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.
Post-UNGA: Kashmir is somewhere between abyss and fear
Hailed as a hero for calling out New Delhi’s draconian measures in occupied Kashmir, Imran Khan warned the world of a “bloodbath” once India lifts its lockdown of Jammu and Kashmir. He persuaded global leaders to denounce the brutalities and human rights violations unleashed on Kashmiris ever since the disruption of the decades old status quo, which had been granted by the symbolic autonomy of Articles 370 and 35(A) within the Indian constitution. The constitutional coup d état ensures the alienation of Kashmiris in IOK beyond the point of redemption with massive spillover effects across the LOC. Pakistan is home to 4,045,366 self-governed and independent Kashmiris as per the 2017 census, who are desired of more than a political and diplomatic support for their brothers in IOK. India and Pakistan have already fought three wars on the Kashmir issue.
Focusing on the brazen denial of core human values, Imran Khan prognosticated a more radicalized world as the scourge of radicalism finds more fodder in a discriminated society. If climate change is ignored, the clichés of religious affiliation continues and the inherent right of self-determination remains disregarded, violent reaction is inevitable. He said, “we all know that marginalisation leads to radicalization”… “No one did research that before 9-11, the majority of suicide bombers in the world were Tamil Tigers. They were Hindus”, but Hindus rightly escaped the blame since belief and religion has nothing to do with desperation.
Imran Khan talked more like Gandhi than the nation of Gandhi itself. He reminded the world of the reincarnation of the progrom and racial ridden medieval periods when religion and state were inseparable .It has reshaped and now resides more in inter-state relations while negatively stirring regional cooperation and globalization. Already enwrapped in a world of deprivation, the fifth largest population of South Asia is fearfully seen at the brink of a nuclear war with there being very few options left for a seven times smaller nuclear state of Pakistan, which has been already driven to the wall. The speech was well received and touched a chord with many Kashmiris reeling under the unprecedented communications blackout and travel restrictions in place since August 5.
“It felt like there is someone to watch our back. It felt that someone is talking for us, that we are not alone”, was the feeling commonly displayed. Hundreds of affected Kashmiri stakeholders came out of their homes, shouting slogans in support of Imran Khan and calling for the independence of Kashmir despite the movement restrictions and deployment of additional force by India in Srinagar.A fresh charge sheet has also been filed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) of India against the chief of Jammu & Kashmir Liberation Front, (JKLF) Yasin Malik, and other leaders including Asiya Andrabi, and Masarat Alam on October 4, 2019.
Conjuring up his dystopian vision, Prime Minister Modi made no mention of the disputed region of Kashmir in his read-out speech at the UN along the lines of diplomatically bureaucratic explanation. He only ticked the fanciful boxes of development, progress, and world peace, annihilation of terrorism and protection of environment. This speech however, was soon followed by a threat from his own government’s defence minister calling for the liberation of Pakistani Administered Kashmir as the next step in India’s quest for regional dominance.
Moreover, Imran Khan has also expressed his fears in his erstwhile meetings with Donald Trump, Angela Merkel, Emmanuel Macron and Boris Johnson on the sidelines of the General Assembly session. Trump has offered mediation, but only if both Pakistan and India agree. A senior US diplomat for South Asia called for a lowering of rhetoric between India and Pakistan, while saying that Washington hoped to see rapid action by India to lift restrictions it has imposed in Kashmir and the release of detainees there. Similarly, State Councilor and Foreign Minister of China, Wang Yi, in his address to the General Assembly on 27 September stated that,;”The Kashmir issue, a dispute left from the past, should be peacefully and properly addressed in accordance with the UN Charter, Security Council resolutions and bilateral agreements.”
Nonetheless, an arrogant denial by India to the support of Pakistan’s stance on Kashmir by Turkey and Malaysia is more of an inept understanding of diplomacy and international commitment. India needs to step out of the skeptical comprehension of the role of the UN that was pronounced by Ms. Vidisha Maitra India’s Permanent Mission to the UN. The sway of diplomatic terms espoused with preconceived historical interpretations could be misguiding for political leaders. Modi needs to keep his ears close to the ground to save his political future. It is an extensional battle for Kashmiris. No concertina wire can blur the contradiction in his approach to the issue, “when they are in India they say it is an internal issue and when they are on the international forums, they consider it a bilateral issue,” said one of the residents of Srinagar. Confusion exacerbates the fear, which consequently becomes a forerunner to terrorism. Same goes for the US whose mediator’s role gets paradoxical by Trump’s close alliance with Modi in his perusal of Asia-Pacific policy. Though, Imran Khan is perpetually using his political and diplomatic influence proactively, to mobilize both the international community and his own people, the anti-India feeling, the pro-militancy sensitivity and the general sense of despair — is stronger than before in Kashmir.
Kashmir Issue at the UNGA and the Nuclear Discourse
The Kashmir issue has more significance in view of the nuclearization of South Asia as many security experts around the world consider Kashmir a potential ‘nuclear flashpoint’ between India and Pakistan. The revocation of the special constitutional status of Kashmir by the BJP government on August 5, 2019, also referred to as Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act 2019 and the subsequent lockdown in Kashmir has since considerably increased political and diplomatic tensions between India and Pakistan. India’s recent moves and actions in Kashmir have once again internationalized the Kashmir dispute. This was evident during the UN General Assembly’s 74th Session, where the Kashmir issue remained a crucial agenda item for several countries.
During this year’s session prominent leaders of the world condemned Indian brutalities in Kashmir. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan criticized the international community for failing to pay attention to the Kashmir conflict and called for dialogue to end this dispute. Malaysian Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Mohamad said that Kashmir “has been invaded and occupied” by India despite the UN resolution on the issue. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi also discussed the issue and called for a peaceful resolution of the dispute based on the UN Charter and Security Council resolutions. Based on the grave importance of Kashmir as a potential ‘nuclear flashpoint’ between India and Pakistan, Prime Minister Imran Khan, while addressing the UNGA warned the world community about the dangers of a nuclear war that according to him might break out over Kashmir due to Indian atrocities. The current situation appears to be the most critical time for both the countries and the region as both countries are nuclear-armed.
However, unfortunately, the Indian leaders and media perceived Prime Minister Imran Khan’s warning as a nuclear threat and termed it as ‘brinkmanship’. Contrary to this perspective, it is worth mentioning here that the Indian leadership itself is involved in negative nuclear signaling and war hysteria against Pakistan in recent months. For instance, the 2019 Indian General Election campaign of Prime Minister Modi was largely based on negative nuclear signaling comprising of several threats referring to the possible use of nuclear weapons against Pakistan. Furthermore, as an apparent shift from India’s ‘No First Use’ (NFU) policy, on August 16, 2019Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, while on a visit to the Pokhran nuclear test site paid tribute to the late former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and asserted that India might review its NFU policy. He stated that a change in future circumstances would likely define the status of India’s NFU policy. Since then there is no official denial of this assertion from India which indicates that India might abandon its NFU policy.
Moreover, India’s offensive missile development programs and its growing nuclear arsenal which include; hypersonic missiles, ballistic missile defence systems, enhanced space capabilities for intelligence, reconnaissance, and surveillance and the induction of nuclear-powered ballistic-missile-capable submarines clearly indicate that India’s nuclear weapons modernization is aimed at continuously enhancing its deterrence framework including its second-strike capabilities vis-à-vis Pakistan. This is also evident from India’s military preparations under its more recent doctrines such as the 2017 Joint Doctrine of the Indian Armed Forces (JDIAF) and the 2018 Land Warfare Doctrine (LWD)which are also based upon more proactive offensive strategies and indirect threats of pre-emptive strikes against Pakistan.
As evident from the above-mentioned developments, it seems likely that India aspires to increasingly project itself as a regional hegemon and a potential superpower. The BJP government under Prime Minister Modi inspired by the Hindutva ideology is taking offensive measures under the notions of ‘a more Muscular or Modern India’ based on strong military preparedness. In such circumstances, Pakistan’s threat perception would likely remain increasingly inclined towards its eastern border. Pakistan due to its economic constraints would also likely face considerable difficulties in competing with India toe to toe with respect to its military modernization plans. Pakistan is already punching well above its weight, and nuclear deterrence would be the only way through which Pakistan can maintain a precise balance of power to preserve its security. This could only be carried out by deterring India with the employment of both minimum credible deterrence and full-spectrum deterrence capabilities. This posture clearly asserts that since Pakistan’s nuclear weapons are for defensive purposes in principle, they are aimed at deterring India from any and all kinds of aggression.
Hence, at the present India’s forceful annexation of occupied Kashmir and the resultant nuclear discourse at the UNGA has further intensified Pakistan-India tensions. Under present circumstances, the situation could easily trigger another politico-military escalation between India and Pakistan. Prime Minister Modi has bet his political reputation on his move to annex the region and his political career is on the line. The same way Pakistan’s politico-military establishment is equally unlikely back down from its stance on Kashmir. It would be difficult for both countries to come down from the escalation ladder because politico-military reputations would be at stake at both ends. Consequently, Pakistan might be forced to take action before India’s modernization plans get ahead and might respond even sooner.
The nuclear discourse in Prime Minister Imran Khan’s speech against the backdrop of the Kashmir crisis at such a high forum like UNGA would likely keep the issue internationalized. The situation demands the UN fulfill its responsibility of ensuring peace and to prevent billions of people from the dangers of a nuclear war. However, Indian blame game, aggressive behavior and offensive nuclear signaling against Pakistan all present a clear warning of nuclear war. It would greatly limit the prospects for international mediation especially by the United Nations whose resolutions on Kashmir clearly provide a right of self-determination to decide Kashmir’s future.
1.2 trillion rupees on the move: Modi’s greatest piece of purchase yet
Last week, the RBI (Reserve Bank of India) was taken aback by more than a surprise. Just when it was dealing with the uncomfortable series of events that led to the transfer of surplus 1.2 trillion rupees into the government of India; social media erupted. It quickly realized that losing the battle regarding the transfer would only add fuel to the hoax of closing down nine commercial banks. RBI enjoys considerable amount of autonomy and independence in the largest democracy, and still, it had to kneel down to Modi’s alleged quick fix.
The RBI would have to vouch for the government in times of need, it is primarily what is expected of the institution; but there was a great deal of discomfort in how the government justified it. A committee set up under the ex-governor, Mr Bimal Jalan, cited how central banks would not need so much of surplus to carry out their affairs. Effectively, it was an order, not a request, which became the underlying discomfort behind RBI’s hesitancy in adhering to the views of capital transfer committee. Not that anyone expected the central lender to protest longer, it did however, request Mr Jalan to reconsider the decision at the face of various consequences. To say the least, it was embarrassing for a premier financial institution to be put under the public eye. The social media hoax was another ridicule of the sickly RBI. In the tales of grand conquests, the victorious army steals the wealth from the losing party. Similarly, the BJP led government in India are redefining all forms of state tools in favour of their interests.
Stolen wealth is most often than not used to correct economic blunders. Just like in the tales of grand conquests, the decision to transfer national wealth from the reserve bank is nothing new. It is nevertheless baffling, that the money transfer is looping in the same direction. While the BJP government in India were imposing a comprehensive GST (Goods and Service Tax) policy, they would not have anticipated complaints from large industries over decreased consumer consumption. For a party that is now known to redefine the legitimacy of governance, falling prey to NBFC’s (Non-bank Financial Companies) incompetence or bankruptcy is a visible defeat. Unlike many other soaring economies, there are large group of subsidiary lenders operating in India. On hindsight, economic policies are barely creating tunnels through which the capital is getting recycled in the same loop. Revenues are not generating further revenues. It is merely closing down on its self-inflicted gap.
The Security and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) almost played with fire. Uncharacteristically, it proposed a framework to work together with the RBI in order to claim outstanding defaults from high value clients. The RBI was never going to agree with a defaming offer as such but the incident did fuel the argument of capital shuffling. It only makes the bluff look more real. A strategic plan to counter all measures that would have blocked the transfer of trillions. As Mr Jalan sheepishly implied how the importance of central bank and what is does is only limited to the public perception, RBI fought a fix in between larger or rather dangerous political agendas. Consolidating requests from SEBI to only fall into the whims of the government shows the lack lustre personality of the central funding institution. For the time being, Narendra Modi has his way, a theft of national treasure-like his opposition colleague Rajiv Gandhi expressed in the media. However, there will also be a far-fetched evaluation of Modi’s actions. A move of 1.2 trillion rupees in the same pot. Not by any means, a cunning cover up.
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