- Shakeel Anwar
- BBC Bungalow Service
The extremist attack in Pulwama in Indian-administered Kashmir in February 2019 brought the two South Asian nuclear powers, India and Pakistan, very close to war. At least 40 Indian soldiers were killed in the attack.
Although the war did not take place, there was definitely a stabilization in India-Pakistan relations.
A few months later that year, on August 5, 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government repealed Article 0 and 0 of the Constitution and revoked the special status of Kashmir. After this incident, the already tense relations between the two countries deteriorated further.
But over the last two months the snow has suddenly begun to melt. The first sign of this came to light on February 25 this year when an unusual meeting between the military officials of the two countries decided to abide by the 2003 ceasefire agreement on the Line of Control in Kashmir.
For many, the news came as a surprise.
Modi’s message in the name of Imran
Then, in mid-March, when Pakistan’s army chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, forgot about past disputes and called for a “peaceful” solution to the Kashmir issue, the idea was further strengthened.
Soon after, Pakistan announced the lifting of the ban on imports of cotton and sugar from India (this announcement was later withdrawn). Then, when Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan was infected with the Corona virus, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave him the message that he would recover soon.
One after another, there have been reports in the media that secret contacts and negotiations have begun between India and Pakistan, which are being mediated by the UAE.
In March, when the UAE’s foreign minister suddenly visited Delhi, the tug-of-war intensified.
News agency Reuters also reported that intelligence officials from both countries held a secret meeting in Dubai in January. Finally, on April 15, the ambassador of the United Arab Emirates, Yusuf al-Uteba, announced this.
Statement of the Ambassador of the UAE
Yusuf al-Uteba said in a virtual conversation at Stanford University that the UAE has a key role to play in easing tensions between India and Pakistan over Kashmir.
The UAE ambassador said he hoped relations between India and Pakistan would now reach a “healthy” level. Where they would talk to each other and send their ambassadors back to each other’s capitals.
He said, “They may not be close friends, but we want them to start talking.”
Three days after the UAE ambassador’s statement, Indian Foreign Minister S Jaishankar and Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi also visited Abu Dhabi.
However, it is not yet clear what role the UAE has played in establishing peace between India and Pakistan.
The question is why this small Gulf country has taken responsibility for this very difficult task. How much does it affect these two big countries?
The big impact of the UAE
In ancient Greece, the city of Sparta had a special reputation for its military prowess. Former US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis has named the United Arab Emirates “Little Sparta” in recognition of its military strength.
This small Gulf country is involved in military operations from Yemen to Afghanistan, Libya and East Africa. But for the past few years, this country has been trying to become the image of a country that mediates for peace.
The real strength behind this is the powerful Prince Mohammed bin Zayed of Abu Dhabi. In 2016, the UAE played a role in establishing peace between Ethiopia and Eritrea.
She was the mediator in resolving the border dispute between Ethiopia and Sudan. The UAE also played a role in resolving the dispute between Ethiopia and Egypt over the construction of a dam on the Nile River.
The United Arab Emirates was once the largest supporter of weapons to Libyan leader Khalifa Haftar. Now he is talking of some political compromise there.
UAE peace plan
Certainly, it has taken this route only after the Turkish military intervention in Libya. The UAE has also reduced its military activities in Yemen.
But the decision to play a mediating role in bringing India and Pakistan closer is the UAE’s largest peace plan to date.
“The UAE now wants to establish an image of peace in the world as it has in Qatar,” says Sami Hamidi, head of the political risk department at London’s International Interest.
He says, “The UAE wants to show that it is a modern, powerful and liberal state. It is trying to establish peace in the world and its influence and acceptance is so great that it is now in India and Pakistan.” ” As such it will also play a role in resolving disputes between two nuclear-capable countries. “
Sammi Hamidi told the BBC Bangla Service that the most important thing for the UAE is its ‘reputation’ and ‘reputation’, whether or not their mediation brings peace between India and Pakistan.
“Therefore, you can see that neither India nor Pakistan has informed them about the start of negotiations or any third party mediation, according to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.”
UAE’s own interests
However, Hamidi believes that the UAE has some geopolitical interests in reducing hostilities between Pakistan and India.
“The UAE is concerned that Turkey’s influence there may increase after the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan. That is why Pakistan needs them. The United Nations thinks that if it is on the Kashmir issue it will happen. If Pakistan supports Pakistan it is confident. It’s easy to get. “
“The UAE itself wants a ‘realistic’ solution to the Kashmir issue,” Hussein Abish, a Middle East political analyst and researcher at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington, D.C., wrote in an analysis published in Bloomberg magazine.
“Many radical Islamic groups and terrorist groups try to provoke the sentiments of ordinary Muslims by highlighting the plight of Kashmiris. The UAE considers these groups the biggest threat to itself. Therefore, to find an acceptable solution to the Kashmir problem. I also have the advantage.”
But why did India and Pakistan accept the UAE’s arbitration?
After the Pulwama crisis
According to Sanjay Bhardwaj, a professor of international relations at Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi, he too was initially surprised to learn about UAE arbitration. Because India did not accept the offer of any third party arbitration in negotiations with Kashmir or Pakistan.
India also turned down an offer of mediation from then US President Donald Trump following the Pulwama crisis. So now why has India agreed to the UAE arbitration?
Dr Bhardwaj says India’s resilient stance could be due to a number of new geopolitical realities, including in Afghanistan.
“After the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, Pakistan’s influence there will increase. But, for its market in Central Asia, India is also committed to maintaining its position in Afghanistan. That is why Western countries think that India is looking for stability in Afghanistan.” A compromise is needed. “
But because of domestic politics, moving the negotiation proposal forward could be a shameful reason for India at the time, it could be for Pakistan as well.
India’s confidence in the UAE
Therefore, India is currently considering the UAE’s proposal for arbitration as an acceptable option.
Dr Bhardwaj says Pakistan has not received much support from Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates since the abolition of Kashmir’s special status.
“Both these influential Islamic countries consider Kashmir as an internal issue of India. That is why India depends on the United Arab Emirates.”
Pakistan, on the other hand, has never objected to third party mediation on the issue of Kashmir or India. In addition, the internal economic crisis and the reluctance of the world’s influential countries to deal on the Kashmir issue have forced Pakistan to agree to negotiate with India.
“The real reason for Pakistan’s reluctance to communicate with India is economic persecution,” Ayesha Siddiqui, a researcher at the Center for International Studies and Diplomacy at the Swiss University of London and an analyst on Pakistani politics, told BBC Bengal.
“Pakistan knows that it is not benefiting from the US Pacific policy. India has a central role there. It is definitely a big headache for Pakistan.”
Sami Hamidi also believes that Pakistan’s proximity to Qatar and Turkey as an alternative to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates has hurt him economically. “Now Imran Khan is looking at his old teammates again.”
What are the prospects for UAE arbitration success?
Pakistan’s foreign minister told the Middle East media on Sunday that India should restore Kashmir’s special status.
If Pakistan stays steadfast in this position, the talks could go bad at any time.
Dr Bhardwaj said that “if Pakistan puts more pressure on the Kashmir issue, the result will be zero”.
The tension is expected to subside
Sami Hamidi says the success or failure of the UAE’s arbitration depends on its expectations.
“If you think the UAE can get a full peace agreement between India and Pakistan, it is not possible. But if you think the tension between the two countries will ease, it is possible,” he said.
According to Hamidi, the UAE has an opportunity to mediate because Pakistan and India want to talk to each other, so success or failure will also depend on both countries.
India and Pakistan have good relations with the United Arab Emirates. Millions of people from both countries work and live in this country.
And since the news of the UAE arbitration was announced, media and analysts from both countries have been talking positively about it.