from the fact that more than 1.3 billion people, one-fifth of humanity, live in the OIC states. All the 1.3 billion put together have an annual GDP of less than $ 1.5 trillion. The annual GDP of the US with a population of 290 million is around $ 18 trillion; and the European Union countries with a population of 500 million have a GDP of $ 18.5 billion. It is food for thought for the Muslim countries.