N. P. Upadhyaya, Kathmandu: Journalist Jon Gambrel for the Daily Independent dated April 15, 2021, brings behind the scene recent political happenings in between Pakistan and India to light.
This behind the scene effort in effect brought down the scale of the continued animosity between the two South Asian adversaries since the very days of the partition in 1947.
Notably, in the recent days and months India and Pakistan both have been behaving with each other as if they have had no political differences in the past and that they were “friends made for each other”.
The Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to Washington Yousuf al-Otaiba while speaking in a video conference that was very freshly released (last Wednesday) by the California based Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, wherein the Emirati envoy Otaiba did admit that his country have had a friendly role “in bringing the Kashmir escalation down” between the two nuclear-armed nations-India and Pakistan.
The Emirati Ambassador Al-Otaiba opined that Pakistan and India “might not sort of become best friends,” but yet that such communication is important.
He expressed that “at least we want to get it to a level where it’s functional, where it’s operational, where they are speaking to each other, where there’s lines of communication,”
“That’s our goal”, said the Ambassador.
To recall, a month earlier it had come to the notice of the international media that “it was the rigorous efforts made by the United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed who only in in February had visited New Delhi and had proposed India that he would talk to Pakistan for building peace in between the two countries.
Both Islamabad and UAE had declined to make any comments when asked by media men to shed light on the ongoing peacemaking efforts being made by the UAE foreign Minister.
Reports claim that the in Dushanbe on March 30, senior officials from Pakistan and India met again. However, this news remains yet to be substantiated.
If they met then it is an ear pleasing news for those who wish tranquility to prevail in South Asia.
The fresh disclosure made by the Emirati envoy to US, Yousuf al-Otaiba in a Stanford University talk, April 15, 2021, stamps that there has been a de-ice effort among India and Pakistan and that some friendly countries like the UAE mediated in between the two warring neighbors.
Fortunately, the India-Pak borders these days are calm with no causalities on both the sides thereby signaling that some sort of miracle has happened which has best been confirmed by Ambassador Otaiba.
The Covid suffering “get well soon letter” sent to Prime Minister Imran Khan by his Indian counterpart PM Modi speaks that something did happen in the recent days and months.
The “calm” in the Indo-Pak relations apparently will continue expectedly at least to the time of the upcoming seminar to be attended by the eight member Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) that will definitely include China, Pakistan and others.
High placed sources claim that India’s National Security Advisor, Ajit Doval and Dr. Moeed who is the advisor of National Security to Pakistani Prime Minister had been in close contact with each other for over a long time early this year (January) which is what has resulted in the current cease fire in between the two Asian rivals who have fought three Wars since partition on the overly stretched issue of Kashmir.
However, some dismiss this eventuality. Even FM Qureshi rebuked this happening while talking to media men in Abu Dhabi.
But track two diplomacy takes place much the same way like what may have happened in between Ajit Doval and Dr. Moeed.
Indeed, it could be this meet which may have been “mediated” by the Emirati Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayedin between the two challengers and now substantiated by the Emirati Ambassador Al Otaiba in his revelation made at the Stanford University as reported by Journalist Jon Gambrel.
Needless to say, Indian and Pakistani nationals have a sizeable “working” population in the United Arab Emirates and the rulers of the UAE may have thought it opportune and a timely gesture to be of some help to broker peace in between India and Pakistan and to hint the new US Administration under President Joe Biden that the UAE too has some sort of influence in the South Asian region.
In effect, the UAE, which is very close to the Saudi Arabian sovereigns did mediate apparently to portray as “good boys” from the Gulf to the US management under Joe Biden who has somewhat tensed relations with the Saudi Arabian rulers over the mysterious killing of Journalist Jamal Khassogi in KSA Consulate in Istanbul.
The UAE and the Saudis are finding it difficult to “adjust” their ties with the new US administration headed by President Joe Biden as these two countries “developed” intimate ties with President Trump in the Trumpian days.
To cut it short, the US is at odds with KSA and the UAE and vice versa.
It is this odd existing in between the Gulf States and the US which is being exploited by China, Russia and freshly by Pakistan.
To put in record, the Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi began his tour of six countries, March, to the Middle East with his first leg to Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iran, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Bahrain.
China’s gain is US loss and vice versa:
FM Wang Yi apparently visited KSA in order to exploit from the KSA-US conflict over Human Rights issues.
FM Wang Yi said that advancing ties with Saudi Arabia, an important strategic partner of China in the Middle East, is a priority for China’s Middle East policies.
This is sufficient to irk the US further.
China supports Saudi Arabia in safeguarding its sovereignty, national dignity, security and stability, and opposes interference in Saudi Arabia’s internal affairs under any pretext, said the Chinese foreign minister.
The US also ensures the SAs security.
What is thus clear is that China has made a safe passage to the Saudi kingdom and has distanced Saudis with the US?
FM Wang while in Iran, China inked a 400 billion deal which will allow China the Iranian Oil in a discounted price which will lessen China’s upcoming energy crisis.
The 400 billion Chinese projects in Iran will, as reported in our previous articles, also benefit Pakistan through the “spill over” effect and in addition the Iranian Ambassador in Islamabad, Seyed Mohammad Ali Hosseini is on record to have stated that Iran is ready to help “its neighbors meet their energy demands” and Pakistan is one of the nearest neighbor of Iran.
Iran is already at a distance with the US due to sanctions.
Reports though suggest that the US has acquired a bit mild posture against Iran in the Biden days.
It is this differences that has been best exploited by China by default.
US will benefit is it acquires a moderate position vis-à-vis with Iran.
China’s vaccine diplomacy with UAE:
International media reports that “China is partnering with the United Arab Emirates to make millions of doses of its state-backed Sinopharm vaccine, in a deal that takes manufacturing of the shot overseas for the first time and deepens Beijing’s influence in the Middle East, claims Bloomberg dated March 28, 2021.
A cursory glance to China’s fresh penetration in the Gulf suggests that China is hitting the US where it has failed to accommodate these countries sensing the mood of the smaller nations.
Enters Russia in the Gulf:
If China entered into the politics of the Gulf countries exploiting the US differences with these countries then the Russian federation too in a way benefited from the US differences with some countries in the Middle East/Gulf.
Notably, Sergei Lavrov made a three country visit last month (March) which brought him first to Riyadh, Abu Dhabi and Doha.
Remarkably, the Chinese and the Russians are visiting the countries with whom the US at the moment has some political glitches.
This is diplomacy and who else better knows how to play diplomacy other than the Russian and the Chinese-the diplomatic veterans.
Enters new South Asian Regional Power Pakistan:
Following the foot prints of China and Russia, the newly emerged South Asian power, Pakistan, too has set in motion its desire to enhance its bilateral ties with some of the countries with which it already enjoys cordial relationship.
By time this story gets published in the People’s Review weekly in Nepal, Foreign Minister of Pakistan Shah M. Qureshi would have already visited countries like United Arab Emirates ( April 18), Iran (April 20), Qatar ( (April 22) and Turkey ( April 23) will have completed his trip to these countries.
Qureshi’s first leg was the Emirates which claims to have brokered peace in between India and Pakistan this January-February.
The UAE sources claim that DUBAI was the meeting venue of the Indian and Pakistani senior officials early this year according to Jon Gambrel, the media man associated with The Daily Independent.
Though Pakistani high placed officials rebuke the secret meet of this sort in Dubai, however, our own source claims that the denial by Pakistani and Indian officials is genuine in that at times “such” meets need to be kept a guarded secret.
FM Qureshi dismissed such a meet talking to media in UAE.
Recall, India and Pakistan had, in a surprise announcement, said on February 25 that they have agreed to strictly observe all agreements on ceasefire along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir and other sectors.
Remarkably, the UAE mediation had begun by then.
Since then both Indian and Pak PM have not talked of any untoward language that may hit their respective nationalist sentiments except that the Pak domestic turmoil is being blow out of proportion these days.
Albeit, the Godi media has been magnifying the events in Pakistan to an unfitting level which is just their habit.
A section of Pakistani people have some “issues” with Republic of France and the Labbaik party has demanded that the French envoy should be sent back to Paris by April 20.
Here is a test for PM Khan. France is an important country in Europe yet.
Notably, some EU nations at times depict Prophet Mohammad in an indecent manner which is what irks the believers of Islam. Denmark is the one which teases Islamic religion at times.
The speed with which the Russian, and Chinese followed by the Pakistanis have begun to make their desired destination to “Gulf” in the recent month March and April, 2021, at least this pen pusher senses that some sort of undeclared coalition comprising of China, Russia and Pakistan has already been formed or if not then the new coalition of these three countries are likely soon to give it a shape.
Mind it that Pakistan is at the moment darling of China and Russia.
This coalition is taking a shape when the US has some problems with the Gulf plus Iran.
The US is advised to balance the increasing Chinese and Russian influence in the Gulf to a desired level so that all these countries vying to show their presence in the Gulf/Middle East behave with each other in a disciplined way-the democratic way.
Back to the Gulf nations:
FM Qureshi visited Gulf nations close on the heels of Chinese and Russian FM’s trip.
This is significant in that Pakistan is tentatively very intimate with the entire countries in the Gulf plus Russia and China-the two powers in their own right and thus these countries hopefully shared their views with each other on matters of their respective national interests.
Since Pakistan enjoys a highly strategic geopolitical location, being situated at the corridor of major maritime as well as having geostrategic hotspots such as Afghanistan, China, India and Iran as immediate neighbors.
So Qureshi while in Iran will in all likelihood center his talks on the fresh Iran-China deal of 400 billion and may assure Iran of Pakistan’s help if needed in some “projects” much similar to China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
In the recent days, Iran and Pakistan have agreed to make joint efforts to boost bilateral trade and economic relations between the two Islamic countries.
As of Turkey, the leaders of Pakistan and Turkey have just the last week conferred on the continuing Afghan peace process, with Imran Khan reaffirming his commitment to a negotiated political settlement to the conflict in advance of key talks in Turkey this month.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is in Kabul while writing this story.
Erdogan’s Turkey is hosting a 10-day Afghan peace summit beginning April 24, with representatives of the Afghan government, United States, United Nations, Qatar and others taking part.
President Biden reportedly approached Turkey for the hosting of this meet on Afghanistan.
Notably, the FM’s of Pakistan and Afghanistan, Qureshi and Atmar have said that the upcoming Istanbul Conference on Afghan peace process can help make the ongoing peace process “result oriented”, reports the Turkish Agency.
Pakistan has perhaps excellent ties with Erdogan’s country and during his visit Qureshi may initiate talks on the resumption of the Tehran-Islamabad-Istanbul cargo train apart from Afghan peace process.
Interestingly, FM Qureshi and the Indian Foreign Minister Shankar were in Dubai at a time.
Let’s hope that they may have meet to substantiate UAE Ambassador’s Otaiba’s admission that his country brokered peace between Delhi and Islamabad.
To recall, UAE has one of the largest concentration of Pakistani workers perhaps second to India after Saudi Arabia.
Qureshi talking to media men told that his country will bring its ties with the UAE to a new level.
He hinted that PM Khan may make a short trip to Sharjah at the year end.
Qatar too has its excellent ties with Pakistan. More so the two nations very freshly, writes Aaamir Latif for the Turkish Anadolu Agency dated march 29, 2021, that Doha and Islamabad held a joint drill in the Arabian Gulf.
The drill was aimed at strengthening bilateral ties, enhance naval collaboration and interoperability between the two navies.
Qatar is a brave country which survived the blockade being imposed by the Saudis for almost three years.
This explains the ties between Doha and Islamabad.
Writes Arhama Siddiqa for Al Jazeera dated 30 March that “If Islamabad and Doha ties maintain their current course of communal collaboration, keeping in mind the domino effects of globalization, their alliance will herald benefits for the region at large.”
All put together, it appears that South Asia if were the key region for the world powers in the previous days then the Gulf nations too have now attracted the attention of the international powers for their benefits.
Political gravity from South Asia to Gulf? Or both at a time?
The sudden entrance of China and Russia in the Gulf politics has come close on the heels of the presumed strained ties in between the US and the Saudi Arabia-the undeclared boss.
It is thus obvious that both the regional powers, India and Pakistan, should make every efforts in wooing the Oli rich countries in the Gulf keeping their presence felt in South Asia.
In the previous days, India benefited from Pakistan’s feeble presence in the Gulf but now
Gulf nations can’t ignore the single Nuclear and Islamic Pakistan for multiple reasons. Both will benefit if they act and take steps together.
The Coalition in making is a threat to India? Yes. It is.