Naveed Aman Khan
PAKISTAN and the United Arab Emirates enjoy extremely close and fraternal relations, founded on deep-rooted cultural affinities. Both share faith and traditions, geographic proximity and commonality of interests. United Arab Emirates reciprocates Pakistan’s continued position on Jammu & Kashmir and urged the International community to play its role effectively in resolving the dispute. These relations date back to the United Arab Emirate’s formation in 1971 and have since evolved into wide ranging cooperation in various fields. The UAE has always been a major donor of economic assistance to Pakistan. It has been appreciative of Pakistan’s contribution to the evolution of key institutions in the Emirates such as armed forces, police, health and education. It has reciprocated in the same friendly manner to the full satisfaction of Pakistan. Frequent exchanges of high level visits and regular bilateral consultations between the two countries are reflective of the fact that Pakistan and United Arab Emirates have laid strong foundations of mutually beneficial relations, friendship and peaceful cooperation over the years. The United Arab Emirates has emerged as one of Pakistan’s major economic and trading partners. A large number of Pakistani expatriates, numbering nearly 1.5 million are gainfully employed there. The Pakistani expatriates in the UAE have contributed in a significant manner to promotion of bilateral understanding and economy of Pakistan through their home remittances. The relationship between the two has been dubbed as a special relationship.
Both Pakistan and the Emirates need to enhance volume and level of bilateral trade and investment. Trade between the two countries is valued at around US $ 10 billion. On 12 January 2011, the United Arab Emirates Pakistan Assistance Program (PAP) was launched in order to help and provide assistance to Pakistan and mitigate the impact of floods by redeveloping infrastructure, as per the directives of the UAE President, HH Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan. The PAP has worked along a comprehensive redevelopment plan that takes into account the harsh geography and the rough weather conditions of the region while focusing on four main areas of social redevelopment: health, education, water and infrastructure. The Program has taken some vital steps to ease the pain and suffering that the people of Swat have become accustomed to as it provided for the construction and rehabilitation of two bridges, 52 schools and 7 hospitals as well as the implementation of 64 water supply schemes.
Besides all this, once again presently Pakistan is facing serious financial stress. Recently, PM Imran Khan-led delegation visited the UAE and requested the UAE leadership for financial assistance which was honoured accordingly. Thank you very much UAE for your love for Pakistan. Pakistan and the UAE have resolved to strengthen bilateral trade and economic ties, besides fostering cooperation to deal with transnational organised crime, including money laundering, drug and human trafficking. During the visit, bilateral ties were discussed in the meetings between the UAE leadership and Premier Imran Khan. Besides bilateral ties, regional and international issues also came up for discussion. Expressing satisfaction at the positive trajectory of relations, the two leaders agreed to take immediate measures to further elevate their historic partnership. They resolved to strengthen trade and economic ties and eliminate all impediments to a seamless flow of trade and investment between the two countries.
They expressed satisfaction over the fruitful outcome of the visit of the high level UAE economic delegation to Pakistan recently and reiterated their resolve to transform the existing special relations into a Strategic Long Term Economic Partnership by adopting a direct, transparent and time bound approach. The two sides agreed to chalk out a comprehensive roadmap to accelerate cooperation and partnership in areas encompassing trade, investment, economic development, energy, infrastructure and agriculture with a view to accruing early dividends from the economic partnership. Premiere Imran and the Crown Prince decided to hold the next Pakistan-UAE Joint Ministerial Commission, to be co-chaired by the respective Foreign Ministers in Abu Dhabi in February 2019. They further reaffirmed their commitment to hold the Senior Officials’ Bilateral Political Consultations between the Foreign Ministries and fast track finalisation of pending agreements at the earliest. The two leaders expressed satisfaction at the ongoing defence and security cooperation and resolved to explore further collaboration in the areas of training, joint exercises and defence production.
In recent years, however, the relationship has been somewhat complicated by the United Arab Emirates and Pakistan expanding their ties with one another’s regional rivals, Qatar and India respectively but sooner the relationship got normalized with the sincere efforts of the leadership of the two countries. For quite some time, the UAE has been showing its concern to Pakistan about the construction and operation of Gwadar Port project with China. But the UAE’s recent goodwill gesture of financial support to Pakistan shows its deep-hearted adorable affection for Pakistan. Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of UAE Sheikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan is visiting Pakistan today (January 6) to strengthen economic ties. He is visiting Pakistan to enhance business volume and view probabilities of investment in China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). It will be a big success. Following UAE, Turkey is likely to step into the CPEC. It reflects that the future of Pakistan is bright. Pakistan should stop seeking loans and financial assistances from friendly countries to maintain grace in future. Recent financial support doesn’t mean Pakistan start taking it for granted and make it a habit any more. Business and investment is a dignified way of development of any nation but asking for financial aid and loans is otherwise disgraceful. Pakistan will have to mend its ways to avoid such requests in future. Pakistan should interact with world powers with grace and dignity of an atomic power.
— The writer is political analyst based in Islamabad.