There is no gainsaying that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has played a positive role in fostering ties between Pakistan and India for some time now. Moreover, it cannot be denied that its neutral stance possibly stems from the fact that it has played host to many Indians and Pakistanis over the past decades, who now call the country their home. The same was reiterated by Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, in an exclusive interview with Khaleej Times this week. “The UAE has a large Pakistan and Indian diaspora. It recognises that Indians and Pakistanis have contributed to the development of the UAE and it has good relations with both. We are happy with the role it can play,” he said during his visit to Dubai.
Earlier this year, the Emirates also helped broker a ceasefire agreement between the rival nations, with Pakistan and India agreeing on reinstating envoys in Islamabad and New Delhi, respectively, who were pulled out in 2019 after Pakistan protested India’s move to withdraw seven decades of autonomy for the Indian part of Jammu and Kashmir. Speaking about the UAE playing the mediator, Qureshi said, “We welcome third-party facilitation but, no matter what friends say, the initiative has to be indigenous. The political will has to be demonstrated by leadership of India and Pakistan.”
He added, “They can be suggestive and facilitators but, ultimately, it is the people of South Asia who have to decide what kind of future they visualise for the posterity. Pakistan would appreciate anyone and everyone, including the UAE, playing a positive and constructive role.”
Qureshi clarified that his trip to Dubai was to discuss bilateral UAE-Pakistan relations only. “I am here for a bilateral visit and not an India-specific agenda. My agenda is UAE-Pakistan and not India-Pakistan,” he said, adding, “Friends generally, including the UAE, have always said that the two countries should sit and resolve issues through a dialogue. India has always been hesitant of a third-party mediation; we welcomed it and were never shy of it.” Nonetheless, Qureshi remained proud of the positive developments that have taken place between Pakistan and India in the recent past. “For example, the recent recommitment to the 2003 ceasefire understanding is a good development because Kashmiris on both sides were suffering from unprovoked firing. That, in my view, is a positive development,” Qureshi said. “The fact that the Indian Prime Minister sent messages to the Pakistani Prime Minister on National Day is a positive development. Also, a toned-down rhetoric is a positive development too,” he concluded.