By Haider Abbas
The immediate fallout of the normalisation of ties between United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Israel, since August 14, 2020, is to be felt on Pakistan, as it is widely speculated that soon Pakistan expats would be dispatched back home from UAE as well as from Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), as there is a continuous and renewed pressure on Pakistan from both UAE and KSA to accept Israel, which Pakistan along with Iran and may be quite unlikely. Pakistan PM Imran Khan has also acknowledged this in his recent interview.
UAE, since the last three months is rapidly getting into the Israel mould. By the first week of September 2020, the hospitality and hotels sector in Dubai was gearing with ‘Kosher’-the Israeli food, to meet to the influx of Israeli visitors, ten days later, Israeli models were ‘pyjama and Israeli flag’ shooting in UAE. By the first of October UAE announced a change in policy to grant citizenship to expats and on October 19, 2020, the first commercial flight from UAE landed in Israel.
The first week of November 2020, saw UAE change in its law and allowed ‘live-in’ relationship and ‘loosened’ the alcohol restrictions. While UAE sought F-35 stealth fighters from US, which has now been notified to US Congress on November 11, 2020-Israel opposed it diehard, and also strangely, an Israeli newspaper IsraelHayom on November 15, 2020 1 reported that two Israeli citizens were arrested in Dubai for ‘photographing’, towards which now it says ‘page not found’, was related by AA.Com.Tr 2 the same day, but the shaky Dubai establishment rubbished the news as fake. UAE initiative towards ‘formalisation’ had no doubt come after a ‘green-signal’ from KSA and KSA position towards Israel is now also all too visible, and it is only a matter a time when such an announcement arrives. May be after January 21, 2021 when either US president Donald Trump continues or Joseph Biden takes over.
UAE stand for Pakistan is also now hardening, to such an extent, that Pakistan foreign ministry and foreign office, were all taken unawares as UAE went ahead to announce a ban on Pakistan citizens into UAE, due to the spread of COVID-19 on November 18, 2020. ‘In a statement, (Pakistan) Foreign Office Spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhry said that officials were in contact with the UAE authorities concerned to seek official confirmation of the measures’ reported TheTribune.Com.Pk 3 . There have been 11 countries banned alongside namely Turkey, Iran, Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Somalia, Libya, Kenya and Afghanistan among others. But, there is a catch, as an underline policy can easily be accessed. UAE has banned such nations which do not recognise Israel. Or else, US and other European countries along with India which have been so badly marred by the outbreak of COVID-19, have all been given a ‘relaxation’!
The surge of Corona-Virus positive patients in the wake of the ‘incoming wave’ is making nations toil. Pakistan population is more than 200 million and its daily cases are 2843 according to Covid.gov.pk on November 21, 2020 4 and UAE population is about 10 million whereas its daily cases are 1269, informs Covid19.ncema.gov.ae/en, going by that yardstick should Pakistan also ban UAE citizens in reciprocation? Whereas, Israel which also has more or less the same population size as that of UAE has been reported to be treating one of the world highest rates of Corona-Virus patients on a per capita basis, highlighted Al Jazeera on September 23, 2020 6 . Can UAE mull the same for the citizens from Israel? Unthinkable. As for India, which sits pretty-well as per UAE norms, there is an average of around 50,000 daily reported cases of Corona-Virus positive patients.
UAE and Pakistan are now getting ‘quite uneasy’ and there are signs of ‘increased thaw’ as UAE, after its bonhomie with Israel, has gone ahead with installing an ‘intelligence-base’ at Socotra Island in Yemen, which is primarily to ‘keep-an-eye’ on Gwadar Port in Balochistan, Pakistan, from where China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is to make its gateway to let the Chinese exports reach the Mediterranean countries, Europe and US, which US wants to block with the help of Israel while it does with China the same in straits of Malacca.
India, on its part has already signaled to all the Gulf-states that China is a temporary friend, referred TheHinduBusinessLine on September 8, 2020 7 which actually meant that now Pakistan is to advise China on Gulf-affairs, and therefore India, Israel and US are now to be the friends with Gulf-nations, where India is ready to provide UAE and others with its mammoth workforce based on a whole army of software engineers/technical bankers etc coupled with Israel ready to provide security wherewithal which would be a ‘bye-bye’ to Pakistan, as UAE and its guiding force i.e. KSA are both to ‘condition’ their relations with Israel at the cost of Pakistan.
The Israel ‘IsrAir flight’ from Tel Aviv to India, had recently made a detour over Mecca, on November 10, 2020, informs TimesofIsrael 8 , something unprecedented in the last 72 years, owing to bad-weather, as if such an atmospheric-condition had never happened before! US president Trump if he retains the seat or if Biden makes to it, are both likely to bludgeon KSA, the leader of the ring, to open embassy of Israel, all the very soon. Middle-East, after August 14, 2020, is therefore never to be the same again.
The writer is a former State Information Commissioner. He is a media analyst and writes on international politics.