The COVID-19 pandemic has led to rapidly growing uncertainty at the global and regional levels. The United States has been hit particularly hard, and in the most unexpected of ways, and is now facing a serious internal crisis with a number of unknowns. Moving forward, this may lead political elites to question many of the postulates of Washington’s domestic and foreign policies, which had until recently seemed unshakable and immune to erosion.
And now Trump, trying to get ahead of events and ride his luck into the November elections, has announced that a plan for social change is in the works. Speaking recently to graduates of the West Point Military Academy, the President unexpectedly announced that the U.S. military would “no longer rebuild other countries” and “solve other people’s conflicts,” which is noteworthy because the country’s leaders typically use this occasion to publicly formulate the main postulates of the United States’ foreign and military policies. Let us recall, for example, the South Asian concept (the so-called AfPac) put forward by Barack Obama during a speech at West Point in 2008. The primary objective of AfPac was to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan in a phased and painless manner (to the extent that this was possible) while at the same time partially shifting the focus of U.S. policy in the region to resolving the longstanding conflict between the central authorities in Kabul and the Taliban movement. However, Washington was unable to achieve any real progress in either of these areas during Obama’s presidency (the George W. Bush administration was equally unsuccessful here).
The issue of Afghanistan has become a real headache for Donald Trump. When he came to office, he vowed to put an end to the Afghan adventure of his predecessors, without harming the pro-American regime in Kabul. But before any real progress could be made in this direction, the United States first had to engage in difficult negotiations with the Taliban, which began in the autumn of 2018 and clearly raised the ire of the central government in the Afghan capital. The Taliban had initially insisted on the unconditional withdrawal of U.S. contingents from the country and wanted nothing to do with the government of Afghanistan, expecting, and not without good reason, that it would simply capitulate in the face armed and aggressive opponents. In the end, after 18 months of shuttle diplomacy on the part of Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad, the parties finally came to an agreement in February 2020 and signed a joint document stating that, in exchange for the withdrawal of troops, the Taliban would launch a dialogue with Kabul on the division of power and cut all ties with the terrorist structures of al-Qaeda.
Both sides claimed that they had got the better end of the deal. Washington balanced the agreement by promising that it had not abandoned its military and political obligations to Kabul. For their part, the Taliban consolidated their military and political status as one of the sides in the Afghan conflict, speaking on behalf of the unrecognized Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (although the reaction to the agreement on the part of the Taliban movement’s military commanders was somewhat mixed). All this notwithstanding, the Taliban, as before, were content to sit back and wait for the coalition government in Kabul to quickly collapse. And these were not empty hopes, as the internal strife within the ruling elite threatened to give the Taliban exactly what they wanted. The contradictions led to yet another large-scale political crisis following the hotly contested presidential elections in 2019. Just like the last election in 2014, opposition leader Abdullah Abdullah did not recognize the legitimacy of the results that saw Ashraf Ghani retain his position as the country’s president and set about organizing his own parallel government. The dispute remained unresolved until March 2020, when Washington threatened to suspend its rather generous financial assistance.
Under the new agreement, several ministerial posts were handed over to Abdullah’s supporters, while Abdullah himself was named Chairman of the Supreme National Reconciliation Council, making him the second-highest ranking official in the country. The Council’s mandate includes holding negotiations with the Taliban movement, although any agreements made as a result of these talks will have to be approved by the President. In this regard, it is entirely possible that Abdullah’s status may become politically vulnerable due to the unpredictability and numerous pitfalls of the upcoming intra-Afghan negotiations. The fact that Abdullah’s appointment was met without any real enthusiasm by the Taliban could also be an important factor here, although they did confirm that they were willing to negotiate, nonetheless. At the same time, the Taliban did not want the negotiations to take place on neutral territory and successfully lobbied for them to be held in Doha, where the previous agreements with the United States had been hammered out, and where the organization maintains its political office.
While Trump did not explicitly mention Afghanistan at West Point, he did not have to. Everybody understood what he was talking about. All the more so because the President had discussed his intention to pull troops out the country before the elections in November. Only time will tell whether or not he will actually do it. The thing is, if we do not see any real steps made in the intra-Afghan process, then the Americans will find it increasingly difficult to put on a happy face. This is what makes the joint call of the special representatives of Russia, China, Iran and Pakistan for foreign troops in Afghanistan to “withdraw in an orderly and responsible manner to ensure a smooth transition” published on May 18, 2020, particularly relevant. Both the government of Afghanistan and U.S. officials have made it clear that they are ready to open the intra-Afghan dialogue, which could take place very soon. In fact, discussions are already underway in Kabul regarding the rules of the meeting and the creation of its working and administrative bodies. Meanwhile, several external actors who have a vested interest in Afghanistan’s future have gone to great lengths to show the world that they should be the ones to host the negotiations.
In the midst of all this, almost no one is talking about what the main substantive content of the negotiations should actually be. To begin with, the talks should not revolve around the division of power (that is, what powers each side will be vested with and what state and other structures they will control). Instead, they should focus on the very political, ideological and economic basis of the future power structure in Afghanistan.
Right now, Kabul and the Taliban have diametrically opposite views on this issue. For example, the central government calls for a republican form of government based on the principles of moderate Islam and respect for the fundamental documents of modern international law. Meanwhile, the Taliban continues to promote the concept of building a fundamentalist Islamic emirate, something that it reiterated following the recent negotiations with the United States. And it does this despite the fact that the overwhelming majority of external actors (both inside and outside the region) have unequivocally stated that the Taliban’s claims to sole rule in Afghanistan are unacceptable. Given all this, it would seem that the only way for the parties to come to an agreement on the future state structure of the country is if concessions are made on both sides.
The international and regional community could, and indeed should, play a big role in this process. We are talking primarily here about countries in the immediate vicinity of, or in close proximity to, Afghanistan, as well as about the European Union. All these countries have been keeping a close eye on events in Afghanistan over the years, and during this time, they have developed a number of common approaches to how they see the future of the country, with unconditional respect for its sovereignty and territorial integrity. The consultations between the members of the tripartite group consisting of the United States, Russia and China set up to more or less coincide with the launch of U.S.–Taliban negotiations proved instrumental in moving the process forward. Russia then pushed for the mechanism to be expanded to the 3-plus format to include Iran and Pakistan, but Washington’s desire to isolate Tehran from the Afghan problem as much as possible meant that the proposal did not have its intended effect.
At the same time, a number of structures have been set up in recent years both inside and outside the region that have, among other things, set out the common positions of all the participants in the intra-Afghan dialogue. In this regard, alongside the launch of this dialogue, it may be worthwhile to hold an international conference where all interested parties from outside the region could come together to reaffirm their stances on the problem of intra-Afghan reconciliation. Such an event may go a long way in preventing the future negotiations from getting bogged down in low-priority, fleeting issues that will take attention away from real, long-term problems.
From our partner RIAC
The Tug-of-War of Regionalism in South Asia
The South Asian area, encompassing countries such as Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, and the Maldives, exhibits a significant degree of variety, accompanied by a multitude of intricate factors. The establishment of SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) in 1985 was a sincere endeavor to cultivate regionalism within the subcontinent. Notwithstanding its conceptual merit, the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) has seen limited success in realizing its goals, principally due to the persistent tensions between its prominent constituents, India and Pakistan. The absence of coherent political intent has adversely affected regionalism in South Asia.
From an economic standpoint, it can be observed that South Asia is now experiencing rapid growth, positioning it as one of the most swiftly developing areas globally. India, characterized by its burgeoning middle class and notable technical progress, assumes a prominent role in the global arena. Nevertheless, smaller economies such as Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have comparable growth rates. The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) implemented by China has developed as a notable economic entity in the area, giving rise to both prospects and concerns. The issue of significant debt obligations linked to Chinese investment has raised apprehension.
The political structures in South Asia exhibit significant variations. India, being the greatest democracy globally, stands in contrast to its neighboring nations, such as Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, which have had instances of military coups and civil turmoil throughout their history. In contrast, Bhutan continues to function as a monarchy, employing a distinctive methodology for pursuing progress, which is evaluated by means of Gross National Happiness as opposed to Gross Domestic Product. The presence of a wide range of political systems presents significant obstacles to the process of regional integration. The growing engagement of China in South Asia has prompted a reconfiguration of geopolitical interests. Nations such as Nepal, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives are progressively turning their attention to China in search of economic opportunities and military collaborations, thereby introducing complexities to the regional dynamics. Moreover, the United States’ strategic shift towards Asia highlights the growing significance of this area within the context of global geopolitics. Given the competing interests of these more influential nations, the smaller nations within the area frequently encounter themselves ensnared in a precarious position.
The South Asian area has a diverse array of religions and ethnicities, contributing to the intricate nature of interregional dynamics. The socio-political ramifications of the Hindu-Muslim split, Buddhist communities, and Sikh populations, among other groups, are noteworthy. The adverse impact of the ethnic strife in Sri Lanka and the religious difference between India and Pakistan on the promotion of regionalism is evident.
Border issues, such as the ongoing Kashmir war between the neighboring nations of India and Pakistan, pose substantial obstacles to the establishment of regional cooperation. Moreover, the matter of terrorism, sometimes endorsed by states or at the very least allowed by certain nations, presents a security concern that complicates the prospect of enhanced collaboration. The subject of climate change is gaining prominence as a matter of great importance that South Asian nations cannot afford to overlook. The geographical area under consideration encompasses many climatic hotspots, notably the Himalayas and the Sundarbans, which are progressively vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, such as the retreat of glaciers and the escalation of sea levels. The presence of environmental concerns has the potential to intensify pre-existing social and political conflicts. Water shortage has the potential to exacerbate disputes between governments that have shared river systems. As the South Asian area increasingly assimilates into the global digital world, it is imperative for the region to confront and address the challenges pertaining to cybersecurity. This encompasses a wide range of issues, spanning from safeguarding data privacy to addressing the challenges posed by online radicalization and cyber warfare. The significance of the socio-political components of these difficulties cannot be overstated, as the progress in technology has the potential to either facilitate regional collaboration or exacerbate rivalry and conflict.
The subject of gender equality in South Asia is undergoing significant socio-political transformations. The involvement of women in politics, business, and social action is seeing a notable upward trend, potentially yielding significant consequences for the growth and cooperation of the area. Nevertheless, persistent challenges such as cultural barriers, institutional inequalities, and gender-based violence remain significant obstacles.
The significant impact of media on creating public perception and subsequently affecting socio-political dynamics cannot be emphasized enough. Within the context of South Asia, the media frequently assumes a dual function, wherein it may serve as a conduit for promoting comprehension and collaboration or, alternatively, as a mechanism for disseminating propaganda that exacerbates societal divisions. The aforementioned phenomenon is clearly observable in the manner in which media outlets across different nations depict their neighboring countries, hence exerting a substantial influence on the potential for regional collaboration.
In light of evolving global dynamics, governments in South Asia are actively forging alliances that extend beyond their conventional allies. The interplay between India’s burgeoning ties with the United States, Pakistan’s alignment with China, and Sri Lanka’s approach to Russia has significant implications for regional politics. The task of managing these collaborations while sustaining regional stability is a multifaceted endeavor that necessitates careful equilibrium on the part of each country involved.
The socio-political dynamics of South Asia are multi-faceted, influenced by a rich tapestry of historical events, cultural diversities, and geopolitical factors. While traditional challenges like territorial disputes and political polarization continue to hinder regionalism, new dimensions such as climate change, cybersecurity, and gender equality are adding layers of complexity. However, despite these challenges, there remains an untapped potential for collaboration and growth. As South Asia evolves, understanding these intricate dynamics will be key to unlocking the region’s full potential.
Pakistan’s Role in the United Nations
Pakistan, since its inception in 1947, has played a pivotal role in the United Nations (UN), contributing significantly to global efforts in promoting peace, security, stability, and development. With a commitment to multilateral diplomacy and a history of active participation in various UN initiatives, Pakistan has emerged as a responsible and reliable member of the international community. Pakistan has played very important role in the United Nations and its contributions to global peace, security, stability, and development are always acknowledged.
One of the most visible and significant contributions of Pakistan to the UN is its involvement in peacekeeping missions. Pakistan is consistently among the top contributors of troops and personnel to UN peacekeeping operations. As of my last knowledge update in September 2021, Pakistan had deployed over 6,000 troops and police officers in various UN peacekeeping missions around the world, making it one of the largest troop contributors.
Pakistan’s peacekeepers have been stationed in conflict zones across the globe, including Sierra Leone, Liberia, Congo, and Haiti, where they have played a crucial role in maintaining peace, delivering humanitarian aid, and assisting in post-conflict reconstruction. These efforts have not only earned Pakistan international recognition but have also made a tangible difference in the lives of people affected by conflicts.
Advocacy for Disarmament
Pakistan has consistently advocated for disarmament and non-proliferation efforts within the United Nations. As a nuclear-armed state, Pakistan understands the grave consequences of nuclear warfare and has actively participated in disarmament negotiations. It has supported initiatives such as the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) and the Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT) to promote global disarmament.
Humanitarian Assistance and Refugees
Pakistan has a long history of hosting refugees, particularly from neighboring Afghanistan. The country has welcomed millions of Afghan refugees over the decades, providing them with shelter, education, and healthcare. Pakistan’s efforts in this regard align with the UN’s mission to protect and assist refugees, contributing to regional stability and human development.
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
Pakistan is committed to achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. The government has taken significant steps to align its national development agenda with the SDGs, focusing on poverty reduction, gender equality, clean energy, and climate action, among other areas. Pakistan’s dedication to these goals demonstrates its commitment to global development and a sustainable future.
Climate Change Action
Pakistan recognizes the urgent need to address climate change, and it has actively engaged in international climate negotiations under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The country has committed to reducing its carbon emissions and increasing its reliance on clean energy sources. Pakistan’s participation in global climate efforts contributes to the stability and sustainability of the planet.
Mediation and Conflict Resolution
Pakistan has often played a role in mediating conflicts in the region, demonstrating its commitment to regional and global peace. It has facilitated talks between various parties in Afghanistan and has sought peaceful solutions to regional disputes, aligning with the UN’s mission to prevent and resolve conflicts.
On behalf of the Government and people of Pakistan, the Prime Minister of Pakistan, attended the 78th Session of UN General Assembly and delivered a speech on 22 September 2023. The highlights of his speech are:
1. I convey to you, Mr. President, our warm congratulations on your election to guide the work of this historic Session of the UN General Assembly. I am confident that your vast diplomatic experience, and the sunny disposition of your beautiful Island country, will enable you to steer this Assembly to a most successful conclusion.
2. We are meeting at a tense and pivotal moment in modern history. Conflicts rage in Ukraine and in 50 other places around the world. Tensions between the global powers have continued to escalate. We see the rise of new and old military and political blocs. Geo-politics is resurging when geo-economics should have primacy in the world. The world cannot afford Cold War 2.0. There are far greater challenges confronting humankind which demand global cooperation and collective action.
3. The world’s economic prospects also appear gloomy. Global growth is slow. High interest rates could trigger a recession. A succession of exogenous “shocks” – Covid, conflict and climate change – have devastated the economies of many developing countries; many countries of the global South have barely managed to stave off defaults. Poverty and hunger have grown, reversing the development gains of three decades.
4. At yesterday’s SDG Summit, far-reaching commitments were made to implement the Sustainable Development Goals. We must ensure implementation of the “SDG Stimulus”; the re-channeling of unused Special Drawing Rights for development; the expansion of concessional lending by the Multilateral Development Banks; and the resolution of the debt problems of the 59 countries in debt distress.
5. Pakistan also looks forward to the fulfillment of the climate change commitments made at COP28 by the developed world: to provide over $100 billion in annual climate finance; allocate at least half of such finance for adaptation in developing countries; operationalise the Fund and funding arrangements for Loss and Damage; and accelerate their carbon emission mitigation targets to “keep alive” the goal of restricting global warming to 1.5 degrees centigrade. Attempts to selectively provide these funds on the basis of geo-political considerations should be resisted.
6. Pakistan’s triple food, fuel & finance challenge, is a prime illustration of the impacts of Covid, conflicts and climate on developing countries. Pakistan is one of the worst affected countries from the impacts of climate change. The epic floods of last summer submerged a third of our country, killed 1700 and displaced over 8 million people, destroyed vital infrastructure and caused over $30 billion in damage to Pakistan’s economy.
7. Pakistan is gratified by the commitments of over $10.5 billion for Pakistan’s comprehensive plan for recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction with resilience – the 4RF Plan – at the Geneva Conference last January. Specific projects are being submitted to ensure timely funding and execution of the 4RF Plan. I hope our development partners will accord priority to allocation (release) of funds for our “resilient” recovery Plan which has been costed at $13 billion.
8. Pakistan’s government is committed to rapid economic recovery. We will stabilize our foreign exchange reserves and our currency; expand domestic revenues and, most importantly, mobilize significant domestic and external investment. To this end, we have established a Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) to expedite investment decisions. Twenty-eight projects have been identified in priority sectors – agriculture, mining, energy and IT – for implementation in collaboration with Pakistan’s partners.
9. Pakistan’s long-term shift to geo-economics is well underway. The second phase of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has been initiated covering railway, infrastructure, and manufacturing projects.
10. Pakistan also looks forward to the early implementation of the “Connectivity” projects with Central Asia.
11. Development depends on peace. Pakistan is situated in one of the least economically integrated regions in the world. Pakistan believes that regions develop together. Therefore, Pakistan desires peaceful and productive relations with all our neighbours, including India. Kashmir is the key to peace between Pakistan and India.
12. The Jammu and Kashmir dispute is one of the oldest issues on the agenda of the Security Council. India has evaded implementation of the Security Council’s resolutions which call for the “final disposition” of Jammu and Kashmir to be decided by its people through UN-supervised plebiscite.
13. Since 5 August 2019, India has deployed 900,000 troops in Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir to impose the “Final Solution” for Kashmir. To this end, India has imposed extended lockdowns and curfews; jailed all the genuine Kashmir leaders; violently suppressed peaceful protests; resorted to extra-judicial killings of innocent Kashmiris in fake “encounters” and so-called “cordon and search operations”, and imposed collective punishments, destroying entire villages. Access to occupied Kashmir, demanded by the UN High Commission for Human Rights and over a dozen Special Rapporteurs, has been denied by New Delhi.
14. The UN Security Council must secure the implementation of its resolutions on Kashmir. The UN Military Observer Group for India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) should be reinforced. Global powers should convince New Delhi to accept Pakistan’s offer of mutual restraint on strategic and conventional weapons.
15. Peace in Afghanistan is a strategic imperative for Pakistan. Pakistan shares the concerns of international community with respect to Afghanistan particularly the rights of women and girls. Yet, we advocate continued humanitarian assistance to a destitute Afghan population in which Afghan girls and women are the most vulnerable; as well as revival of the Afghan economy and implementation of the connectivity projects with Central Asia.
16. Pakistan’s first priority is to prevent and counter all terrorism from and within Afghanistan. Pakistan condemns the cross- border terrorist attacks against Pakistan by the TTP, Daesh and other groups operating from Afghanistan. We have sought Kabul’s support and cooperation to prevent these attacks. However, we are also taking necessary measures to end this externally encouraged terrorism.
17. Pakistan welcomes the progress made towards ending the conflicts in Syria and Yemen. In particular, we warmly welcome the normalization of relations between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Islamic Republic of Iran. Unfortunately, the tragedy of Palestine continues, with Israeli military raids, airstrikes, expansion of settlements and evictions of Palestinians. Durable peace can be established only through a two state solution and the establishment of a viable and contiguous Palestinian State within the pre June 1967 borders, with Al Quds Al Sharif as its capital.
18. UN peacekeeping has been a success story. Over more than 6 decades, Pakistan has contributed 230,000 peacekeepers in 47 Missions across the world. Today, UN peacekeepers face complex and unprecedented challenges especially from criminal and terrorist groups, as in the Sahel. We must ensure the safety and security of peacekeepers. Pakistan shall continue to work with the UN to develop the capabilities and more robust mandates required for successful enforcement actions by UN and international forces where needed.
19. We must counter all terrorists without discrimination, including the rising threat posed by far-right extremist and fascist groups, such as Hindutva-inspired extremists threatening genocide against India’s Muslims and Christians. We also need to oppose “state terrorism”; address the root causes of terrorism, such as poverty, injustice and foreign occupation; and distinguish genuine freedom struggles from terrorism. Pakistan proposes the creation of a Committee of the General Assembly to oversee the balanced implementation of all four pillars of the Global Counter Terrorism Strategy.
20. Our progress based on rich history of cooperation, understanding, exchange and synthesis of ideas among (the) civilizations is imperiled today. The narratives advocating a clash of civilizations have done considerable harm to humanity’s progress. Such ideas have bred extremism, hatred and religious intolerance, including Islamophobia. Make no mistake; it is a latent threat that undermines millennia of progress. We need to cherish and celebrate our diversity and different ways of life. Mutual respect, sanctity of religious symbols, scriptures and personages should be ensured.
21. While Islamophobia is an age-old phenomenon; however, after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, it has assumed epidemic proportions, as manifested in the negative profiling of Muslims; and attacks on Islamic sites and symbols, such as the recent public burnings of the Holy Quran.
22. Last year, this Assembly adopted a Resolution, proposed by Pakistan on behalf of the OIC, declaring 15 March as the International Day to Combat Islamophobia. Earlier this year, the Human Rights Council adopted an OIC resolution submitted by Pakistan, urging States to outlaw the burning of the Holy Quran and similar provocations. We welcome the legislation initiated by Denmark and contemplated by Sweden towards this end. Pakistan and the OIC countries will propose further steps to combat Islamophobia, including the appointment of a Special Envoy, creation of an Islamophobia data Centre, legal assistance to victims and an accountability process to punish Islamophobic crimes.
23. The complex global and regional challenges that the world faces today can be best addressed through effective multilateralism within the framework of the United Nations. However, multilateralism is being eschewed due to the unilateral policies of and strategic rivalry and tensions between global powers. Pakistan will continue to work actively to strengthen multilateral institutions and enhance global cooperation.
24. Pakistan looks forward to continuing negotiations on the scope and elements of the Summit of the Future and the Pact for the Future, building on the convergences that emerged in earlier consultations.
25. The Summit’s preparatory process must not disrupt existing negotiating processes such as the Intergovernmental Negotiations on the reform of the Security Council.
26. Pakistan does not believe in elitism within the comity of nations. The UN Charter principles of equality and sovereignty must be preserved in the interest of global peace and prosperity. Pakistan believes that adding additional permanent members to the Security Council will further erode its credibility and legitimacy. The widest possible agreement can be best achieved on the basis of the Uniting for Consensus Group’s proposal for expansion of the Council only in the non-permanent category with provision for a limited number of longer-term seats.
27. Pakistan believes that to build, preserve and promote peace and prosperity today, and in the future, it is vital to reduce great power rivalry and tensions; ensure strict adherence to the UN Charter; consistently implement Security Council resolutions; eliminate the root causes of conflicts; and respect the principles of non-use of force; self-determination; sovereignty and territorial integrity; noninterference in the internal affairs of States and peaceful co- existence.
28. Pakistan will work diligently and actively with all Member States to realize these vital elements of a new, equitable and peaceful world order.
Pakistan’s role in the United Nations is marked by its unwavering commitment to global peace, security, stability, and development. Through active participation in peacekeeping missions, advocacy for disarmament, humanitarian assistance, commitment to the SDGs, climate change action, and mediation efforts, Pakistan has consistently shown its dedication to the principles and goals of the United Nations. As a responsible member of the international community, Pakistan continues to make significant contributions that benefit not only its own citizens but also people around the world, reinforcing the importance of multilateral diplomacy and cooperation in addressing global challenges.
The G20, the Global South and India
The G20 summit in India turned out to be not ordinary event. The summit of representatives of the largest economies and military-political potentials showed global trends in the struggle for leadership and development. The G20 meeting demonstrated India’s diplomatic triumph, which proved a rather profound understanding of world processes and trends. The most important consequence of the summit was the adoption of a new global economic and infrastructure project to export goods from India through the Middle East to Europe. In addition, the countries of the Global South have shown that they are not ready to oppose Russia openly and do not want to politicize the Ukrainian crisis.
The Group of Twenty originated at the turn of the XXI. During the deep economic and financial crisis in Asia, the developed countries of the West sought to formalize a new coordination structure. The idea was to create a forum to exchange views and global coordination of financial and economic issues. Then, the finance ministers of the Group of Eight solicited an initiative to expand the range of countries to discuss financial policy issues, inviting such large and actively growing states as China and India.
By the beginning of the XXI, there was an objective viewpoint in Western capitals that it was impossible to solve world problems without involving India and China in the problems of global governance. The idea of globalization was becoming dominant among intellectuals and development leaders during this period. After the collapse of bipolarity and the disintegration of the USSR, the world lost unnecessary dividing lines, ideological enmity and confrontation between the two blocs. Globalization was becoming a natural and necessary aspect of development. The idea originated in the UK and the USA and has become prevalent in the capitals of developed countries. Thus, the Group of Twenty was created.
Nonetheless, after the founding conference in Berlin in December 1999, the G20 was almost forgotten. Before the new financial crisis in 2008, there were no summits: the main format was the annual meetings of finance ministers and heads of central banks. The fact that the situation in the global economy was critical is indicated by the fact that the G20 summits met not once a year but as emergency meetings. The first, named “anti—crisis”, was held in November 2008 in Washington, the next in April 2009 in London, and, in Pittsburgh in September of the same year.
The severity of the economic crisis has passed over time, and the G20 has upgraded to the political level. The Forum, which unites countries from different parts of the world, is much more representative and balanced than the G7 and allows world leaders to meet without organizing an official visit to discuss current affairs. The Group of Twenty, major advanced and emerging economies collectively represent about 80-90% of the world’s gross national product, 70-80% of world trade, and two-thirds of the world’s population. The Group includes 19 major national economies, as well as The European Union as a joint participant.
The G20 Summit in New Delhi on September 9-10 was an outstanding event in the life of this organization. Three aspects can be stressed out. First, the G20 has expanded at the expense of the African Union. Secondly, the summit reached an agreement on creating a transport corridor that will be completed by India and its partners and is considered by New Delhi and the West as an alternative to the Chinese One Belt, One Road project. If this transport project is successfully implemented, it can change the balance of power in the global economy and significantly strengthen India’s position in the international system. Thirdly, the topic concerning the Ukrainian-Russian conflict was essentially secondary for the first time since February 2022 at a representative interstate forum. The countries of the Global South refused to politicize this conflict and take sides.
All three developments have become possible thanks to the successful work of Indian diplomacy. Apparently, it is safe to talk about India as a growing and established contender for the status of a great power. The last day of the summit was marked by a visit of its participants to the Raj Ghat memorial, created at the cremation site of the national hero of India – Mahatma Gandhi.
From the perspective of world politics, the most important idea was the creation of a new transport corridor, which was supported by all the largest economies in the world. It was decided to develop an action plan within a few months and start implementation. Its goal is to launch a large–scale project for the construction of railways and ports intended to transport goods from India to the Middle East and Europe. The memorandum of understanding, based on which the project is being created, is signed by Joseph Biden, Narendra Modi, and the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman al Saud.
China’s excessive and active growth worries the most developed countries of the world, especially the United States and Great Britain. Some concern is also present in a number of Asian capitals, including Japan, India, South Korea, and partly Vietnam. Growth generates China’s ambitions, and intentions to spread its power and influence have a particular impact on the actions of other major players. Having a complicated history of relations with China, several countries are looking for formats and systems of cooperation to deter possible aggressive attempts to expand their influence and growth. Many intellectuals are convinced that the confrontation between the United States and China will become the main and determining factor of the XXI. The idea of a new transport corridor, which has become a demonstration of the success of the diplomacy of India and its partners in the West, has a specific potential for diversifying transport supplies and hedging the risks of Chinese growth.
Therefore, the G-20 summit was a success for India and demonstrated a sufficiently deep understanding of world processes, stability, and professionalism of its diplomacy. New Delhi’s ideas and projects have been supported by many players, including the conflicting West and East. India has become a conductor and mentor of the interests of the Global South. The expansion of the G20 at the summit in India at the expense of the African Union has become a symbol of this. In addition, despite the high level of conflict in current international relations and pressure, India managed to protect the economic summit from excessive politicization and collective condemnation.
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