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Why Pakistan calling UAE’s investment in Jammu & Kashmir a ‘complete betrayal’?

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Jammu and Kashmir has been a bone of contention for India and Pakistan since 1947. We have fought 3 wars, one short war in Kargil, and countless skirmishes across the LOC. Pakistan wanted to snatch the Kashmir by hook or crook, and thus once it realized that it cant defeat India militarily, it started harboring Islamic terrorism and initiated its ‘K2’ plan, which was nothing but to destabilized Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab.

However, the situation has been changed and India has been able to mitigate the impact of Pakistan’s sponsored terrorism. Past abrogation of Article 370, Indian government has started many initiatives to develop Jammu and Kashmir. Contrary to the propaganda that by taking away Kashmir’s autonomy, the Indian government is trying to change the ethnic makeup of the region, Jammu and Kashmir is witnessing a barrage of development projects and investment.

UAE is investing heavily in Jammu and Kashmir

The UAE has emerged as a major partner in Jammu and Kashmir’s development. In the past few months, the Union Territory has signed a slew of Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) with Abu Dhabi to build strong business relations.

In October 2021, the first MoU was signed between the two governments to develop real estate, industrial parks, super-specialty hospitals among others. In December 2022, the J&K administration signed an MoU with University College Birmingham (UCB) Dubai to explore potential progression opportunities through institutional partnerships with vocational colleges and universities in Kashmir.

The UCB would set up an office in J&K to tie up with the local educational institutions, facilitating academic exchange programs while enabling students to secure admissions at reduced fees in the Middle East.

On January 5, 2022, the Union Territory signed a historic agreement with Dubai-based LuLu Group to set up a food processing & logistics hub in Srinagar. The agreement was aimed at further expanding Jammu & Kashmir-Dubai collaboration. The MoU with the LuLu Group would help the products from J&K to reach shoppers at 190 LuLu Hypermarkets across the Gulf countries and Egypt.

Why UAE’s investment is important for India?

The UAE making an entry into Jammu and Kashmir for the first time in the past 70 years is also a recognition of New Delhi’s policy to scrap Article 370 that gave special powers to the erstwhile state.

The UAE venturing into Jammu and Kashmir is a signal to Pakistan which has been harping on the propaganda about Kashmir being a problem that needs to be settled and Muslim countries should support its argument. At the same time, the UAE has sent a strong message to the OIC that it should focus on building strong relations with India rather than getting swayed by the narrative built by Pakistan.

Incidentally, the UAE was one of the first countries that had responded favorably to India’s decision to scrap Article 370 of the Constitution in 2019.

UAE’s ambassador to India, Dr. Ahmed Abdul Rahman Al Banna, said that from his understanding, the reorganization of the state was not a unique incident in the history of independent India and that it was mainly aimed at reducing regional disparity and improving efficiency.

Several experts have termed it a masterstroke on the diplomatic as well as the political front. The UAE investment in J&K is also a validation of OIC’s backing for the Indian government’s Kashmir policy. It is a major setback for Pakistan as the neighboring country has been mobilizing the OIC on the Kashmir issue.

Pakistan is in utter shock with UAE’s increasing investment in J&K

Kashmiri rights campaigner Ershad Mehmood, executive director at the Centre for Peace, Development and Reforms, based in Islamabad, told Middle East Eye: “I am in absolute shock. This is a complete betrayal of the people of Indian-occupied Kashmir and their struggle.

“They shouldn’t have done this. This completely strengthens India’s stance, it recognises Kashmir as Indian territory and completely whitewashes our struggle,” he said. “The UAE has just sent a message to the people of Kashmir that it doesn’t care about their rights and aspirations.”

Another campaigner, Altaf Hussain, who manages the Kashmir Institute of International Relations, said that “the message India is trying to convey to the Kashmiris is that nobody is with you – even the UAE is investing with us. They want to project this as a negative impact on the Kashmiri struggle”.

Hussain emphasized that there was no peace in Jammu and Kashmir and that India “has on its hands a long list of human rights violations”. “By allowing unchecked migration into Kashmir, the Indian government wants to change the ethnic makeup, in case there is a plebiscite in the future. The Kashmiri vote for independence from India would be greatly weakened,” said Hussain.

Emirati investment in Indian-controlled Kashmir is an example of Indian soft power and a warning to the Arab world, said Fahim Kayani of Kashmir Campaign UK.

“India has made big inroads in Gulf nations… so now if the UAE has shown interest in investment in Kashmir it’s because of the so-called soft power of India in the Arab world,” Kayani told MEE.

“This is a big issue not just for Muslims but for humanity, as India is ruled by an ideology that does not see non-Hindus as equals. Better the Arab world understands it sooner,” he said.

UAE is paying no heed to Pakistan’s objections

It was unbelievable for many people that UAE refused to condemn the decision of abrogation of article 370. UAE indeed conferred their highest civilian award on Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The UAE is fully aware that Pakistan would be unhappy with its posturing towards India, but the UAE is setting a new trend of leading the way and wants to become a middle regional power. It has calculated the reputational damage this will cause in the Muslim bloc and with Pakistan, but it reckons the damage will probably be minor.

The UAE’s decision to become the first foreign investor in the region has been met with only a muted response from Pakistan, Pakistani-administered Kashmir and the broader Muslim bloc. This is only bolstered it confidence, and that can be seen in its new-found friendship with the India.

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