Pakistan’s foreign Affairs Ministry has slammed a recent editorial by Dubai newspaper Gulf News, which accused the country of “betraying” the UAE by not supporting Dubai during the Expo 2020 vote on November 27.
In a statement on its website, a ministry spokesperson rejected the allegations as “baseless and malicious.”
“Pakistan and UAE enjoy long standing, deep rooted and brotherly relations. In the case of Expo 2020, Pakistan was committed to vote for Turkey which requested for Pakistan’s support as far as back in May 2011. The UAE entered the race much later. This fact was explained to the UAE leadership. It was also conveyed that if Turkey were to withdraw its candidature, Pakistan would not only support the UAE but also lobby for it,” the spokesperson stated.
“Consequently, when Turkey withdrew its candidature, Pakistan voted in favour of the UAE in the subsequent rounds of voting. Pakistan’s supportive efforts have been acknowledged by the UAE leadership, which has conveyed its appreciation at the highest level.”
The statement added: “Responsible newspapers are expected to ensure greater accuracy in their reporting.”
In an editorial published on December 14, titled ‘Expo 2020 vote: UAE deserves answers from Pakistan and Afghanistan’, Gulf News said it was “stunned and disappointed” to learn that Pakistan and Afghanistan, two close allies of the UAE, chose not to vote for Dubai.
It added: “Despite their assurances, those two countries declined to vote for Dubai, which leads to serious questions about their credibility as allies.”
The article received a severe backlash from readers and senior Pakistani officials in the UAE, who ridiculed the article and demanded an apology.
Javed Jalil Khattak, consulate general of Pakistan, Dubai, dubbed the piece “an orchestrated attempt to damage and defame the historic fraternal relations between Pakistan and the UAE.”
“Not only is the language offensive, the article is factually incorrect,” he said.
However, in a response posted on its website on December 17, Gulf News said it stands by its editorial.
“The editorial only discussed and questioned the action, and the intent of a government that is considered to be a close ally of the UAE. And in this regard, we stand by what we reported, which is based on solid facts,” it said.
“The fact remains that the Pakistan government, despite its official pledge to the UAE, has voted for another city on the night of November 27.
“As an independent newspaper, we have the right to question such action and call for a justification, if there were any,” it added.