Almost four years ago, relations between Pakistan and key Arab countries, including the United Arab Emirates (UAE), saw an unprecedented dip. The reason was Pakistan’s parliamentary resolution which recommended the then government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to stay neutral on the escalating crisis in Yemen.
The move drew unusual criticism from UAE, which had warned that Pakistan might have to pay a ‘heavy price’ for what it called taking an ambiguous stand on the request of Saudi Arabia to commit troops to Yemen.
But on Sunday, when Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan paid a one-day official visit to Pakistan, first by a UAE ruler in 12 years, it was clear the two countries have moved on from that hiccup.
In a departure from official protocol, Prime Minister Imran Khan himself went to the Nur Khan Airbase in Rawalpindi to receive the UAE leader, who is also the deputy supreme commander of UAE’s armed forces.
He was then accorded a ceremonial reception at the Prime Minister House, which was followed by a tete-a-tete and delegation-level talks.
In a special gesture of warmth and cordiality, Prime Minister Imran accompanied the special guest to the PM House, said an official handout issued by the Foreign Office.
This was their third meeting in as many months as the prime minister has visited UAE twice since taking charge in August last year.
The visit of the crown prince came against the backdrop of recent announcement made by the UAE to extend $3 billion financial assistance to deal with Pakistan’s balance of payment crisis.
An oil facility on deferred payment totalling $3.2 is also being discussed between Pakistan and the UAE.
During the meeting with the crown prince, the prime minister expressed his gratitude for the “generous balance of payments support of $3 billion”.