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New Cold War in South Asia: How India Should Reconnoitre Its Foreign Policy Strategic Challenges?

Dr. Bawa Singh

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During the Cold War, the world has been divided into two blocs i.e., capitalism and communism. The Cold War had been the outcome of the post-war disagreements, conflicting ideologies and fears of expansionism.

Due to internal and external dynamics of the South Asian region such as Pak-India and Sino-India rivalries, India’s hegemonic perception, its strengths in terms of demography and geography, the biggest standing army, massive pool of skilled human resources, advanced science and technology, rising economy and inventory of weapons, have once again moored the region into a new Cold War.

For the given geopolitical and geostrategic interests of the extra-regional powers such as the US, Russia and China, the South Asia has been entrapped in the geopolitical cobweb. The new equations have already been started taking place in global politics in general and the South Asian in particular. For the given of changing geopolitical landscape, myriads of strategic challenges have emerged before the Indian foreign policy. Now the question is how India will deal with these strategic challenges?

Paradigmatic Shift and New Equations: A New Cold War

The South Asia in general and India and Pakistan, in particular, have witnessed a paradigmatic shift in their foreign policies. The India foreign policy had gone under structural changes. Non-alignment has become the thing of the past, and realignment has become the lynchpin of the respective foreign policies. India has been coming closer to the US. These new alignments shifted the dead Cold War to the South Asia as a new Cold War. India as a major regional country and the US as a superpower have been sharing common interests in the region. These interests include stability, security, restraining extremism and terrorism etc. The new alignments have been emerging the US and India V/S Russia, China and Pakistan. The expanding strategic cooperation between India and the US and on the other hand, Russia, China and Pakistan, have been leaving drastic and indelible impacts on the South Asian geopolitical landscape.

During the Cold War (1945-1990s), the India and Russia had remained closed partners. The Russia had supported India in the time of crisis not only at the bilateral level rather in the international fora like the UN. Strategic help during the Indo-Pak War 1971, largest arms supplier, provision of advanced weapon and nuclear technology, ship and submarine technology, joint ventures in missile technology have been the some sectors of mutual cooperation. But the disintegration the USSR, the geopolitical scenario has been changed.

Realist scholars have argued that in international relation, there is no permanent friends or foes, it is only the national interests which are permanent. Now, India has been coming closer to the US. There was an active reciprocation by the US Presidents like Bush (2001 to 2009) and Obama (2009-till date), have given adequate space and accommodation to India’s strategic interests. The bilateral relations have been improved in multilateral sectors such as trade & investment, global security, support for inclusion in decision-making on matters of global governance, multilateral export control regimes MTCR, Wassenaar Arrangement, Australia Group and lastly the NSG.

Over the last one and half decade, the defence and security cooperation has been improved considerably. Sanctions imposed on India on account of nuclear tests in 1998, has lifted in 2001. A Joint Working Group (JWG) was constituted to enhance cooperation in counter-terrorism in 2000. The ‘New Framework for India-U.S. Defense Relations’ was signed in 2005. The nuclear agreement ‘123 Agreement’ was concluded in 2008 which was lingering on due to some technical issues. Bilateral dialogue mechanisms have been put in place to enhance defense cooperation, in policy of procurement, and production technology, security etc. Defence Trade and Technology Initiative (DTTI) has been established for facilitating the technology transfer. Under this initiative, both countries have committed to exploring the possibilities of co-development and co-production of the weapons. The signing of the nuclear agreement and the Logistic Exchange of Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) was formalised on 29 August 2016, in which both the countries agreed “in principle” to use each other’s strategic assets and bases. Nuclear agreement and the LEMOA had created the geopolitical ripple in the South Asia.

On the other hand, Pakistan is coming closer to Russia. Moreover, China and Pakistan’s strategic partnership in nuclear and other weapon technologies have been growing. During the Cold War, Russo-Pak relations have been marred due to Pakistan strategic support to the US against the Russian intervention in Afghanistan. In the late 1970s and 1980s, Pakistan had extended support to the Mujahedeen to overthrow the Soviet-backed communist regime. Later on, these rebels had underpinned by the United States, United Kingdom, China and Saudi Arabia. However, the old enmities had lost in the changing geopolitical landscape. It has been argued by one expert of the South Asian issues that Russia and Pakistan have been surreptitiously developing geopolitical and geostrategic relations. Pakistan is urging for the delivery of Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets. Russia has already been agreed to deliver of Mi-35M helicopters to Pakistan.

India’s Strategic Challenges: What Should Do?

The new equation termed as a new Cold War. The entire South Asia has been entrapped by the mistrust and distrust. Since China has been emerging as a significant power to and to check various initiatives, the US has launched the ‘Asia Pivot’. The growing propinquity between India and the US heightened the strategic concerns of China and Pakistan. Moreover, China has been supporting Pakistan against India in several areas such as military technology, nuclear cooperation, and economic assistance. To put pressure on India, the strategic cooperation between China and Pakistan has been expanded substantially. The strategic challenges have further extended by developing strategic cooperation between Russia and Pakistan. Out of the vested interests of the external powers and partly the internal bickering has heightened the arms race in the entire South Asia. Of course, it will serve the ulterior motives of the extra-regional players.

Russia, China and Pakistan have already closer to one and other. Out of this new axis and nexus, several strategic challenges have been emerging before Indian foreign policy. These include String of Pearls, One Belt and One Road, CPEC, modernization of its PLA, South China Sea dispute, expanding the nuclear programme, cybersecurity and expanding strategic foray in Indo-Pacific Ocean (Gwadar, Sittwe, Hambantota ports) etc. Russia is coming closer to China and Pakistan. The nuclear triumvirate is a new geopolitical and geostrategic challenge for India.    

Now the question is, how to deal with the emerging strategic challenges? It is highly recommended that India should follow a calibrated and guided foreign policy. Independence of foreign policy should be maintained at any cost. The intervention of the external powers in its internal issues should be kept at minimum level. Russia as a strategic partner should not be lost. Rather than depending on imported weapons technology, more funds and investment should be generated for the indigenisation of weapon technology. Non-alignment has not lost its relevance as the challenges of the time of non-alignment have been still existing. The strategic partnership with external powers should not be enhanced at the cost of independence of the foreign policy, arms race, geopolitical conflict and strategic challenges, etc. At last, freedom of the foreign policy should be the main national interest of India.      

Dr. Bawa Singh is teaching in the Centre for South and Central Asian Studies, School of Global Relations, Central University of Punjab, Bathinda, India-151001. bawasingh73[at]gmail.com

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South Asia

Pakistan a peace loving nation

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Muslims when meeting each other greet “Peace be upon you”. Islam is the religion of Peace and Love, Islamophobia is the creation of a few minds only. There is no doubt that there exists few criminals in every society, every religion, and every country, but such exceptions, may not be used to blame the whole nation, religion or country. Since its independence Pakistan has been promoting peace and stability around the world. Pakistan’s Peace-keeping missions have been playing important roles around the world to maintain peace in troubled areas. We are major contributor to Peace-Keeping Force and have been part of almost all of UN Peace-Missions, during the history of 7 decades. Pakistan is supportive of any efforts by any nation towards promotion or maintenance of peace.

Recently, UNGA’s Disarmament Committee adopted Pakistan’s resolutions with an overwhelming support, in New York on 9th November 2018. Three resolutions proposed by Pakistan were adopted by the UN General Assembly’s First Committee with an overwhelming support. The whole world supported Pakistan’s resolution while India was the only country to oppose them.

In fact, the resolutions highlight the importance of regional approaches to disarmament, which complement global disarmament efforts and stress the need to promote confidence building measures for enhancing regional and international peace and security. The resolution on conventional arms control was adopted by a large majority of 179 countries. India was the sole country to vote against the resolution.

Earlier, a big victory for Pakistan came, on November 1stwhen the Committee also adopted Pakistan’s resolution on assuring non-nuclear weapon states against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons by 122 votes. The First Committee of the UN General Assembly which meets annually deals with disarmament, global challenges, and threats to peace that affect the international community and is mandated to seek solutions to global security challenges by considering all disarmament and international security matters within the scope of the UN Charter. Pakistan’s role in disarmament was admired and non-proliferation of uranium. We strongly condemn biological and chemical weapons and strictly adhere to UN decisions.

Pakistan is a responsible country and always exploring the opportunities of peace. Pakistan has always initiated the peace process with India and sincerely tried best to resolve all issues with India, including Jammu and Kashmir, by a peaceful dialogue. Pakistan respects UN, Respect UN mandate, Respect UN Charter, and wants others to do the same. It believes in diplomacy, and there is precedence that some of the more complicated issues around the world, has been resolved by diplomacy, then why not Pakistan-India issues be resolved by dialogue too.

We support the supremacy of UN and all nations must respect the UN. We always stand with the oppressed and raise voice for the victims. Our struggle for justice and righteousness is always admired. We keep on struggling for global peace and be part of any peace process around the world.

The Indian opposition to Pakistani resolution and persistent refusal to leave Kashmir has exposed the true Indian face. The recent International Amnesty report on Human Right violation in Kashmir was a big blow to India. Indian atrocities against its own minorities and lower caste Hindus is condemned widely. Indian opposition to the UN resolution on Palestine is also an example of India’s international position.

It is time that serious notice is taken by the UN, International Community and all conscious individuals to stand up for International Peace, Justice and Human Rights.  We all should keep on struggling for a better world for our next generation. We should be united for “Peace, Stability and Prosperity” for humanity globally.

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The Making of Modern Maldives: A Look at Maumoon Gayoom

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Authors: Srimal Fernando and Pooja Singh

Former Maldivian President Maumoon Gayoom occupies an important place in Maldivian political history largely because he guided this equatorial island nation to unprecedented levels of economic growth and also through tough times when democracy was challenged. Gayoom has a national as well as international reputation that made his name familiar to the rest of the South Asian countries. It was after his return from Nigeria’s Ahmadu Bello University as a lecturer, Gayoom commenced his political journey as a close aid of prime minister Ahmed Zaki in mid-70’s and later as a cabinet minister under Ibrahim Nasir. Gayoom’s leadership embarked on a more reformist approach in the first two terms during his presidency. He was able to take credit for the rise of the tourism sector and an increase in the fish productivity. In Male, as well as in the rest of the Maldivian islands, building of small fisheries harbors were accelerated under the rapid development programs initiated under his presidency. When one looks at the Maldivian foreign policy, Maumoon was credited as one of the key founders of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) in 1985. Hence, he raised global awareness on climate change on the international arena. In this context, especially the awareness on small island nations facing rise in sea water levels which affects the livelihood of the islanders was a key theme which brought international attention. On the development side, the Hulhulemale reclamation project and the upgrading of roads and other infrastructure initiatives that he implemented are highly credited for by the Maldivians. In fact, the people’s president who visits the islands regularly was named as “A Man for All Islands” by the famous author in his book about Gayoom’s biography.

Early in his administration, former president introduced socio-economic experiments in reawakening the islands. His administration accelerated the economic growth in the twenty Atolls from Northern Haa Atoll to Southern Seenu Atoll instilling a degree of optimism and enthusiasm among the Maldivians. Yet another economic achievement in the tourism sector was the increase of luxury resorts from two in 1978 to hundred by 2008. Gayoom’s career is most relevant due to his performance and for changing the country’s political system to a multi-party democratic system where the power is vested on the citizens.

Another milestone during his tenure was to expand the average income of Maldivians from US$ 377 in 1978 to US$3,654 in 2008. However, towards the end of his presidency, the first signs of irreconcilable difficulties with the Maldivian opposition led by Mohamed Nasheed, the leader of Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) started emerging in 2000. The Maldivian pro-democracy movement started in Male in 2003 and then moved to other Islands. As a result, Maldives adopted a multi-party political system and in 2008. In the same year the presidential campaign came to a climax where in the second phase of the presidential elections, the confident president had felt a constant sense of uncertainty since most of the opposition presidential candidates supported Mohamed Nasheed, the leader of the Maldivian Democratic Party. Gayoom lost the election and Nasheed the opposition leader assumed presidency.  The courageous former president Gayoom transferred the presidential powers to the newly elected president smoothly.

In fact, the reformist former president Gayoom formed the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party and later, he was one of the key founders of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) where his half-brother, Yameen Abdul Gayoom shared powers within the party. Hence, Qasim Ibrahim, a former finance minister under Nasheed’s government and also close confidant of president Gayoom led the Jumhooree Party (JP) which combined with PPM in 2013 presidential elections.

Unfortunately, in 2012 the overthrow of president Nasheed one of New Delhi’s closest allies in South Asia shocked the diplomatic circles on both sides of Asia as well as in the west. It took more than five years for Gayoom’s PPM party under the presidency of Yameen to return to power. However, due to widespread corruption and authoritative rules under Yameen’s presidency, many of the opposition party members such as former Maldivian president Nasheed, Jumhooree Party leader Qasim Ibrahim and many other political leaders who opposed the undemocratic rule were prisoned through unlawful means.

During the darkest period of the Maldivian politics from 2017 to September 2018, the lone voice of the public opposition belonged to a few opposition leaders such as, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih cannot be forgotten. In the same period, former president Gayoom, Nasheed and several opposition members created a united opposition to unseat president Yameen and his majority party rule through democratic non-violent means. One of the major reasons for this change by Gayoom in Yameen’s leadership was the widespread corruption and the authoritative rule. Finally, president Yameen prisoned former president Gayoom and his son, Faris Maumoon. This was one of the main reasons where large number of Gayoom supporters broke away from PPM led by president Yameen. This reason influenced the 23rd September 2018 presidential elections where opposition common candidate Ibrahim Solih saw a massive victory margin against president Yameen.

One could argue that, Gayoom, the president who guided Maldives to economic prosperity was the same charismatic leader who guided the South Asian Island nation towards democratic maturity. Maumoon Gayoom has been the most unpredictable political influencer in the modern political making of Maldives.

*Pooja Singh, a scholar of Masters in Diplomacy, Law, Business at Jindal School of International Affairs, India.

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INGO’s Nefarious Designs in the Garb of Development / Social Work

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In a developing country like Pakistan where governments have not paid due attention to raise the standard of living of the common people, initiatives by non-governmental and civil society have assumed special significance. Over the past many years, dozens of international non-governmental organizations (INGOs) have been performing the central role in promoting social welfare in the country. INGOs in Pakistan mostly work for utilizing the foreign funds they receive through the projects of foreign governments or Donor agencies. In the country like Pakistan where the government finds it challenging to deal with the many socio-economic problems faced by its populace, the role of INGOs in contributing to solve and support government policies to address these problems becomes vital. The INGOs have been working in Pakistan since late 1980s in the fields of education, medicine, social development, etc. They also operate as think tanks, survey teams, gallop polls agents and advisers to local administration to tackle social and education issues. It is widely believed that some of INGOs play nefarious role of weakening the ideological, social, political and economic foundations of Pakistan and creating split in the society. They even perform duties of spy agents for their masters and pass on ground intelligence and assessment regarding the societal trends and the exploitable vulnerabilities of deprived portion of society. Under the guise of development / social work, they often pretend themselves as the friends and well-wishers of the neglected classes, and silently keep on injecting poison by carrying out subversive activities to subvert the minds of down trodden class of society through stoking their socio-economic-ethnic and sectarian sensibilities.

Media that is perceived to be heavily funded by USA, Israel and India, not only reinforce their subversive activities by supporting the cause of anti-state elements but also degrade the law enforcement agencies and the government in power. Some of INGOs have supposedly a big hand in the instability of Pakistan. Having achieved considerable success in FATA, KP and Karachi, their focus has now shifted to interior Sindh, GilgitBaltistan (GB) and AJK where ethnic emotions and their deprivations are being stirred. These INGOs are also active in private education institutions particularly the elite schools, colleges and universities where teachers and professors are not only being cultivated but minds of the students are poisoned as well. They promote secularism and liberalism to demonize Islam with view to distract the youth from the righteous path of Islam. Some of the INGOs were found having connections with Indian High Commission Islamabad while some attempted to collect the data during general elections possibly to influence the results.

It is notable that INGOs started pouring into Pakistan after 1988 when Pakistan became dependent upon IMF, World Bank and US aid to run the governmental affairs. The International Donor Agencies that are considered to be funded and used by intelligence agencies started funding in Pakistan in order to cultivate more people in the garb of economic and social development projects.  After 9/11, when the US sanctions under Pressler Amendment were lifted and foreign aid started to flow in, the rate of influx of INGOs increased. A big number came when $7.5 billion worth Kerry Lugar Bill was signed in 2009. The amount required to be spent on development, military and media was spread over years. Then Pakistan Ambassador in Washington Hussain Haqqani had played a role in inserting anti-military establishment clauses after the approval of the initial agreement. He is also said to be helped CIA in the induction of Black Water and CIA contractors, spies and INGOs into Pakistan between 2008 and 2011, which enabled CIA to deploy Raymond Davis and other operators and to launch the helicopters assault in Abbottabad on May 2, 2011. The INGOs were cleverly deployed in the restive combat zones under the garb of rehabilitating the affected people. During the natural disasters of 2005 and 2010, the influx of INGOs has increased manifold in the garb of humanitarian assistance.

The INGOs are operating in Pakistan unregistered for the last 30 years. They operated freely after obtaining NOCs, and without registering and notifying their areas of work, mandate and source of funding. Their shady activities were ignored due to American and Western media pressure. The last PML-N government decided to curb their activities of unregistered INGOs. A crackdown was launched in January 2015 after it was learnt that several of INGOs were engaged in anti-Pakistan agenda. 140 NGOs were operating in Punjab out of which 7 were reported to be involved in unlawful activities. In June 2015, the then Interior Minister ChNisar Ali stated that several INGOs were backed by USA, Israel and India. “There are several NGOs operating in Pakistan without any specific agenda. They were doing something which was against Pakistan’s interest.” He alleged that most of them were taking part in “anti-Pakistan” activities.

A new policy was framed in November 2015 by the Interior Ministry and all INGOs were asked to re-apply and get re-registered. Notices have been served to 18 INGOs whose registration has not been approved, and told to quit Pakistan within 60 days. They will be given a chance to re-apply after six months from their respective countries of origin. The said INGOs do indeed participate in very useful activities whenever they remain true to their mandate so it’s basically giving them half a year to replace their “hybrid war operatives” with the “useful humanitarian operatives”. As no proper law or system in Pakistan existed to ban these INGOs, therefore, the recent scrutiny will help Pakistan to adopt a comprehensive policy. It is added that Director Social Welfare has been directed to prepare the data bank of all NGOs in order to ensure their regular monitoring.  Categorization of NGOs is to be done through data bank. SOPs for registration of NGOs are also being streamlined and reviewed so that only clean and genuine organization could qualify for registration. It is mention that Pakistan is not the only country that has banned INGOs from working against its national interest. India, China and Russia are other examples in the region.

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