Saudi, UAE crown princes played ‘commendable’ role in India crisis: Pakistan

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman at the Presidential Palace in Islamabad on February 18, 2019. (Supplied photo)
Updated 03 March 2019
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Saudi, UAE crown princes played ‘commendable’ role in India crisis: Pakistan

  • Hostilities between India and Pakistan flared last month when more than 40 Indian troops died in a suicide attack
  • Both sides launched airstrikes on each other's territory and one Indian fighter jet was shot down

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.


Indian minister steps up calls to deport illegal immigrants

Updated 55 min 19 sec ago
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Indian minister steps up calls to deport illegal immigrants

  • National Register of Citizenship will be extended across country, says Amit Shah

NEW DELHI: New Delhi will deport all illegal immigrants found in the country, Indian Home Minister Amit Shah told Parliament on Wednesday.

The warning signaled a heightening of a campaign that some critics say is “aimed at alienating the Muslim minority.”

The minister’s statement comes as the state of Assam is set to release its final list of the National Register of Citizenship (NRC), an exercise to identify illegal migrants from neighboring Bangladesh. The Supreme Court demanded that the NRC should submit its report at the end of this month.

Of the state’s 31 million residents, almost 4 million were missing from the NRC’s report last year. Most were poor Muslims. Illegal immigration was a core election issue for the ruling right-wing party Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP)

“The government will identify illegal immigrants living in every inch of the country’s soil and will deport them in line with international law,” said Shah.

He added that the NRC would be extended across the country. 

Shah, a Hindu hard-liner and the second most powerful figure in the Narendra Modi government, has been belligerently opposed to illegal Muslim immigrants, who he recently described as “termites.”

Critics have questioned the need for the NRC throughout the country.

The BJP does not want to clarify what it truly means because that is part of their politics, but the opposition leaders are also silent.

Hilal Ahmad, Academic

“This is a witch hunt of the minority under the false concern of illegal immigration,” said SubHajjit Naskar of Jadavpur University.

“The way the NRC is being implemented in Assam is damaging for our secular and democratic values.”

Naskar told Arab News: “The register is part of the broader majoritarian agenda to make India a Hindu state where minority Muslims will be treated as second class citizens.” 

Dr. Hilal Ahmad, associate professor at the Center for the Study of Developing Societies, said: “The substantial part of Shah’s statement is that NRC is not entirely about Muslims. It also claims that it’s an institutional process with legal support and it’s not at all concerned with Muslims.”

Ahmad added: “The BJP does not want to clarify what it truly means because that is part of their politics, but the opposition leaders are also silent. They are also trying to consolidate the impression that the NRC is anti-Muslim.”

Suhas Chakma, director of the Rights and Risks Analysis Group, said that “Shah’s plans are not practical.”

“How you are going to identify illegal migrants? Have you spoken to Bangladesh about the deportation? What the BJP government is trying to do is not implementable. It is a recipe for chaos,” said Chakma.

Sabber Ahmad, from the Rohingya Human Rights Initiative, a New Delhi-based group serving the persecuted minority community from Myanmar, said the “Indian government’s stance on illegal migrants creates panic among the small Rohingya community living here.”

“I fled Myanmar in 2012 and India gave me a new lease of life. New Dehli should show some humanity in dealing with people like us,” Ahmad told Arab News.

“India has a history of sheltering persecuted minorities from around the world. They must continue this proud tradition,” Ahmad added.