Qatar’s welcome step

THE United Arab Emirates (UAE), on Friday, welcomed Qatar’s decision to amend its anti-terrorism laws, in one of the first positive signs from the UAE and three other Arab countries since they imposed sanctions on Doha last month. In a move to counter their accusations of supporting terrorism, which it denies, Qatar has set rules for defining terrorism, freezing funding and terrorism financing and established national terrorism lists.
Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries had cut ties with Qatar, imposed sanctions and issued thirteen demands as a pre-condition for normalization of their relations. Earlier reports suggested that Doha was not inclined to accept these demands but the latest development indicates that quiet diplomacy was paying dividends. There have been appeals to both sides by their friends especially common friends to sort out their differences through dialogue and discussion. Tension in the Gulf and sanctions on Qatar have not only badly affected economy of Qatar, which depended heavily on trade through Saudi land routes, but also dented the overall image of Muslim and Gulf solidarity. Gulf countries have been acting as a solid block in regional and international politics and effectively safeguarded their interests. However, rift among them has undermined their cause and sent negative message to the world community. It also created problems for countries like Pakistan, which has excellent relations both with Saudi Arabia/UAE on one side and Qatar on the other. It was in this backdrop that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, along with Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, visited Saudi Arabia to assess the prospects of mediation. As the two sides had extreme views, those desirous of playing a mediatory role faced difficulties but Qatar’s decision to amend its anti-terror laws would surely go a long way in sorting out differences. This was the major issue and all others are, in one way or the other, linked to it and hopefully would be resolved.

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