The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is reported to be seriously having a rethink on its relations with Pakistan post the killing of five of its diplomats and six senior Afghanistan Government officials in a brutal terror attack inside the Kandahar Governor’s...
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is reported to be seriously having a rethink on its relations with Pakistan post the killing of five of its diplomats and six senior Afghanistan Government officials in a brutal terror attack inside the Kandahar Governor’s compound on January 10 this year. Following the attack in Kandahar, which is indirectly being blamed on Islamabad, the writing on the wall is clear, that Pakistan would need to and must take immediate steps to use its influence with terror groups such as the Haqqani Network, to stop these terror-related strikes if it wants to maintain its diplomatic relevance and utility with key countries such as the UAE. Tuesday’s blast in Kandahar was one among three terror attacks that took place in Afghanistan, all on the same day. The other two attacks, in Kabul and Herat, resulted in the death of 38 and 11 people respectively. Interestingly, the Afghan Taliban took responsibility for the Kabul and Herat attacks, but denied having any role in the Kandahar incident, blaming it instead on what it called ‘’internal local rivalry’’.
The UAE delegation, led by Ambassador Juma Mohammad Abdullah Al Kaavi, was in a meeting with Kandahar Governor Humayun Azizi when the bomb, suspected to have been hidden in a sofa, detonated. Kandahar’s Police Chief Abdul Raziq, however, told media categorically that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and the Haqqani Network were behind the incident. It is a well known fact that Haqqani network leaders have been provided sanctuary by the Pakistani security agencies and that this is one of the reasons for ties between Pakistan and the United States souring, with the latter charging the Pakistani military leadership of dragging its foot insofar as taking action against the Haqqani network in Afghanistan. Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rasheed Al Maktum, the Prime Minister of the UAE and Dubai’s ruler, while offering condolences to the families of the dead, said, ‘’There is no human, moral or religious justification for the bombing and killing of people trying to help others.’’ This was the first time UAE nationals were targeted inside Afghanistan, and therefore, has raised questions about why the UAE continues to invest so much in its relations with Pakistan, both politically and economically.
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The UAE has always been among the first countries to deliver humanitarian relief and assistance to Pakistan in times of need. In 2011, it launched the Pakistan Assistance Programme for building schools, colleges, hospitals etc. in Pakistan. Simultaneously, entrepreneurs from Pakistan are warmly welcomed in the UAE, with many of them having prospered in the country’s favourable business environment. Recently, the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development funded UAE-Pakistan Friendship Road, linking North and South Waziristan, was also inaugurated in FATA. The list is long. In return, Pakistan’s commitment to the relationship has been less forthcoming, especially in the last few years. In 2013, the UAE government was taken aback when Pakistan did not support Dubai’s bid to host the EXPO 2020 inspite of receiving official assurances to this effect from Islamabad. In 2015, Pakistan refused to join the Saudi-led operations in Yemen. This suggested that as far as the Gulf region is concerned, Pakistan could not be trusted to provide support in times of need, even if it compromised the security of its allies.