Diplomacy & economic incentive trump religious aspirations

Navjit Singh | Updated: December 16, 2020, 10:13 IST

Saudi Arabia and UAE move closer to India, even at the cost of Pakistan.

Pakistan is the world-renowned host of an Ivy League institution of terrorism education and training funded by deep-state Pakistan. The graduates of these institutions are on the front-foot in proliferating the venomous propaganda to other nations, especially India by the means of physical destruction, creation of fear among locals, and brain-washing youths.

India is a long-time victim of state-sponsored terrorism originating from other side of the Line of Control. Ranked as the 17th most fatal terrorist attack in 2019 according to Global Terrorism Index, which termed India as the 8th most affected nation by terrorism, the 14th February attack by Jaish-e-Muhammad graduates on the Indian paramilitary in Pulwama killed 41 soldiers and kick started a chain of events.

India’s punitive retaliatory action against Pakistani terror camps on the land of Pakistan, the ceremonial handover by Pakistan of a captured Indian Air Force pilot during Balakot strikes, and subsequently Pakistan opting out from attending the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) meeting for the first time ever due to invitation to former Foreign Minister and late Sushma Swaraj by OIC as a Guest of Honour. This series of events in the span of a month points out to an important development - Pakistan is losing friends abroad and its global isolation is increasing which have significant strategic implications. 

Pakistan plays on the same tune every time it has sponsored these graduates to carry out any terrorist activity in India - it denies any involvement of the state. Now, things are changing and not in the favour of Pakistan. Pakistan is selling its predictable denial strategy to the world, but it has no more buyers outside Pakistan.

Change of positions

The Mumbai terror attack was one of the biggest and the most horrendous terrorist attacks on the Indian soil by a Pakistani terrorist group which received global sympathy for India as a victim, but countries that used to be allies of Pakistan - United Kingdom, the United States, the European Union, as well as Gulf countries such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – issued statements denoting these state-sponsored terrorist groups as “non-state actors” which act independently. Their expressions of faith in Pakistan’s promises on acting against terrorist activity have refrained them from directly blaming the State of Pakistan as an accused.

Fast forward 11 years, and Pulwama incident happened. These countries, which now believed that these terrorist groups are just another propaganda hand of the deep-state and got sick of Pakistan’s lies, are not willing to praise the Pakistan government’s actions against domestic terrorists and are compelling Pakistan for strict actions against terrorists targeting India and Afghanistan. It took more than a decade for these countries to shift from their initial positions.

The US and Iran are geostrategic rivals, and recent events like unilateral withdrawal of US from Iran nuclear deal called JCPOA, international economic sanctions on Iran by the US, and oil tanker attack by Iranian patrol teams in the Persian Gulf gave their rivalry a new height. Despite being at the loggerheads, both US and Iran share one similar position which pertains to Pakistan’s behaviour towards the terrorist groups thriving in the country.

US State Department released a statement after the Indian punitive raid on Balakot which said, “We reiterate our call for Pakistan to abide by its United Nations Security Council commitments to deny terrorists safe haven and block their access to funds.” The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs went a step further when it said, “France recognises India’s legitimacy to ensure its security against cross-border terrorism and asks Pakistan to put an end to the operations of terrorist groups established on its territory.”

Paradigm Shift

Diplomacy, backed by economic incentive, is the way to counter policies established on religious stimulus

The OIC — formerly Organisation of the Islamic Conference — is the largest Islamic organisation with total of 57 Muslim majority countries as members, formed with the objective “to safeguard and protect the interests of the Muslim world in the spirit of promoting international peace and harmony among various people of the world.”.

The Indian delegation headed by Minister Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed was disinvited from the first meeting of Organisation of the Islamic Conference in 1969, and exactly after 50 years, former Minister of External Affairs, late Sushma Swaraj was invited by United Arab Emirates as the ‘Guest of Honour’ for the inaugural plenary 46th meeting of OIC Foreign Ministers in 2019 amidst heightened tensions between both the rival countries after Pulwama attacks and the subsequent Balakot strike. This development was deemed as a major diplomatic victory against Pakistan which successfully cornered Pakistan, a founding member of the OIC, in the same organisation. Pakistan had opposed the invitation to Sushma Swaraj, while Foreign Minister of Pakistan Shah Mehmood Qureshi boycotted the plenary after the UAE turned down his demand to rescind the invitation clearly displaying the lack of support for Pakistan in the international arena, even from its traditional allies.

The OIC has supported Pakistan's stand on Kashmir, and criticised Indian armed forces for performing atrocities against local Kashmiris citing human rights abuse. The statements critiquing Indian role in Kashmir over the last three decades became an annual ritual of an OIC meeting to appease Pakistan's Kashmir agenda but this time, on November 27 in Niamey (Niger), there was no mention of the Kashmir issue being on the agenda, giving a major blowback to Pakistan, which always used the OIC platform to please the Kashmiri Hurriyat.

Pakistan had been demanding for a special meeting of OIC Foreign Ministers to be convened to discuss the issue more aggressively ever since the Indian Parliament abrogated Article 370 in August last year, but to its dismay, the OIC has not accepted Islamabad's request for convening an unscheduled meeting. 

The non-inclusion of the Kashmir issue in the OIC Foreign Minister's meet is clearly a big failure of Pakistan’s Kashmir Policy arising out of incompetent handling of the situation. It shows Pakistan has been isolated by OIC member countries, especially, Saudi Arabia and UAE, the de-facto leaders of the organization. The Pakistani matters does not matter much as they used to in the past, and this year's OIC theme was 'United against terrorism for peace and development' which can be seen as a clear signal to Pakistan to stop propagating hate and conflicts from its land.

For the first time in 2017, India had laid the red carpet for a leader who is neither the head of government, nor the head of State, when we invited Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan as the Chief Guest at the 68th Republic Day Celebrations. Abu Dhabi described India as a “friendly country” of “great global political stature”.

Moreover, Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi, both countries have rewarded Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi with their highest civilian award. The relations between India and Saudi Arabia is deepening and have become more significant than Saudi-Pakistan traditional-historical-Islamic ties, the reason being the emerging trade relations between both the countries. The Kingdom is India's fourth-largest trading partner with the trade amounting to be around $28 billion. India imports almost one-fifth of its oil requirements from Saudi fields.

Today, India-UAE trade is around $60 billion. UAE was India's third largest trading partner for the year 2018-19. After US, UAE is the second largest export destination of India with an amount of over $30 billion for the year 2018-19. For UAE, India was the second largest trading partner during 2018 with $36 billion from non-oil trade.

Pakistan’s frustration on the issue of J&K not getting any traction internationally has been mounting. This led to an attempted alignment with Iran, Malaysia, and Turkey, to upstage Saudi Arabia and UAE in the OIC. The Pakistani FM shot his mouth off by warning that if the OIC did not show enough activism on J&K, Pakistan would be forced to form a separate Islamic platform outside the OIC.

This was a direct challenge to the leadership of Saudi Arabia. The Saudis did not take kindly to Pakistan’s hectoring, and have cracked the whip. Pakistan paid the price of having its loan worth $3 billion recalled, and its army chief’s mission to mend ties, resulting in his being roundly snubbed as he failed to get a meeting with the Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman. They forced Pakistan to return $1 billion recently which Islamabad repaid after Beijing came to its rescue. The two sides are now locked in tough negotiations for repayment of the rest of the debt. The main culprit behind Saudis cracking the whip on Pakistan is India-Saudi economic and security ties, which are getting strengthened day by day reflecting in the actions of Saudis to avoid the Kashmir issue on international forums, a clear indication of upswing ties with India. Riyadh and Delhi declaration between India and Saudi established both countries as a “strategic partner”. Both the countries involved in counter-terrorism measures which would have been an impossible scenario a few years ago.

.3 months ago


Very informative article ...

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