By Muhammet Nazim Tasci
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AA) – The United Arab Emirates (UAE) allegedly brokered a cease-fire agreement between India and Pakistan last month, according to Emirati officials.
“Yet behind closed doors, the India-Pakistan cease-fire marked a milestone in secret talks brokered by the UAE that began months earlier,” Bloomberg quoted the officials, who asked to remain unnamed.
The cease-fire agreement is just the beginning of a larger roadmap to ensure a lasting peace between the two countries, one of the officials said.
In the next step, the two neighbors are expected to reappoint envoys in New Delhi and Islamabad, the officials noted.
The two sides then, the officials said, will begin negotiations on recommencing trade relations and achieve a permanent solution to the Kashmir conflict.
“Expectations were low that the current detente would achieve much beyond the return of envoys and a resumption of trade through their Punjab land border,” officials said.
There was no comment from the UAE, India or Pakistan on the allegations.
Pakistan asked India last week to take the first step towards peace and resolve the Kashmir dispute in accordance with UN Security Council resolutions.
Speaking at the opening session of the first Islamabad Security Dialogue conference in the Pakistani capital, Prime Minister Imran Khan said: "We want peace with India, but India must take the first step towards peace because we cannot move forward without it".
After Khan, the country's military chief Qamar Javed Bajwa said on Thursday that "it is time to bury the past," but India must create a "conducive environment" for meaningful dialogue.
Khan and his wife, Bushra Bibi, have tested positive for COVID-19, his office confirmed on Saturday.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to Twitter to convey his "best wishes" for his Pakistani counterpart's speedy recovery in the same day.
– Clues over UAE role in India-Pakistan rapprochement
India’s External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar paid an official visit to Abu Dhabi on Nov. 24-29, 2020.
Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi also visited the Gulf state on Dec.17-18, less than a month after Jaishankar’s visit.
On Feb. 6, the UAE Foreign Minister, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, held a phone call with Pakistan’s Khan.
– India, Pakistan deal on Kashmir border de-escalation
The militaries of India and Pakistan said on Feb. 25 that they have agreed to a cease-fire along the disputed Kashmir border.
"Both sides agreed for strict observance of all agreements, understandings and cease firing along the Line of Control and all other sectors with effect from midnight 24/25 Feb 2021," said a joint statement by the directors-general of military operations of the two South Asian nuclear-armed neighbors.
Kashmir is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full. A small sliver of Kashmir is also held by China.
Since they were partitioned in 1947, the two countries have fought three wars — in 1948, 1965, and 1971 — two of them over Kashmir.
Some Kashmiri groups in Jammu and Kashmir have been fighting against Indian rule for independence, or unification with neighboring Pakistan.
According to several human rights organizations, thousands of people have reportedly been killed in the conflict in the region since 1989.
Also, on Aug. 5, 2019, India stripped Jammu and Kashmir of its autonomous status and divided it into two centrally ruled territories — creating fresh tensions in the restive region.
*Writing by Zehra Nur Duz