With the recent visit of U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to New Delhi, the already uncomfortable India-China relations have taken on a new dimension. Though Pompeo’s visit is a matter of bilateral diplomacy, China has a variety of concerns. With Pompeo’s visit to India and from there to Sri Lanka and Maldives strengthens the Chinese worry over the formation of a U.S. Camp in Asia-Pacific. But, to what extent Pompeo’s visit, especially when the election trumpet and the results are sounding in the U.S., can change the political order in Asia-pacific? Pompeo’s visit, it seems, shows the United Sates’ political gimmick to strengthen its dismaying influence in the Asia Pacific, which is not very easy to reinstate in contemporary times.
In the recent past, India and the United States have flourished into a strategic friendship, especially with the rise to power of Trump-Modi administrations. But this friendship never grew to a new power bloc in the India-pacific region yet. Though India was leaning towards a pro-US policy for the last three decades, these friendly ties never fully developed to create a partnership between the U.S. and India. Washington’s earlier sympathetic attitude towards Pakistan, as reflected in the Kashmir issue, and the undue influence of post-Soviet foreign concerns restricted India from producing a comprehensive bilateral partnership with the U.S. This is what Pompeo wants to rewrite when he says at a 2+2 ministerial dialogue along with Secretary of Defence Mark Esper, Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, that ‘the U.S. will stand with the people of India as they face threats to their sovereignty and their liberty’
On the contrary, two things bring India closer to the United States. More than ever, India recognizes that the challenges posed by China over the past seventy years are becoming more alarming. Let us not forget the quick but obtrusive Chinese reaction to the annulment of Article 370 in September 2019. China reacted that the repeal of Article 370, guaranteeing privileges to Jammu and Kashmir, is illegal and invalid. Similarly, neither Pakistan nor China was happy that India amended its citizenship provisions in December 2019.
With the ongoing standoff at Galwan, India recognizes that Chinese strategy is not to engage in direct full-time war. Instead, China opts for long-term provocations, and hybrid conflicts to keep India tensed. To respond to these new challenges, India is interested in shifting towards new strategies and global connections. India is not afraid of Pakistan, either militarily or otherwise, but Chinese aggression disguised as Pakistani, Sri Lankan or Nepalese provocation worries India. Besides, India is also worried about the existing strategic ties that China established with Nepal, Maldives and Sri Lanka.
Therefore, India is concerned about stopping the Chinese wings across entire Asia-pacific. As India’s friendly ties with other south Asian and south east-Asian countries is deteriorating day by day, India needs to establish new strategic partnerships. This position pushes India towards new friends such as the United States, Japan, and Israel to forge diplomatic alliances and political bonds.
Indeed, Chinese intrusion in Galwn Valley, Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh is part of the Chinese response to India’s changing political conditions. What is happening in the Galwan Valley is nothing but ‘Chinese test dose’ to ascertain whether it can frighten India by creating hybrid situations. However, China is upset that India is resisting such attempts with international cooperation and that the international community stands with India.
In this situation, China fears India, that with a population of 130 billion people and more concrete forms of democracy, India can overrule the Chinese influence in Asia-pacific. Quite unsurprisingly, the recent development of the India-U.S. bilateral alliance, therefore, irritates china. As far as the U.S. is concerned, India is a loyal partner in maintaining the balance of power in Asia-pacific and, as Mike Pompeo said, India also views that China’s interests are creating international distresses. In this context, it is mutual that the United States longs for India’s friendship, and India seeks U.S. assistance, especially when dealing with China.
China views Indo–U.S relation as a threat to its supremacy and a pro-India plan with inputs from the U.S. This is why China responded with sporadic but, somber comments hours after Mike Pompeo’s statement that he is “repeating old lies” and “violating the norms of international relations”. Additionally, for his comments in New Delhi, China responded by saying that “the boundary question is a bilateral matter between China and India” and “there is no space for a third party to intervene.”
For China, the major worry is not only in the enhanced military superiority of India- U.S. alliance but the ideological threat such a partnership can pose to the Chinese global empire. As noted, China is trying hard to deal with the internal movements for democracy and against human rights violation. Consequently, China fears that the reflection of the friendship between India and the U.S. will affect its inner balance, apart from the global empire.
Consequently, Pompeo’s visit to Sri Lanka and the Maldives from India sends critical political messages to China. United States’ intention to cooperate with Sri Lanka to counter-terrorism and post-pandemic economic recovery, along with the decision to open a U.S. Embassy at the Maldives, show the growing U.S. interests in Asia-pacific politics. China is concerned about U.S. efforts to forge new political equations, as well as India’s preparedness to stand by the U.S. side. However, to what extent these visit can produce a pro-U.S Asia-pacific world view and India-U.S. partnership depends mainly on U.S election results. If Joe Biden is fated to be the upcoming President of the United States, we can soon hear the funeral anthem of Trumpian power relations in the Asia-Pacific.
Pakistan: Politics entered into a new phase
Although Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan got the vote of confidence from Parliament and seems his grip over politics. No doubt that the masses in Pakistan still believe that he is an honest, sincere, and visionary leader. But many questions are rising in their minds. Like: why he opted for seeking a vote of confidence from the Parliament: was he obliged? Any legal requirement? Was he wanted to prove his popularity? Etc.
Irrespective of Senate elections, he was not legally bound to seek a vote of confidence from the Parliament. In Pakistan’s history, one of the prime ministers got a vote of confidence from the Parliament but could not survive longer and have to leave his prime minister-ship soon.
Will PM Imran Khan complete his remaining tenure till 2023 comfortably? Should he stay relax once getting a vote of confidence and proving his popularity? Should he conceive all is fine and his Prime Ministership is out of danger? Will the opposition stay calm and quiet till 2023 for the next general election in the country? And so on, many questions need to be answered.
True, it is absolutely true that PM Imran Kahn, for 178 votes in the National Assembly and secured his confidence in the Parliament. It was only the vote of filthy wealthy parliamentarians; they might not be reflecting the views of the masses. They got elected in the general elections held in 2018 but have lost contact with the masses in their own constituencies. PM Imran Khan also has in isolation from his voters. A specific class has encircled him and keep a distance between him and the masses. They do not know how tough is life for the majority of masses in their constituencies. The cost of life, inflations, and price-hike have made their lives miserable.
Interior Minister Shaikh Rashid Ahmed, who is a well-known public leader and representative, has expressed his views just after the vote of confidence in the Parliament that the Prime Minister should take notice of Government Servants Salary structure, which has not been revised for a long time. In contrast, the inflation and price-hike have made their lives miserable. I fact majority of the masses are facing hardship due to price-hike and are not satisfied with the Governance of PM Imran Khan. They might reflect their anger in the next general elections.
PM Imran Khan has struggled 22 years to become 22nd Prime Minister of Pakistan. He made several promises to the public to seek their support during the election campaign. People of Pakistan shown trust in him and voted for him. But after becoming Prime Minister, he has not met the expectations of the masses or his voters. He has not fulfilled some of his promises. Especially his promises affecting the common person and masses are not fulfilled, which might harm his political career.
The country is still facing an economic crisis, joblessness, poverty, corruption, lack of merit, denial of justice and lack of health care and education, etc. The masses are still suffering and living a miserable life.
PM Imran Khan cares a lot for the imported elite and which was reflected in the senate elections. He has chosen 15 out of 27 cabinet members from outside the hardcore PTI members. His choice of imported, dual national, foreign nationals, and electives from other parties will not stand with him once he is in deep crisis and may travel abroad, leaving him alone. Some of his cabinet members, who have not to stake in Pakistan, or on the pay role of foreign countries, may not rescue him in severe crises. At the cost of few cabinet members, he should not offend his loyal workers and PTI members.
This is when he should think twice about what caused him to seek the vote of confidence. How should he serve Pakistan in the capacity of Prime minister, where he can meet the masses’. It is masses whose votes make a difference. The elite is not more than 10% in the country, and their vote bank can not make him Prime Minister again.
On the other hand, the opposition is intended to give him a hard time and may not spare him to relax or enjoy the prime ministership longer. The masses, due to dissatisfaction, may be exploited by the opposition.
As a matter of fact, Pakistan’s politics has entered into a new phase, and it is suggested that PM Imran Khan availing this opportunity, should re-evaluate the situation and revise some of his policies and take merit-based righ decisions. It is never too late!
COVID-19 pandemic and positives/negatives of the Pakistani government’s policy towards it
The covid-19 erupt from Wuhan in December 2019. The first case in Pakistan was observed on February 26th, 2020.It is considered a global pandemic because of its contagious nature. It has engulfed many lives and economies. Whereas Pakistan, despite its socioeconomic and political problems, has tackled covid-19 efficiently so far. Objectives of these policies were to contain and mitigate the spread of covid-19. Pakistan made effective policies to hamper the unfurling nature of covid-19. It was praised by the director-general of WHO and he mentioned it as a lesson for the rest of the world. The upshots of the policies on its citizens were both positive and negative, but they helped a lot in sailing through covid-19.
Covid-19 has accentuated the inadequacy of the health sector. However, to combat covid-19, RFCC assists hospitals to evolve their capacities to provide treatments. Many hotels and motels were converted into quarantine centers. Number of ventilators, gears, beds, and testing capability has been increased. Pakistan got a loan of $760M to improve its medical handling. These policies seem effective as they are the major line to combat covid-19. Number of staff has also increased. These policies play a crucial role in containing Corona virus but due to lack of awareness, many people didn’t get tested. Overall, it played a positive role.
“Out of 220M population, 25% are living below the poverty line and 30% live in grave poverty,” said the PM Imran khan. Therefore, containing the poverty and retaining the economy is an arduous task. For this purpose, the Ehsas program was launched with a stipend money of Rs.12000 for the vulnerable. Employees wouldbe paid a salary during complete lock-down. The government displayed leniency in paying taxes to accelerate the investment. The banks remained open during the nationwide lock-down. However, an in-depth analysis reveals that Ehsas program didn’t prove effective due to the absence of a proper tracking system. The poor and needy people in rural areas were not affable with the technology, therefore they were unable to enroll in this program.
Moreover, the government’s policy of smart lockdown cannot be ignored. It started in April, targeting the disease hotspots. The purpose of this policy was to provide a breathing space to the most vulnerable section of the society. Because nationwide lock-down was threatening food security. Smart lock-down technology played a crucial role and made Pakistan distinctive around the world.
To dampen the adverse effects of covid-19 on society, section 144 was implemented to avoid public gathering. According to the health ministry “home quarantine, zoning of hospitals, and social distancing should be in the nitty-gritty of the policy.” They imposed a ban on air traffic and started screening at the airports for international travellers these measures proved beneficial to some extent. But unfortunately the government couldn’t ensure the SOPs.
In a nutshell, the aforementioned account enables a worthy conclusion that Pakistan has managed to contain the devastating effect of covid-19, however, the danger is not over yet. The second wave of covid-19 has started globally which can overturn the successful results other way round. Therefore, some stringent action should be taken to make the policy of containment of covid-19 more effective that is only possible if there is a consensus between the federal and provincial governments. The only way to limit the dangers of the virus is to come up with the unified and all inclusive national plans.
Who pulls the strings of the government of India?
While talking to a Cornell college professor, Rahul Gandhi lamented (March 2, 2021) that the RSS was making use of its educational institutions to propagate its tunnel vision (NewsMatters, March 6, 2021). `Wherefrom money comes to run hundreds of thousands of schools’, he asked.
The RSS, founded in 1925, is not only distorting history, and polluting syllabi but also compelling the BJP government to appoint its nominees to key posts whether academic or political.
The RSS’s rationale is that it is their government. As such, they have every right to make appointments to all political and non-political posts and revise syllabus according to their own version of history.
A bird’s-eye view of appointments
Besides president Kovind Nath, a dalit, and Hindu-monk Yogi Adityanath, several parcharaks (apostles) were nominated for appointment as chief ministers, governors and cabinet ministers. The nominees included ML Khattar, chief minister of Haryana, Trivendra Singh Rawat, chief minister of Uttarakhand, Devandar Fadnavis (Maharashtra), and Ram Thakur (Himachal Pradesh).
The veterans appointed as governors included Balramji Das Tandan (Chhattisgarh), Ram Naik (UP), Om Prakash Kohli (Gujarat), Keshri Nath Tripathi (West Bengal), Kalyan Singh (Rajasthan), Vidya Saga Rao (Maharashtra), Vaju Bhai Bhala (Karnataka), Padmanabha Acharya (Nagaland), Jagdish Mukti (Assam) and Tathaghat Roy (Tripura) (Source: Aryana P. Chatterji, Thomas Blom Hansen, and Christophe Jaffrelot (eds), Majoritarian State).
Dr, Lokesh Chandra was made president of Indian Council for Cultural Relations. Ram Bahadur Roy, former ABVP organizing secretary who was jailed during Indira-Gandhi- imposed emergency was appointed to the Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts. Baldev Sharma, former editor of the RSS’s Hindi mouth-piece Panchjanya, was appointed chairman of the national Book Trust. Shakti Sanha, private secretary to prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee was rewarded with appointment of Director of Nehru Memorial and Library. The memorial was the hub of Nehru-Gandhi legacy. A small-time actor Gajendra Chauhan was appointed Chairman of the Films and Television Institute of India. Hindu Nationalist Anupam Kher was appointed head of India’s Board of Film Certification.
Realising that educational institutions are key agents for ideological dissemination, the RSS thrust its nominees as vice chancellors and directors in universities and cultural institutions of higher learning.
RSS’s version of history
A distorted version is taught in RSS-run Vidya Bharti schools. Hindu caste system is well delineated in Rig Veda, Manusmriti and Bhagavad Gita. But, the RSS preaches that the Muslim Turks initiated the untouchability. Turks introduced commodes in India. “Hindus who refused to convert to Islam were forced to clean them. And, thus they became untouchable.”
While addressing a large gathering at Muzaffarpur, Bhagwat said, `RSS volunteers were so disciplined that they could be mobilized in a matter of days should the constitution and laws of the country so demand’. Many senior retired armed forces officers including former army chief General VK Singh have joined the RSS.
Bhagwat’s bonhomie with politicians, media, judiciary, industry, religious leaders and civil society reflects that the RSS would continue to keep the Modi government under its Octopus claw. Also it is keen to extend its influence in political, societal and non- governmental spheres. To deepen its roots, the RSS has initiated programmes like Family Awakening (parivar prabodhan),Village Development (grama vikas), and Social Harmony (samara satta).
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