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South Asia

Over NSG, India is its own rival



Despite support from the US, India could not get Nuclear Suppliers Group membership during the two-day plenary at Seoul in June. New Delhi’s eagerness to gain a seat at the table that controls the global nuclear commerce fizzled and it has tried to place onus of sour grapes on Beijing’s so-called procedural hurdles. This is an untruth.

As the CPI (M) Polit Bureau member Prakash Karat recently said, “The government is trying to say it was only China which opposed India’s entry into NSG. That is not correct. Out of 48 countries, 10 countries, including China, and our own partners in BRICS like Brazil and South Africa, did not favour India getting into the NSG.” This has happened because India is its own rival and its increasing hubris even at Rio Olympics has blindsided it from making rational choices.

India has refused to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which is the keystone of the nonproliferation regime and sine qua non for membership of the NSG. New Delhi has two stark choices to overcome this dilemma: 1) it should either sign NPT as a non-nuclear weapons State or 2) it should swallow its pride and seek simultaneous entry of all non-NPT States in the NSG. It is crystal clear that India shall never be able to enter into NSG alone. The non-proliferation purist countries – not China only – will never like to repeat their mistake of 2008 and allow India permanently enter in to their fold. Despite its poor proliferation record and besides keeping its eight so-called civilian nuclear reactors outside IAEA safeguards, India managed to secure a trade waiver from the NSG. Some participating governments have learnt their lessons and won’t repeat the error in judgment.

Realizing the sensitivity of the issue, a number of American experts and lawmakers have voiced serious reservations on Obama administration’s persistent push on Indian bid. Democratic Senator from Massachusetts Edward Markey in a recent statement said, “Today, the NSG reaffirmed its strong support for the NPT by refraining from admitting India.” Earlier at a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on US-India Relations, he had warned that India’s admission into the NSG without signing the NPT would trigger a “never-ending” nuclear race in South Asia. It clearly shows that Obama administration is deeply divided in its desperate quest   for India’s hasty inclusion in NSG. This push is more about Obama’s efforts to leave a legacy rather than genuinely promoting non-proliferation. If it were so, his administration should have no qualms roping in all non-NPT states into NSG simultaneously because their participation would strengthen the regime.

Earlier, Pakistan warned international community by saying that admitting only India into the club would threaten strategic stability in South Asia and permanently damage the non-proliferation regime. Since the 2005 nuclear deal with the U.S. and the 2008 trade waiver, India has vertically proliferated and built huge stockpile of fissile materials for its burgeoning nuclear weapons program. Every gram of nuclear fuel India imports from these states has unencumbered its indigenous resources for weapons development.

This vertical proliferation and utter disregard of norms will only shrink global support for India in its quest for NSG membership and irreversible destabilize strategic and deterrence stability of the Pak-India subcontinent. If NSG membership is so important for New Delhi, it should be subjected severe oversight, asked to take additional commitments and forced to constrain its nuclear and conventional force posture developments.

I propose that NSG participating governments should condition Indian entry into Group to the following four conditions.

One – New Delhi should be asked to bring all its current and upcoming reactors under safeguards. Recent Belfer Centre study reveals that Indian nuclear program has three streams, civilian safeguarded, civilian unsafeguarded and military facilities in its surreptitious fuel cycle. Report further clearly explains that the ‘three streams’ are not transparent in their overlapping and some civilian facilities operating under International Atomic Energy Agency, also contribute to India’s stockpile of unsafeguarded weapons-usable nuclear.

In this regard, India should certify that once admitted simultaneously with other non-NPT States like Pakistan, it would never seek enrichment and reprocessing technology from the NSG. There is substantial evidence that New Delhi’s enrichment program benefitted from the international black market and that it was the Fourth Customer of the non-state network. Likewise, it is worth recalling that NSG was created after India proliferated from Atoms for Peace Program and reprocessed the safeguarded fuel to make its first weapon. A moth eaten safeguards arrangement and a shallow Additional Program would not ensure tracking the imported fuel and ensure that it is not diverted to weapons.

Two – India should be asked to reverse seven developments in its force posture and doctrine: a) Development of intercontinental ballistic missiles; b) Verifiably stop pursuit of MIRV technology; c) It should be forced to return the leased nuclear submarines to Russia and verifiably close submarine-launched ballistic missiles development program; d) India should halt the ballistic missiles defense shield program because it would enhance its pre-emptive tendencies; e) It should reverse development of Prahaar and Pragati tactical nuclear weapons systems and f) Rollback doctrines and related developments on ground that seek fighting limited wars under nuclear overhang and g) lastly give up its doctrine of massive retaliation.

If India does not take these steps in the interest of global and regional stability, its DRDO should be placed under UNSC sanctions in order to regulate its irresponsible behaviour. Some apologists in the West would consider these emplacing these conditions not workable because India is a big market that they cannot afford to ignore and that the country has successfully used China as a bogey to play on Western security sensibilities.

Three – It is well known that India has only provided lip service to eschew further nuclear weapons testing. New Delhi should follow Pakistan’s lead in at least declaring a bilateral moratorium on nuclear weapons testing. In a statement on August 12, 2016, Sartaj Aziz reiterated the country’s offer saying, “Pakistan has consistently supported the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). We voted for the Treaty when it was adopted by the U.N. General Assembly in 1996. We have declared a unilateral moratorium on further testing. Pakistan is prepared to consider translating its unilateral moratorium into a bilateral arrangement on non-testing with India.”

Four – Irresolution of Jammu and Kashmir and water disputes are the roots of instability between India and Pakistan. Islamabad’s repeated efforts to use the negotiating table rather than arms racing has fallen of deaf New Delhi ears. The silence of the civilized world for the sake of economic and political imperatives has emboldened India to grossly suppress the freedom struggle with an iron hand. Thousands have been killed, maimed and raped over the years in Indian occupied Kashmir. If the free world and true democracies use their leverage on India, resolution of disputes between Pakistan and India can bring lasting peace to the region and complement global efforts for general and complete disarmament and non-proliferation’s half-measure to attain this ideal.

It is time that NSG’s participating governments take the unruly bull by its horns and likewise UNSC should exercise its usually selective authority to constrain India behavior and condition its quest for mainstreaming into the non-proliferation regime to its behavior as a responsible player in the world. Till such time this does not happen, India will be its own rival and will stand on the wrong side of history. The civilized world shall remain understandably polite in pointing out Indian follies for political and economic imperatives. Although Confucian wisdom holds that one should never stop an adversary once he is committing a mistake, in this I thought that an advice would serve a global good.

South Asia

India’s Military Spending and South Asian Security



Over the past several years, unprecedented military modernization in Pakistan’s immediate neighbour, India, has worsened South Asia’s security environment. India’s heavy military spending and its unstoppable quest for the acquisition of sophisticated weapons have threatened regional stability. Indian desire to acquire global power status through military means has further been intensified as a result of US assistance particularly in former’s defence sector. Within quick span of time, defence trade between India and the US has shot from $1 billion to over $15 billion leaving other regional powers in the state of security consciousness.

India’s obsession with its military build-up doesn’t end here. According to the Stockholm International peace Research Institute (SIPRI) a prestigious international institute dedicated to research into conflict, armaments, arms control and disarmament, India, once again tops the list as world’s largest weapons importer. This is not a new development as previously, India also topped the list for the same reason.

As per SIPRI estimates, Russia remains top arms supplier to India. However, surprisingly arms deliveries from the US increased more than six-fold in the five-year period to the India. This trend in long run will definitely reduce market space for Russian arms and ammunition to India.

Despite the fact that, India’s unbridled military modernization is the primary impetus behind South Asian instability, global power’s economic expediencies in South Asia also undermines delicate conventional parity between India and Pakistan. For instance, Indo-US strategic partnership, which apparently touted as US’ China containment policy, seems more of a Pakistan containment policy. Much of the US provided weapon-tech to India is more useful against Pakistan in a conventional warfare. Almost 70% of Indian military troops and weapon system are deployed against Line of Control, (LOC). Interestingly, peaceful settlement of Docklam issue between China and India as well as sky-rocketing bilateral trade between both countries, which has reached to $84.44 billion last year, makes prospects of conflict almost impossible.

However, in contrast to aforementioned facts, the influx of massive military hardware from western capitals to India continues and in certain cases the flow of arms has gained momentum. There are two primary motives behind India’s overwhelming spending in defence industry.

First, India aspires for greater role in global environment and in certain ways it has been demonstrating its will and capability to influence global dynamics. India’s successful test of Agni-5, a long-range ballistic missile, capable of carrying nuclear weapons with a strike range of more than 3,000 miles, is a practical demonstration of its military capabilities to influence other powers around the globe. For hawkish policy makers in New Delhi, a strong military power can extend India’s global influence.

Secondly, India is following a policy of coercion at regional level primarily, against Pakistan which shares history of hostility and violence due to longstanding territorial disputes such as Kashmir. There is growing perception in New Delhi that militarily strong India can dictate South Asian affairs. That’s why India has been consistently opposing diplomacy and dialogue for peaceful resolution of disputes. Therefore, to meet its foreign policy goals, which are based on coercion and usage of hard power, India spends massive in military build-up.

Ironically, South Asia is called as nuclear flashpoint due to history of animosity and violent conflicts between India and Pakistan. With its mighty military power, India has emerged as the most potent threat for not just Pakistan but also a security challenge for other powers in the region.

Given the advantage it has in terms of nuclear missiles, military hardware and submarine fleet, India has been trying to create an environment conducive to wage limited war against Pakistan. For that, India has not just developed its military doctrine, Cold Start Doctrine, but also initiated and sponsored sub conventional war in Pakistan’s chaotic province, Balochistan.

In such circumstances, Pakistan needs to maintain delicate conventional military balance vis-à-vis India. Despite the fact, Pakistan has been facing number of issues at national, regional and international levels which include on-going military operation in tribal areas to hostile border skirmishes; a robust military modernization plan has become inevitable. A militarily strong Pakistan will be able to maintain its territorial integrity against aggressive yet militarily mighty India.

It’s an open fact that Pakistan has consistently called for peaceful resolution of all outstanding disputes and it has offered to resume diplomacy and dialogue over Kashmir dispute. Unfortunately, India’s cold response has not only restricted Pakistan’s peaceful overtures but also refused to accept third-party mediation in peaceful settlement of Kashmir issue. This clearly shows that, current ruling regime in India is not serious for peaceful settlement, rather more inclined to use of force and coercion. Under such circumstances, Pakistan needs to strengthen its force posture to pre-empt any kind of misadventure from its adversary. However, Pakistan, as it has done in past, must embrace peaceful overtures to bring stability in the region.

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South Asia

US Call for a New Relationship



U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson meets with Pakistan's Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad

‘Trust, but verify’ an Old Russian proverb that President Reagan liked to repeat often. Trump is neither the first President nor he is going to be the last to criticize Pakistan of deceit and threaten to cut off American assistance. Notwithstanding, the last six decades of the US support, the US has failed completely in cultivating an ally in Pakistan nor has it meaningfully changed the nature of its relationship with Pakistan, which can be best described as ‘transactional’. A quid-pro-quo relationship between the two has never been established with regards to the assistance they both offered to each other. In truth, United States has never really trusted Pakistan.

President Trump avowed in his New Afghan Strategy that the US has been paying Pakistan ‘billions of billions of dollars at the same time they are housing the very terrorists that we are fighting for’ but the mantra should be put to a halt. Likewise, the US must be conveyed boldly to stop continuing its false claims that Pakistan shelters the ‘agents of chaos’ and be reminded that friends don’t put each other on notices.

Similarly, statements and avowals that India now is a strongest ally to the US, disturbs Pakistan, chiefly because of the irony at Trump administration’s part which only sees the glittering Indian market but pay no heed to the growing Indian cease fire violations across the LoC and the atrocities India commits against the unarmed civilians of the Indian held Kashmir.

The recent visits and statements however by the senior US officials and Trump’s aides reflect the US call for a new relationship between the US and Pakistan, which once used to be close allies in the US led ‘Global War on Terror’.

Pakistan’s foreign policy makers at this point in time must be mindful of the fact that the US is a major trading partner and should adhere to a relationship more than ‘transactional’. Moreover, the risks and fears at the US part of ‘rampant destabilization and civil war in Afghanistan’ increments further the region already devoid of trust. For, nobody actually knows whether the US will stay or eventually leave Afghanistan.

The Afghan war has now become a war of logistics, in words of Sun Tzu ‘the line between order and disorder lies in logistics’, Pakistani supply lines thus provide Islamabad with a leverage in absence of shorter, cheaper and acceptable alternative routes. Given these circumstances, Pakistan should make best use of the US call towards a more robust bilateral relationship.

The move for a ‘new relationship’ and improved ties began last week with senior Trump aide’s visit to Islamabad to hold talks with Pakistani leaders.  Earlier also the impressions that Pakistan and the US were on a collision course were dispelled by a top US general. Likewise, US department’s acting Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asia Alice Wells asserted that the US was not thinking of cutting its ties rather assured that the US still cogitate Pakistan indispensable to the resolve in Afghanistan.

The aforesaid developments clearly indicate that the strained US-Pakistan relations would improve soon and that the suspension in the military aid is also not permanent.

To conclude, achieving long term stability and defeating the insurgency in the region will be difficult without Pakistan’s support and assistance.

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South Asia

Special Economic Zones and CPEC



Economic Expansion, high prices and inflation are the issues on which one can talk for hours. The scarcity of resources, energy crises and lack of industrial modernization are the challenges which Pakistan has been facing for past many decades. Despite the advantages of geographical setting, the country could not sufficiently expand its economy until 20thcentury. However, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has brought with it various infrastructural, energy, and industrial projects that show smooth progress in these sectors. One of the most significant developments is the establishment of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) under the Long Term Plan (LTP) of CPEC.SEZ is a physically protected area with definite geographic boundaries under which the investors and the developers enjoy duty free benefits and streamlined procedures, set up by the government.  After the successful completion of the Early Harvest Program (EHP), the governments of China and Pakistan aspire to complete the Long Term Plan (LTP) of CPEC. As a key route to success, the LTP has been divided into three phases and the work on the first phase has already started. SEZs are on the first priority list of the first Phase of LTP. While utilizing the strategic location of Pakistan and the rich resources, the SEZ will contribute a framework for Pakistan’s domestic industries, and local economy.

The government has planned to establish nine Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in all the four provinces, federal areas and Gilgit-Baltistan under the framework of CPEC, which would be completed in a period of three years. Pakistan has conducted feasibilities of 5 SEZs which focuses only on the infrastructure. The three prioritized SEZs to be completed in the first phase of LTP are M3 Industrial City in Faisalabad, Punjab, Chinese SEZ Dhabeji, Sindh and Hattar SEZ in KP province. While the remaining six sites include Rashakai Economic Zone, M-1 Noshera, Bostan Industrial Zone District Pishin, AllamaIqbal Industrial City, Moqpondass SEZ in Gilgit-Baltistan, ICT Model Industrial Zone Islamabad, Development of Industrial Park on Pakistan Steel Mills Land at port Qasim near Karachi, Special Economic Zone at Mirpur AJK, Mohmand Marble city.

Although, there are general misunderstandings regarding the industrial ramifications of the SEZ’s under CPEC due to large number of Chinese firms and the exemption in the tax rates offered to them. However, the LTP of CPEC shows that these SEZ’s will offer the country with a great opportunity to accelerate industrialization because they are beneficial for all the international and domestic investors. So far in the history, SEZs have been the reason of economic boost in countries around the globe. Now this is a matter of concern that either these SEZs will make Pakistan a center of economic modernization and trade ventures or not. The economist and financial experts are optimistic about Pakistan’s emergence as one of the fast growing and promising global economy.

While stepping towards the era of industrialization, Pakistan faces a number of issues that have so far refrain the industries to understand their growth potential. Some of the chief hindrances to investment in Pakistan include poor security; non-availability of infrastructure and power crises, rent-seeking regulators, and cumbersome tax administration, etc. among many others.

Likewise the entrepreneurs in Pakistan have certain reservation with the incentives proposed by the government and SEZs for the investors and enterprises including ten-year exemption from all taxes on imported capital goods and exemption from tax on income accruable from development and operations in SEZs for a period of ten years. Although these incentives will be beneficial for the foreign investors at large but at the same time it will provide Pakistani enterprises with the opportunity to collaborate with the Chinese firms and launch joint ventures of mutual interests and benefits. This will be further beneficial for the annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth of Pakistan. Moreover it will bring Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the country thus generating the foreign revenue.

Subsequently it is significant to keep in mind that in Pakistan there are certain security and political factors due to which the SEZ’s may face challenges. Hence forth to conquer these challenges provincial harmony among all the provinces and mutual consensus between the public sector and private sector is needed. SEZs under CPEC will be a life-time opportunity for Pakistani companies to work together with Chinese companies for the development of export-oriented manufacturing industries. Therefore, Pakistan should increase its products in the Chinese market and raise the ratio of its export while decreasing the trade deficit by lowering the imports.

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