The Foreign Minister’s visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), is significant as always, more so because of the recent perception of a drawdown in ties. The FM Shah Mahmood Qureshi landed in UAE on Thursday, where he will meet with the UAE leadership and members of the Pakistani community and interact with local and international media.
This visit comes at a time when the normally strong Pakistani-UAE relations look to be at a weak point. This is why the talks that will be held between the FM and UAE leadership on regional and global issues, particularly on bilateral cooperation, are important and must be conducted with the aim of sorting through the misunderstandings that seem to have developed between the two countries. The developments that have taken place, most notably UAE’s suspension of issuance of visit visas from several Muslim-majority countries including Pakistan, have the potential for causing much financial and diplomatic damage for both parties, even if the UAE states that it is being done for pandemic-related reasons. The FM must use this visit to iron out these differences.
There is a perception that Pakistan’s refusal to recognise Israel in the wake of UAE’s recognition may be a factor behind the hostility. However, practically, this is not likely a major issue—Pakistan has always been forthright about its stance and activism on behalf of the Palestinian people. Thus, these diplomatic differences should not be a challenge to mending our relations with the UAE again. The UAE and Pakistan have had differences in their geopolitical policy regarding this region before and it has not fundamentally impacted the goodwill of their relations. What is needed is just better communication and straightening out any misunderstandings.