The immediate fallout of the normalization of ties between the UAE and Israel, since August 14, 2020, will be soon felt in Pakistan. There is growing speculation that Pakistan ex-pats would soon be dispatched back home from UAE, as well as from the 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, may quite likely decline. Pakistan PM Imran Khan has also acknowledged this in a recent interview.
Since the last three months, UAE has been rapidly assimilating the brand Israel in the country. By the first week of September 2020, the hotel and hospitality sector in Dubai was gearing with ‘Kosher’ – the Israeli food, to tend to the influx of Israeli visitors into the Islamic nation.
Ten days later, Israeli models were seen waving their country’s flag in a pajama photoshoot 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 its law, allowing live-in relationships and loosening the alcohol restrictions. While UAE sought F-35 stealth fighters from the US, which has now been notified to US Congress on November 11, Israel had opposed it vehemently.
And, strangely, an Israeli newspaper Israel Hayom on November 15, 2020, reported that two Israeli citizens had been arrested in Dubai for ‘photographing’, and that page link now says ‘page not found,’ which was reported by aa.com.tr the same day, but the shaky Dubai establishment rubbished the news as fake.
UAE’s initiative towards the formalization of ties with the Jewish state had no doubt come after a ‘green signal’ from KSA, whose position towards Israel is now also all too visible, and it is only a matter of time when such an announcement arrives. The ‘historic’ announcement may come after January 21, 2021, when either the US President Donald Trump continues or Joseph Biden takes over.
Even UAE’s hardening stance on Pakistan has reached an extent where the Gulf nation suddenly announced a ban on Pakistani citizens entering the country, ostensibly to curb the spread of Covid-19, on November 18, 2020.
In a statement, Pakistan’s 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 by The Tribune. UAE banned 11 other countries, and yes, Turkey and Iran are among them too, along with Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Somalia, Libya, Kenya and Afghanistan.
But, there is a catch, as an underlying intention can easily be accessed in this decision. UAE has banned such nations which do not recognize Israel. Or else, the US and other European countries, along with India, which have been so badly marred by the outbreak of COVID-19, would have found themselves on the list. But, they didn’t.
The surge of Coronavirus inflicted patients in the wake of the ‘incoming wave’ is making nations toil. Pakistan’s population is more than 200 million and its daily cases are 2843, according to Covid.gov.pk on November 21, 2020, 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’s highest rates of Coronavirus patients on a per capita basis, highlighted Al Jazeera on September 23, 2020.
Can UAE mull the same treatment for the citizens from Israel? Unthinkable. As for India, which is unaffected by the new UAE norms, there is an average of around 50,000 daily reported cases of Coronavirus positive patients.
UAE and Pakistan are now getting ‘quite uneasy’ with each other 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.
Gwadar is from where the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is to make its gateway to let the Chinese exports reach the Mediterranean countries, Europe and the US, which the US wants to block with the help of Israel, while it does the same with China in Straits of Malacca.
India, on its part, has already signaled to all the Gulf states that China is a temporary friend, as The Hindu Business Line reported on September 8, 2020, which meant that now Pakistan is to advise China on Gulf affairs.
And, therefore, India, Israel and the US are now to be friends with the 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.
And with Israel, on the other hand, ready to provide security wherewithal to the Gulf nation, 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.
Israel ‘IsrAir flight’ from Tel Aviv to India had recently made a detour over Mecca, on November 10, 2020, informs Times of Israel, something unprecedented in the last 72 years, owing to ‘bad weather,’ as if such an atmospheric condition had never happened before.
The writer is a former State Information Commissioner. He is a media analyst and writes on international politics.