Connect with us

South Asia

India and the Indo-Pacific: Challenges and near-future agenda

Published

on

The coming into use of the term “Indo-Pacific Region” suggests the growing economic and strategic role of India on the changing geopolitical landscape. Such a concept places India at the center of this landscape, while India’s peripheral presence in the Asia-Pacific region is now a thing of the past.

The ultimate goal of India’s strategy in the Indo-Pacific Region (IPR) is to create a mobile system of geopolitical balances amid the growing influence of China and the resulting interest in the region from the United States and other Western countries.

Initially, New Delhi gave priority to the coastal zones of the Bay of Bengal, the Arabian and South China Seas, with a view to create a chain of friendly states that would stretch from the Gulf of Aden to the eastern tip of the South China Sea.

In this regard, not surprisingly, India has moved to a strategic partnership with the states that are located at the extreme poles of this chain – Oman and the Philippines. India has established an effective military and defense cooperation with Oman. Indian Navy officers provide instruction for representatives of the Royal Navy of Oman, the Indian Air Force uses Oman airfields to refuel, and the armed forces of both countries regularly engage in joint military drills.

New Delhi has been practicing the same cooperation format with the Philippines. Ships of the Indian Navy and the Coast Guards frequently call at the Philippines’ ports, both parties are cooperating in military logistics and fighting against terrorism. Manila and New Delhi have signed over forty agreements on cooperation in various sections of the economy.

Established in 1995, the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) became a manifestation of India’s desire to create a political and economic partnership of  the coastal states.

Members of IORA are states that stretch from Iran along the east coast of Africa to South Africa, Madagascar and the nearby island states and states of South and Southeast Asia, from Bangladesh through Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia to the South-West Pacific (Australia, New Zealand ).

Although India favors freedom of navigation and trade in the Indian Ocean, it is also interested in restricting the political influence of countries located outside the region that do not share the common political and economic interests of regional players. It means China. IORA is a flexible instrument for the consolidation of the region where “outsiders” can enter as interlocutors and partners in dialogue.

Along with the coastal zones of the Indian Ocean, Indian diplomacy is paying more attention to the island states in the Pacific Ocean. For New Delh, relations with these states are part of the “expanded neighborhood” policy. The development of relations with both coastal and island states makes it possible to reveal the practical use of the geopolitical essence of the concept of the Indo-Pacific region.

Even though India does not have a permanent military presence in the South Pacific, it is interested in it for geopolitical reasons. For this, the Indian Navy will have to expand their activity zone by using the Andaman and Nicobar Islands as  “springboards” in the east. In this case, military diplomacy cooperation will have to expand too. So far, India has permanent diplomatic missions in Papua New Guinea and Fiji, but without military attaches.

Strategic thinking requires of the Indian leadership to promote partnership with the following countries and international collective structures:
– USA, Australia, Japan (within the framework of the four-party Quad dialogue) and New Zealand;
– Chile as a flank state of the South Pacific adjacent to French Polynesia through the Chilean Sea (a political and legal concept denoting the Pacific waters belonging to Chile);
– France, proceeding from Paris’ consent to provide the Indians with the possibility of using French military bases in the Pacific;
– An advance group of Melanesian states (MSG) composed of Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands and Indonesia (associate member). The strengthening of the group’s negotiating positions will expand India’s diplomatic presence in Melanesia;
– Forum of Cooperation of India with the Pacific Island Countries (FIPIC);
– Iran, as a Shiite state, due to the growing influence of Beijing in Sunni Pakistan (China invests in the Pakistani port of Gwadar,  India – in the Iranian port of Chabahar);

– Fiji, considering a substantial number of representatives of the local Indian diaspora, the dynamic development of Fijian-Chinese relations, Fiji’s active foreign policy and the coincidence of India’s political course “Look East, Act East” with Fiji’s “Look North”;

What plays into India’s hands is that five of the fourteen island states of the South Pacific are in free association with western powers – Cook Islands and Niue are in association with New Zealand, while Marshall Islands, Palau, Federated States of Micronesia – with the United States. The more so since Wellington and Washington support the strengthening of India’s role in this part of the world.

In the foreseeable future, the Indian leadership faces the challenge of increasing financial assistance to Pacific island nations and reaching agreements on joint economic projects. At the moment, the assistance provided by India is insignificant, while the volume China’s aid has surpassed the assistance provided by New Zealand, is almost equal to the financial injections from the United States and is second only to Australia.

First published in our partner International Affairs

Continue Reading
Comments

South Asia

Indian Imbalanced Balance

Published

on

A serious crisis is looming over journalism in India, which is increasingly vested in the hands of authority. On the one hand, Indian President Pranab Mukherjee asks for “discussion and dissension” for a vibrant democracy. “There should always be room for the argumentative Indian, and not the intolerant Indian. The media must be the watchdog, the mediator between the leaders and the public,” Mukherjee said while paying his regards to Ramnath Goenka – former press baron. On the other hand, Indian media has lost its credibility regionally as well as internationally owing to quality of Indian public discourse. According to criminal lawyer Rebecca Mammen, “The true test of a robust democracy is the independence of its media. Over the past few years our media has become the mouthpiece of the party in power. Coupled with the fact the corporate owners of media houses share close links with the government, the Indian media has tragically lost its voice.”

The mainstream media is vested in the hands of a selected few and refuses to question authorities.         The ‘Reporters Without Borders’ annual Press Freedom Index, which was released on April 20, has ranked India at 142 among 180 countries reflecting poor credibility due to pressures by government. According to the Report, the Indian media is reeling under a Hindu nationalist government, which has time and again tried to gag journalists. Moreover, India’s influential TV news channels function largely as government mouthpieces.A European non-governmental group “EU disinfo lab” had uncovered a network of 265 ‘fake’ news outlets sponsored by an Indian network to influence the European Union (EU) and the United Nations (UN) with content against to Pakistan.

The crisis in the Indian media will have deeper impacts on Indian democracy. With a feeble opposition, weak institutions, and an inadequate media, Indians have no checks and balances. For instance, maligning Pakistan High Commission, Colombo(PAHIC) during a recent Indo-China conflict was an Indiangovernment instructed media strategy to divert public opinion from their failures in North. In other words, media strategy inadvertently defines poor political will of India to stand up to China while feel strong enough to bully the smaller neighbourhood.

The sane voices in Indian media have continuously shrinking space.Having almost 400 news channels, Indian media has failed to highlight serious matters, such as beef ban, human rights violations in Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir (IoJK), and numerous discriminations against Indian Dalits. “Over the last few years – especially after Prime Minister Narendra Modi won the general election of 2014 – the Indian mainstream media has allowed itself to be undermined by the transcendent political power that he represents,” said Pamela Philipose, The Wire. “A new note of muscular nationalism has crept into media discourse.  Also conspicuous is the curbing of dissent and the rise of the surveillance state – developments that bode ill for the independence of the Indian media,” says Philipose.

In a similar manner, a political scientist Giles Vernier argues that “a new note of muscular nationalism has crept into media discourse.  Also conspicuous is the curbing of dissent and the rise of the surveillance state – developments that bode ill for the independence of the Indian media.One reason why we don’t see much criticism in the media is that the government, in the person of the Prime Minister, has the ability to completely dominate the media’s agenda, by saturating the public and media sphere with the message, image, and his voice.”

Journalists should be critical of government’s handling of its internal and external matters to keep it on the right track. TV channels will call speakers of their choice, who would heavily lean to one side of discussion and pretend that it is balanced.

In the current atmosphere, with enraptured legislative issues and social perspectives, with populist political leadership, with developing bigotry against minorities and dissenters, the media can and ought to be an encouraging sign for liberal, mainstream and law based thoughts, yet additionally to guarantee that outrageous perspectives does not get into the papers or on TV. Rather, the media in India has become some portion of the issue, either excitedly partaking in preparing of contempt against the helpless, or carrying on in an insincere path by permitting the most exceedingly terrible components a free run of significant reality on their foundation. Whole ages of columnists are growing up with the possibility that they are playing out an important help; they have scarcely any good examples to gaze upward to, since their own managers, who should know better, are either sold out, ideologically dedicated to fanaticism or are indecisive, without firm feelings or just fearful. In any case, Indian reporting is in a profound emergency, all for the sake of ‘balance.’

Continue Reading

South Asia

This is Pakistan

Published

on

With an unprecedented progress in politico-socio-economic domains, Pakistan has a new face in the world. It has not only successfully corrected misplaced perceptions about it, but the internal and external circumstances around it have also changed, which has helped shaping Pakistan its renewed look according to changed regional and international environment. The successes at the security front has also led to the economic progress in Pakistan.

In result of Pakistan’s fight against terrorism and anti-extremism operations, it lost tens of thousands of people, including soldiers and civilians. Pakistan’s strong resolve together with sustained military operations against terrorist elements, however, brough back peace and stability in the country. According to Security Report 2019 by Pakistan Institute of Peace Studies (PIPS), “Pakistan witnessed a further decline in the number of terrorist incidents and consequent casualties… terrorist attacks this year decreased by around 13 percent as compared to 2018.” The report clearly depicted a gradual decrease in terrorist attacks and casualties since 2009. In this regard, Pakistan’s National Action Plan (NAP) helped eliminating the menace of terrorism from the country. The improved security situation in the country resulted in the economic dividends in the shape of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Pakistan is also appreciated for its nuclear material safety. In its annual report, the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) – a leading United States non-proliferation watchdogdivulged that “Pakistan’s improvements in the Security and Control Measures category are significant because strengthened laws and regulations result in durable boosts in Pakistan’s score as well as provide sustainable security benefits.” While appreciating Pakistan’s further improvement in nuclear materials’ safety, Laura Kennedy, a former United States diplomat, tweeted that “one welcome bit of news reported by #NTIindex is that #Pakistan ranked as most improved in security of those countries holding nuclear materials.”

Pakistan’s fight against Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19) is used as a role model by developed countries of the world. The Government of Pakistan (GoP) revealed a PKR 1.13 trillion relief package to help to the powerless and securing industry and other organizations. The concept of ‘Smart Lockdown’ also reaped its dividends and Pakistan has come out from the dangers of this deadly virus.

On the socio-economic front, Pakistan is making progress as well. For instance, the current account deficit has reduced from US$ 20 billion to US$ 3 billion together with a significant decrease in trade and fiscal account deficits. The stalled construction of Diamer-Bhasha dam has also been approved, which will result in additional water supplies for better agricultural production. There has been increase in the rights activism i.e., Transgender Pride March, Aurat March, Climate March, and Student Solidarity March. Women sports stars of Pakistan won international medals and recognitions.For instance, 8-year-old Pakistani Taekwondo star Ayesha Ayaz won a bronze medal for Pakistan at the 7thFujairah Taekwondo Open Championship in United Arab Emirates (UAE); Hajra Khan won 3 Guinness World Records; Mahnoor Shahzad won the Annapurna International Badminton Tournament; Nida Dar became the first Pakistani woman to sign a deal with an international cricket league, Sydney Thunder; Shahida Abbasi from Hazara won one of the total two gold medals for Pakistan at the South Asian Games 2019; and Mallak Faisal Zafar won first position in the Basic Novice Girls II category at the 24th International Eiscup Innsbruck 2019. Test cricket also returned to Pakistan.

Culturally, Pakistan is projecting itself more prominently. Pakistani celebrities are mamking it to international fashion weeks – Mushk Kaleem and Alicia Khan walked the ramp for Milan Fashion Week 2019. Pakistani film Laal Kabootar won the Vancouver International South Asian Film Festival for the Best Feature Film Award. ActressMahira Khan was appointed National Goodwill Ambassador for UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, strengthening the bond between the people of Pakistan and the international community. Moreover, Mehwish Hayat was appointed ambassador to UK based international humanitarian charity, Penny Appeal.

On the entrepreneurial front, 9 Pakistanis made it to Forbes’ coveted 30 under 30 Asia list: Ahmed Rauf Essa: Founder, Telemart; Karishma Ali, President, Chitral Womens Sports Club; Laila Kasuri, Water Analyst, Global Green Growth Institute; Hanaa Lakhani, Hasan Usmani,Gia Farooqi and MoneebMian, Cofounders, Roshni Rides, Zain Ashraf, Founder, Seed Out; and Zainab Bibi, Founder, Pakistan Society for Green Energy (PSGE).

Regionally, Pakistan’s foreign policy is paying its dividends. Pakistan’s relations among Iran, Afghanistan, Sri-Lanka, Russia, United States and others has improved significantly. Overall, there is many encouraging events happening in and around Pakistan.

Continue Reading

South Asia

Post-Pandemic Politics

Usman Ghani

Published

on

Franklin Roosevelt has rightly put it, ‘In politics, nothing happens accidentally. If anything happens, it’s palpable that it planned this way’. Numerous features have been defining pre-pandemic world politics over the years. The current situation shows that pandemic will only reinforce largely five global fault lines that have been characterizing the global environment even in the pre-pandemic phase. Form this we can extrapolate the future course of global politics. 

The first and the obvious feature is the rising multi-polarity with power being diffused vertically and horizontally between countries and within countries because citizens become more impart by accessible cheaper technologies. Therefore, global power especially economic power continues to be redistributed while the state power also continues to be eroded by the greater influence of non-state actors both good and bad. In today’s world, no single power can achieve outcomes on its own. It can only do so in conjunction or with the cooperation of other states. Since the Second World War, this pandemic is the first global crisis in which US leadership has been absent.

Secondly, the resurgence of competition and tensions between the big powers in the global environment have come into sight. US-China confrontation has become the most consequential and geopolitical development, which is going to influence and shape the world in the coming years. It can be seen that an outbreak of trade and tech war during the pre-pandemic will continue in the future. Political tensions are also at a record high. President Donald Trump of the United States has been using hostile rhetoric against China. Because of the severe actions taken by the US, China has reached its limits and started pushing back.

Thirdly, global powers are retreating from multilateralism and a rule-based international system. The renunciation of international agreements and treaties has been witnessed over the months. The irony is that the pandemic demands greater solidarity and cooperation but quite the opposite has happened, where there is an absence of international solidarity and much less collaboration. The USA has renounced a long list of treaties including the Iranian nuclear deal, Paris Agreement on Climate Change, Intermediate Nuclear Force Agreement (INF), and recently the Open Skies agreement. It has also walked out of key multilateral institutions such as the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva and the WHO more recently.

Another feature is the rise of populist leaders who are often described as strongmen. Although it’s debatable how much they deserve the description of strong men. Populist leaders act unilaterally with impunity as well as seek to rewrite the rules of game either in the world or their region depending upon their capability to manage. They are mostly disdainful toward international norms. In South Asia, the grimmest example is Prime Minister Narendra Modi who is taking brutal and illegal actions not only in occupied Kashmir but also within India by pursuing communal politics.

Ultimately, there would be an emergence of anti-globalization sentiment due to multiple factors. The UN will be celebrating its 75th anniversary which is going to be a historic moment while American threatens to leave the World Health Organization (WHO) permanently. In this unenviable situation, the UN has been under great strain because its main agency which deals with the health crisis is under attack due to curtailment of funding by Donald Trump. Furthermore, certain leaders of the west are going to reject the existing trading regimes because they cannot compete anymore. The prevailing situation in those countries demands to remake global supply chains and they intend to reduce their dependence on China. Apart from that, plans are considered to move towards setting up local hubs of manufacture and supply.

In a nutshell, there is going to be a reversal of many aspects of globalization. Protectionism, trade wars, and to some extent travel restrictions will be a new reality. Right-wing populist leaders will use the health crisis to reinforce their policy preference for closed borders, strict immigration laws, and the ban on the free movement of labour that has been seen in recent decades. The future course of the most important bilateral relationship of our century which is between China and the United States will have a huge impact on the global economy as well as on the international order and multilateral institutions. Pandemic has further strained the relationship and resulted in trading accusations and allegations from both sides. Summarily, that has been described as the new cold war by many. The question arises whether these two global powers will arrive at modus vivendi or will there be a standoff. This has become a more enduring feature of the global landscape.

To round off the whole debate, the World is possibly at one of the history’s most unsettled periods in international relations with the atomization of the international system. This is an uncharted territory which the world has not seen before. For Pakistan, there are going to be strategic, political, and economic implications because it seeks to form good relations with both countries. Pakistan ought to understand that in the long run, its strategic future lies with China rather than the US.   

Continue Reading

Publications

Latest

Tech News18 mins ago

Landmark Agreement Unites Parties in Boosting Commercial Space Operations in California

Leaders from the State of California, REACH, the 30th Space Wing, Cal Poly State University and Deloitte today announced a...

Central Asia2 hours ago

Localism in Tajikistan: How would it affect Power Shift?

Localism has been a common characteristic of all post-Soviet Central Asian Republics. However, this trait emerged in different ways; the...

Southeast Asia4 hours ago

Countering Chinese String of Pearls, India’s ‘Double Fish Hook’ Strategy

India and Indonesia held their defence dialogue between the defence ministers on July 27, 2020 and discussed issues related to...

Middle East6 hours ago

Are The U.S. And Its Partners Losing The Grip On Syria’s North East?

The oil-rich province of Deir Ezzor located in Eastern Syria has witnessed another escalation between the local Arab populace and...

Newsdesk8 hours ago

Niger: World Bank Approves $250 Million to Boost Long-Term Growth

The World Bank Board of Directors today approved a total amount of $250 million in International Development Association (IDA) credit...

Economy10 hours ago

Pandemic Recovery: Three Sudden Surprise Gifts

A new shine across the globe is entering into boardrooms; a new awakening is enforced and a new shift emerges…...

Newsdesk13 hours ago

World Bank releases first comprehensive stock-taking of infrastructure services in Asia

A new World Bank report presents data about infrastructure provision in three key sectors is Asia: road transport, electricity, and...

Trending