Wednesday, September 18, 2019 | ePaper

Modi awarded UAE medal amid Kashmir crackdown

  • Print


Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, (centre right), walks with Khaldoon Khalifa al-Mubarak, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Affairs Authority, (centre left), after arriving in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates on Friday.

AP, Dubai :
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi received the United Arab Emirates' highest civilian honor during a visit Saturday to the oil-rich Gulf nation, reinforcing ties between the countries even as he pursues stripping statehood from the disputed Muslim-majority region of Kashmir.
The induction of Modi into the Order of Zayed shows the importance the UAE places on India, the world's third-largest consumer of crude oil. India is home to a rapidly growing consumer market and labor pool that the federation of sheikhdoms relies on for its own economy.
Activists, however, decried the UAE bestowing the award on Modi as he pursues a clampdown on the Himalayan region claimed by both Pakistan and India. Modi is also to travel to Bahrain to become the first Indian premier to visit the island nation.
"With several Gulf states in an ever-tightening embrace with Modi, human rights have been discarded in favor of economic opportunities," wrote Samah Hadid, a Beirut-based human rights advocate.
Abu Dhabi's powerful crown prince, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, personally put the golden medal around Modi's neck during an event that was closed to press in Abu Dhabi, the Emirati capital. With a portrait of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the UAE's first president for whom the order is named, behind them, the two men shook and held hands for a moment and spoke quietly.
"You deserve it," Sheikh Mohammed told Modi at one point while posing for photos.
Modi had been announced as a recipient of the prize in April in a tweet from Sheikh Mohammed.
"We have historical and comprehensive strategic ties with India, reinforced by the pivotal role of my dear friend, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who gave these relations a big boost," a tweet from his account read.
Sheikh Mohammed's announcement came just before Modi won re-election. Their interaction on Twitter and elsewhere shows the personal relationship the two men have forged, said Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, an Emirati political science professor.
"We've never had it like this before," Abdulla said. "From there, everything circles down."
Even without the personal touch, India has for decades been a major point of trade for the Emirates, from trade routes to gold smuggling.
Some 3.1 million Indians now call the UAE home alone, ranging from laborers to multimillionaires, according to Indian government statistics. By comparison, estimates suggest there are only around 1 million Emiratis living in the country of over 9 million.
Across the wider Gulf Cooperation Council, which includes six Gulf Arab nations, there are 8.5 million Indians. They send billions of dollars a year in remittances back home.
That, coupled with cooperation on political and defense matters, makes India ever-more important for the UAE and other Gulf Arab states.
"Countries like India cannot be taken for granted anymore," said Kabir Taneja, an associate fellow at the New Delhi-based Observer Research Foundation think tank.
The timing of the award, however, comes amid Modi's push in Kashmir.
On Aug. 5, Modi's government revoked a decades-old special status granted to Kashmir and deployed thousands of troops the region. Indian-controlled Kashmir has been under a sweeping military curfew since then that has seen thousands detained and residents cut off from all communication and the internet.
Pakistan and India, both nuclear-armed nations, have fought two wars over control of Kashmir since they won independence from the British in 1947.
Although Modi's decision affects Muslims living in Indian-controlled Kashmir, the move has drawn a largely muted response from Gulf Arab nations. The UAE's ambassador to India in particular referred to Kashmir as an internal issue for India.
While calling the timing of the award "awkward," Abdulla, the Emirati professor, said it made sense for the UAE to honor its promise to give Modi the Order of Zayed.
"No matter what you do, no matter one way or the other, there's going to be people who criticize it," he said.
Others, like British parliamentarian Naz Shah from the Labour party, see it far differently. She published an open letter addressed to Sheikh Mohammed asking him to reconsider giving the award due to the "brutality" she described Modi as directing.
"I ask you to question this decision and reconsider giving such an award, not only because the majority of the Kashmiri people share the same faith as you, but because we have a duty as human beings to stand up against the disregard of human rights and evil," Shah wrote.

More News For this Category

No breakthrough in Brexit talks

No breakthrough in Brexit talks

AFP, Luxembourg :British Prime Minister Boris Johnson failed to convince EU leaders on Monday he has a serious plan for a Brexit deal, then ducked out of a planned news

Swine fever hits South Korea

Swine fever hits South Korea

AFP, Seoul :South Korea on Tuesday reported its first cases of African swine fever, becoming the latest country hit by the disease that has killed pigs from China to North

Trump rages as NY Times clarifies its Kavanaugh story

Trump rages as NY Times clarifies its Kavanaugh story

US President Donald Trump blasted The New York Times Monday after it updated a story detailing a previously unreported accusation of sexual misconduct by Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh to

Poor countries will need to increase carbon footprint to address hunger: Study

Poor countries will need to increase carbon footprint to address hunger: Study

Achieving a nutritious diet with adequate calories in developing countries will require a substantial increase in greenhouse gas emissions and water use, scientists reported Monday, calling on high-income countries to

Iran supreme leader rules out negotiations with US

AFP, Tehran :Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Tuesday ruled out negotiations with the US, as tensions mount between the arch-foes after Washington blamed Tehran for attacks on Saudi

News In Brief

New Zealand PM to meet Trump for first formal talks Reuters, Wellington New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Tuesday she plans to meet with US President Donald Trump

Johnson the Brexit ‘Hulk’ finally meets EU's Juncker

Johnson the Brexit ‘Hulk’ finally meets EU's Juncker

AFP  :British Prime Minister Boris Johnson met EU chief Jean-Claude Juncker for talks Monday insisting a Brexit deal is possible, despite deep scepticism from European capitals with just six weeks

Faster pace of climate change is 'scary', former chief scientist says

Faster pace of climate change is 'scary', former chief scientist says

Extreme events linked to climate change, such as the heatwave in Europe this year, are occurring sooner than expected, an ex-chief scientist says.Prof Sir David King says he's been scared

Netanyahu, Gantz spur supporters on eve of tense Israeli polls

AFP :Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his main opponent Benny Gantz sought to galvanise supporters Monday on the eve of a tense election with the political fate of the

Trump rebuffs Kavanaugh impeachment calls after new sexual misconduct report

Reuters :United States President Donald Trump rejected Democrats' calls for impeaching Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh on Sunday after a new report involving sexual misconduct allegations, encouraging the latter to