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UAE Honouring Modi: Time To Put The Myth Of ‘Muslim Ummah’ To Bed?

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United Arab Emirates (UAE) conferred their highest civilian honour, the ‘Order of Zayed’, on Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, making him one of the 19 people to have received the award.

The move has not been received kindly in Pakistan and has engendered a debate among Pakistanis about whether the Muslim Ummah is a reality and if it is how united it is.

The move has come in the background of India’s revocation of Article 370 and 35A of its constitution, taking away Kashmir’s special status. Following India’s move, there have been protests in Kashmir which the Indian government has tried to put down using repressive measures like cutting communications and using brute force against protestors.

In light of this situation, the people of Pakistan expected support from their fellow Muslim countries. The response for Pakistan was not favourable, with none of the Muslim countries criticising India over its actions on Kashmir. Saudi Arabia merely called for the peaceful resolution of the conflict in accordance with international resolutions, which is such an overused statement in international affairs that it has lost meaning. The UAE and Maldives even backed India’s decision to revoke Kashmir’s special status.

The latest move by UAE is another painful reminder that the concept of ‘Muslim Ummah’ may just be a myth, and though millions in Muslim countries may be connected by religious sentiment, political and economic interests trump at the end of the day. With annual bilateral trade between UAE and India around $60 billion, it is no wonder that UAE has bestowed upon Modi this award while ignoring the blood of ‘their Muslim brethren’ in Kashmir.

After Modi received the award, social media was rife with questions about the existence of a ‘Muslim Ummah’.

Social activist Jibran Nasir took to Twitter and reminded of the Muslim majority countries who had given their highest civilian awards to Modi.

Another user backed the idea that economic interests lie above the concept of the Muslim Ummah or brotherhood.

Senator Farhatullah Babar was of the view that nations are driven by national interests and not Ummah considerations, and just like UAE and Saudi Arabia had deemed it in their interest to give a loan to Pakistan, it had also considered it worthy to honour the Indian PM.

The timing of this move has also been criticised, with one user describing it a painful experience under the prevailing circumstances.

An interesting perspective was that countries will even ignore their own when it comes to their international relations. This was put forth by a Twitter user who called into question India ignoring the treatment of its own labour force.

Journalist Jahanzeb Hussain expressed his ‘condolence’ to those who believed in the idea of the Muslim Ummah.

AlJazeera Plus producer Sana Saeed criticised the UAE government for always putting down the Muslim Ummah.

UAE newspaper Khaleej Times published a 55-page supplement on the Indian PM’s visit. This was not taken lightly and HUM news journalist Ovais Mangalwala expressed anger over this fact.

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