Sending a strong message to Pakistan, India and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Thursday “condemned efforts, including by States, to use religion to justify, sustain and sponsor terrorism against other countries”. This is an oblique reference to Pakistan’s involvement in Kashmir, and holds significance since the UAE has, as part of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), supported Islamabad-backed resolutions on Kashmir.
The joint statement, issued a day after the visiting Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan met Prime Minister Narendra Modi, also deplored efforts by countries to give religious and sectarian colour to political issues and pointed out the responsibility of all States to control the activities of the so-called ‘non-state actors’. This formulation was first used during the Crown Prince’s State visit in February 2016.
Underlining that terrorism posed a common threat to peace and security, the two leaders reiterated their strong condemnation of and “resolute opposition to terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, wherever committed and by whomever, and declared that there could be no justification for terrorism anywhere”.
The UAE, which has been one of Pakistan’s closest allies, had also been one of the few countries to have recognised Taliban rule in Afghanistan in the mid-1990s.
“The two sides condemned efforts, including by States, to use religion to justify, sustain and sponsor terrorism against other countries. They further deplored efforts by countries to give religious and sectarian colour to political issues and pointed out the responsibility of all States to control the activities of the so-called ‘non-state actors’,” the joint statement said.
It also said that the two leaders articulated their clear and unequivocal resolve to cooperate on counter-terrorism by adopting a policy of “zero tolerance” towards the menace of terrorism. Satisfied at the growing bilateral collaboration on counter-terrorism, information sharing and capacity-building, they expressed confidence that these efforts would contribute to regional and global peace and security.
The UAE and India agreed to coordinate efforts to “counter radicalisation and misuse of religion by groups and countries for inciting hatred and perpetrating acts of terrorism”.
“They emphasised the need to facilitate regular exchanges of religious scholars and intellectuals and to organise conferences and seminars to promote the values of peace, tolerance, inclusiveness and welfare that are inherent in all religions,” the statement said.
They also emphasised the importance of promoting a culture of inclusiveness, openness and tolerance within and among societies and agreed to work together closely to confront the global ills of extremism, terrorism and religious intolerance.
“They reiterated that the Indian and the UAE experiences in building inclusive societies should continue to be promoted as effective models in countering extremism and radicalism,” the statement said.
Lending support to New Delhi’s position on the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism in the United Nations, they also called for early conclusion of negotiations. “Both sides noted the importance of efforts to disrupt terrorist networks, their financing and movement, in accordance with the relevant principles and purposes of the UN Charter and international laws. The two sides deplored the use of double standards in addressing the menace of international terrorism and agreed to strengthen cooperation in combating terrorism both at the bilateral level and within the multilateral system,” the statement said.
The two sides also mentioned the Uri attacks, although there was no public support for the “surgical strikes”. They also condemned the terrorist attacks in Kabul and Kandahar on January 10 in which five UAE diplomats were killed, and underscored the need to bring the perpetrators of these dastardly and cowardly acts to justice — again a reference to Pakistan’s ISI.
The statement said that Prime Minister Modi appreciated the support extended by UAE security agencies on specific issues of security concern to India — a reference to the ISIS threat. The two leaders reiterated that the ongoing close cooperation on a range of security issues, particularly on counter-terrorism, maritime security and cyber-security remained a key pillar of the bilateral strategic partnership.
Acknowledging the importance of the ongoing bilateral security cooperation for ensuring a conducive and peaceful environment for the progress and development of the two countries, the two sides agreed to further enhance cooperation in the fields of law enforcement, anti-money laundering, smuggling of fake currency, drug trafficking, human trafficking, illegal migration and other transnational organized crimes.
In a bid to take forward the defence cooperation pact, the leaders agreed to provide further impetus to these relations, including through joint exercises, training of naval, air and land forces, as also in the area of coastal defence and through participation in defence exhibitions etc.
“The UAE side acknowledged the opportunities offered under the ‘Make in India’ initiative for joint production of defence equipment in India and also for the procurement of defence material. In this regard, the two sides described the signing of an MoU on Cooperation in the field of Defence Industry during this visit as an important step forward,” it said.
The two sides expressed common resolve to bolster cooperation and exchanges on countering piracy in their shared maritime domain in the Gulf and the Indian Ocean regions and to exchange experiences in maritime security, including joint anti-piracy training and exercises.
On investments, they reviewed the progress in realising the $75-billion target for UAE investments in India’s plans for rapid expansion of next generation infrastructure development. Modi invited UAE participation in India’s National Infrastructure Investment Master Fund as an “anchor investor”.