NEW DELHI: In front of the packed international cricket stadium in sweltering Dubai, Prime Minister Narendra Modi took several swipes at Pakistan over its support for terror groups that target India, saying the era of “good Taliban and bad Taliban” was over and that everyone had to take a stand on whether they were “for terrorism or with humanity”.
Modi addressed his biggest audience outside India, larger than the audience of his first speech to overseas Indians, at New York’s Madison Square Garden in September 2014. Around 50,000 Indians waited for more than four hours for his 70-minute speech, which has been described as the biggest ever non-sport event in the Gulf nation.
The “good Taliban, bad Taliban” remarks were a thinly-veiled reference to Pakistan, which has always made a distinction between jihadi groups that target India and those operating inside the country.
Modi’s words assumed even more significance as he spoke from a country which had had good relations with Pakistan till the latter recently refused to join the Saudi-led military coalition in Yemen.
Modi specifically mentioned that the joint statement showed that India and the UAE had a clear message against terrorism “without caring for anyone”.
In an apparent jibe at Pakistan, he said: “Those who need to understand will do so. The intelligent need only a hint”.
He began his speech by praising the diaspora, as well as Dubai, calling them a “mini India” and “mini world” respectively. “Sanctions were put on India after the nuclear tests. That time Vajpayeeji had asked Indians all over the world to help the nation. Responding to Atalji’s call, the role played by those working in the Gulf was exemplary. I can say proudly that when Vajpayee called for help, the Indian labourers in the UAE helped the most,” the PM said.
There are around 2.6 million NRIs in the UAE and they remit over $12 billion to India annually.
He spoke a few lines in Malayalam to greet the Keralite expats in the audience, noting they were marking the beginning of the Malayalam New Year on Monday.
Modi also asked the big crowd to give a standing ovation to the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince for allotting land for a temple.
UAE Raises Gold Import Duty Issue
The UAE raised the issue of India’s high gold import duty affecting its exports to the country even as the two nations agreed on a wide range of steps to boost economic ties. When asked whether the issue of gold import duty was raised during the meet, Foreign Secretary S Jaishanakar said, “It was mentioned”. He, however, did not elaborate.
No mention of Dawood in talks
On Monday, India and the UAE decided to cooperate in interdicting illegal flows and take action against concerned individuals and organisations. But when asked whether underworld don Dawood Ibrahim and attaching of his assets in the UAE was discussed by the nation heads, Foreign Secretary S Jaishanakar did not give a direct reply.