Saudi Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed Al Jubeir and UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan are in Pakistan to help Islamabad defuse tensions with New Delhi over disputed Kashmir.
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates sent their top diplomats to Pakistan on Wednesday to help Islamabad defuse tensions with India over the disputed Kashmir region.
In a rare move, a single aircraft carried the two Arab diplomats — Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel bin Ahmed Al Jubeir and UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan — to Islamabad in what Pakistani authorities said was a symbolic show of unity.
The two diplomats were to hold talks with their Pakistani counterpart, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, who said on Tuesday that the visit followed appeals from Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan. They were also set to meet with Khan and the country's army chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa.
Gulf Arab countries have kept mostly silent on the issue, underpinned by more than $100 billion in annual trade with India that makes it one of the Arabian Peninsula’s most prized economic partners.
The UAE caused further outrage among Kashmiris by awarding Narendra Modi with its highest honour and backing India's stripping of Kashmir's nominal autonomy.
Anti-India sentiment has grown in Pakistan since New Delhi moved to strip the Indian-administered portion of Kashmir of its limited autonomy on August 5.
Authorities imposed a sweeping military curfew that's still in place and cut off residents from all communication and the internet. Mobile phone services have yet to be restored.
Pakistani army spokesman Major General Asif Ghafoor said on Wednesday that the military will "fight to the last bullet and the last soldier" if all peaceful options fail to resolve the Kashmir issue. He spoke at a press conference in the garrison city of Rawalpindi.
The Kashmir region is divided between India and Pakistan and is claimed by both. Most people in India-administered Kashmir oppose Indian rule. A United Nations Security Council resolution promised a UN-sponsored referendum on Kashmir's "final disposition" that has never been held.
The two nuclear-armed neighbours have fought three wars, two of them over control of the region since they won independence from the British in 1947.
India accuses Pakistan of training and arming rebel groups that have been fighting since 1989 for Kashmir's independence from India or its merger with Pakistan, a charge Islamabad denies. Pakistan says it only provides moral and diplomatic support to Kashmiris.
Talks on shrine corridor
Earlier on Wednesday, Indian and Pakistani officials met to finalise a draft agreement for the opening of a border crossing to allow Sikh pilgrims from India to cross easily into Pakistan and visit a shrine there.
Pakistan's foreign ministry spokesman Mohammad Faisal said a draft agreement was close to being reached, following the meeting in the Indian town of Wagah-Attari.
However, SCL Das, a joint secretary in the Home Ministry, told reporters in India that the two sides could not finalise the agreement because of Islamabad's "persistent inflexibility" on the issue of charging a service fee for the pilgrims.