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Drivers of instability in South Asia

Drivers of instability in South Asia

South Asia is an instable region; two major drivers of this situation are hegemonic designs of Indian leadership, and continued occupation of Afghanistan by the United States. Other contributory factors are inter-state territorial and resource distribution claims amongst the constituent states. With simultaneous rise of ultra-right nationalist leadership in the US and India, both leaderships have found a common ground in operationalizing Machiavellian tactics by perpetuating instability in select hotspots. This convergence of interest is resulting in prolonging the hardship of Kashmiri and Afghan people. Impeding development projects of Pakistan is another facet of Indian strategy, while the US is ganging up South China sea and East China sea littorals to bog down China in its own proximity. Then, there is second ring having heavy weights like japan, India and Australia to blunt Chinese growth. Pakistan is paying a high price for instability in Afghanistan. Presence of terrorist safe havens in Afghanistan is an established reality. Latest report by the US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) confirms that more than 43 percent of Afghan territory is not under the control of the Afghan Government. This is alarming as it provides opportunity for all kinds of terrorist groups to use these as sanctuaries. Pakistan wishes to have friendly relations with all its neighbors. Pakistan, as a responsible member of the international community believes in peace and strategic stability—in South Asia and beyond.

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Booted out from Doklam, India meddles in Gilgit-Baltistan

Districts of Gilgit Baltistan

After a humiliating set back in Doklam to disrupt One Belt One Road (OBOR), India has shifted its focus on impeding China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) by fermenting unrest in Gilgit-Baltistan(GB). Importance of GB territory shot up in 1984 with the opening of the Karakoram Highway and this region's population came to be more connected with mainland Pakistan. With the improvement in connectivity, local population availed opportunities of getting educated in the rest of Pakistan. Improved connectivity also allowed broader socio-political development. Political parties of Pakistan and Azad Kashmir were able to setup local branches, and raise political awareness in the region. Root-taking by these political entities have played a laudable role in organizing a movement for democratic rights among the residents of GB.Rather than making efforts to have political engagement in Kashmir and truly follow the oft repeated assertion of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to emulate Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s doctrine based on “Insaniyat, Jamhooriyat and Kashmiriyat”, all those forces who are promoted and patronized by New Delhi are adding fuel to the fire. Pakistan has set an example by following a principled approach towards managing its GB region politically, India could learn a lot from this model.

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Out of the frying pan into the fire!

Out of the frying pan into the fire!

When a journalist asked Tillerson if it would be accurate to say that he received a message of defiance from the Pakistanis who told him, “We will not be coerced”. “That would be a complete mischaracterisation of the meeting,” replied Tillerson, alongside affirming that he told Pakistan that Washington would implement its new strategy with or without Islamabad because “this is what we think is necessary. And if you don’t want to do that, don’t feel you can do it, we’ll adjust our tactics and our strategies to achieve the same objective a different way”. So, even though the Pka-US relationship may have receded a bit from the brink, it is likely to remain troublesome. Current America thinking is that through a reinforced military option, it could subdue the Taliban, and the Taliban also think that their war is winnable through more and more application of military power. Hence, at least for now, there is no desire from either side to take a route of political process leading to peace. Earlier this month, CIA Director Mike Pompeo speaking at a security conference at the University of Texas vowed to make the CIA more vicious and unleash it against the Taliban. Reports on the kill and hunt programme approved by the Trump administration, and Pompeo’s comments, reveal true US strategy for Afghanistan. Likes of Tillerson are just side kick in this affair. Both combatants are following the strategy of military victory, rest is eyewash, be it QCG or else. Like in other foreign policy domains, Trump has been a disappointment in Afghanistan as well. The US foreign policy is increasingly becoming victim of its historic prejudices.

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Receding American leverage over Pakistan

Pakistan Focus

While the American Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was in session with Pakistani civil and military leadership, Senate was castigating his remarks in Kabul. Tillerson’s recent statement in which he had warned Pakistan to move against the Taliban and other groups inside the country “or face consequences”, did not go down well with the Senate. Chairman Raza Rabbani aptly remarked that the tone and tenor of Tillerson was not acceptable to Parliament of Pakistan. “He is acting like a viceroy.” A day earlier, while speaking at a press conference in Kabul, on October 23, Tillerson had said that during his visit to Islamabad he would reinforce Trump administration’s demand to move against the Taliban and other extremists based inside its borders or face the consequences. While American actions are eroding ts leverage over Pakistan, America continues to pose as if it is enhancing. This dichotomy is breeding confusions at policy and functional level. How do we interpret such confusing statements of American leadership? For this we may refer to Iranian supreme leader’s October 19 remarks: “[Trump] pretends to be an idiot, but we should not let our guard down”.

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A view from India: Sectarianism suppressing democratic right of Expression

Cattle triggers violence in India

Freedom of expression has been the core value which accompanied the struggle for India’s Independence. The British did attempt to stifle the voices of dissent but the freedom fighters did see this as a crucial mechanism of rooting democratic ethos in the society. At heavy cost the major leaders had to face the wrath of British colonialist powers for upholding the foundation of a democratic society through freedom of expression. The same values got enshrined in our Constitution, with various articles and clauses upholding it. What we are witnessing today is a stifling of dissent from the ruling party, the ruling ideology of sectarian nationalism. The suppression of dissent and freedom of giving expression is not just through control of media and stifling of writers. Ruling party; through control of a section of media; is using heavy hand to control the free thinkers. One major and frightening phenomenon accompanying this attempt to muzzle the dissenting opinions has been to eliminate the thinker’s writers physically.Diverse opinions, debated in an open spirit are the best guarantee for democratic society. The sectarian ideologies are opposed to democratic ethos and so they are pushing the intolerance worse possible levels. There is a need to protect the democratic freedom by combating communalism.

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QCG Revival: Another Mirage?

QCG Revival: Another Mirage?

The four-nation Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) talks on exploring ways to revive peace process in Afghanistan, were held in Oman on October 16. Parleys ended without any breakthrough. And participants—Afghanistan, China, Pakistan and the United States—preferred to stay quiet over the event and no joint statement was issued. The QCG, had held its previous meeting in Islamabad early last year. The QCG was set up in December 2015, by the Heart of Asia Conference in Islamabad. The main aim of the initiative was to make collective efforts for arranging direct talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban; and since its inception, the group has been trying to carve the path to direct talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban. The US has ever since been playing both sides, trying for negotiation with Taliban as well as systematically disrupting it, at will. The group had held five meetings before the process met a dead end after Taliban chief Mullah Akhtar Mansur was killed in July 2016. Now Taliban’s military campaign “Operation Mansuri” is in full swing in Afghanistan.Whether Trump likes it or not, Pakistan remains vital for the United States as a route to supply American and Afghan war effort. Pakistan shares international community’s concerns about instability in Afghanistan. Pakistan is ready to work with every one and any one as a partner for achieving peace and security in the region. However, arm twisting and bad mouthing will not lead any party anywhere.

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Mad Dog confesses of Indo-US nexus against OBOR-CPEC

Mad Dog confesses of Indo-US nexus against OBOR-CPEC

India is a mediocre polity, with half of its population underfed, some of its social security indicators like infant mortality and school dropout rates are comparable with some of underdeveloped African countries. Indian has been able to keep a steady growth rate for over a decade and a half, or so. Strategically America has coopted it as a cheaper deterrence against China, in which it failed its first field test in Doklam. Cumulatively, paltry economic growth and American support to India for playing a regional gangster’s role has created a misplaced delusion in Indian strategic thinking of having become a global power. Behaving like a superpower has gone into its head and cost it a lot economically; for such role throwing money here and there to sustain a big power image is not sustainable by Indian economy. China was able to outsmart India in accruing rights for Hanbantota port. India pledged $ 20 billion investment for Iran’s Chabahar port, but has not been able to touch $ 20 million mark. China phobia is overtaking rational Indian calculus. And with Modi in the driving seat, India is more likely to be lesser inclined towards rational decision making. India is not likely to acquire the capability, any time soon, to take on China in an interstate war. However, with tools readily available to India for fighting China through proxies, in a third county–Pakistan, Balochistan could become the future arena for Indo-China proxy war, even though to the Chinese abhorrence. Pakistan needs to look into such an evolving scenario and take appropriate measure to nub the evil in the bud.

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UN’s obligation towards Kashmir

Legal position of Pakistan with regard to Kashmir is quite secure since the UNSC Resolution 47 of 1948 and over a dozen subsequent resolutions supporting this foundational resolution, latest of which came on June 06, 1998 (UNSC R 1172) in the aftermath of overt nuclearization by India and Pakistan that “Urges India and Pakistan to resume the dialogue between them on all outstanding issues, particularly on all matters pertaining to peace and security, in order to remove the tensions between them, and encourages them to find mutually acceptable solutions that address the root causes of those tensions, including Kashmir”. People of Kashmir look up to Great Britain’s partition plan of 1946 as reference document. Plan had meticulously laid down the criterion for princely states. Any effort to advocate any alternative approach has always been met with fierce resistance and hence remained still born; be it Musharraf’s Four Points’ nonsense or anything else. Knowing the absurdity of the initiative, the entire back door process during Musharraf was kept shrouded in mystery. UNSC R 47 continues to be a legally valid and binding instrument unless replaced by an alternative UN instrument under Chapter VII of the UN Charter.

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India’s Kulbhushan Jadhav quandary!

Kulbhushan Jadhav

India has a track record that when in hot waters it eagerly turns to the UN and its affiliated institutions for adjudication. And whenever decision is against Indian grandstanding on the issue, it flouts such decisions with impunity. India is flouting over a dozen UNSC resolutions on Kashmir, and is struggling to erode the letter and spirit of Indus Water Treaty brokered by the World Bank. Now India is poised to follow the same trajectory in case of it's spy Indian Navy Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav.

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Stop Rohingya Genocide!

Stop Rohingya genocide

With serious dangers of spinning out of control, Rohingya crisis needs an immediate attentRohingya 1ion of international community. UNSC needs to intervene to nullify Myanmar’s 2008 legislation that deprives Rohingya population of its citizenship rights; post a UN Peace Enforcement Contingent to create a buffer zone between Rakhine state and rest of Myanmar; declare Rakhine state as “Autonomous Rohingya Zone”; and set a future date—at least after a decade—to hold a UN supervised referendum in Rakhine to determine whether Rohingya populations wants to retain Autonomous status within Myanmar or become an independent republic. Kofin Annan Commission report provides initial document for action.

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