By Shazia Anwer Cheema
Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif concluded his visit to UAE on the invitation of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates. His visit ended with a pleasant agreement to rollover over the existing loan of US$ 2 billion and to provide an additional loan of US$ 1 billion to Pakistan.
Financially starved Pakistan is contesting for its survival and such an injection of financial support is a huge favor to Pakistan. We remember in 2019, the UAE released $2 billion to support the country’s financial and monetary policies and enhance liquidity and foreign reserves.
This was Prime Minister’s third visit to the UAE after assuming office. He was accompanied by a high-level delegation, including key members of the Cabinet.
During the visit, the Prime Minister held a bilateral meeting with the President of the United Arab Emirates His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Prime Minister and Vice President of the UAE His Highness Sheikh Muhammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum and Minister of Tolerance His Highness Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan.
The UAE and Pakistan announced three Memoranda of Understanding in the fields of combating human trafficking, news exchange, and contact between the diplomatic academies of both countries.
Both sides agreed on strengthening bilateral ties through economic, trade, and investment cooperation, developing joint ventures, and creating greater opportunities for the Pakistani workforce in the UAE. UAE leaders praised the dedication and hard work of the Pakistani community which significantly contributed to the development of the UAE.
During the visit, the Prime Minister held meetings with Emirati businessmen and investors that included Abu Dhabi Holding Company (ADQ) and International Holdings Company (IHC), Abu Dhabi Chambers of Commerce, Air Arabia, and the Pakistani Business Community in UAE. The businessmen and investors appreciated the policies of the Government leading towards great investment opportunities in Pakistan, especially in the sectors of energy, aviation, food & agriculture, healthcare, transport & logistics, and tourism & hospitality among others. The businessmen and investors agreed on enhancing trade and investment between the two countries.
Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates enjoy extremely close and fraternal relations based on common faith and traditions, shared history and heritage, deep-rooted cultural affinities, geographic proximity, and identity of interests. Over 1.6 million Pakistanis are an integral part of the human resource of UAE and PM Shehbaz Sharif’s visit to UAE reinforces the commitment of the two countries to support each other, enhance bilateral cooperation in diverse fields and further strengthen the growing partnership between Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates.
UAE has always been a true friend who always reaches Pakistan whenever there is a need. Available documents indicate that UAE was the biggest humanitarian support after the 2005 devastating earthquake in Pakistan and not only provided humanitarian support rather immediately created an airlift bridge to transfer injured persons to hospitals in UAE. It was again here in Pakistan in the 2010 floods and now was the first to come to help Pakistan during the 2022 floods.
Till the end of the year 2022, UAE-Pakistan Assistance Programme (UAE-PAP) successfully completed 165 projects in various sectors, including economic, humanities, social, health, education, and infrastructure in Pakistan.
The UAE-Pakistan Assistance Programme (UAE-PAP) was launched in 2014 to provide humanitarian assistance to the people of Pakistan and support their development initiatives for a better future. Its mission is to execute development aid projects that offer sustainability and continuous benefits to the Pakistani people. A network of schools established with an investment of $200 million by the Programme is providing education to over 30,000 Pakistani students. This programme is also playing a vital role in eradicating polio in Pakistan in coordination with the WHO and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Official data also indicate that direct investment in Pakistan by the UAE investors has been very constructive many investment and trade deals were inked during the Dubai Expo 2020 and a number of UAE companies are now in the process of entering the Pakistani market to expand economic cooperation in projects covering various sectors.
It is to be noted that UAE is Pakistan’s largest trading partner in the Middle East with $8 billion in trade in 2021 and is planning to invest over $1 billion in different sectors in Pakistan including gas, renewable energy, infrastructure, healthcare, biotechnology, agriculture, logistics, digital communications, e-commerce, and financial services.
Pakistan being at the crossroads of today’s geo-political reality requires multilayer diplomacy (economic, cultural, political, military). Fortunately, Pakistani diplomats are seasoned enough to face the ever-evolving challenges, Pakistani diplomatic carder is highly efficient and fighting on the frontlines for a decade, domestic political turmoil and changes had never affected their work with the exception of the last four years. Pakistan witnessed something unprecedented in its diplomatic history when a sitting government purposely sabotage diplomatic relations with its friendly countries. The working mechanism of PTI was flawed beyond perceivable imagination.
PTI government ministers made it a custom of using Twitter to deal with foreign affairs, and half-cooked, speculated theories tarnished Pakistan’s relations with the world. A disrespectful, uncertain, and chaotic atmosphere forced our diplomats to sit idle, Murad Saeed then minister of Communication gave unprofessional and unauthentic statements about the CPEC project and put it on halt, Sherin Mazari PTI minister for Human Rights tweeted about French Ambassador and French President, Imran Khan himself disgraced Pakistan by selling the friendly countries gifts in pawn market. The list of diplomatic atrocities is very long and will remain a dark chapter in the history of Pakistan’s Foreign Affairs. I am still unable to forget the public display of humiliation of the Pakistani ambassadors during a video conference. I salute the endurance and patience of the diplomatic cadre and as now the dark clouds of PTI had gone and our foreign affairs are back on track once again.
From the first day of holding the office of the Foreign Ministry, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari manifested the conduct of an efficient diplomat. He despite the domestic political upheaval, focused on mending the broken bridges and spent maximum time meeting his international counterparts. Under his guidance and support, Pakistan’s foreign affairs once again put the utmost effort in order to save and restore Pakistan’s relations.
Pakistan has always had a very special relationship with its middle eastern friends and shares a mutual interest in trade and commerce. Historical ties are predated and their relationship is trial and tested, after a small milage of the bumpy road due to the PTI government, Pakistani diplomats within a remarkably short time have cleared the dust and managed to bring back diplomatic order.
Fortunately, after the cloudy season of PTI, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto just after assuming charge reviewed the situation deeply and placed several professional and experienced diplomats in sensitive and important stations that had been underutilized. One of the stations was Abu Dhabi where seasoned diplomat Faisal Niazi Tirmizi was sent as Ambassador of Pakistan to UAE.
Faisal Niaz Tirmizi had already served this station as a mid-level officer and knows the sensitivities and importance of Pak-UAE relations. There is no doubt he is a shining knight of our diplomatic cadre, who instantly geared up Public Diplomacy after assuming his charge. I am confident Ambassador Tirmizi would utilize his all energies to maintain the high pace he has already set for not only enhancing the Pakistan-UAE relationship rather providing support to over 1.6 million Pakistanis living in UAE.
Note: Writer Shazia Anwer Cheema is an author, columnist, and foreign affairs expert who writes for national and international media. She is a doctoral student and researcher in semiotics and philosophy of communication at Charles University in Prague. She can be reached at her: Twitter @ShaziaAnwerCh Email: email@example.com
The views and opinions expressed in this article/Opinion/Comment are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the DND Thought Center and Dispatch News Desk (DND). Assumptions made within the analysis are not reflective of the position of the DND Thought Center and Dispatch News Desk News Agency.