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Tag Archives: featured

Asian Century on a Knife-edge

Asian Century on a Knife-edge

by John West [Courtesy Asia Century Institute].China and other Asian countries will dominate global politics and the world economy in the 21st century. Right? That's the usual refrain. After all, Asia has stunned the world with decades of stellar growth, and by some measures, China has already become the world's biggest economy. And while China's economy has slowed sharply, it is still growing at the respectable rate of 6-7%. The rise of Donald Trump to the presidency of the United States has only accelerated the global shift towards Asia. Trump's America has relinquished global leadership, notably through its withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement, and the Trans Pacific Partnership, along with burgeoning protectionism, while China is positioning itself as a defender of the liberal international order. Indeed, China is demonstrating remarkable global leadership through initiatives like the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, and the Belt and Road Initiative. Today, China is increasing appearing to be a much safer and steadier global leader as Trump competes with North Korea's Kim Jong-un in the global hysteria stakes, and the White House and Washington have descended into turmoil, which is paralysing the capacity of the Trump administration to get things done. Washington's allies in East Asia and even Australia are now questioning the reliability of the US.

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The fast disappearing Muslim in the Indian republic

The fast disappearing Muslim in the Indian republic

As the nation celebrates the Republic’s 69th year, the one dangerous trend that is becoming solidified since 2014 is the political invisibilisation of the Muslim, by denying the significant minority any political space. This is key to the Hindutva project of Hindu majoritarianism and the othering of the Muslim in every social sphere. The BJP is ruling 19 of the 29 states at the present, but has Muslim representatives in only three states. It has made “Congress Mukt Bharat” its rallying cry. But what is immediately manifest is the march towards a “Muslim Mukt Bharat.” The terrifying denouement of this will be especially catastrophic for the Pasmanda Muslim, who is subject to the “double-bind” of religious as well as caste discrimination, and who continues to remain on the margins of the nation’s socio-economic and cultural life. A democracy will become brittle when its minorities are systematically subject to a political apartheid and denied political representation. Certainly, no democracy can be a real democracy when its oppressed castes and classes are pitted against each other on the basis of religion.

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Rawat Bipin: A General or a BJP Cow Vigilante

Rawat Bipin: A General or a BJP Cow Vigilante

It appears as if Indian Army Chief, General Bipin Rawat had extensively bunked his military strategy related classes during staff college days. On January 12, he said at a presser: “We will call the [nuclear] bluff of Pakistan. If we will have to really confront, and a task is given to us, we are not going to say we cannot cross the border because they have nuclear weapons”. Pakistan is fully capable of defending itself. Region couldn’t make progress without enduring pace and stability. Peaceful environment in the region is imperative for economic progress and wellbeing of the people of South Asia. Who would know better than Bipin that Pakistan’s nuclear resolve has been tested many times over since Brass-tacks days, and it always stood the test very well. Indian leadership is well aware about inherent weaknesses attached to its nuclear button. Rawat’s bellicosity is misplaced. And as regards China, Doklam fiasco shall continue to haunt a couple of Bipin’s successors. This tactical mistake has brought enduring strategic pain to India, smaller countries of South Asia as well the US stand exposed to the reality that India military is no match to Chinese strategic acumen. And finally, General Rawat Bipin! have a heart, there should be a difference in the quality of posturing by Indian Army Chief and a BJP Cow-vigilante.

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Jumpy Tweets of Bumpy Trump

bumpy trump and jumpy tweets

Our dear Trump, “the most genius and most stable”, may be trying to cut the trunk of the tree on which successive American administration have been investing heavily. Richard G. Olson, former US ambassador to Pakistan and former special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan in his opinion piece, “How Not to Engage with Pakistan”, for the New York Times on January 09, aptly commented: “While perhaps it is emotionally satisfying to penalize a country that has supported American enemies in Afghanistan for the past 16 years, the administration’s approach is unlikely to work…The harsh truth is that American leverage over Rawalpindi and Islamabad has been declining… Thus, the Trump administration’s attempt at humiliating and penalizing Pakistan is unlikely to work. Pakistan, like most countries, reacts very badly to public attempts to force its hand. It is likely to respond by showing how it can truly undercut our position in Afghanistan….” Any listeners in the US? Probably none, at least for the time being. Through a series of major counter-terrorism operations, Pakistan has cleared all these areas resulting in elimination of organized terrorist presence leading to significant improvement in security situation in Pakistan. Pakistan’s peace efforts are awaiting reciprocal actions from the Afghan side in terms of clearance of vast stretches of ungoverned spaces on the Afghan side, bilateral border management, repatriation of Afghan refugees, controlling poppy cultivation, drug trafficking and initiating Afghan led and owned political reconciliation in Afghanistan.

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How Not to Engage With Pakistan

How Not to Engage With Pakistan

by Richard G. Olson [Courtesy The New York Times] President Trump’s decision last week to suspend almost all security aid to Pakistan, which quickly followed his accusation that Pakistan had “given us nothing but lies and deceit,” suggests that his administration is carrying out the hard-line approach that the president foreshadowed in August.The harsh truth is that American leverage over Rawalpindi and Islamabad has been declining. And as United States aid levels have diminished — reflecting bipartisan unhappiness with Pakistani policy — aid from the Chinese has increased. China has invested around $62 billion in Pakistani infrastructure under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, an element of the “One Belt, One Road” initiative. Its magnitude and its transformation of parts of Pakistan dwarf anything the United States has ever undertaken.Thus, the Trump administration’s attempt at humiliating and penalizing Pakistan is unlikely to work. Pakistan, like most countries, reacts very badly to public attempts to force its hand. It is likely to respond by showing how it can truly undercut our position in Afghanistan.

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Pakistan’s gracious approach towards Jadhav

Pakistan’s gracious approach towards Jadhav

When Indian media and parliament were belittling Pakistan over Jadhav’s meeting with his mother and wife, they should have also taken stock as to how India treats its own prisoners. Indian MPs need to go through the memoir of journalist Iftikhar Gilani arrested for several months on false charges of spying. Gilani narrated in his book “My days in Prison” about the way his meeting took place with his wife: “I saw Aanisa. She was looking tired and pale. It was extremely frustrating not to be able to talk to her without the barriers. It was very difficult to see her under the watchful eyes of my tormentors. I could see Aanisa was also under great anxiety … Just getting to jail was difficult, and added to that was the incontestable humiliation at the hands of the jail staff she had to contend with.” Afzal Guru and Maqbool Butt are other examples of the way India illtreats its own prisoners. Let Jadhav be the judge, as to which of the two countries treat their prisoners more humanely. While Indian Foreign Minister Shushma Swaraj is known for playing dirty on grant of visa to Pakistani nationals even for pilgrimage and medical treatment, Indian Navy Commander Jadhav’s mother publicly thanked Pakistan for the humanitarian gesture. In a video message, Jadhav also thanked Pakistan’s government for setting up the meeting. “Thankful to the government of Pakistan for this kindness.” Pakistan’s Foreign Minister aptly put it: “We have allowed access to Jadhav’s family purely on a humanitarian basis. However, if we were in the same place, India wouldn’t have been so kind to us.” It is deplorable that as Pakistan was arranging a meeting of terrorist-spy Jadhav with his family members, Indian troops engaged in unprovoked firing on the Line of Control killing three Pakistani soldiers and injuring another on Rakhchikri sector.

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American hangover of unipolar World

American hangover of unipolar World

The new US National Security Strategy 2017 has three cardinal points: “America First” shall be the underwriter of the US national security strategy; America shall compete against China and Russia; and, Climate change is no longer a priority. Strategy explicitly designates China and Russia as top national security threats, based on presumption that the two countries “challenge American power, influence, and interests, attempting to erode American security and prosperity.” Policy has also hurled unsubstantiated allegations towards Pakistan. Pakistan has rejected these unfounded accusations that belie facts on ground and trivialize Pakistan’s efforts for fighting terrorism and its unmatched sacrifices. Document has also attracted strong rebuttals from China and Russia. Strategy is reflective of American hangover of unipolar World. American hangover of unipolar World American hangover of unipolar World Every NSS articulated since mandated by the Goldwater-Nichols Act 1986 has either been quickly forgotten or never implemented. Foreign policy follows its own trajectory, wars are declared whimsically, allies go their own way, unforeseen threats emerge more frequently than those forecast in the NSS. Congress does not appropriate funds in line with NSS predictions.

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Jerusalem conundrum

Jerusalem conundrum

Despite crude threats by the United States, comity of nations has expressed over-whelming global sentiment in favour of Palestinian people through 129-8 UN General Assembly resolution. Middle East is entering the culminating phase of post Cold War American vision about this region—Israel pliant Middle East. Trump’s announcement to recognize Jerusalem as capital of Israel was topping of the cake. It prompted an outpour of anger in the Muslim and Arab world. Collective and formalized response was channeled through the summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). With the Islamic world itself mired in division, the summit fell well short of agreeing on any concrete sanctions against Israel or the United States. The status of Jerusalem, a city holy to Christians, Jews and Muslims, is perhaps the most sensitive issue in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israel sees the entire city as its undivided capital, while the Palestinians want the eastern sector as the capital of their future state. And the Pope aired the Christian aspirations. Jerusalem conundrum thrown up has shaken the entire World.

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Curse of circular conspiracy theory

circular conspiracy theory

The way this avoidable 21-day siege evolved and ended has raised many questions, which need collective answers from the national leadership. There was a nation-wide sigh of relief when Faizabad sit-in ended peacefully, thanks to good offices of Pakistan Army. This wasn’t the first time when Army played such a role and burnt its fingers. A number of times fingers have been pointed towards Army for first constructing such sit-ins and then deconstructing them in a power barter with the executive branch of the government. Like wise the incumbent government is often blamed for trucking with religious extremists for political gains. For their credibility, both need to come clean on these public perceptions. As the post mortem of Faizabad fiasco is in progress, all the guilty have dug-in their heels to justify their follies, stupidities, acts of omission and commission as well as comics. They are hoping that soon there would be a divine intervention in the form of yet another bigger catastrophe, turning the national focus away from this one. A candid estimate has it that the incident could cost the ruling party around 20-30 national assembly seats in the upcoming elections alongside erosion of mandate in all provinces. Those with higher stakes like the ruling party are trying to wriggle out of it by rolling of a couple of dispensable heads. The planning and execution of the controversial law ran much broader and deeper than the single ministry’s purview. Then allowing the matter to hang-on to ferment a crisis was indeed a national crime for which responsibility must be fixed and punishment meted out. However, one wonders whether our fragile system would have the strength to undertake this enterprise; or, as per track record, push the matter under the carpet.

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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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