Tawqeer Hussain | New Delhi
The overlapping visits of the foreign ministers of India and Pakistan to the United Arab Emirates on Sunday has sparked speculation of a possible meeting between the two Foreign Ministers to mend the ties.
On Saturday, hours after Pakistan announced the visit of their foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi to the gulf nation, the Indian External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson tweets the visit of Indian counterpart to the UAE.
“At the invitation of his counterpart, EAM DrSJaishankar will be visiting Abu Dhabi on 18th April 2021. His discussions will focus on economic cooperation and community welfare,” Arindam Bagchi, spokesperson, ministry of external affairs, said in a tweet.
At the invitation of his counterpart, EAM @DrSJaishankar will be visiting Abu Dhabi on 18th April 2021. His discussions will focus on economic cooperation and community welfare.
— Arindam Bagchi (@MEAIndia) April 17, 2021
The visit becomes important against the backdrop of the statement from the UAE’s ambassador to the US Yousef Al Otaiba, who said that his country played a role “in bringing Kashmir escalation down and created a ceasefire, hopefully ultimately leading to restoring diplomats and getting the relationship back to a healthy level”.
“They (India and Pakistan) might not sort of becoming best friends but at least we want to get it to a level where it is functional, where it is operational, where they are speaking to each other,” Al Otaiba said during a virtual discussion with Stanford’s University’s Hoover Institution.
The visits by the two ministers to the UAE is seen as crucial given that both countries announced the implementation of the 2003 ceasefire agreement in February.
Earlier on April 15, Reuters quoting unnamed sources, reported that ‘the top intelligence officers from India and Pakistan held secret talks in Dubai in January in a new effort to calm military tension over the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir’.
“Officials from India’s Research and Analysis Wing, the external spy agency, and Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence travelled to Dubai for a meeting facilitated by the United Arab Emirates government” the report added.
Meanwhile, the Indian External affairs ministry has not issued any formal statement in this regard. Sources in the Indian Govt and the reports from the Pakistani media did not confirm any scheduled meetings between the two foreign ministers in UAE.
Ties between the nuclear-armed rivals have been on ice since a suicide bombing of an Indian military convoy in Kashmir in 2019, which was followed by India’s surgical strike on the ‘terror launchpads’ inside Pakistan.
The ties received another blow when the Indian Government revoked the special status of the Jammu and Kashmir in 2019 and reduced it into the two Union Territories of Jammu Kashmir and Ladakh. In response, Pakistan downgraded diplomatic ties with India.