The UAE is one of Pakistan’s top three trading partners. The balance of trade between the two countries is expected to reach an estimated $5billion (Dh18.36bn) by the end of this year.
On top of this, the hundreds of thousands of Pakistanis who live and work in the UAE send back $700m (Dh2.56m) a year to their country. So will the death of Benazir Bhutto unsettle this close relationship?
Reuters last night reported Russia’s most senior Asia diplomat, Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Losyukov, as saying: “An act of terror is a bad sign. This will for certain trigger a wave of terrorism.” However, the business community here last night seemed confident ties between the two countries are more than strong enough to weather any such storm.
The Vice-President of the Pakistan Business Council in the UAE, Dr A Hadi Shahid, said: “I don’t think there are enough words to describe what I, and perhaps most of the Pakistani people, feel at the moment. We just pray God will save our country from further violence.”
Shahid, who met Bhutto during a business leaders’ forum in Abu Dhabi last year, said: “We were looking forward to a better era. We were hoping she could return the democracy.”
However, he went on: “As a businessman, I believe Pakistan’s economy is on a solid foundation. After a number of years, the country has managed to draw a clear line between politics and economy. Whatever is happening on the political side should not dampen the country’s economic development.”
Javed Hameed, 57, a retired banker, who has lived in the UAE since 1982 and now runs a business in Bur Dubai, said: “People who don’t want Pakistan to progress have done this. It will affect the economy, our stability, and I think martial law will be imposed again.
“However, the link between the two countries is very strong. I don’t think there will be an effect on trading relations. But I am afraid the future of our children’s lives may be dark."
Management consultant and businessman Iftikhar Ahmed, who has lived in the UAE since 1999, added: “It is too soon to say what this event will lead to, but I don’t think it will affect in any way relations between Pakistan and the UAE. Our policies will remain the same.”