Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi received the highest civilian honour from UAE government. It shows the nature of deep friendly ties between the two countries. This honour was conferred upon Modi despite the fact that Modi government has not only stripped the Kashmir from special constitutional status but also imposed unannounced curfew from last 21
The induction of Modi into the Order of Zayed shows the importance the UAE places on India, the world’s third-largest consumer of crude oil. India is home to a rapidly growing consumer market and labour pool that the UAE relies on for its own economy.
The people in Pakistan reacted strongly on the highest award given to Indian PM Modi by UAE government. The strong reaction reflects the general sentiments of Pakistani society towards Muslim majority countries. Many Pakistanis are wondering that same UAE that give $ 3 billion as soft loan to Pakistan to release pressure on its foreign reserves. But UAE refused to support Kashmiris and Pakistan’s position on Kashmir.
UAE made both decisions based on its national interests. We borrowed money from UAE but on the other hand, India seeks investment opportunities. We are weak economically but India developed itself as an economic powerhouse. So there is widely spread misconception that Pakistani ruling class has spread over the decades that Pakistan has special bond with Islamic countries and especially with Gulf countries. We need to come out this misconception to face the reality.
Many in Pakistan believe that all the Muslims are part of a Muslim Ummah (nation) because they all belong to the same religion. The concept of Muslim Ummah was strengthened after the 1974 OIC head of the state’s conference in Lahore, Pakistan. The military dictator General Zia further spread this misconception widely in the society.
The modern nation states build their mutual and bilateral relations on the basis of mutual economic, political and strategic interests. The economic interests are the driving force behind the close friendly relations between states. It’s not the religion that bonds different nations in close ties but the common economic and strategic interests. We have not really realised this factor as a nation.
The narratives of the Ummah and Muslim brotherhood were promoted in Pakistan since the country was founded. Many believe that there exist a Muslim Ummah that will come to their help and aid when in crisis. So it is not surprising when people feel betrayed when other Muslim countries make their decisions based on their interests. The concept of Muslim Ummah is a fiction in modern world of nation states. It also vindicates the view that religion and ideologies do not provide any foundation for strong relations among nations. In reality, these remain secondary, and largely come into play when aligned with national interests of economic and strategic significance.
When so-called friends do not stand with Pakistan in its hour of need, it hurts, and many Pakistanis feel humiliated and betrayed. Perhaps it is high time for us to rid ourselves of the illusion of a united Muslim world.
India has built close economic ties with Gulf States in last few years. The trade between India and Gulf states has touched $ 100 billion mark. In contrast, Pakistan has lost its economic balance with its Gulf allies; rather, it looks to them for bailouts whenever its economy is in a crisis. Pakistan’s total trade with Gulf allies are not more than $22 Billion. A dignified relationship with Gulf countries will remain a dream unless Pakistan’s economy and self-esteem recover.
Pakistan used to enjoy a huge influence in UAE when first generation of leaders was in power. The founder leader of UAE Sheikh Zayed was tilted towards Pakistan. Pakistani community was the largest in UAE till 1990s. But the situation started to change when second generation of leaders took power. Pakistan started to lose both in economic terms and political influence. India started to overtake Pakistanis as the largest expatriate community.
This process took years to complete. No Pakistani government tried to counter the increased influence of Indians in UAE. Pakistani rulers were keen and interested to build their own friendship with UAE rulers and to protect their own personal interests. We continue to look for UAE to get financial aid when in trouble while India looked to build strong trade and economic ties in that whole period.
With several Gulf States in an ever-tightening embrace with Modi, human rights have been discarded in favour of economic opportunities and trade. Money is much more powerful than the human rights in a capitalist world. It is not the emotions, ideologies and religion that matters in a material world. It is the material interests that really matter in the material world.
Some 3.5 million Indians now call the UAE home alone, ranging from labourers to multimillionaires, according to Indian government statistics. Indians are now the largest community in UAE. Across the wider Gulf Cooperation Council, which includes six Gulf Arab nations, there are 8.5 million Indians. They send $55 billions of dollars a year in remittances back home.
Foreign trade between the two countries stood at almost $60bn last year, and this footprint is expected to expand to $100bn by 2020. The UAE is India’s third largest trade partner after China and the United States and its largest trade partner in West Asia.
Furthermore, the UAE is the only country in the GCC with which India has a favourable trade balance as, apart from oil, the India-UAE trade basket is quite diversified, with India exporting goods worth $37 billion to the UAE in 2017-18. That list includes heavy machinery, petroleum products, food and dairy.
Indian businesses have also established a strong footprint in the UAE. Jebel Ali Free Zone is home to more than 800 leading Indian companies and the UAE hosts the largest Indian expatriate community. Indians are also the biggest investors in UAE real estate, with $3.27bn of investments and 6,263 buyers from total real estate investments of $24.78bn and 55,928 investors in the emirate, according Dubai Land Department data. Among the attractions for Indian investors are the safe haven status of the UAE and its geographic proximity.
A bilateral agreement that commits the UAE to invest up to $75 billion in Indian infrastructure projects over a period of 10 years is also likely to begin later this year, with several rounds of discussions having already taken place. Overall, India is looking to attract increased investment from Emirati enterprises in sectors such as real estate and petrochemicals, while the UAE wants Indian information technology and engineering expertise.
Pakistan lost to India on economic and trade fronts in UAE. Just blaming the others is not to solve our problems. We need to learn from our past mistakes. We focused too much on defence ties and ignored economic ties and trade. When we refused to send our troops in Yemen to help Arab allied forces, the defence and bilateral ties affected. The UAE leadership expresses their displeasure over this decision not to become part of Yemen war. Since then UAE leaders embraced Modi and India more tightly. We need to accept the reality to face it.
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14 September, 2019