Are India and Pakistan heading for normalisation of relations? 

Edited By: Gravitas desk WION
New Delhi  Published: Apr 19, 2021, 11:43 PM(IST)

Indian external affairs minister Dr S Jaishankar and his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi. Photograph:( WION Web Team )

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The visits have come just days after a top Emirati diplomat confirmed that the UAE was playing a key role in bringing both countries, India and Pakistan, to the talking table. The diplomat in question is the UAE's ambassador to the United States, Yousef Al Otaiba

The Indian foreign minister is in the UAE and so is the foreign minister of Pakistan. Is this a mere coincidence or part of a plan? What's cooking in Abu Dhabi? 

The visits have come just days after a top Emirati diplomat confirmed that the UAE was playing a key role in bringing both countries, India and Pakistan, to the talking table. The diplomat in question is the UAE's ambassador to the United States, Yousef Al Otaiba. 

On Saturday, Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi embarked on a three-day trip to the UAE. India's External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar landed on Sunday. 

Interestingly, this was the second time both foreign ministers were in the same country at the same time, that too in less than three weeks. 

They both came face-to-face in Tajikistan's capital Dushanbe for the Heart of Asia summit on March 30, but no meeting took place. Did they happen to meet this time? Reports say they didn't. 

In fact, there were no bilateral meetings on the agenda at all. So, what happened then? 

In his day-long visit, Dr S Jaishankar met his UAE counterpart Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan. They discussed bilateral cooperation, economic collaboration, community welfare, and post-pandemic economic recovery.   

As for Qureshi, in his meeting with UAE's foreign minister, the discussions ranged from bilateral trade, investment to job opportunities for the Pakistani diaspora.  

This is what we know officially and we don't want to make any assumptions but the last-minute nature of these visits and the events that lead to them and the accompanying statements from top diplomats leave very little scope for imagination.  

The first indication came on February 25, the second anniversary of the Balakot airstrikes. Both India and Pakistan surprised the world and issued a joint statement, agreeing to strictly observe ceasefire along the Line of Control. 

Then in March, the real rulers extended an olive branch, the Pakistan Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa called a stable Indo-Pak relationship, the key to unlocking South Asia's potential.  

The same month, on March 31, Pakistan's economic coordination committee recommended that the ban on importing sugar and cotton from India be lifted. The positive headlines lasted barely 24 hours and the ban was imposed again due to domestic pressure but the recommendation gave a whiff of normalisation of ties.  

This was followed by reports of Emirati officials facilitating back-channel talks between the two sides. Now, the coinciding visits of both foreign ministers have once again reignited speculation.  

Both Islamabad and New Delhi maintain absolute silence on what's happening but as they say, sometimes silence itself speaks volumes, and especially when it comes to the India-Pakistan conundrum, nothing speaks louder than silence. 

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