Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said on Sunday that this year would make the 50th anniversary of the “diplomatic relations and exemplary friendship” between Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates.
Qureshi was addressing a press conference in Dubai on the second day of his three-day trip to the UAE amid reports that the UAE has been mediating between India and Pakistan to help the nuclear-armed rivals forge a “healthy and functional” relationship.
During the visit, the foreign minister is scheduled to meet his counterpart Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, other UAE dignitaries and also meet with members of the Pakistani diaspora and interact with local and international media.
“This is a very important year for Pakistan-UAE relations,” said the foreign minister, adding that this year marked the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
Qureshi said that Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan had laid down the basis for relations and “warmth and love” between the UAE and Pakistan and the two countries were now trying to “move it forward on both sides and there has been improvement in it”.
“I hope that tomorrow, I will have a meeting with the foreign minister and I see very bright signs of improvement in it.”
He also said that Pakistan attached great importance to its fraternal relations with the UAE, according to Radio Pakistan.
It also quoted Qureshi as saying that there was no meeting scheduled with the Indian foreign minister during his visit to the UAE and the only purpose of the visit was to further strengthen the existing ties between the two countries.
Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar visited the emirate of Abu Dhabi on Sunday, a spokesman for New Delhi’s ministry of external affairs tweeted — a day after Qureshi landed on Saturday.
The Foreign Office said there was no scheduled meeting between the two ministers.
UAE’s Ambassador to Washington Yousef Al Otaiba had confirmed on Wednesday that the Gulf state was mediating between India and Pakistan to help the nuclear-armed rivals forge a “healthy and functional” relationship.
In a virtual discussion with Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, Otaiba said the UAE had 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 might not sort of become best friends but at least we want to get it to a level where it’s functional, where it’s operational, where they are speaking to each other,” the envoy said.
Pakistan Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai
The foreign minister said he had also visited the Pakistan Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai which is scheduled for October and was “very happy to see the way it is being prepared and the facilities they are making”.
He said on Twitter that it was a “landmark achievement” for the UAE and the entire region and Pakistan was “delighted” to be a part of it.
Qureshi said it was his wish and he was also engaged in planning to “organise a special event here in which our embassy will play its role and we will want to showcase the hidden treasure that is Pakistan” once the expo is launched in October.
He said it was his wish that the Pakistani professional community in the UAE such as doctors, bankers and others would be requested at the event so they could see and listen for themselves about Pakistan.
“They are undoubtedly ambassadors of Pakistan and they further try to make an effort to highlight Pakistan’s point of view and play their role.”
“While visiting Pakistan Pavilion at the expo, [the] foreign minister appreciated the role of Pakistani community in UAE and stressed that Pakistan’s participation at the expo is an example of the enhancing Pakistan-UAE economic linkages,” said the FO in a statement.
“This symbolises decades of Pakistan-UAE fraternal & friendly relations,” it further said, adding that Pakistan’s participation in the event also showcased its “economic diplomacy initiative” and reinforced strong economic linkages between the two countries.
State-run media outlet Associated Press of Pakistan reported Qureshi as saying that the presence of the pavilion showed the enhanced economic ties and bilateral cooperation between the two countries in different sectors.
He also expressed pleasure over the role played by the large Pakistani diaspora in the progress and development of the UAE, it reported.
Conversation with Afghan FM
The foreign minister also received a call from his Afghan counterpart, Hanif Atmar, on Sunday according to a statement from the FO.
“During the call, the two foreign ministers discussed ways and means to strengthen bilateral relations and the latest developments in the Afghan peace process,” it said.
Qureshi highlighted “Pakistan’s abiding interest in a peaceful, secure and stable Afghanistan […] underscored Pakistan’s consistent policy to enhance bilateral relations and facilitate the Afghan peace process.”
He noted that Pakistan’s facilitative support had led to the US-Taliban peace agreement and the subsequent intra-Afghan negotiations, said the statement, and expressed the hope that “that Afghan parties would work constructively to achieve shared objective of a peaceful, stable and prosperous Afghanistan”.
“On the US announcement to withdraw forces, the foreign minister reiterated Pakistan’s consistent policy to support an orderly and responsible withdrawal of foreign troops. He hoped that withdrawal of foreign troops would coincide with the progress in the peace process.”
Qureshi also reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to deepen bilateral ties in all areas of mutual interest and with a view to “continuing close consultations”, extended an invite to the Afghan foreign minister to visit Pakistan after the meeting in Istanbul — which was accepted.
“Spoke to (Afghan) Foreign Minister Hanif Atmar on bilateral relations and [the] evolving Afghan peace process. We support reconciliation in Afghanistan and [look forward to] progress in peace process, in Istanbul,” Qureshi tweeted.
“I look forward to meeting FM Atmar at Istanbul Conference and to hosting him in Pakistan soon after to discuss a way forward post-conference,” he added.
With additional reporting by Naveed Siddiqui in Islamabad and input from AFP.