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16 August, 2019 00:00 00 AM
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Indian business ties underpin muted Arab response to Kashmir

AP, Dubai

Gulf Arab countries have remained mostly silent as India's government moved to strip the Indian-administered sector of Kashmir of its limited autonomy, imposing a sweeping military curfew in the disputed Muslim-majority region and cutting off residents from all communication and the internet.

This muted response is underpinned by more than $100 billion in annual trade with India that makes it one of the Arabian Peninsula's most prized economic partners.

Regional heavyweight Saudi Arabia urged restraint and expressed concern over the brewing crisis. Other Gulf countries — Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman— do not appear to have issued any statements. The United Arab Emirates has gone a step further by apparently siding with India, calling the decision to downgrade Kashmir's status an internal matter.

Saudi Arabia's response to the Kashmir situation is complicated by its close ties with both India and Pakistan, which have fought two wars over the disputed Himalayan region, as well as its ideological rivalry with Turkey and Iran for supremacy in the Islamic world.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has reached out to leaders in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain in recent days to discuss India's actions in Kashmir, but it's unclear whether he would find Arab backing if he took his concerns to the United Nations Security Council. Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan but claimed by both in its entirety.

The brief Saudi statement on the Kashmir events said the kingdom "is following up on the current situation" and

called for a "peaceful settlement" in line with international resolutions.

Gulf Arab states are home to more than 7 million Indian expatriates who help drive the region's economy and keep its cities teeming with doctors, engineers, teachers, drivers, construction workers and other laborers.

Nowhere in the region is this relationship more pronounced than in the UAE, where Indians outnumber Emiratis three to one. Bilateral trade surpassed $50 billion in 2018, making India the UAE's second-largest trade partner.

Indian investments in the UAE amount to $55 billion and Indians are the largest foreign investors in Dubai's real estate market, according to India's Ministry of External Affairs. Meanwhile, DP World, Dubai's global port operator, has plans to develop a logistics hub in Indian-controlled Kashmir.

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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