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Turkish President Erdogan’s India visit

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[yt_dropcap type=”square” font=”” size=”14″ color=”#000″ background=”#fff” ] T [/yt_dropcap]urkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited India on an official two day trip from April 30 to May 1. President Erdogan embarked upon his India visit soon after he won the referendum to strengthen his presidency with more powers and he met Indian PM Narendra Modi on a variety of bilateral and multilateral issues. Both signed important bilateral agreements.

India and Turkey have to build on their many convergences and build mutual trust soon. This is possible at a time when both countries have very strong leaders and stable governments.

President Erdogan is the most popular Muslim leader advancing Islamic system that is opposed by all anti-Islamic forces globally. When Erdogan took up the Palestine issue, Israel, its close military ally, got wild as it does not allow any nation to breach the Zionist terror blockades meant to torture the Hamas Palestinians, and thus the “historic” bilateral ties have been strained badly.

PM Modi is in the mould of President Erdogan in terms of popularity and power. He has been Turkey’s prime minister for 12 years and now president for the last two-and-a-half years. This is his first foreign visit after scoring a comprehensive victory in a controversial referendum recently which gave him overwhelming powers and further cemented his place in the country’s power structure.

Besides economic aspects, the Turkish president and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi also held lengthy discussions on terrorism this week during Erdogan’s two-day visit to India. Both parties agreed that there was no justification for terrorism, and urged all countries to disrupt terrorist networks and financing and “stop cross-border movements of terrorists,”

The Turkish president, during his trip, also raised concerns about the Fethullah Terrorist Organisation (Feto). Ankara has demanded schools in India administered by a foundation linked to Fethullah Gulen ─ a US-based preacher who Erdogan accuses of instigating a failed coup in Turkey last year ─ be shut down. “As far as the Turkish concerns about Feto are concerned, they were mentioned to us. Any organisation in India, whether it is Indian or foreign, obviously has to work within the parameters of our laws and our norms and regulations,” Baglay said.

After talks with Modi, Erdogan assured India of Turkey’s full support in the fight against terrorism in general. Modi on his part said that “no intent or goal or reason or rationale can validate terrorism.” President Erdogan has different view on “cross-border terrorism” that India blames Pakistan for. On the question of exiled Turkish cleric Fehtullah Gulen, who is accused by Erdogan of plotting the 16 July coup against his government, the Turkish president described organisations associated with him as “terrorist” and hoped India would take necessary steps to rein in their activities. Both condemn terrorism.

Turkey president Recep Tayyip Erdogan in his day-long visit to India extended “full solidarity” with India in battling terrorism. After extensive talks with Erdogan, in which the fight against terrorism formed a major part, prime minister Narendra Modi said both the countries have agreed that “no intent or goal, no reason or rationale can validate terrorism”.

PM Modi said that he and Erdogan “agreed to work together to strengthen our cooperation, both bilaterally and multilaterally, to effectively counter this menace.” During the talks, which extended by nearly two hours beyond the scheduled 60 minutes, India and Turkey agreed to boost bilateral trade from the current level of just over $6 billion and expressed the resolve to fight the global menace of terrorism together. “(The) president and I are clear that the strength of our economies presents an enormous opportunity to expand and deepen commercial linkages between our countries,” Modi said while addressing the media.

PM Modi said that at the level of the two governments, “we need to approach the entire landscape of business opportunities in a strategic and long-term manner”. India and Turkey are two large economies,” he stated. “Our bilateral trade turnover of around $6 billion does not do full justice to convergences in our economies. Clearly, the business and industry on both sides can do much more.

For this reason, Turkey’s relations with the West are not optimal but Turkey’s relation with Russia, China and India is qualitatively improving Turkey’s earlier ‘West-centric’ foreign policy towards a ‘multidimensional foreign policy’.

Turkey a source of stability for Mideast

The meeting between Modi and Erdogan was widely reported in Turkish Daily Sabah and commentary and opinion touched upon the future of India-Turkey relations, the kind of stability it would bring to West Asia. The paper also brought out the Israel angle which most media in India failed or refused to touch upon. India as a new strategic partner of USA is automatically a military ally of Israel as well and their bilateral military tie ups are going up with a lot agreements for latest Israeli terror goods meant to kill Kashmiris are being signed in New Delhi.

Israel seems to use India to push for reactivation of Turkish-Zionist military ties. Turkish-Indian relations and the Israeli angle’ noted that Israel is a key aspect for the India-Turkey relations as Turkey’s move towards India has come after Turkey signing a reconciliation deal on 27 June, 2016 with Israel. Israeli sources say that there is a visible move towards “openness and comfort” between India and Israel in discussing all facets of bilateral relations and India should take advantage of the warming relations between Turkey and Israel and enhance cooperation among its West Asian partners.

However, neither American, neither British nor Russian newspapers like Sputnik News, Russia Today, and The Moscow Times had lent much coverage to President Erdogan’s India visit. In West Asia, The Khaleej Times, Gulf News also had minimal coverage and did not generate any commentary as such. The reason for this important media omission has obvious reasons.

President Erdogan is a wily politician and is a past master in the art of running with the hares and hunting with the hounds. Recently he had a dinner meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad even as he has been aiding and abetting Salafi jihadis against him. Indian strategic communist says President Erdogan has been trying to mollycoddle New Delhi with sweet nothings while having a very close relationship with Pakistan.

India wants Turkey, like USA and Russia do now, to ignore Pakistan and support its occupational crimes in Kashmir valley. Erdogan does not oblige New Delhi, however.

India stresses cooperation with India in the field of counter-terrorism should be a major area of interest for Erdogan as Turkey is in the grip of a spate of New Delhi asks as to what kind of value can he impart to this exercise when his government is closely involved with a country like Pakistan?

Convergence

Former Indian prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee who should be credited for redefining India-Turkey relations, now waiting for a breakthrough to qualify for another qualitative step forward. In 2001, then Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani was the first high-level dignitary of the NDA government to have visited Turkey which concluded with an important agreement on an extradition treaty. Later, in 2003, prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had gone on his landmark visit to Turkey — no Indian prime minister since then had gone to Turkey until prime minister Narendra Modi, in 2015, went to Antalaya to meet the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on the margins of the G20 summit which was followed by another meeting on the sidelines of G20 Summit in Hangzhou, China in 2016.

There was much more visible convergence between India and Turkey on trade and commercial ties. The political and religious differences between them didn’t prevent the two sides from pledging to increase bilateral trade to $10 billion by 2020 from $6.5 billion now.

Turkey has largely been seen as a moderate Islamic democracy with a population of about 80 million, strategically situated at the crossroads of Europe and Asia. Indian leader PM Narendra Modi noted that India and Turkey were two large economies which present an enormous opportunity to expand and deepen commercial linkages. He urged Turkish construction companies to participate in India’s efforts to bolster infrastructure.

At the outset it should be appreciated that the top Islamist ruler from Turkey shared dais with the top Hindutva leader in New Delhi and both struck harmonious cord and signaled friendly rapport. Different religions do not necessarily come in the way of friendly relations between and among nations. But Turkey’s ties with India have been rather indifferent, according to New Delhi, thanks to Turkey’s closeness to India’s arch nuclear rival Pakistan on key issues.

While Turkey’s close ties with Pakistan and Ankara’s ever-deepening involvement in several urban development projects in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir has riled India no end, Turkey too has its own concerns with India, right or wrong.

The Turkish side expressed supported for India’s bid to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group, Indian media reported. President Erdogan batted for India’s membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group, something which has been stridently opposed by China. But Erdogan hyphenated his ‘gesture’ with a similar status for Pakistan, a country with which Turkey has extremely close political and strategic relations, and supporting Pakistan’s case for NSG membership. This is what he said in an interview to an Indian TV news channel: “Both India and Pakistan have the right to aspire for NSG membership. I think India should not assume such an attitude. If Turkey was fair enough to support Pakistan, it was fair enough to support India. We are very objective and positive to the NSG process.”

Trade and regional cooperation potentials notwithstanding, India and Turkey have some problems that keep overwhelming the perception of their bilateral relations. Three issues will always be asked when it comes to deepen India-Turkey relations. First, how much Pakistan determines Turkey’s India perception, second, Turkey’s perception of Kashmir, and third, what is Turkey’s view of reforms in international institutions, which should ideally result in including India in the United Nations Security Council as permanent member.

India-Turkey cooperation in fields related to science, technology, education, culture and development areas have massive potential and both countries need each other to achieve their national interests and development goals.

Disagreements

President Erdogan has been honest in telling the world about his intent on supporting global Islam and helping Muslim nations in whatever way it can. Turkey’s Islamist ideology is seen above politics and does not compromise on the religious ideas. This explains why Istanbul supports Palestine and Kashmir sovereignty demands overtly as part of its ideology.

Diplomatic pleasantries, signing of agreements aside, Erdogan remarked that India should ideally be taking a ‘multilateral’ approach to hot button issue of Kashmir, however, India politely, but firmly said that Kashmir was a bilateral issue to be sorted out by India and Pakistan only. Neither of the press representatives mentioned any of this in the official press briefings. However press in Pakistan reported favorably about Erdogan’s comments. Pakistan has always welcomed the statements and endeavors aimed at addressing the human rights issues in IoK (the so-called India-occupied Kashmir) and the resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute, the statement concluded.”

President Erdogan, the founder of Islamist government in Turkey, supports Islamic governments against the will and wishes of anti-Islamic forces, nations, including Pakistan and support s the struggle of Palestinians and Kashmiris for sovereignty and human dignity. Turkey’s concern for Palestinians and Kashmiris is besides the rapport it maintains with India and, to some extent, Israel. In fact, ties between the two countries have been difficult because of their divergent positions on the India-Pakistan dispute over Kashmir.

For quite some time, the Erdogan government has been asking India tough questions about Gulen and believes that Gulen’s movement, which Ankara dubs as FETO or Fethullah Gulen Terrorist Organisation, has “infiltrated” India, a charge which about New Delhi has neither evidence nor any credible information. Turkey wants India to take action against FETO but has thus far failed to give any concrete information to India on the basis of which action can be taken.

Erdogan had last visited India in 2008 but that time as the prime minister. The Gulen issue was not an irritant in India-Turkey bilateral relations then because Gulen was a major ally of Erdogan. The two fell apart only in 2013, when major corruption scandals against the Erdogan government broke out. This time Erdogan’s stakes in India are much higher.

Turkey is not much impressed by Indian way of getting endorsement of its veto membership from every visiting dignitary and President Erdogan, therefore, did not sign the endorsement sheet extended to him.

Multidimensional foreign policy

Once a reluctant Muslim partner, Turkey has become a close ally of the Gulf countries, thanks to Iran’s growing hegemonic ambitions and Egypt’s preoccupation with its domestic crisis and absence of American leadership from Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) security architecture. Iran’s regional role has become deeply dependent on its military cooperation with Russia and other non-state actors like Hezbollah — something that Iran’s Arab neighbours are extremely worried about.

Turkey’s normalized relations with Russia have a stabilizing role in the region — where it can assume a balancing role among various competitive powers. Despite many serious differences over Syria, Turkey remains in good terms with Iran, however, allowing Turkey to use its leverage to mediate between Iran and its Gulf neighbours.

On Syria, Russia needs Turkey more than any other country to find a lasting political settlement; Russia has been advocating for a political outcome. Since the fall of Aleppo, Turkey has also refocused its Syria policy from regime change to counter terrorism, narrowing its differences with Russia and Iran. Turkey’s counter terrorism response is defined by threats: Islamic State’s presence in many urban areas of Syria and Iraq; and expansion of Kurdish separatist forces closely linked with internationally recognised terrorist group PKK. In 2016, Turkey adopted a go-alone military operation against Islamic State in north Syria starting from Jerablus and stopping at Al-Bab, effectively converting Euphrates as a buffer zone between the two sides of Kurds-held areas. However, the 15 July failed military coup attempt caught Turkey unaware of another terror threat, the Gulen network many Turks perceived only as a threat by “spiritual cult”.

In an extremely complicated Syrian crisis, the Assad government has successfully used the threats tactically against the Syrian rebels, by softening its view on Syrian Kurdish groups and using “Islamic terrorism” card interchangeably with Islamic State, the opposition forces and Al-Qaeda groups. As terrorist attacks increased against Turkish targets in 2015 and 2016, Turkey’s frustration against its Western allies’ support to the Kurdish groups deepened.

Turkey’s relations with its Western allies have gone berserk on Western indifference to what Turkey considers most serious threat to its national security. European leaders have been delaying Turkey’s EU accession. The trust deficit between Turkey and the West is widening. In this context, Turkey’s relation with Russia, China and India is qualitatively improving Turkey’s earlier ‘West-centric’ foreign policy towards a ‘multidimensional foreign policy’.

Turkey’s South Asia engagement is likely to deepen after India has renewed its interest in the Southern Corridor of Asia-Europe Rail (SCAER) project which will connect Istanbul with Kolkata, extendable further to Myanmar and Thailand. Officials from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Russia and Turkey have already concluded their first meeting in New Delhi on 16 March, 2017. Trans-Asian Railway (TAR) was originally proposed by United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) in 1980s and endorsed by concerned countries in 1992. The rail link, if started, can revolutionize India’s trade connectivity to Central Asia, Europe and West Asia.

Kashmir

India has murdered over 1000,000 Muslims in occupied Jammu Kashmir. Many Muslims, especially the youth, have disappeared without nay traces. And many secret graveyards have been discovered in Kashmir region.

Kashmir remains the flashpoint of tensions in South Asia where India and Pakistan obtained nukes to fight for entire Jammu Kashmir nation now being occupied by Pakistan and India- India does it brutally and seeks the endorsement of veto powers, particularly the super power USA.

Brutal occupation of Kashmir enabled India to enhance its military prowess and nuke manufacturing efforts. India is not ready to address the Kashmir issue bilaterally through peaceful means as has been stipulated in the Simla Agreement and Lahore Declaration. India and Pakistan keep fighting each other, engaged in cross border fires to terrorize Kashmiris.

Like Israel which has managed to delay the establishment of a soverign Palestine but still says it would resolve the conflict by direct negotiations with Palestinians, India also says it is always ready to talk about Kashmir and all other issues with Pakistan so that “peaceful solutions can be found bilaterally”. That is a bogus statement to fool the world.

Turkey views Kashmir issue as a composite one involving both India and Pakistan. India on the contrary, wants Turkey to ignore Pakistani claims and support Indian case in Kashmir. Istanbul is eager to help Kashmiris regain their lost sovereignty.

On the question of Kashmir—the Himalayan region that India says is part of its territory, something disputed by Pakistan—“India put forth its views that Kashmir was an integral part of India. Erdogan had stirred a hornet’s nest by saying that there should a “multilateral dialogue” on Kashmir—something India has been opposed to; India seeks to bilaterally resolve all its disputes with Pakistan. India has always said it would never brook any third party involvement on the Kashmir issue which is essentially a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan. Erdogan had, in an interview before his arrival in India, suggested that the two countries needed to ‘strengthen multilateral dialogue’ in an attempt to find a solution to the Kashmir issue.

Always opposing any outside interest in Indian criminal operations in Kashmir to kill and terrorize Kashmir Muslims, India quickly dismissed Turkish President Erdogan’s suggestion of multilateral talks on the Kashmir dispute, insisting the matter must be resolved bilaterally through talks between Islamabad and New Delhi. India says this knowing fully well that both India and Pakistan, the shared illegal occupiers of Jammu Kashmir, would never want to solve the problem because any credible solution means surrendering of Jammu Kashmir to Kashmiris.

India believes that terrorism issue helps it case for Kashmir and is eager not to loe out Kashmir. India is happy about cross-border terrorism and state-sponsored terror because that made India a strong nation now having established “strategic partnership” with USA and many western powers that sells terror goods to both India and Pakistan.

It is true that Pakistan-Turkey relations are more emotional than Turkey-India relations. Pakistan is projected as a country of Islamic leadership in third word despite the fact that India remains the second largest Muslim country in the world, without OIC membership though. The question many Muslim countries do not ask is: who is more important Pakistan or Kashmir, Pakistan or Indian Muslims? Weak faith could be a major reason for that.

India asks USA, Russia and other major powers not to take up the Kashmir issue for any international debates and as per its demand, USA also says that India and Pakistan would finalize the issue, even as Indian forces mercilessly kiln Kashmiris by missing the extra military laws.

India says it wants to end terrorism and also directly control Pakistan and it policies and politics, but never wants to solve the Kashmir issue. Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Spokesperson Gopal Baglay said, in a veiled reference to Pakistan that the Kashmir issue has a “prominent dimension of cross-border terrorism” that needs to be stopped by “those who are perpetuating it.

Pakistan’s ‘pro-Muslim’ and ‘pro-Kashmir’ credentials are often received uncritically. Turkey’s strong secular and democratic credentials bring great respect and regard for Turkey in India in stark opposition to the fragility of Pakistan’s democracy.

Turkish president’s offer of mediating between India and Pakistani was welcomed by Hurriyet leaders in India-held Kashmir. Hurriyet Forum Chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq observed that the Turkish president “is well aware of how the Kashmir dispute is the main source of tension between the two nations -India and Pakistan. Turkey being an important Islamic country, and having cordial relations with both India and Pakistan, will hopefully make efforts to end the political uncertainly prevalent in the region since decades,” Farooq said. “Being an active member of Kashmir Contact Group at the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, Turkey has always advocated the solution of Kashmir issue in accordance with the aspirations of the people of Kashmir, and Ankara can play a vital role in the resolution of this issue to end the tension in this region,” he maintained.

It is not surprising to observe that Turkish media has been mostly fair and objective in its coverage of India-Pakistan affairs, rather, many Turks have a clear understanding that Turkey should not come into Indo-Pakistan’s trap or support internationalizing the Kashmir issue.

Future

India and Turkey seem to converge on the need to build a stronger economic relationship, committing themselves to a vast increase in trade over the next few years, but seemed to disagree on political issues such as Kashmir. India says Kashmir has been made an integral part of Indian constitution but Turkey wants a soverign Kashmir.

India and Turkey waited fourteen years to see this moment once again. Turkey wants to play a vital role in bringing India and Pakistan together and resolve the Kashmir issue as well.

There are many good reasons to believe that the leaders of the two nations will find Vajpayee’s legacy as a common point to advance India-Turkey relations. The regional contexts in which the two countries are working support their role as well. Turkey, for example, notwithstanding setbacks in Syria, remains an influential and a key regional power to define the future outcomes of crisis in Syria and Iraq. Indian strategists want Erdogan and Modi to come to an understanding on India’s NSG bid, as this can expedite India entry to NSG.

For Turkey, India’s increasing economic and security profile is very important. India comes off as strong and powerful with its huge young and skilled population, a rich cultural base, and most importantly democratic institutions. India’s research and development profile: space program, especially micro-satellite and nano-satellites program, research in generic drugs, scientific research institutions have all given India a confident industrial and development scenario. This is what has been the main force behind redefining India’s strengthening relations with some major Muslim countries, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Bangladesh, Nigeria, and Egypt, almost unbound from any regional rivalry perceptions.

If New Delhi realizes and give up its faulty policies being pursued since it occupied Jammu Kashmir without the will and wishes of Kashmiris, towards Kashmiris and Pakistan, and think constructively about regain peace by allowing Kashmiris regain their lost sovereignty, that would genuinely build up its relations with not only Turkey and Pakistan and Kashmiris, but entire Islamic world and even entire world.

Peaceful regional cannot be guaranteed by genocides of Kashmir Muslims and silencing their rights to protest against occupational crimes perpetrated by brutal forces.

Erdogan’s visit should start a new era of bilateral engagement where both sides should invest efforts to understand each other. But keep your fingers crossed as India would not change its petrified mindset towards Kashmiris or Pakistanis, so don’t expect an overnight transformation of India-Turkey relations following Erdogan’s visit.

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Pakistan PM’s Saudi affair likely to backfire

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Pakistan’s relations with Saudi Arabia flourished during the previous government headed by Nawaz Sharif, primarily due to his personal business interests in the Kingdom and friendly association with members of the Saudi royal family. Despite the criticism at home, Sharif never missed an opportunity to eulogize the Saudi rulers and support their wrongs.

During Sharif’s tenure as Prime Minister, while Pakistan’s ‘love affair’ with Riyadh blossomed, relations with Tehran plummeted. When the ambitious gas pipeline project was shelved by the Sharif government in 2015 under the Saudi pressure, some experts couldn’t resist the temptation of reading the obituary of Iran-Pakistan friendship. It seemed game over.

But the political transition in Islamabad this year rekindled hopes of a new foreign policy taking shape in Islamabad under the populist premier Imran Khan.

In his victory speech, Khan made it categorically clear that he would like to strengthen ties with allies in the Middle East, including Iran and Saudi Arabia. During his first meeting with the Iranian envoy to Islamabad, Khan reiterated his desire to bolster ties with Tehran and revive important projects that had been put on the backburner by the previous political dispensation, including the gas pipeline.

Experts termed it a “significant shift” in Pakistan’s foreign policy as his predecessor was seen overtly inclined towards stronger Pakistan-Saudi relations than Pakistan-Iran relations. Writing in The New Arab, Dr. Fazzur Rahman Siddiqui, a fellow at Indian Council of World Affairs, said with the exit of Nawaz Sharif, Saudi Arabia had lost a reliable ally who never concealed his affection for the Gulf states in general, and Saudi Arabia in particular “for both personal and strategic reasons.”

It was widely believed that Khan’s approach will be different from Sharif and he will not yield to covert pressures from Washington or Riyadh. At least that is what appeared.
When Khan embarked on his first foreign trip to Saudi Arabia, keeping alive the tradition set by his predecessors, he sought to underscore that Riyadh will remain a priority for Pakistan’s foreign policy. Pertinently, it was President Hasan Rouhani of Iran, not King Salman of Saudi Arabia, who first extended an invitation to him.

But the faith in his leadership or his vision for ‘Naya Pakistan’ (new Pakistan) was not yet dented. The massive army of his followers on Twitter ensured that the public opinion, or at least the opinion of netizens, was firmly in favor of his leadership and policies.

As the country’s fiscal deficit inflated to 6.6 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in the 2017-2018 financial year, Khan panicked. He boarded the plane to Riyadh again, this time to seek funds. To woo the Saudi rulers, Khan said Riyadh had “always stood with Pakistan in difficult times and the Pakistani government and its people highly acknowledge it.”
Speculation had been put to rest. Khan was walking in the footsteps of his predecessor.

Following his second visit to Riyadh, Saudi regime announced $6 billion in financial support to Islamabad. It corresponded with the international outrage over the cold-blooded murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Even as many world leaders boycotted a Saudi investment conference, the so-called ‘Davos in the desert’, over Khashoggi’s death, Khan attended the event.

On asked why he attended the conference when many other world leaders had turned down the invitation, Khan said Pakistan was “desperate” for Saudi loans to shore up the flailing economy.

“Unless we get loans from friendly countries or the IMF, we actually won’t have in another two or three months enough foreign exchange to service our debts or to pay for our imports. So we’re desperate at the moment,” he was quoted saying by the Middle East Eye.

Khan conceded that his immediate foreign policy priority was maintaining good relations with Saudi Arabia despite unprecedented outrage over Khashoggi’s murder by Saudi officials or the outcry over Saudi’s horrendous war crimes in Yemen.

Pakistan, which had previously maintained a neutral stance on Yemen war, might now be forced to support the Saudi onslaught there, some observers fear. If Khan can ignore a reprehensible crime like the killing of Khashoggi because of Saudi petrodollars, it can be expected that he will support the Saudi war crimes in Yemen also, although he has so far resisted doing that.

While Khan has adopted a strong and unwavering stance against the US, he seems to have succumbed to the temptation of being subservient to the Saudi Kingdom, for funds. That is where he risks losing the goodwill he has earned back in Pakistan and in the international community.

At a time when the world is saying ‘no’ to Saudi Arabia, Khan is part of a tiny minority that is going against the tide. This approach will only isolate Pakistan and it has isolated Riyadh and Washington.

Being subservient to Saudi interests also means that Khan will be forced to toe his predecessor’s line on Iran. If that happens, Islamabad will again be forced to shelve the gas pipeline project, which is being described as critical to Pakistan’s energy requirements.

Khan is walking a tightrope. Wisdom lies in taking informed decisions in the best interests of Pakistan keeping in view long-term goals. In the cricketing terminology, the cricketer-turned-prime minister could do well by playing the forward defensive shot rather than the mistimed stroke in the air.

First published in our partner MNA

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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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