Does Saudi, UAE Foreign Minister’s Visit to Islamabad Really Expresses Solidarity with Kashmir or is it Something Else?

Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Adel Al Jubeir and UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed visited Islamabad on Wednesday to meet PM Imran Khan. Saudi and UAE top diplomats met key political figures in Pakistani government during their visit. However, this recent visit in joint diplomatic push has given rise to speculations concerning a plea bargain deal for former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.  The truth of the matter is that the purpose of Saudi, UAE top diplomats visit to Islamabad was solely based on solidarity with Kashmir.

Therefore, any kind of plea bargain for Sharif was certainly out of question during this visit. According to news sources the Arab top diplomats certainly want Islamabad and New Delhi to defuse tension over Kashmir.  However, Saudi Arabia and UAE might not be able to extend support towards the Kashmir cause by pressurizing Narendra Modi.  Considering the fact that states have their own vested interests Saudi Kingdom and UAE both have a futurist approach. Both these countries plan to invest in India fearing that one day they will run out of oil. Not only is Saudi Arabia India’s fourth largest trading partner but India is also seen as a country with large market where both these countries want to invest.  The annual bilateral trade between India and UAE stands $ 55 billion as Indians are the biggest foreign investors in the Dubai real estate market.

One opinion suggests that whatever support has been extended to the Kashmir cause has only emerged from OIC platforms. Therefore, there is ambiguity concerning Gulf’s support for Pakistan over the Kashmir issue.  The ambiguity in Gulf allies support towards Islamabad could be a tit for tat because Pakistan refused to join Saudi- led forces to fight in Yemen.  However, one view suggests that measured response from the Kingdom and UAE should not be mistaken as supporting India’s action in Kashmir.

Pakistan had distanced itself from Saudi Iran proxy as it kept close relations with Tehran.  Moreover, Islamabad’s neutrality on Yemen and Qatar provide a significant reason for the Arabs to show ambiguous support to Islamabad.  Despite the fact that this recent visit from top Arab diplomats was surely aimed at expressing solidarity with Islamabad on Kashmir Pakistan needs to be practical.  It is true that states have their own interests therefore Saudi Arabia and UAE desire to build ties with the United States, China, Israel and India. Therefore, building strong economic ties is the foremost priority of these regimes despite the fact that a large number of populations may not be very happy with it.



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