Smart Diplomacy: India invites Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi as R-Day chief guest

abuuuuuIn a diplomatic masterstroke, India has invited Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan as the chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations in 2017. This is smart diplomacy as it will not only bolster New Delhi’s relations with the Gulf powerhouse, home to 2.6 million-strong diaspora, but will also aid India’s efforts to isolate Pakistan in the region over cross-border terror.

In a letter to India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Mohamed bin Zayed expressed “thanks for the kind invitation to attend India’s Republic Day celebrations”. “Our strong relations are deeply rooted in history. Our strategic cooperation has increased, driven by our mutual aspirations to develop it,” the Crown Prince said.

Inviting the Crown Prince seems to be the brainchild of Mr Modi, who visited the UAE in August 2015 during which the two sides launched a mammoth investment fund of $75 billion and agreed to intensify their security cooperation. The UAE robustly backed India’s position on delinking religion with terrorism, with the joint statement coming out strongly against states that sponsor terrorism against other countries.

The visit by Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince to India underscores Pakistan’s growing isolation in the region in the aftermath of the Uri terror attack. The acceptance of the invitation by Mohamed bin Zayed is a diplomatic triumph for India as it concentrates on isolating Pakistan in the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, the 57-nation bloc of Muslim countries that has formed the support base for Pakistan.

The crown prince’s visit as the chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations underlines India’s enhanced engagement with the strategically located and energy-rich region, home to 8 million-strong Indian diaspora and contributor of over 60 per cent of India’s oil imports.