ISLAMABAD/KARACHI: Pakistan’s information minister said on Sunday that the crown princes of Saudi Arabia and the UAE played a “commendable” role in helping to defuse recent tensions on the subcontinent.
Hostilities broke out between India and Pakistan last month, when more than 40 Indian troops died in a suicide attack.
A Pakistan-based militant group claimed responsibility, prompting a furious India to launch an airstrike. Pakistan retaliated by launching its own incursion that ended with an Indian fighter jet being downed and its pilot being captured.
The weeks-long standoff was regarded as the worst in decades between the two countries.
Pakistan’s Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry thanked the Kingdom’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the UAE’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed for their “commendable” interventions.
“Saudi Arabia, the UAE and other Muslim countries have been a great help,” Chaudhry told Arab News when asked about the role of the Arab world in de-escalating the crisis.
He also welcomed the strongly worded resolution adopted by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on the disputed Kashmir region.
India and Pakistan have fought two wars over the territory, which they both claim in full but administer in part.
“From the recent OIC resolutions asking for a Kashmir resolution and condemning India ... it is evident that the Arab world cares about its relations with Pakistan. We are bonded by religion and have a very close economic and strategic relationship … every crisis actually strengthens this relationship,” he added.
But some analysts said Pakistan had expected a better response from Muslim states, especially the Arab world.
“We don’t deny the importance of India for the Arab world due to its big market for Arab investors,” former ambassador Shahid M. Amin told Arab News.
“However in a situation when Pakistan’s policy is that of restraint against India’s policy of escalation we were expecting that the response of the Arab world should have been more visible.”
Since taking office in 2014, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has sought to use India’s fast-growing economy to attract more investment from Islamic nations, particularly Saudi Arabia.
Prof. Dr. Talat A. Wizarat, an international relations expert, said countries should come forward when there was the threat of nuclear war.
“We condemned (the suicide attack in Kashmir’s) Pulwama as an act of terrorism,” he told Arab News.
“We are ready to take action against all elements who are involved in terrorism. We released the Indian pilot. In this situation, we were expecting more visible support.”
But analyst Qamar Cheema said Pakistan should not further burden Arab states as it was already receiving economic aid from them.
Last year, Saudi Arabia offered Pakistan a $6 billion bailout package, and the UAE provided a similar-sized package.
During a visit by the Saudi crown prince to Pakistan in February, the two countries signed agreements worth $21 billion.