Modi’s West Asian diplomacy has removed the hyphen in India-Pakistan
By KP Nayar
Last Updated : Aug 30, 2019 11:43 AM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com The Gulf countries no longer see their dealings with India or Pakistan as a zero sum game. The young leaders of these kingdoms and emirates are pragmatic enough to recognise that an emerging India is a far more an attractive partner than a moribund Pakistan.
Some 25 years ago, South Block, the seat of the Ministry of External Affairs, was in ferment on the day Qatar’s foreign minister arrived in New Delhi on a bilateral visit. The reason for the agitation among Indian diplomats and the political leadership of the Ministry of External Affairs was that the foreign minister, who landed in New Delhi from Islamabad, had said at a joint press conference with his Pakistani counterpart the previous day that the Kashmir issue should be resolved through United Nations resolutions.
As the two sides sat down in Hyderabad House for the delegation-level meeting, a director in MEA’s Gulf Division, the only officer there who spoke Arabic and knew the Qataris well, approached the foreign minister and whispered in his ears that Indians were very upset that he had flogged the UN route on Kashmir in Islamabad.
Instead of replying to the MEA official, the visiting minister turned to the entire Indian delegation, led by a minister of state for external affairs and disarmingly told them in English: “Why? UN resolutions are good, aren’t they? You don’t want UN resolutions? OK. Qatar is no longer for UN resolutions on Kashmir. I can go out after this meeting and tell your journalists that Qatar is not for UN resolutions.” The Indian side was pleased, but also dumbfounded.
An episode of this nature will not happen in dealings with the Gulf (West Asia) any more. Diplomacy in Gulf countries has become sophisticated, which is one reason why Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s outreach to the region since 2015 has met with enthusiastic responses in every Gulf country, even Saudi Arabia, where foreign policy positions are slow to change. A new generation of princes, many of them Western-educated and English-speaking, are in charge of diplomacy almost everywhere in the region. These leaders look at the world, especially their neighbourhood, in a new light.
For at least four years now, since Modi first visited the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the hyphen has disappeared in dealings by virtually every Gulf state with India-Pakistan. There was a time when any senior minister from the Gulf who visited India also went to Pakistan. No more. Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was probably the last from the region to stick to the old practice. Even in his case, it can be said with certainty that such hyphenation will not be repeated after his recent interactions with India, both bilaterally and at multilateral fora.
The Gulf countries no longer see their dealings with India or Pakistan as a zero sum game. Besides, there is a degree of Kashmir-fatigue, which has been evident for some time in West Asian capitals: they do not want their ties to India to be hostage or to their relations with Pakistan and certainly not to Kashmir. The young leaders of these kingdoms and emirates want to move on, look ahead and have no patience for 70-year-old disputes such as Kashmir, which have defied solutions because of the intransigence and a lack of vision among leaders who have been parties to such disputes. They are pragmatic enough to recognise that for all of them emerging India is a far more attractive partner than moribund Pakistan.
Proof of this lies in the fact that of the $75 billion which Abu Dhabi is committed to invest in India, about $6 billion has already come into the country. In addition, the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company and Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest oil company, are making progress in setting up a refinery in Maharashtra at a cost of $44 billion. Half of this investment will come from these two national oil companies. There is no match in Pakistan for these and other recent West Asian investments in India.
It is not very well-known that last February, a Dubai government-owned global company, DP World, signed an agreement with the Jammu and Kashmir government to establish a multi-modal logistics park and an inland container terminal in Jammu comprising warehouses and specialised storage solutions. The agreement was signed during Modi’s visit to the UAE, well before the recent changes in Kashmir.
This is one of the few foreign investments in the state and is proof that Pakistan can no longer act as a deterrent to India’s deepening relations with the Gulf.
KP Nayar has been covering West Asia for more than four decades. Views are personal.
UAE entities plan $7bn food security investment in India
Emaar Group to coordinate multi-billion dollar investment in the UAE-India food corridor project
Tue, 24 Sep 2019, 06:30 PM
Piyush Goyal, India's Minister of Railways and Minister of Commerce and Industry.
Major UAE entities are expected to invest up to $7 billion in India’s food sector in the next three years as part of the UAE-India food corridor project.
The companies, coordinated by Dubai-based Emaar Group, plan to invest up to $5 billion in mega food parks in various Indian cities and up to $2 billion in contract farming, sourcing of agro commodities and related infrastructure, according to Piyush Goyal, India's Minister of Railways and Minister of Commerce and Industry.
In a statement issued to state news agency WAM on Tuesday, Emaar Group said it is "coordinating with the Government of India in respect of the investment relating to food security in the UAE. The investment will be made by other UAE entities, the details of which will be declared at a later stage".
The idea of the joint food corridor to secure the UAE’s food security was inspired by India’s strategic petroleum reserve in Padur in south India, in partnership with Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc), WAM added.
The minister was quoted as saying: "They [UAE entities] have expressed their interest to invest up to $5 billion in mega food parks, logistics and warehouse hubs, fruits and vegetable hubs in various Indian cities, which would create 200,000 jobs across India."
The proposed projects include mega food parks in Kutch in western state of Gujarat and Aurangabad in western state of Maharashtra, Goyal added.
A food park in Pawarkheda in central state of Madhya Pradesh, logistics and warehouse hub in Itarsi in Madhya Pradesh, fruits and vegetables hub in Nashik and warehousing hub in Bhiwandi in Maharashtra are other projects, he said.
The UAE entities also plan to make an indicative investment up to $2 billion in contract farming and the sourcing of several agro commodities plus other related infrastructure for food processing, the minister said.
They are considering western Indian states of Gujarat and Maharashtra for the proposed projects and the possibility of eight food parks is being currently evaluated, Goyal revealed.
Although India grows enough food for its 1.3 billion people, 30 percent of that food is wasted due to the lack of appropriate infrastructure for storage, processing and transportation, which could be built by the UAE’s investments.
The UAE can buy the food produced by the project at a cheaper price while Indian farmers will get a comparatively better price for their crops, WAM said.
Saudi Arabia enhancing cooperation with India to combat terrorism, says Ambassador Saud bin Mohammed Al Sati
Nearly two weeks after drone and missile attacks on its vital oil facilities, Saudi Arabia has said, it is enhancing cooperation with India to combat terrorism including choking funds to terror networks and exchange of information and intelligence.
In an interview to News Agency PTI, Saudi Ambassador Dr Saud bin Mohammed Al Sati said, India and Saudi Arabia are closely cooperating with each other in fighting terrorism. The envoy said, Saudi Arabia is leading the global campaign against terrorism, terror financing and extremism.
He said, his country is the founding member of a 68-nation strong Global Coalition to Counter ISIS and one of the founding countries of the Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Collation.
PM Modi calls off visit to Ankara after Turkey supports Pakistan on Kashmir
The government has decided to call off a proposed visit by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Turkey's capital Ankara.
This comes as part of a number of measures showing the Indian government's displeasure over Turkish President Recip Tayyip Erdogan’s speech at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) last month where he criticised India's move to abrogate Article 370 of the constitution that provided special status to Jammu and Kashmir.
Supporting Pakistan, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had said that it is imperative to solve the problem through "dialogue on the basis of justice, equity, and not through collision."
Erdogan also said the stability and prosperity of South Asia cannot be separated from the Kashmir issue.
Responding to Turkey's statements on Kashmir at the UNGA, MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said that India does not regret the Turkish president's statements onwards on a subject which is internal to India. The ministry also called upon Turkey to get a briefing of the facts on the Kashmir issue.