ISLAMABAD: Amid reports that the United Arab Emirates has been mediating between India and Pakistan for reducing fears of a conflict in South Asia for the past few months, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi embarked on a three-day official visit to the Gulf state on Saturday.
During the visit, the foreign minister will meet his counterpart Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan and other UAE dignitaries. He will also meet members of Pakistani diaspora and interact with local and international media.
On Wednesday, UAE’s Ambassador to Washington Yousef Al Otaiba confirmed the Gulf state was mediating between India and Pakistan to help the nuclear-armed rivals forge a “healthy and functional” relationship.
In a virtual discussion with Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, Mr Otaiba said the UAE had played a role “in bringing Kashmir escalation down and created a ceasefire, hopefully ultimately leading to restoring diplomats and getting the relationship back to a healthy level”.
“They might not sort of become best friends but 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,” the envoy said.
Ties between India and Pakistan have been frozen since a suicide bombing of a military convoy in India-held Kashmir in 2019.
According to a statement issued by the Foreign Office in Islamabad on Saturday, Mr Qureshi will hold consultations with the UAE’s leadership on all areas of bilateral cooperation including collaboration in trade and investment, job opportunities for Pakistani workforce and the welfare of Pakistani diaspora.
“Pakistan and the UAE enjoy strong fraternal ties, rooted deep in common faith and shared history and values. High-level visits between the two countries have played a pivotal role in providing further impetus to strengthening bilateral cooperation and collaboration on a wide range of issues,” the statement said.
However, the statement is silent about the ban on issuance of visas to Pakistani citizens — an issue earlier taken up with the UAE. Though UAE assured the ban was temporary and was related to Covid-19, it is yet to announce the exact date it will be lifted.
Published in Dawn, April 18th, 2021