New Delhi: A top United Arab Emirates (UAE) diplomat to the United States has revealed that the Gulf country is playing mediator between rivals India and Pakistan to help achieve a “healthy and functional relationship”.
“Top intelligence officers from India and Pakistan held secret talks in Dubai in January in a new effort to calm military tension over the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir,” Reuters has reported.
The statement was made by Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba to the United States at a virtual discussion with Stanford University’s Hoover Institution Wednesday where he also said that the UAE helped “in bringing Kashmir escalation down and created a ceasefire, hopefully ultimately leading to restoring diplomats and getting the relationship back to a healthy level”.
Underlining how the strained relationship between India and Pakistan will not be entirely fixed so that they become “best friends”, Otaiba said the aim is to “get it to a level where it’s functional, where it’s operational, where they are speaking to each other.”
In his address, the UAE envoy also spoke of Pakistan’s involvement in Afghanistan, from where the US is set to withdraw its troops by the 9/11 anniversary; this has been the US’s longest war yet. “It’s hard for us to see a way to stabilise Afghanistan without Pakistan playing a helpful role,” he said.
Mending the bridge
The scrapping of Article 370 in August 2019 — that ended Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and led to it splitting into two union territories — has only further deepened the divide between the two countries. Earlier that year, a suicide bomber targeted an Indian military convoy in Pulwama that left at least 44 Central Reserve Police Force (CPRF) personnel dead and another 20 injured, to which India responded with the Balakot airstrike.
Tensions between the two have been simmering since then. Most recently, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan reversed the decision to resume the import of sugar and cotton from India till the scrapping of Article 370 is done away with.
However, despite all this, there have been reports of India and Pakistan conducting dialogue to ease the tensions. In March this year, armies of both nations announced a “sudden and rare reaffirmation of a 2003 ceasefire agreement, pledging to bring a halt to violence that killed at least 74 people in 2020 alone.”
This was soon succeeded by Pakistan’s Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa urging the two countries to “bury the past” and work towards a “peaceful resolution of the Kashmir dispute.”
In March, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had written to Khan on occasion of Pakistan’s republic day, echoing Bajwa’s request. “The people of Pakistan also desire peaceful, cooperative relations with all neighbours, including India. I thank you for your letter conveying greetings on Pakistan Day,” Khan reportedly wrote back.
(Edited by Manasa Mohan)