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India declares one-day mourning for Oman Sultan’s death

Sultan of Oman Qaboos bin Said al-Said. File

Sultan of Oman Qaboos bin Said al-Said. File   | Photo Credit: AP

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The far-sighted ruler was the most consistent partner from the Gulf for years

A day of state mourning will be observed across India on Monday in memory of Sultan Qaboos who steered Oman’s India-friendly policy for five decades. The Ministry of Home Affairs notified that the tricolour would be flown at half mast as a mark of respect to the departed Sultan.

The monarch who passed away on Saturday was a special personality in the Gulf region which is critical for India from multiple points of view.

“In 1971, Oman stood out as an Arab country that supported India in the war with Pakistan that led to the creation of Bangladesh. This led to some difficulties between Oman and Saudi Arabia but Sultan Qaboos maintained his friendly policy towards India,” said Prof. A.K. Pasha of the Centre for West Asian Studies of the JNU. During the war, Saudi Arabia sided with Pakistan and subsequently assisted it in post-war recovery.

As a result of this partnership, India and Oman formed a protective ring around Egypt when a part of the non-aligned countries wanted to isolate Cairo following the Camp David Accords of 1978 which was signed between Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin.

 

The far-sighted ruler, who took charge in 1970, was the most consistent partner from the Gulf for years before the United Arab Emirates (UAE) took a similar role in the Narendra Modi government. Sultan Qaboos had spent considerable time in India during his youth when he was tutored by Shankar Dayal Sharma, later President, during 1992-1997.

Prof. Pasha also points out that Oman played a moderating role regarding Kashmir and other Islam-related issues at the OIC. “Oman’s decision to allow India use the Salalah port for naval facilities was a major regional development that expanded India’s footprints in the region,” said Prof. Pasha.

The broader military collaboration between India and Oman was beneficial to the latter when the war in Yemen broke out, said veteran diplomat and former Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Anil Wadhwa. “India helped Oman build a fence on its border with Yemen,” said Mr. Wadhwa. As a result of the monarch’s leadership, India built an observation post at Ras Al Hadd of Oman.

 

Despite the warmth, the Sultan did not visit India to receive the Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding for 2004 that was announced in 2007. It is not clear why though reports suggest that he was concerned about India’s growing friendship with other Gulf Arab states. However, the announcement of the MEA regarding the Nehru award conveyed the stature that Sultan Qaboos enjoyed in India.

“The Sultan has emerged as a leader who is much loved and admired not only by his own people but also by the entire region. He has helped Oman establish close relations with many countries including India,” said the MEA for the Nehru award. Mr. Wadhwa said the successor, Sultan Haitam bin Tariq Al Said, is expected to maintain the good neighbourly policy in the Gulf and the warm ties with India.

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Printable version | Jan 27, 2020 5:23:26 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/india-declares-one-day-mourning-for-oman-sultans-death/article30551616.ece

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