Earlier last month five Emirati diplomats were killed in an explosion in Kandahar, Afghanistan, and the Afghan authorities were quick to pin the blame on the Haqqani network—allegedly backed by Pakistani intelligence. Since the attack, which was also the first instance of Taliban targeting officials from the UAE, occurred alongside growing counterterrorism cooperation between UAE and India, it prompted a lot of speculation regarding the timing.
The news of the blast came just weeks before Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE’s) armed forces, visited India on its Republic Day celebrations. He was made the first non-head of state to also become the guest of honor for India’s Republic Day parade—a symbolic gesture of goodwill and camaraderie.
During Mohammed bin Zayed’s three-day visit to India, 14 bilateral agreements were signed. The visit laid the groundwork for a “comprehensive strategic partnership for the 21st century”. Several themes covered in the India-UAE joint statement are articulations of a gradual yet defined change in India-UAE relations. Chief among these themes are defense, cyber, space technology, trade and investment, energy, infrastructure, and agriculture, among others.