Nicosia [Cyprus]: The Pakistan government has been left red faced by recent attack on the Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Sheikh Saif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
Armed gunmen attacked the convoy in which Sheikh Saif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan was travelling while on a Houbara Bustard hunting expedition in the Guchak area of Panjgur district of Balochistan.
An attempt was made by authorities in Pakistan to suppress the story as the Deputy Prime Minister is a member of the UAE royal family.
Sheikh Al Nahyan had a narrow escape, but questions were immediately asked about the level of security provided by Pakistan to a dignitary as important as him.
The UAE royalty and its government has reportedly expressed its deep concern to Islamabad over the security lapse related to a senior functionary and family member, and told Islamabad in categorical terms that it had failed to provide proper security to the visiting dignitary.
The incident has once again brought into sharp focus the rapid deterioration of bilateral ties between Pakistan and the UAE.
According to informed sources, there is a growing rift in relations between Pakistan and one of its traditional allies and benefactors in the Middle East since the middle of last year.
Pakistan's refusal to participate in the Saudi-led coalition fighting Houthi rebels in Yemen, despite generous financial assistance from Riyadh, in April 2015, provided the initial spark to this downward spiral in relations, and matters have only deteriorated since then.
Islamabad's earlier decision not to send its troops for the Yemen campaign was also seen as a significant let down by the UAE and Saudi Arabia, and a clear evidence that while Pakistan was keen to benefit economically and commercially through its ties with these countries, it could not be relied upon to render any assistance to its so-called 'allies', when they were in distress.
While Pakistan has always been adept at playing such games with its so called 'brotherly Arab countries', of late, it has had to face a series of embarrassments and loss of face, due to an exposure of its double dealing.
Though it benefits significantly by using the Gulf countries for employment of its labour force and beneficial trade relations, it did not hesitate to vote against the UAE's bid for Expo 2020, which too caused considerable disappointment within UAE government circles.
Another incident that has caused dismay among its traditional allies has been its decision to finalise its claim to the continental shelf, even though, in the process, it is laying claim to large parts of the area that is part of Oman's continental shelf.
Pakistan's attempts to reach out and strengthen its relations with Iran have also not gone unnoticed, leading to considerable disquiet within Arab countries that traditionally considered Pakistan to be an ally, and whose munificence it has benefited from, over many years now, especially in times of financial distress, when these countries have not hesitated to bail the former out.