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Photo Source: Dawn

Pakistan Reader# 698, 28 November 2023

Pakistan’s Kakar-led economic collaboration with UAE raises constitutional questions



UAE formalised their commitment to a robust economic partnership through the signing of memorandums of understanding (MoUs)

Dhriti Mukherjee

In focus
Pakistan’s Kakar-led economic collaboration with UAE raises constitutional questions

On 27 November, Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) formalised their commitment to a robust economic partnership through the signing of memorandums of understanding (MoUs). These agreements, spanning diverse sectors and investment cooperation, are set to unlock “multi-billion dollars” in investments from the UAE into Pakistan, marking a historic milestone in their economic relations. The MoUs were signed during Pakistan’s Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar’s weeklong trip to the Middle East. Kakar, who left Pakistan on 26 November, was welcomed by UAE’s Minister of Justice and Pakistani diplomatic officials in Abu Dhabi. He is scheduled to visit Kuwait, following which he will attend the COP-28 summit in Dubai.
 
An outline of the economically strategic MoUs
Pakistan’s Foreign Office (FO) spokesperson said that the engagement between Pakistan and the UAE would “provide an opportunity to advance bilateral ties in all spheres” crucial to economic development. Some of the areas covered by the MoUs include energy, port operations, wastewater treatment, food security, logistics, minerals, and banking and financial services. This comprehensive agreement, as per Pakistan’s Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), “will help realise various initiatives envisioned under the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC).” Additionally, Kakar engaged in high-level discussions with UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. The signing ceremony of the MoUs, held in Abu Dhabi, symbolised the dedication of both nations to fostering a new era of economic cooperation, leveraging each other’s strengths in key sectors.
 
Inferences to historic relations between Pakistan and UAE
During the trip, the relations between the two countries received appreciation from Pakistan. The FO stated that the “warm and long-standing fraternal ties” between the two countries have “stood multiple tests of time.” Kakar voiced similar views after the MoUs were signed, describing it as a “historic event that will usher in a new era of Pak-UAE economic partnership.” He went on to thank UAE’s continued economic support to Pakistan, as the former houses 1.8 million Pakistanis that are “contributing to the progress, prosperity, and economic development of the two brotherly countries.”
 
Constitutional questions on the potential violation of Pakistan’s election laws
Kakar’s diplomatic stride raised constitutional concerns in Pakistan, as there is a possibility that the visit violated election laws. Section 230(2)(d) of the Elections Act 2017 outlines that the caretaker Government shall not “enter into major international negotiation with any foreign country or international agency or sign or ratify any international binding instrument except in an exceptional case.” Further, as per Section 230(1) of the same Act, the caretaker government is restricted to only tending to the daily affairs of the government and holding lawful elections. These claims have been defended by a few government officials, with one claiming that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) issued a notice in August 2023 which allows the caretaker government to “take actions of decisions regarding existing bilateral or multilateral agreements or the projects already initiated” under several Acts.

Global and Regional Diplomacy: Addressing Palestine and Climate Change
Beyond bilateral economic discussions, the leaders addressed pressing global and regional issues. Kakar expressed Pakistan's support for a just and durable solution to the Palestinian question, aligning with international law and relevant United Nations resolutions. Additionally, Kakar expressed full support from Pakistan to the UAE’s presidency of the COP-28 summit, emphasising its significance in achieving meaningful progress towards climate action.
 
References
Pakistan, UAE sign ‘historic’ MoUs worth ‘multi-billion dollars,” Dawn, 27 November 2023;
Sardar Sikander Shaheen, “Caretaker PM’s visit to UAE against electoral laws?” Business Recorder, 27 November 2023;
PM Kakar embarks on a week-long trip to Middle East,” Dawn, 27 November 2023

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