- Shakeel Anwar
- BBC Bengal Service
The terrorist attack on Pulwama in India-administered Kashmir in February 2019 brought two nuclear powers, South Asia, India and Pakistan, very close to war. At least 40 Indian soldiers were killed in the attack.
Although there was no war, there was definitely some stability in the relations between India and Pakistan.
A few months later that year, on August 5, 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government repealed Article 370 of the Constitution and revoked the special status of Kashmir. After this incident, the already tense relations between the two countries began to deteriorate further.
But in the last two months, the ice has suddenly begun to melt. The first sign of this came on February 25 this year when an extraordinary meeting between the military officials of the two countries decided to abide by the 2003 ceasefire agreement on the Line of Control in Kashmir.
The news came as a shock to many.
Modi’s message in the name of Imran
The idea was further strengthened in mid-March when Pakistan’s army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa forgot the previous dispute and called for a peaceful solution to the Kashmir issue.
Shortly afterwards, India announced the lifting of the ban on cotton and sugar imports from Pakistan (this announcement was later lifted). Later, when Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan contracted the corona virus, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi sent him a message that he would recover soon.
One-on-one reports are coming out that secret contacts and negotiations have started between India and Pakistan, mediated by the United Arab Emirates.
Sugabughat intensified when the UAE’s foreign minister suddenly visited Delhi in March.
The news agency Reuters also reported that intelligence officials from both countries held a secret meeting in Dubai in January. Finally, on April 15, Yusuf al-Uteba, the UAE’s ambassador to the United States, made the announcement.
Statement of the UAE Ambassador
Yusuf al-Uteba said in a virtual discussion at Stanford University that the UAE has played a key role 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 will talk to each other and send their ambassadors back to each other’s capitals.
“They may not be close friends but we want them to start talking,” he said.
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 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 United States Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis has named the country “Little Sparta” in recognition of the UAE’s military prowess.
This small Gulf country is involved in military operations from Yemen to Afghanistan, Libya and East Africa. But for the past few years, the country has been trying to build an image of a country that mediates for peace.
The real power behind this is the powerful Prince Mohammed bin Zaid of Abu Dhabi. In 201 In, the UAE played a role in establishing peace between Ethiopia and Eritrea.
Mediated to resolve border dispute between Ethiopia and Sudan. The UAE also had a role in rescuing Ethiopia and Egypt from the construction of dams on the Nile.
The United Arab Emirates supplied weapons to one-time Malaysian leader Khalifa Haftar. Now he is talking about some political solution there.
UAE peace plan
Of course, he has taken this route only after the intervention of Turkish troops in Libya. The United Arab Emirates has also reduced its military operations in Yemen.
But the decision to play a mediating role in bringing India and Pakistan closer is the UAE’s biggest peace plan to date.
“The UAE now wants to establish an image of peace in a world like Qatar,” said Sami Hamidadi, president of the London International Interests Political Risk Division.
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 has increased so much that it is now in India and Pakistan.” Like is also playing a role in resolving disputes between two nuclear-capable countries. “
Sami Hamidi told the BBC Bangla Service that the most important thing for the UAE is ‘prestige’ and ‘honor’, whether their mediation will bring peace between India and Pakistan.
“So you can see that according to the UAE, neither India nor Pakistan has informed them about the start of the talks or any third party mediation.”
UAE’s own passion
However, Hamidi believes that the UAE has some geopolitical interest in reducing hostility between Pakistan and India.
“The UAE is concerned that Turkey’s influence may increase after the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan. That is why Pakistan needs them. Maybe if the UAE is thinking about the Kashmir issue, it will. It is easier to gain confidence if Pakistan supports Pakistan.”
“The UAE 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, wrote in an analysis published in Bloomberg magazine.
“Many radical Islamic groups and terrorist groups try to provoke the sentiments of ordinary Muslims by shedding light on the plight of Kashmiris. The UAE considers these groups the biggest threat to itself. So I take advantage of it to find a mutually acceptable solution to the Kashmir issue.”
But why did India and Pakistan accept the UAE arbitration?
After the Pulwama crisis
According to Sanjay Bharadwaj, a professor of international relations at Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi, he was initially surprised by the UAE arbitration. Because India has never accepted the offer of any third party arbitration for talks with Kashmir or Pakistan.
India also turned down an offer from then-US President Donald Trump to mediate in the wake of the Pulwama crisis. So why has India now agreed to the UAE arbitration?
Dr Bhardwaj says many new geo-political realities, including in Afghanistan, may be the reason for India’s resilience.
“Pakistan’s influence will increase after the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan. But India is also committed to maintaining its position in Afghanistan for the Central Asian market. That is why the West is looking for stability in Afghanistan. And reconciliation in Pakistan is essential.”
But due to domestic politics, the proposal to negotiate could be a dilemma for India at this time, it could be for Pakistan as well.
India’s faith in the UAE
Therefore, India is currently considering the UAE’s offer of arbitration as an acceptable option.
Dr Bhardwaj says Pakistan has not received much support from Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates since the revocation of Kashmir’s special status.
“These two influential Islamic countries consider Kashmir an internal issue of India. That is why India is dependent on the United Arab Emirates.”
On the other hand, Pakistan has never objected to third party mediation on the issue of Kashmir or India. In addition, the internal economic crisis and the hesitation of influential countries in the world to deal with the Kashmir issue forced Pakistan to agree to negotiate with India.
Ayesha Siddiqui, a researcher at the Center for International Studies Dip and Diplomacy at Swiss University in London and a Pakistani political analyst, told BBC Bangla that “the real reason for reluctance to negotiate with Pakistan is economic harassment.”
“Pakistan knows that the US Pacific policy does not benefit it. India has a central role to play there. It is definitely a big headache for Pakistan.”
Sami Hamidi also believes that Pakistan’s rapprochement with Qatar and Turkey as an alternative to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates has caused economic losses. “Now Imran Khan is looking at his old colleagues again.”
How likely is it that the UAE arbitration will be successful?
Pakistan’s foreign minister on Sunday told the Middle East media that India should restore Kashmir’s special status.
Talks could get worse at any time if Pakistan stays in this position.
“If Pakistan puts more pressure on the Kashmir issue, the result will be zero,” says Bhardwaj.
Hopefully the stress will subside
Success or failure in UAE arbitration depends on its expectations, says Sami Hamidi.
“If you think the UAE can get a full peace agreement between India and Pakistan, it is not possible. But if you think it will reduce tensions between the two countries, 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.
Both India and Pakistan have good relations with the UAE. 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 having positive discussions about it.