Outrage In Pakistan Over UAE Honouring Modi Is Simply Misplaced
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) recently granted Indian PM Narendra Modi its highest civilian medal for his leadership of the ‘secular’ Indian state. In the wake of the current crackdown on Kashmir by India and blatant violations of the Kashmiri people’s basic human rights by the Indian armed forces, the move is rightly being termed as ‘outrageous’ by Pakistanis who thought the global Muslim community would side by the country’s stance on Kashmir.
— Naeem waxir (@Naeemul11913030) August 25, 2019
However, the way Pakistanis have gone about criticising the UAE has also ruffled some feathers in the Pakistani political sphere because it is seen as a double standard by many.
There are two things to note for the people who do want to bash the UAE government. First, call it what it is: a complete disregard for human life and rights in the Kashmir valley. This situation doesn’t have much to do with Pakistan itself, hence the people calling UAE anti-Pakistan are clearly missing the nuances of the situation.
After all, the UAE very recently helped the Pakistani government by offering a $3bn loan to ease the financial crisis in the country as was highlighted recently by the Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi. This doesn’t mean that we condone the actions taken by the UAE, rather we should adopt a more pragmatic and human-centric approach to the crisis in Kashmir. Pakistan shouldn’t make this about itself or India, but Kashmiri voices and rights should be at the centre of the discourse, which unfortunately is not the case right now.
Secondly, the hypocritical nature of this criticism stems from Pakistan’s own disregard for human rights when it comes to foreign relations. We must not forget that Pakistan is one of the few countries that attended the Saudi Tech show when most countries and tech companies pulled out of the conference citing Saudi involvement in the brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Additionally, Pakistan also accepted a $6bn loan from Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman at a time when he was being accused of the aforementioned charges.
Our PM drove MBS around Islamabad as he faced charges for ordering murder of a journalist in a foreign country.
The bottom line is, we need to focus on Kashmiri people in our narrative of the Kashmir crisis because this is not a territorial battle anymore. It is the ordinary Kashmiris who are dealing with an oppressive regime that has turned the entire region into an open jail. Therefore, we should criticise the Indian regime and its allies that support — explicitly or implicitly — the brutality in the valley, but should not peddle narrative that this is any form of an “anti-Pakistan” agenda.
That is a dangerous path that could backfire and haunt us in the future given how dependent we are on the Gulf states for remittances and financial bailouts.
Waleed Nasir is a Brown University graduate working in Washington DC. He reads, writes and tries to make sense of the Pakistani political sphere.
He can be contacted via [email protected]