The military ties among Pakistan and United Arab Emirates (UAE) are useful over a long span of time. UAE has the most advanced Arab military and defense sector and Pakistan is playing its strategic role in this regard. A number of security interests indicate the vital importance of the relationship for both sides.
The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), a group of seven countries including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman while Yemen was recently added is the world’s largest importer of arms. In an era of low or average oil prices, its members are also looking for cheaper alternatives. Over the past two years, the Qataris have really turned their backs towards the West and looked toward the East, as all the Gulf countries are doing the same for the promotion of their trade and economic relations among the Muslim brethren.
Qatar in particular is working closely with Pakistan and Turkey in this field and the three countries are in the early stages of talks aimed at joint production of new defense systems. Qatar has also expressed interest in the fifth generation JF-17 fighter jet which Pakistan developed with China.
Pakistan provides training to GCC armed forces and thousands serve in Gulf uniforms in most of the GCC’s militaries, including entire battalions of Pakistanis in the Saudi Arabia military. For Pakistan, the expansion of the export-orientated aspects of its defense industry is an important part of its economic growth, with the government setting a target of expanding the trade to US$1 billion (Dh3.67billion) in the next two years.
Pakistan sees the GCC as a key market for its military ties expansion. The Pakistan Ordnance Factory recently opened an office in Dubai, which covers the entire Middle East. During Army Chief of Pakistan General Qamar Javed Bajwa’s talks in Doha earlier this month, the Pakistani military said it agreed to provide troops to help Qatar secure the 2022 World Cup. Qatar’s armed forces are too small, and also do not have the counter-terrorism and infrastructure security capacity that is crucial for any country hosting the world’s largest sporting event.
While the Pakistani troops may not provide the same quality service as western private contractors, they are cheaper and never overcharge the Qataris. All the GCC countries are looking towards China, and Pakistan is a great gateway. At the same time, Pakistan is also looking to increase economic and political ties with Iran, however, to pursue shared interests and to maintain its policy of balancing Riyadh and its rival Tehran.
Bilateral relations between the United Arab Emirates and Pakistan have acquired new dimensions at defense levels emerging into trust-worthy strategic partnership and are still continuing. Apart from trade and economic relations, Pakistan UAE military ties are time-tested. The Pakistani military has a historic role in helping to train and equip the UAE military, such as training fighter pilots of the UAE air force and other defense related equipment and technology acquisitions.
Apart from exchange of delegates at official and unofficial level, military conducts joint exercises to strengthen their capabilities. High level military delegates from both sides visit time to time to boost their military associations.
Recently the Army Chief of Pakistan Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa visited UAE to discuss military ties between both the countries. Chief of the Army Staff, Qamar Javed Bajwa met United Arab Emirates’ Vice-President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai Shaikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum at the Zabeel Palace in Dubai and discussed relations between Pakistan and UAE and a number of issues pertaining to the military and the current situation in the region.
The Army Chief praised the development witnessed by the UAE in different fields. The Pakistan Army Chief’s visit to the UAE was very critical for the relations between Pakistan and the UAE and many defense analysts said that the Pakistan Army Chief’s visit is to counter the Indian influence on Middle East.
Pakistanis had been witnessing some critical issues relating to the visa of Arab countries not only ordinary visitors but also diplomatic officials think that General Bajwa’s visit would help reduce stress and anxiety among Pakistan, UAE and Arab countries. It is observed that many critics and adversaries are adamant to prove that Pakistan-UAE ties are no more fostering. Earlier when in Afghanistan, attack on UAE consulate was carried out in January, 2017 Afghanistan blamed Pakistan for this suicide attack and viewed that UAE should rethink about its relations with Pakistan. It was quite noticeable that Afghan Taliban took responsibility for this attack. Such accusations proved wrong and no links of Pakistan’s involvement was found.
Now after General Bajwa’s visit to UAE some negative trends on social media are also gaining attention just to malign relations between both the states. Recently, Abu Dhabi Fund for Development funded the UAE-Pakistan Friendship Road, linking North and South Waziristan. The assistance from UAE is in return nurtured with Pakistan’s commitment to relationship which particularly has enhanced in last few years. Those who are trying their energies for spoiling both countries connections must keep in mind that they will not be able to succeed as mature leadership understand their duties and greater defense alliance between them.
Army Chief meets UAE PM in Dubai, discusses strategic relations. General Bajwa praised the development of the Gulf country in all sectors, including defense.
Moreover recently India and the UAE also have discussed measures to deepen cooperation in a range of areas including defense, security, terrorism and trade as the two countries held the second round of their strategic dialogue in Abu Dhabi. During the talks, the two delegations expressed satisfaction at the ‘great progress’ achieved in the bilateral relationship. The two sides discussed defense, investment, security, terrorism, consular matters, and energy and technology cooperation along with regional and other global issues of mutual interest. The UAE has raised its investment profile in India, and cooperation has increased on security issues.
Pakistan need not fear of India’s growing defense relation with UAE as Pakistan has already has fraternal relation and is fully prepared to further defense relation.