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The Conclusion of the Future of India-US Strategic Romance

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After the general elections of 2019 in India, Narinder Modi has again embellished the crown of Prime minister of India on his head. All the dreams, including the dream to make India greater and brawny power of the world, are concerned with the first prime minister of India Mr. Nehru. From the very first day the Indian premier leadership including Nehru is trying to make the foundation of the country strong. No doubt, the political parties of both Nehru & Modi are different as Nehru had a hefty CONGRESS while Modi has BJP (Bharti Janata Party).

But the dreams, desires, aspirations are analogous to make their beloved country “Greater India” in the entire context e.g. political, economic, social, education, and defense & security. With the inauguration of Modi administration in 2014, India commences its voyage towards exceeding progress and decided augmentation. Under the headship of Narindra Modi, India tries to make itself economically, socially and politically more strong and get sure internal sovereignty. Furthermore, due to sophisticated Indian premier, India gets eminent position on international level. Now, India is ranked in the influential as well as dominant player of world affairs in general and energetic runner in Asian political marathon race with nuclear power.

Under Modi, the contemporary India is quite different as compared to India during the days of Nehru. The eras are reasonably diverse. The immense population growth, unstructured education system, peace & stability in the region, demolish terrorism from the region, publish the soft image of India in the world newspapers and play the movie cassette titled “Soft India” on TV channels are the some intentions carried by current Indian premier. Besides internal troubles, the exterior threats including terrorism and the rising China give also red signal to fresh leading management of New Delhi. According to the political pundits of India, think tanks and analysts, the rising China is the biggest external threat to Indian security. The Chinese policies and strategies e.g. Periphery strategy, Strings of Pearls, OBOR (One Belt One Road initiative) and CPEC (China Pakistan Economic Corridor) are the ubiquitous threats for India and her acquaintance and now a days, the USA is the foremost top ranked pal of India.

In modern era, every state wants more power and besides this acquisition of power, the main national interests of states are to make more affirm their existing power. The same story is associated with the world sole superpower USA. In Asian continent, the main theme of US policies and strategies are to make American power and unilateralism insistent. After the end of Cold war and disintegration of USSR (Union of Socialist Republic), the US won the Crown of world solitary superpower and introduced “MADE IN AMERICA” Liberal world Order. After this incredible victory of the US, the popularity of the American power strokes the sky. The victory in the independence war in 16th century, W.W.I, W.W.II and in Cold War were proved that the US is exceptional power. The US wants its exceptionalism. As a specific term “American Exceptionalism” was first referenced by author Alexis de Toqueville in Democracy in America, a book published in the 1830s. Throughout the latter half of the 19th century, when America began to build its empire, the idea that the US was special and blessed by God reigned supreme. In addition, America’s victories over Japan and Germany revitalized the belief that the US is unique and a new expression for American exceptionalism was born.

On January 9, 1961, John F. Kennedy said, “Today, the eyes of the world of all people are truly upon us__ and our government, in every branch, at every level, national, state and local, must be as a city upon a hill.” Kennedy was promoting the idea that not only is the US economically and socially unique, but its political system is an example of a model government. After the Cold War, the American model became the new norm; American exceptionalism became a much more popular concept. In 1996, Bill Clinton said that “America remains the indispensable nation” and that “there are times when America and only America, can make a difference between war and peace, between freedom and repression.” This American exceptionalism term further materialized one more idea of “American Paternalism”. American paternalism refers to America’s belief that other states in the international system need the US and the American desire to interfere in the affairs of other states for the good of that state, the international system, or both. In many ways, American paternalism is derived from American pride and linked to American exceptionalism.

As the hegemonic power, the US has a tendency to treat its relations with other countries as parent-Child relationships, which is one of the reasons the US feels comfortable violating state sovereignty and interfering in the affairs of other states for moral reasons such as human rights violations, civil war, etc. The United States relationship with present international system is different from the relationships that other states have with the current system. In the aftermath of W.W.II, the world was in shambles and the US set out to construct a new international system and a new world order, one which it hoped would bring peace, development and prosperity. The US was challenged by the USSR, and because the both were interested in building inconsistent kinds of worlds. After the collapse of USSR and the end of Cold war in 1991, American vision for the world became a reality. With the establishment of the new American-led liberal world order came the emergence of American paternalism as it is now. American paternalism is also directly connected to the American desire to preserve its leadership in Asia.

The US believes that not only is American leadership in Asia in the best interests of the US, but it is also in the best interests of Asia and according to American leadership, the US sees itself as a parent for the international system and Asian region. American hegemonism is the byproduct of American exceptionalism and paternalism. According to the political specialists, the US is indeed a global hegemon. American hegemonism is the desire to promote and preserve this hegemonic status as well as protect its power at all costs, makes the US a threat to revisionist challengers including Russia, North Korea and rising China.

With the beginning of 21st century, the world structure has reshaped from uni-polar to multipolar and with the passage of time the friendships, relationships, rivalries and national interests of the states have been re-examined. The living example of above sentence is the romance between India and the US with the turn of 21st century. After the 50 years of estrange relations, the two democracies India and the US decide to renovate their relations in potent strategic nexus. Now, India is the top listed country in the documents of Washington as steadfast, strong and committed ally. On the contrary, Pakistan who was the active member of the US made security alliance blocs like SEATO, CENTO and fought proxy war against USSR during Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in late 1970s, is now, very far from the US kindness and considerations.

The rising China, developed Japan, Russian juxtaposition with Asian states, Chinese OBOR & CPEC projects, emergence of SCO, the economic & natural resources supremacy of Asian region, the Indian Ocean significance, natural resources of central Asia and Chinese expansion and sea lanes of communication (SLOC) from straits of Hormuz to Persian Gulf and Chinese active appearance in (SLOC) give red signal to the US hegemonism in Asian region. The US takes China as a revisionist state as like as the USSR after the World War II. The political pundits argue that this is second Cold War as well as emergence of bipolarity between the US and China and the present American leadership will repeat its history by making alliance in Asian continent same like during the Cold war era against USSR and the US will try its best to change the bipolar to unipolar system another time because the US takes rising China as USSR part II in 21th century.  The US is taking alliance making theory and give heavy aid to Asian countries, do agreements, sign nuclear deals like India, build strategic partnership to counter its present competitors and rising revisionists states and try its best to preserve its ideology of exceptionalism, paternalism and hegemony in Asian region.  Therefore the Trump’s slogan during his election campaign was “Make America great again”. From Nixon to Obama and now Trump, the foremost objective of the US is to maintain its hegemony in Asia and protect its national interests. For the acquisition of national interests, once again America is making ally in the region and India is the most favorite state in Asia generally and in South Asia specifically.

Additionally, the permanent seat in United Nations Security Council (UNSC), economically development, brawny defense, advancement in arms, soft image at international level, threat of rising China and the dream of “Greater India” are crucial factors behind the Indian juxtaposition in the arms of the US and both states ready to start polite lovely strategic romance with the identification of “strategic partnership”.

Apart from the Indian non-alignment policy, Nehru slogan of Asia for Asians, India-USSR proximity in Cold War, the paradoxical role of the US during India-Pakistan wars, ideological differences, diverse national goals and estrange relations during the Cold war, Now, after the end of the Cold War and especially with the awake of 21st century the US and India renovate their relations from estrangement to strong partnership. According to the Indian Diaspora and leadership, the rising China expansionism in Asia, Chinese involvement in Indian Ocean and OBOR project, vigorous course of actions in seaports in Asia, CPEC project in Pakistan, Chinese growth towards South East Asia, Africa, Middle East, Central Asia & Latin America regions and the energetic escalation of SCO in Asia are the threats to Indian security in contemporary era.

The beginning of strategic partnership with the US is the foremost & only solution for India to overcome this rising China threat. In addition, India has very inadequate options to counter the rising power of China. First, if India adopt the non-alignment policy, this is not suitable for this modern era.  Today, one state is dependent on another state. Second, if India adopts internal balancing in the context of Balance of power to balance China, India is not internally powerful, stable and has not numerous resources. The last and more suitable option is to do bargain with the US against their common threat (China). There are several reasons behind this Indian bargaining with the US. First, the US is superpower. Second, the US has its own hidden interests in it and takes China as emerging threat to the US hegemony in Asia. Third, India is emerging power of Asia and associated with Indian Ocean and SLOC. Forth, the US is scared that if Asian powers e.g. India, Russia, China Japan, Vietnam, Korea, Pakistan and Australia get united in coming future then American power in Asia will be ended. So, in closing remarks, India and the US have vivid future because both democracies are indispensable for each other in modern geopolitics. Apart from most fifty years estrange relations during Cold War, divergences of ideas, clash of interests, diverse in some values but the rising power of China is the crucial factor behind the foundation of strong strategic nexus between India and the US. The political analysts argue that It is again Cold War which will be between the US and China. And America is trying by leaps and bounds to win this Cold War again by any means because the US doesn’t want to lose its excpetionalism status. On the other side, India also wants to stop the rising power of China to embellish the crown of Asian power on its own head. That’s why, apart from divergences of interests, both of the democratic states and Leaders Modi and Trump have their own interests which are associated with each other and both are hopeful to their bright future trade, economic, defense and strategic relations. 

PhD Student of the School of Politics and International Studies, Central China Normal University 152, Luoyu Road, Wuhan, Hubei, People’s Republic of China 430079

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South Asia

Changing Regional Security Paradigm: A Challenge to Kashmir and Options for Pakistan

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The post-cold war world has witnessed shifts in international and regional security paradigms. Due to globalization, easy migrations, advanced technologies, changing geopolitical scenarios, and social resources the world today is more vulnerable to diversified threats.  In this regard, traditional conflict resolution tactics are not enough or influential. New strategies and options are needed to gain interest without being in direct war and confrontations. One such old conflict which has been there for more than 70 years despite 3 major wars between India and Pakistan is Kashmir Issue. While Pakistan is struggling economically and politically, India on the other side is increasing its soft power projection within the region and beyond, posing a serious threat to the traditional tactics of Pakistan towards the Kashmir cause.

The 4 major factors that boosted the strategies of the Indian state are identity, security, prosperity, and soft power. Along with defense, India was focused on its economy, diplomacy, and identity so much from the past few years. It is one of the key drivers of the global economic market, making up about 15% of the world’s economic output. Soon India will become the world’s largest country by Population, accounting for maximum youth, meaning it is offering incentives, consumer markets, and youth force to other countries. Moreover, India has become the third largest producer of steel (producer with Arcelor- Mittal), enhancing the credibility and reliability of MADE IN INDIA across the globe. It is considered an IT giant. Many IT companies from India entered Fortune 500-group that has opened doors of businesses and jobs for the Indian youth.

Furthermore, along with being a major partner in trade and commerce in the international market, regionally India provides aid and acts as an advocate of welfare for many developing countries in Asia. Along with that, it is also looking towards opportunities to gain the interest of Afghanistan which is an internationally isolated state.   Internationally, it has become a major geo-strategic and geo-economic partner of many western states like the US and UK, as it has the potential to counter the Chinese Rise. It is part of various geopolitical alliances initiated for the containment of China such as QUAD and middle eastern alliances i.e., I2U2.  Moreover, India also has a settled Middle Eastern policy to benefit from all major actors instead of choosing blocs. Thus, India has worked on its economy, over the years to bring prosperity and self-sufficiency within the country. It has provided markets and incentives to other countries thereby increasing its lobbying power. Through its strong diplomacy, it has become a major actor that also promoted its values and identity.

Lastly one can’t deny that the hegemonic capabilities of India have challenged the Kashmiris and their freedom movements. India is now integrating into Kashmir not only militarily but also diplomatically, politically, and economically. It has incentivized the Kashmir issue as well.  After India revoked articles 370 and 35A It is working on Kashmir’s demographic changes. India also opened doors for tourism and international investments in Kashmir. If someone starts investing there, that will normalize that Kashmir is part of India. Yet India didn’t receive any backlash, nor it is isolated or being sanctioned. The reason is simple, India has good ties with many western states. It provides incentives and fulfills the economic and political interests of the west.

For Pakistan, which is a party to the conflict, instead of normative a more realistic approach is required now. Though Pakistan has emotional attachments with Kashmir but it’s not enough to just talk about morals and injustice at international forums.  If Pakistan wants to support the Kashmiris it should enhance its intellectual power, academia, and soft power projection. Literature and academia help export the actual ideologies and narratives to the rest of the world. The Kashmiri diaspora within Pakistan and abroad should be supported for that. In addition, Pakistan needs to increase its influence to counter India not only in the military sector but also in the economic and political domains.  The defense ratio between Pakistan and India is 1/8 while on the other hand in the economy it is 1/20. Though the importance of defense can’t be ignored in the balance of power, but international politics has evolved, and power is not limited to military only. One can look at the two recent world events where there was the use of force and weapons to gain interests i.e., Afghanistan and the Ukraine-Russian war. Afghanistan is now internationally isolated while Russia is being sanctioned and criticized. So, direct confrontations and wars are not accepted and supported by states at broad levels. Thus, with the changing global political and strategic environment it is important to work on spheres of academia, research, soft power, and diplomacy.

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The Taliban and the current Afghanistan

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Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

After the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan, the Afghan state and the public rapidly declined. The country’s territories have become the source of international terrorism and many global problems.

August 15 is the first anniversary since the power in Afghanistan was seized by the Kabul Taliban, and the ex-president of the Afghan state, Ashraf Ghani fled. After a year of the Taliban’s power, their power has not yet been recognized by any state in the world.

According to the UN International Labor Organization, the Taliban’s ascension to power in Afghanistan has led to rapid growth in the unemployment rate among the population. Based on the data of the UN, such a situation in the Afghan labor market was caused by the economic crisis and the prohibition on work for the female population. Over five hundred thousand people in Afghanistan lost their jobs during the first month of the Taliban rule. “The crisis has affected women the most. Thus, their employment level, already extremely low by world standards, decreased by 16% in the third quarter of last year. By mid—2022, it is projected to fall to 28%,” the UN investigation states.

In addition to the economic decline, there has been a rise in drug production in Afghanistan. Drugs are one of the Taliban’s main income zones, and their power has re-activated the production and export of opium and heroin. However, the drug business was also active under the former Afghan authorities. According to the UN, in 2021, Afghanistan’s income from drug exports amounted from 1.8 billion to 2.7 billion US dollars. This profit is from 6 to 11% of the GDP of the Afghan state. As before, the main drug export channels pass through Pakistan. The leader of the Taliban, Haibatullah Akhundzada, issued a fatwa in 2022 to ban the production and distribution of opium and other drug substances in Afghanistan. However, there have been no significant changes in this situation. Nevertheless, the Taliban repeatedly make statements about the cessation of drug production, but they also confirm that the prohibition on opium production will lead to the loss of the only way of earning for peasants, leading to an uprising.

Pakistan acts as the main partner country for Afghanistan. Bypassing sanctions, weapons are coming from Pakistan to Afghanistan. And the majority of Afghan drugs are exported through Pakistan’s western provinces – the southern route. The main patron and sponsor of the Taliban is also the Pakistani military leadership. With the help of Pakistani support, the radicals seized power in Afghanistan and persecuted other alternatives to power.

The Taliban’s first financial income was provided by transportation fees that the militants took from truck drivers on the border of Afghanistan and the state’s territory. The Taliban’s seizure of power in Afghanistan concentrated its forces on extracting natural resources. In February 2022, the Afghan media reported on the negotiations of the new Afghan government with China on the development of copper and lithium by Chinese companies. But even though China, along with Pakistan, is a vital partner of the Taliban regime, mineral development has not yet begun. Without the support and diplomatic assistance of China and Pakistan, the Taliban would not have been able to establish their authority over Afghanistan. However, Beijing still has not officially recognized their power.

Also, summing up the results of the year of Taliban rule in Afghanistan, we can definitely say that the new regime fails to solve the economic and social problems of the state. According to UN research, Afghanistan is on the verge of famine and humanitarian collapse. It is worth noting that during the presence of the United States and NATO in the country, there was no such catastrophic situation. Also, during the period of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, the position of terrorist organizations such as al Qaeda and the Islamic State has strengthened. The Taliban does not intend to start the fight with the presence of these organizations.

Also, in June 2022, an earthquake with colossal consequences occurred on the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan. The death toll during the disaster was more than 1.5 people, and more than two thousand were injured. The UN has recorded that Afghanistan’s government cannot cope with the threats that the Afghan society is forced to cope with alone.

UNICEF and the World Food Program note the catastrophic situation of Afghan children, and organizations make statements about the high level of undernutrition and that over 3.5 million children urgently need treatment. The UN website says, “Hospital wards are full of malnourished children: many one-year-olds weigh as much as a six-month-old baby would weigh in a developed country, and some are so weak that they cannot move.”

The new government of Afghanistan carries out mass executions, severe human rights violations, and forced disappearances of citizens and previous security forces employees. This is recorded by the United Nations Assistance Organization in Afghanistan. To a large extent, the repression is carried out by two Talib departments – the Ministry of Propaganda of Virtue and Prevention of Vice and the General Directorate of Intelligence. Both organizations are under the auspices of Pakistani security agencies.

UNAMA experts report “arbitrary arrests and detentions of journalists, human rights defenders and protesters.” There were 160 extrajudicial executions, 178 unjustified arrests and 56 cases of torture of former Afghan military and Government employees. In addition, 2106 victims were registered among ethnic and religious minorities (700 killed, 1406 wounded).

After a year, the Taliban authorities, according to international organizations, destroyed the essential state structures in Afghanistan responsible for solving social issues such as jobs and the state’s humanitarian condition. The Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission premises were also seized, and the Ministry of Women’s Affairs was closed. Afghan women are deprived of the right to work. Except for some professions, they are not allowed to travel more than 72 km unaccompanied by men and cannot appear on the street with an open face. Responsibility for all violations of the rules of a woman is borne by her father or another close male relative. The punishment is dismissal from work or imprisonment.

Freedom of speech was also seriously impaired. The international human rights organization Reporters Without Borders (RSF) reports that there are half as many media in Afghanistan as a result of the year-long run of the Taliban. During the year, 219 organizations out of 547 media were closed. Before the Taliban came to power, there were 11,857 journalists in the country. Today only 4,759 of them remain. Female journalists took the first impact. Almost all of them were left without their job.

The Taliban sees the UN’s message about human rights in Afghanistan as propaganda. On July 21, Taliban official Zabiullah Mujahid posted on social media: “There are no arbitrary killings or arrests in the country. If someone kills or arbitrarily arrests, that person is considered a criminal and will be brought before Sharia law.”

In sum, a few conclusions about the power of the Taliban must be noted. The Taliban is characterized by a lack of qualification in the country’s rule, and the leadership cannot organize public service. Also, the Taliban does not fulfil its duties to combat terrorist organizations, which has ensured the strengthening of the position of existing banned groups. The female population of Afghanistan and various social minorities suffered. The Taliban are building strong relationships with authoritarian countries such as Pakistan, China and Russia. Islamabad carries out the actual control of the Taliban and also uses the Taliban in the South Asian region for its geopolitical purposes.

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Khalistan Referendum

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Every charter of Human Rights provides a framework for the basic individual rights. Under these civil liberties, all humans are entitled to revel in those privileges. Sikh community residing around the globe is facing heinous behavior from the India’s Modi regime as it is a home for many Sikhs. The episode of unlawful arrest of the UK-based Sikh activist named Jagtar Singh Johal in 2017 with the help of UK government ignited a huge number of protests across the world. According to his lawyers from Scotland, he has been tortured and falsely accused to whom British PM Boris John acknowledged while showing his concern. Most recently, the murder of Sidhu Moosewala who was an active supporter of Sikh rights is an example of India’s unjust activities. Provision of security was denied by BJP government before his murder. In support of Sidhu and separate homeland for Sikhs, more than 17,000 Sikhs voted for Khalistan Referendum in Rome, Italy. Similarly, UK having one of the highest ratio of Sikh diaspora, organized a campaign under the active advocates of Sikh rights “Sikhs for Justice (SFJ)” in which 30,000 British Sikhs voted for referendum on 31st October 2021. Series of Sikh referendums are lined up and SFJ declared that after completing this voting series, it will be a decision of 120,000 Sikhs showing the desire for separate land under the rule and law provided them by International Justice System.  A huge referendum is planned for the Sikhs of Punjab on 26th January 2023.

The roots of these referendum are enrooted into the event of Operation Blue Star happened in 1984. Under this operation, Indian army attached on the holiest place of Sikhs, “Golden Temple” to capture Sikhs whom Indian Army declared as terrorists and claimed that they are hiding weapons inside the temple as well. Many innocent Sikhs lost their lives. The level of brutality not only stopped at killing innocents but also disrespected the sentiments of the followers of this particular religion. A homeland that ought to be safe place for its residents became a threatening region. That’s why a huge number of Indian Sikhs migrated to other states like UK, Canada, Italy and US to seek a safe residence. The fight for the cause of Sikh’s rights is still going on, as there is a referendum on 18th September 2022, Toronto, Canada, in which high ratio of Sikh voters are expected to participate.

Massive genocide and extra-Judicial killings are the major tools of Modi regime against the Sikh community. To deal with all these unlawful activities, Sikh diaspora has organized itself into groups like “Sikhs for Justice (SFJ)” who are arranging referendum, holding protests and advocating Sikhs right at all possible platforms. Specifically for the Khalistan Referendum, Punjab Referendum Commission (PRC) has been designed to have free and fair voting for the basic demand. Through such representation, Sikhs are asking for a legal demand from India’s Modi regime. These organizational setup shows that Sikh community is well aware of its rights, and using the peaceful means to convey their message to the world. 

If India is real democracy and wants to be seen as democratic country, it should accept Sikh referendum results.  The result of referendum can always be leveraged in “Law fare domain” to ask India to hold an official referendum for the purpose.  Democracies are torch holder of freedom, human rights and their liberties. This behavior of India is not acceptable to be an example for the rest of aspiring democratic states where the Modi Regime is having genocidal designs against the specific communities. Khalistan Movement with the aspirations of a separate homeland is the legitimate demand of Sikh community. By overturning these movements and referendums, India is suppressing its minorities and violating their right to self-determination through peaceful means.

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