Amid Pakistan’s Kashmir fury, UAE, Bahrain fete Modi with top civilian honours

In a rebuff to Pakistan’s hostile propaganda over the Kashmir issue, two Muslim nations conferred their top civilian honours on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and agreed to intensify economic and security cooperation with Asia’s third largest economy.

In a sign of India’s growing stature in the Muslim world, the United Arab Emirates’
Crown Prince, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, better known by his initials MBZ, awarded the Order of Zayed medal to Mr Modi.

The UAE’s Crown Prince put the gold medal around Modi’s neck, with a portrait of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the UAE’s first president after whom the order is named, as a backdrop.

The award has earlier been bestowed on several world leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, Queen Elizabeth II and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

“The award in the name of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founding father of the UAE, acquires special significance as it was awarded to Prime Minister Modi in the year of the birth centenary of Sheikh Zayed,” India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said in a statement.

Manama, too, rolled out the red carpet for Mr Modi, the first Indian prime minister to visit the Gulf kingdom. Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa conferred the King Hamad Order of the Renaissance on Mr Modi. Mr Modi described the honour as “a recognition of India’s strong friendship with Bahrain.”

“I humbly accept The King Hamad Order of the Renaissance. This is a recognition of India’s strong friendship with Bahrain, which goes back hundreds of years and is expanding rapidly in the 21st century,” he said.

Betting on India

The rulers of the UAE as well as Bahrain endorsed India’s position that the recent changes in the status of Jammu and Kashmir are an internal affair of India. Significantly, in a veiled reference to Pakistan, India and Bahrain called on the international community to reject the use of terrorism against other countries as both sides agreed to further enhance cooperation in the field of security, counter-terrorism and the exchange of intelligence and information during Mr Modi’s visit to the Gulf Kingdom.
“Both sides called on all states to reject the use of terrorism against other countries; dismantle terrorism infrastructures where they happen to exist and to cut off any kind of support and financing to the terrorists perpetrating terrorism from all territories against other states; and bring perpetrators of acts of terrorism to justice,” the joint statement said.

“PM Modi’s outreach to the Muslim world since the beginning of his first term is now paying off. India’s stature has risen among Muslim countries who are increasingly looking at this country as a rising regional and global power,” said Manish Chand, Editor-in-Chief, India and World magazine.

“The way the UAE and Bahrain went out of the way to welcome PM Modi in the midst of Pakistan’s relentlessly hostile campaign against India on the Kashmir issue underlines that these countries have chosen win-win partnership with an emerging economy over a failing nation and economy which is desperately trying to drum up sentiments of Muslim solidarity,” said Mr Chand, a foreign affairs analyst and Founder-Editor of India Writes Network.