Pakistan-UAE Bilateral Relations: Infinite Voyage

Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan

Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) enjoy cordial and harmonious relations marked by mutual respect for each another. Extremely close and fraternal relations, founded on deep-rooted cultural affinities, shared faith and traditions, as also geographic proximity and identity of interests have further strengthened the bilateral relations between the two countries.

UAE supported Pakistan in its times of crises to gain political as well as economic stability. UAE also extended its expertise and resources to cape Pakistan’s looming power deficit. On its part, Pakistan was the first country to accord formal recognition to UAE on its achieving independence while bilateral relations and mutually beneficial cooperation have progressed steadily ever since. Bilateral relations started date back to the UAE’s formation in 1971, and have since evolved into wide-ranging cooperation, particularly in economic field. The Magnificent 7 UAE Expo and 10th UAE-Pakistan Joint Ministerial Commission (JMC) further strengthened economic ties between the two countries. Pakistan supported UAE to establish its own first airline Emirates, while the air force, Navy, Army, banking sector, media establishments and many more institution were supported while in its infancy

UAE being strategic partner of Pakistan sent a strong message to NATO and the West on their air strikes in Pakistan’s mountainous check posts in 2011. UAE also demanded apology from the NATO with the promise not to repeat it again in the future. UAE also appreciated Pakistan role in the war against terror as front line state.

UAE reassured the supply of humanitarian assistance to the government and people of Pakistan in the post-flood period which still continues. Most recently, UAE government airlifted Malala Yousufzai and saved her life.

UAE played an important role in the formation of Friends of Democratic Pakistan (FoDP). Initially, UAE pledged $ 300 million. UAE arranged many meetings at ministerial levels in its country. It also hosted many public-private conferences to extend its full support to Pakistan. Time and again, UAE government reaffirmed its support to Pakistan to overcome its macro-economic difficulties.

According to different reports of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce & Industry,
Investment Board and State Bank of Pakistan, UAE is one of the largest economic and trading partners and major donor of economic assistance to Pakistan. A large number of Pakistani expatriates are working in UAE and they have contributed significantly to the promotion of bilateral understanding and to the economy of Pakistan through their record home remittances during 2011-2012 i.e. US$2.85 billion. Trade between the two countries is on the rise as trade volume which was $1.4 billion in 1999-2000 increased to $2.8 billion in 2004-2005 and reached to $5 billion in 2007. According to latest figures of Dubai Chamber of Commerce (2012), it has now crossed US$7.6 billion in 2010-2011. In this connection, Government of Pakistan highly appreciated the role of UAE investors in promoting Pakistan’s economy.

More than 27 companies are operating in various sectors in Pakistan and playing their positive part in the macro-economy. Etisalat, Warid, Wateen, Bank Al Falah, Dubai Islamic Bank, Emirates Global Islamic Bank, Al-Ghurair Giga, Emaar etc. have made more than $21 billion investments in Pakistan’s telecom, banking and construction & real estate industries respectively. UAE also invested in the fields of airlines, financial business, hotels and agro-based industries. Many Pakistani investors have also invested in UAE, particularly in real estate and construction sectors, which shows that business to business relations between the two countries are increasing between both countries.

According to the data of SBP and Board of Investment (BOI), the UAE is the 2nd biggest investors in Pakistan. Pakistan offers extensive opportunities for investment in infrastructure development, electricity generation, water desalination etc.

Imports-Exports
($ million)
Year/ Period Imports Exports Change %
1999-2000 907,588 492,710
2000-01 1,336,902 625,905
2001-02 1,353,940 727,474
2002-03 1,509,635 1,039,168 42.5 & 11.50
2003-04 942,913 1,708,688 13.19 & 9.26
2004-05 1,095,485 1,703,131 16.18 & 10.33
2005-06 3,405,563 1,312,757 19.83 & 99.96
2006-07 2,769,091 1,385,082 5.51 & 18.69
2007-08 3,413,527 2,070,953 49.52 & 23.27
2008-09 3,159,742 1,469,990 1,469 & 990
Source: SBP & BOI

Country Preferred areas of investments
UAE Energy, construction, telecommunication, oil and gas exploration, insurance, banking, aviation, food packaging, hotels and agricultural equipment
Preferred Commodities
Exports Petroleum, petrochemical products, iron ore, scrap-plastics, chemical products, non-ferrous metals-machines, spare parts of cars, ships and boats.
Imports Nylon textiles, silk and wool, rice, cotton, crochet-dye, textile-treatment requirements of fabrics and clothes, towels, marble and surgical instruments
Source: Dubai Chamber of Commerce

Humanitarian assistance has been one of the salient features of UAE foreign policy since 1971. The leaders of UAE always stood first to lessen the sufferings of the people affected in times of national crisis caused by different natural calamities by sending teams and relief goods in the country. According to UAE Foreign Aid Report 2010 out of a total Dh 310.7m disbursed to Pakistan in 2010, Dh 258.4m was spent on humanitarian assistance, with the largest tranche Dh 211.4m coming from the UAE Government.”

UAE had played an important role in the rehabilitation of flood affected during 2010-2011in the different parts of Pakistan. The government of Pakistan highly appreciated its active role of UAE in the ongoing public welfare projects in the country. UAE played remarkable work in 2005 when the country was deadly struck by devastating earthquake. It was one of the first countries to extend humanitarian assistance to Pakistan. Teams from UAE Military Relief Force, charitable foundations and organisations played dutiful role in the rescue, distribution of supplies and rehabilitation of victims of earthquake and floods through lengthy operations carried out by Chinooks helicopters in the most flood affected regions of Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochitsan Provinces. It is hoped that UAE Red Crescent Society office in Pakistan would help in further expanding the human welfare works.

UAE Project to Assist Pakistan

Upon the directives of H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan the President of UAE, the UAE project to assist Pakistan was launched in January 2011. UAE allocated US$100 million for the reconstruction of infrastructure damaged by devastating floods and natural calamities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, Bajaur and South Waziristan districts of the tribal belt. It was started to provide better life to the suffering people by creating jobs. The project focuses education, public health, roads, bridges and supply of water treatment plants and networks. More than 80 percent of the work has now been completed.

Mr. Abdullah Al Ghafli, head of the Project, states that the projects are progressing on schedule and work has already covered 98 per cent of 51 educational projects, and 85 per cent of 64 water-related projects. Khalifa City, including 210 houses, two separate schools for boys and girls, a clinic and a mosque, at an estimated cost of Dh12 million has been completed.

Under this project forty schools have been completed and handed over to local authorities. It would help thousands of children back to schools in the province. It is expected that more than 21,000 boys and girls would benefit from it.

Under the preview of UAE projects to assist Pakistan the Khalifa Bin Zayed Bridge, was built in the Swat region to link a large number of cities and villages on the two banks of the Swat River. It is 330 metres long, 10 metres wide and 6 meters high. It accommodates more than 5000 vehicles a day will serve 70000 people in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province north-west of Pakistan.
In December 2011, UAE and Pakistan had signed an agreement to implement a number of healthcare projects in Pakistan. The agreement called for a number of projects in support of the healthcare sector in Pakistan, including construction, refurbishment and maintenance of 7 hospitals and clinics, that included two model hospitals; the Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan Hospital and the Shaikha Fatima bint Mubarak Hospital, to be built in Khaibar Province at a total cost of AED 63 million.

Al Ghafli said that the Shaikha Fatima hospital will primarily be dedicated to treat women, children and the elderly through provision of modern health care facilities to the people of the region who suffer from higher mortality rate among women and children due to the lack of adequate healthcare infrastructure.

Most recently it announced the completion of vaccination campaign in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan in which 20,000 children were vaccinated against measles and polio. During the said campaign five health centres were established in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and around 60 doctors and nurses worked round the clock to administer vaccine to children and school students who came in great number.

Abdulla Al Ghafli the Director of the “UAE project to assist Pakistan” also initiated a noble progamme on the eve of holy month of Ramadan. A consignment of 160 tons of flour bags were transported to KPK, and distributed among the poor families of internally displaced persons in North Wazirstan and South Wazirstan. More than twenty thousand poor families were benefited from the said project.

Iftar programmes

On the directives of the His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the President of UAE several institutions and charity organizations including the Red Crescent in collaboration of the Embassy of UAE, Islamabad hosted series of iftar programmes in the holy month of Ramadan in different place in the country at large scale.

It has been one of the highlights of annual programme in the country of the UAE charity organizations and the Embassy. It served the underprivileged segments of the society in different places in Pakistan and enabled them to rejoice with the true spirits of the holy month of Ramadan. Supply of foodstuff, canned meals, and distribution of fresh dates, alms and clothes to orphans children and vulnerable strata were distributed.

The UAE Ambassador in Islamabad Abdulla Al Basha Al Noauimi distributed a large quantity of fresh and delicious dates among the needy and poor families in the country. At least, 50,000 tons of dates were distributed across the country as one of the integral part of its ongoing iftar programmes. It was sent by UAE Red Crescent. A delegation from Khalifa Charity Foundation specially came to Pakistan for the distribution of 20 tons of dates and thousands of flour bags in some districts of Southern Punjab and Balochistan.

The iftar programmes were held in orphanages, welfare homes, schools, community centers, special persons, elderly and the last but not the least, deserving people. The UAE organizations showed great care to patients and pre-medical staff in ploy clinic, PIMS Islamabad, holy family and district hospital Rawalpindi.

Concluding Remarks

United Arab Emirates has achieved high standards in all sectors of economy and production. It has liberalized its economy to attract more and more investors. It provides all possible facilities to businessmen due to which it has become hub of FDIs in the region and as well as world.

Visionary leadership and its balanced and dynamic foreign policy is the driving force of socio-economic transformation. Its 3Ds foreign policy has been instrumental to achieve national consensus, and avoid political divide in the region. Secrete of the UAE social tolerance, peace and co-existence rests on its interfaith harmony policy.

UAE is a dynamic country which has tolerant society. In the times of regional widening and international division on the basis of faith and religion, UAE provides an ideal platform for achieving sustainable interfaith harmony. It stands beacon of light in the siege of darkness, of prejudices, narrow-mindedness, hatred, and cleansing.

One Comment

  1. Hafeez Sagar

    The project Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan City for Disabled Persons is a unique project that UAE has inaugurated in Afghanistan. As Afghanistan is going through critical conditions and weak economical circumstances, this project is a blessing for the natives.

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