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Photo : PM Imran Khan driving the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, Dawn

3 January 2020, Friday

The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, on a hunting expedition in Pakistan also meets Imran Khan



Discusses bilateral relations and India's internal developments

PR Daily Brief | D. Suba Chandran

3 January 2020, Friday

What happened?
The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi met Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan in Islamabad on 3 January 2020. He was on a hunting expedition along with the Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces. 

The royal families of the Gulf visit Pakistan during December-January every year for hunting expeditions, especially the Houbara birds, that migrate to this part of the world from Central Asia.

What is the background?
According to a foreign ministry press release, on the eve of Prince's visit, "The UAE is Pakistan's largest trading partner in the Middle East and a major source of investments. The UAE is also among Pakistan's prime development partners in education, health and energy sectors. It hosts more than 1.6 million expatriate Pakistani community, which contributes remittances of around $4.5 billion annually to the GDP." The release also stated, "Frequent exchange of high-level visits between Pakistan and the UAE is reflective of the importance that the two countries attach to their fraternal ties. The visit illustrates the strength and substance of the Pakistan-UAE special relationship, based on commonalities of faith, cultural affinities, and a shared resolve to take mutual cooperation to a new level."

While the former is a fact in terms of economy and trade, the latter is more of rhetoric. The fact that the Prince was on a hunting expedition and also chose to have a meeting with the Prime Minister before leaving Pakistan would underline the more significant issues. It would explain what the Gulf countries mean for Pakistan, and how the former looks at the latter. The Prince was in Pakistan last January 2019, again on a hunting expedition.

According to a media report (Dawn), Imran Khan highlighted on "the lockdown in Indian occupied Kashmir and communication blackout, which has been continuing for over 150 days" and "India's discriminatory Citizenship Amendment Act and National Register of Citizens and their consequences not only for India's religious minorities but also for the regional peace and security." This has a regular feature of Pakistan's foreign policy push – in highlighting India's internal developments to visiting dignitaries from the Gulf and expecting them to do something on J&K. A similar statement could be seen when the foreign minister of Saudi Arabia visited Pakistan during December 2019.

For Islamabad, it should hurt to see the leading Gulf countries which matter to Pakistan politically and economically, keep quiet on India. The Gulf countries' silence on India is being heard loud and hear in Pakistan, which is worrying both Islamabad and Rawalpindi.

What is also surprising is the primary purpose for the visit of the crown prince of Abu Dhabi – the hunting of an endangered species. Despite opposition from the civil society and even judicial remarks against hunting Houbara, the royal families continue to visit Pakistan to engage in their hunting practices. Pakistan's foreign ministry facilitates these hunting expeditions.

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