What Was UAE's Role in India-Pakistan Ceasefire?

Top Generals of India and Pakistan announced a ceasefire along the LoC in February, signaling a thaw in the frosty relations between the nuclear armed neighbors. Now, a report has claimed that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) played a key role in bringing the Asian powers to the table and hammering out the tactical truce.

The India-Pakistan cease-fire was a surprising move given that not much headway was made in normalizing the relations after the Pulwama terror attack that killed 40 Indian soldiers in 2019 and the subsequent Indian reprisal that culminated in the bombing of the Balakot terror camp inside Pakistan by the Indian air force.

Bloomberg reported that the UAE had conducted months of secret talks before India and Pakistan's Directors General of Military Operations (DGMOs) announced the ceasing of border hostilities in February. Unidentified sources told the agency that the cease-fire was not the end result but the beginning of a 'larger roadmap' to create lasting peace between the countries.

india and pakistan hit by cybersecurity attack
Pakistani rangers stand near the Indian (R) and Pakistani national flags during an annual fair near Pakistan border in Chamliyal, 45 km (28 miles) west of Jammu, June 26, 2008 Reuters

The Indian media had reported in February that the surprise ceasefire announcement by the military generals had the blessings of the highest echelons of power in the country. "I would imagine a decision like this in both countries would have involved considerable amount of interagency discussion and consensus. So, whether [Indian officials] were speaking both to the Pakistani military chief or to the Prime Minister's [office], the two certainly would have been in touch on this," TCA Raghavan, a former Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan and the Director General of the think tank run by India's foreign ministry, had told the Hindu.

However, at that time, reports also said there was no clarity about the nature of the back-channel talks between the countries that led to the surprise announcement. The Bloomberg report says that UAE's top diplomat flew to New Delhi 24 hours after ceasefire announcement.

It also says that, the step in the peace process was the reinstating of envoys in New Delhi and Islamabad. India and and Pakistan had withdrawn their high commissioners in the aftermath of new Delhi abrogating the autonomy of Jammu and Kashmir. If this goes well, both the nations will restart talks on normalizing trade.

10 richest royals in the world
United Arab Emirates President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahyan listens to closing remarks during the closing ceremony of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit in Kuwait's Bayan Palace December 15, 2009. Reuters

In another noted move last week, Pakistan's powerful army chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, said it was important for the two sides to "to bury the past and move forward."

Notably, the report says that the foreign offices of India, Pakistan and the UAE did not offer comments for the story. However, the role of the UAE was evident if some past moves were pieced together, according to the report. In November last year, India's foreign minister his UAE counterpart in Abu Dhabi. This was followed by the Pakistani foreign minister's visit to the UAE in the following month. And, two weeks before ceasefire announcement, UAE foreign minister had talked to Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on phone.