Shalkh Mo­hammed bin Zayed to be the Chief Guest at In­dia's Repub­lic Day Pa­rade

India Strategic - - APPOINTMENTS - Ah­lan Wa Sahlan (Wel­come), Shaikh. In­dia re­gards you well.

NEW DELHI. Firm­ing up friend­ship with the United Arab Emi­rates ( UAE), In­dia has in­vited the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Com­man­der of the UAE armed forces, Shaikh Mo­hammed bin Zayed al Nahyan, to be the Chief Guest at the Repub­lic Day cer­e­monies on Jan­uary 26, 2017.

UAE has al­ways been a friend of In­dia, and that has been reaf­firmed again and again. But Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi’s visit to Abu Dhabi and Dubai last year, and the ex­tremely warm wel­come ex­tended to him, has taken the bi­lat­eral re­la­tions for­ward by many times. Mr Modi ex­udes ex­tra­or­di­nary warmth, and that is some­thing that en­deared him to the UAE lead­er­ship.

Shaikh Mo­hammed, a prag­matic, wise and lib­eral leader like his fa­ther, the late Shaikh Zayed bin Sul­tan al Nahyan, had paid a re­turn visit to New Delhi in Fe­bru­ary, and the wel­come ac­corded to him was as ef­fu­sive as the one he had ex­tended to Mr Modi.

Con­trary to gen­eral im­pres­sion, the UAE has al­ways re­garded In­dia with good­will, and one thing the two coun­tries strongly share is the dis­gust against the ugly head of ter­ror­ism.

I used to be sta­tioned in Dubai as a For­eign Cor­re­spon­dent, and many years ago, in 1992 or 1993, Shaikh Zayed, the tall man of the Arab world, had called a con­fer­ence of top Is­lamic schol­ars from around the world to say that Is­lam has no place ei­ther for fun­da­men­tal­ism or ter­ror­ism. That has been the UAE’s de­clared pol­icy ever since, notwith­stand­ing po­lit­i­cal re­la­tions with other Is­lamic coun­tries.

The UAE also does not sup­port nu­clear weapons, and I have been told by the coun­try’s top of­fi­cials that nor do they sup­port mil­i­tary con­trol over them. Of course, Pak­istan was not named in a con­ver­sa­tion I once had with UAE’s then For­eign Sec­re­tary many years ago.

UAE main­tains a pol­icy of diplo­matic si­lence but mostly does what is cor­rect. Mil­i­tar­ily, it is one of the strong­est coun­tries in the Arab world, and its forces have drawn first blood in op­er­a­tions in Ye­men and Syria. As a coun­try which be­lieves in peace, has re­vul­sion to ter­ror­ism, ab­jures nu­clear weapons, and looks for its own and re­gional and global eco­nomic growth, it is a nat­u­ral part­ner of In­dia.

In May 1981, when Mrs Indira Gandhi had vis­ited the UAE, the two coun­tries had said in their Joint State­ment that Peace and Sta­bil­ity in South Asia and the Gulf are a mu­tual re­quire­ment. That pol­icy still holds, and has been strength­ened fur­ther by Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi’s nat­u­ral warmth and good­will, and the fact that while In­dia has to de­fend it­self against con­stant needling by Pak­istan, New Delhi stands for a se­cure global en­vi­ron­ment.

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