In this globalized world, time and space are shrinking with the advent of technologies. But the prevailing global interconnections are creating some irreversible collision among the sovereign units, which suggest that this Liberal democratic world became so complicated and peculiar that at this stage no one can control anything, not even superpower. Though they can regulate to some extent but can’t control. Most of the sovereign units are running on democratic principles; nevertheless, there are still several unregulated territories are operating, which is a major concern for democratic nations to deal with them. Hence, these territories provide a breeding ground for illegal activities due to the absence of law and order in that particular area. Most critical of among those territories is the Afghanistan, which became a hub of illicit trade and drug trafficking as well as the global source of terroristic movements.
Afghanistan is not only posing severe hurdles to neighbouring countries, but it is a menace to global peace. Notwithstanding, a full-fledged Afghan government, Taliban are accompanying with Al-Qaeda is the major key players in the region. They entirely disregard the policies of the government, also seeks to counterbalance the power politics in its favour. In praxis, there is no indivisible supreme authority with the capability to command over the whole territory which renders sufficient space for anarchy and turbulence in the region. This implies that afghan, as a state, failed to administer in its real sense. Consequently, it inflates the mystery to classify the nature of Afghanistan to have a meaningful analysis. Presently, Ashraf Ghani, the successor of Hamid Karzai leading the country since 2014, which signifies that Afghanistan is not a completely failed state; instead, it has some fragmented parts. This inefficiency of the state to govern according to global norms is disrupting the peace and also serve as a reservoir of illegal activities. The attack of 9/11 is a suitable example of lawlessness accompanying with the grave consequences of outgrowth of terrorism. Briefly, the geographical terrain in and around the afghan region gives a very suitable space for terrorists to flourish and hide. Hence, these non-state actors are striving to expand their magnetism to the neighbouring countries, which may prompt major security implications for the bordering countries primarily for CAR due to the weak political system and porous borders. Similarly, India is also affected by radical and extremist tendencies that stem from volatile Afghanistan. Moreover, India commenced pursuing its interests in Afghanistan with the well-established engagement. Therefore, India needs to pedal carefully to remain intact in the Taliban headed Afghanistan.
Afghanistan: Failed or Fragmented state?
Afghanistan is known for the history of invasion following with its internal strife and open- ended battle that is intensifying the situation even further without any foreseeable end. All the international efforts have been ineffective to render any useful explication of the conflict chiefly because of ethnic clashes among the civilians and Pakistani interferences. As a consequence, this engendered into convulsions and disruptions within Afghanistan. The instability and the legacy of the Taliban is also a major cause of conflict which leaves no option for the government to execute any practical solutions. However, it is quintessential to identify the speculations behind the germination of non-state actors, nonetheless the world’s most potent military interventions. Why only Afghanistan, not Pakistan or Central Asia or any other region of the world? This question diverts the attention to diagnose the nature of Afghanistan as a state first.
According to Max Weber, the territorial boundary of the country is governed by an exclusive sovereign authority termed as government or state (Gauba, 2009). However, in the case of Afghanistan, not only the state but the non-state actors also regulating different territorial area within a country. There are numerous autonomous units operating to stretch their influence over the territory. This signifies that Afghanistan failed to perform the process of law and governance efficiently. In short, the Afghan government failed to comply with all the principal features of the state, which indicates that power is divided among various stakeholders primarily where the state is weak, fragmented or in extreme cases failed (Barfield, 2010). Hence, it is incompetent for the state to exert authority over all actors within the borders of the state. Mainly if there are non-state armed actors who are maintaining autonomous character mostly by force, then it is almost impossible for the government to execute any order in that region (Rotberg, 2005). On the other hand, Afghanistan has elected president including a political system which restrains us from distinguishing Afghanistan as a failed state.
Hamid Karzai was the first Democratically elected president of Afghanistan and subsequentially his successor Ashraf Ghani is leading the country since 2014 (Nick B. Mills, 2007). It exhibits that Afghanistan has unusual features of the state but not complying with all the authentic features of a nation-state. However, it is imprecise to delineate Afghan as a failed state; instead, it shows the symptoms of fragmentation. Therefore, there is a need to crystalize the understanding of failed state and fragmented state to have a feasible conclusion. State failure is a difficult situation where state agency ceases to operate entirely or partly. In Afghanistan, the circumstances are more similar to the fragmented state where the so-called illegal non-state actors have a significant role to play accompanying with state authorities. Lastly, non-state actors do not acknowledge the hierarchy of authorities which eventually drives to the anarchy and lawlessness within a state.
The threat for Democratic World Order
In the 21st century, the world regulates on the orbit of liberal principles. The post-soviet era with a twist from fixed to flexible exchange rate system gave enormous space to flourish the liberalism or in another way globalization to its zenith. Globalization not only demands the flexible economy but also requires a stable political system for its growth. In contrast, the political system of Afghanistan is precarious and led to the outgrowth of baneful factors. The politically destabilize country consists of numerous Clan leaders, which are the main components of the political fabric of the country. The presence of these clans with diverse and distinct social beliefs and norms paves the way of the tussle. Besides, the existence of external forces since the last half-century also contributing to antagonize the culture and ignited the growth of extremist ideologies. Ever since millions of dollars and human resources has been injected, but the story remains unchanged.
Gradually, Afghanistan became the hub of transnational organized crimes with the support of highly sophisticated weapon systems. Mostly, the funding for these activities is obtained with the help of illicit financial flows and the narco trade estimated around $400 in 2018. The growth of the illicit trade in Afghanistan is indestructible, and the country is now the origin of around 90% of the global supply of heroin (Gregorian, 2020). This opium poppy cultivation is one of the primary sources of livelihood in the region. On the other hand, it also serves as a platform to establish strong linkages among the farmers and illegal outsourcing agents, furthermore undermines the credibility of state authorities. These illegitimate connections deviate and alienate the civilians from state apparatuses and inclined them towards the radical or jihadist ideologies. The “Idea of Jihad” befuddles the individual to the extent that they can be used as a suicide bombers in the name of sacrifice. Therefore, the suicidal tactics became one of the unbeatable apocalyptic methods to perpetrate terror on a broader aspect. Moreover, these new tactics bashing the U.S. and NATO to reassess its counterterrorism measures and policies to secure peace and stability. Since the last two decades, the U.S. analysts and policymakers are incompetent to design the concrete path of victory despite the persistent multilateral engagements and consistent failure, eventually leading to an unsettled withdrawal of U.S. forces in a desultory manner.
According to the Council on Foreign Relations, the conflict status of Afghanistan is still getting worse notwithstanding multilateral peace talks among prominent leaders and stakeholders, which may undermine the future prospects of any settlement and inter-afghan mediations. Furthermore, the stage of reconciliation after year-long consultations once again lost its sanctity with the emergence of a global pandemic and declining interest of the Taliban. However, the Afghan crisis sinking a massive amount of human and financial resources following with the unprecedented deaths and casualties to settle the battle. Consequentially, it became a global solicitude to safeguard Afghanistan from turning into a terrorist safe haven. Terrorism and extremism are dangerous for all nations around the world. Also, the drug mafia within Afghanistan is posing a hard blow, domestically and internationally and expanding its root in the region due to its lawlessness. The development of these illegal movements within Afghanistan and around the region raises serious security concerns for the world, can also break off the stability and impede the global economic growth. Lastly, it can be said that without any focused effort to dismantle the unauthorized trade and activities, Afghanistan will continue to captivate the corruption and violence that have plagued the world throughout the turbulent history. Henceforth, it is essential to track the development process in Afghanistan and harmonize the situation with the help of the U.S. and other NATO allies to sustain a peaceful world order.
Security Implications on CAR
As it has been previously stated that Afghanistan is a war-torn nation and its devastating repercussions left the economy crumbled. This economic insufficiency plus unemployment constrain civilians to join the militancy groups. These groups have very active linkages from the Islamic world, especially from Pakistan and Saudi Arabia moreover, they were creating robust linkages to extend their scope in the other bordering countries to harbour themselves during the crisis. Additionally, they also try to woo the civilians of other nations in the name of holy wars.
Afghanistan crisis became a global threat due to the mounting narco trade and outreach of terrorist. Historical pieces of evidence reveal that religious extremism provides the base for terrorism while ultimately, Afghanistan is surrounded by the hard-core Islamic countries. Consequentially, the threat is not only confined to Afghanistan; slightly, it has flooded the neighbouring countries with severe repercussions. Most affected is Central Asia the immediate neighbours of Afghanistan, which provides a substantial base for the terrorist to deceive and accomplish their goals along with Pakistan’s strategic support. Central Asia’s corrupt bureaucracy and weak political system present ample possibilities to prosper the so-called unauthorized activities without any legal risk vis a vis militant groups in Afghanistan are also forming a very close nexus with the neighbouring countries to acquire human and financial resources, especially in CAR.
The threats emanating from Afghanistan is not only using Central Asia as a breeding ground for subversive activities; somewhat, it is also ruining the indigenous culture of these countries. Afghanistan is posing multifaceted economic, political and cultural challenges to the CAR because of the defective political system. The unsteady civic institutions of Central Asia and regional conflict gives leverage to infiltrators to operate under their nose. Besides, religious extremism, ethnic divisions, drug trafficking, illicit trade, and the supply of deadly weapons is the major security threats instigated by Afghanistan. Further, Central Asian routes are used for the opium trade, which is a major source of funding for the Afghan warlords. Moreover, the unresponsive governments of the region failed to harmonies the situation for better economic growth which is worrisome for the major trading partners, including India. Henceforth, the failing economies and the lack of a powerful motivation to engage with India is obstructing the fruits of mutual benefits.
India’s engagement with Afghan’s and Afghanistan
India and Afghanistan hold deep cultural linkages which can be traced back to antiquity simultaneously with the trade relations which proceeded in fragmented layers with the rise and fall of different regimes. This deep-rooted mutual connection underwent a major setback since the partition accompanied with organized stifling by Pakistan. Unquestionably, Afghanistan holds a vital status from the perspective of India’s security calculus. The vitality of Afghanistan for India are not precisely because of Pakistan but proportionately , if not more vital, attached to India’s aspiration to be and to be seen as a major player in the region. Besides, the undeniable fact is that India has always seen Afghanistan as a viaduct to extend its strategic reach beyond south Asia. However, Strategic calculations are not the sole factor; slightly, various other underlying factors are also responsible for India’s direct engagement with Afghanistan.
Firstly, due to the close alliance of mujahideen with ISI (Intelligence agency of Pakistan), Afghanistan poses serious security challenges to India. On the other hand, Pakistan has continuously tried to stimulate the turmoil in the Kashmir to disorientate the region from India, which is a primary cause of the contentious relationship between India and Pakistan. Islamabad also using Afghanistan as a vault of insurgent groups and trained them with core military tactics to meet the perverted interests against India. Pakistan is using Afghanistan, as a launchpad for training and sending Islamic militants to Kashmir. Hence, the stability of Afghanistan is the primary concern of India from Kashmir’s perspective.
Secondly, India’s engagement with Afghanistan strongly motivated with friendly gestures to advance more excellent regional stability in entirely coincides with Kautilya’s Rajamandala theory (Circle of States). Although, the world is quite different now in comparison to the Kautilya’s age (Boesche, 2002)but the geopolitical scenario of the Afpak region utterly compatible with his theory. This theory illustrates the bordering nation (i.e., Pakistan) as a hostile and the country which has aligned borders to a hostile country (i.e. Afghanistan) is a natural ally (In case of India). Accordingly, it is imperative for India to maintain a cordial relation with Afghanistan. Additionally, India can use Afghanistan to keep a check on Pakistan to dismantle the Mujahideen’s sheltered by Pakistan from time to time.
Thirdly, India’s economy is proliferating to satisfy the daily demands of the nation, following with an ambition to become a global power. To sustain this economic growth, India needs an uninterrupted supply of energy resources which can be complemented by CAR. Therefore, Afghanistan can provide a viable transit route to Central Asia to tap the unexplored chunk of energy reserves to relieve India’s energy thirst. India can utilize Afghanistan as a gateway to access Central Asian markets and to enhance energy and economic collaboration to foster the dream of South and Central Asian connectivity.
Though gradually India has advanced its position in Afghanistan with the projection of soft power and infrastructure development. This makes India as one of the largest donors to Afghanistan, which can be manifested through milestone projects concluded by India like Delaram-Zaranj
Highway, transmission lines, Salma Dam and a parliament building in Kabul. On the other aspects, India is also cementing its position through soft power in the field of education, medical and most significantly the passion for Indian cinemas. In spite of that, India needs to recalibrate its approach to root itself as a major player in the Taliban headed Afghanistan. It is also equally significant for India to obstruct the emergence of any radical regime in Afghanistan to pacify the whole South Asian Region.
Over the decades, Afghanistan became more volatile than it was ever before. The rationale behind this is not the external force rather internal radicalization targeted on vulnerable groups in and around the region. The insurgent groups have different origins and motives which is stretching across the South Asian Region and its more threatening for the neighbouring countries in particular, whereas the bordering nations around Afghanistan provide the source of shelter and various other assistance anonymously. The most unstable among them is the CAR which also became an alternate transit route for the contraband products. To sum up, it can be said that internally fractured central Asia needs to captivate the foreign investment and strengthen the security measures to overcome the crisis. The effects of the catastrophe are not only confined to bordering nations; preferably, it has also elongated to the Indian soil at a full-scale. This signifies that India has to contain numerous direct and indirect security challenges arising from Afghanistan, which derailed the bilateral progress between Central Asia and India.
Barfield, T. (2010). Afghanistan a cultural and political history. New Jersey: Princeton University Press Princeton & Oxford.
Boesche, R. (2002). The First Great Political Realist: Kautilya and His Arthashastra. Maryland: Lexington Books.
Gauba, O. (2009). An Introduction to Political Theory. New Delhi: Macmillan.
Gregorian, D. H. (2020, 03 21). Trialogue. Retrieved from Institute of World Affairs:
Nick B. Mills, N. D. (2007). Karzai: The Failing American Intervention and the Struggle for Afghanistan. New Jersey: John & Wiley sons.
Rotberg, R. I. (2005). State Failure and State Weakness in a Time of Terror. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution press.
The New World Order: The conspiracy theory and the power of the Internet
“The Illuminati, a mysterious international organisation made up of the world’s top political and social elites, controls the workings of the entire world behind the scenes”. This is the world’s most famous conspiracy theory about the New World Order.
For hundreds of years, legends about the Illuminati have been spread and many people currently believe that the Illuminati still exist. It is believed that the Illuminati operate in various fields such as global politics, military affairs, finance and mass media and control the historical process of the entire world.
The ultimate goal is to establish a New World Order. Nobody can prove it, but many people believe it. This is the greatest paradox about conspiracy theories.
In the 2009 film, Angels and Demons – based on Dan Brown’s best seller of the same name about Professor Langdon, played by Tom Hanks – the story of the Illuminati, who supposedly originated in Europe during the Age of Enlightenment, was recalled. There were physicists, mathematicians and astronomers who questioned the “erroneous teachings” of the authority of the Holy See and dedicated themselves to the scientific field of the search for truth.
Eventually, the Illuminati were forced to become a clandestine organisation and have continued to recruit members for hundreds of years to this day. In Angels and Demons, the historical facts are clearly questionable, and the movie appeared after the great economic crisis of 2007-2008.
The New World Order conspiracy theory has been circulating for a long time and is full of mysterious theories that, however, convince many people who are powerless and dissatisfied with the current state of the world.
The Illuminati, who advocate the establishment of a New World Order through the planning of a series of political and financial events (the financial tsunami of 2007-2008 is said to have been planned by the Illuminati), attempt to influence the course of world history, and ultimately establish an authoritarian world government.
Supporters of the New World Order theory believe that even the powerful US government is now just a puppet government. While another “shadow government” made up of a few people makes decisions that will change the fate of the planet.
You might think that all of the above is just crackpot theories. Many people, however, believe this is true. According to a 2013 poll conducted by the Public Policy Polling Foundation, 28% of US voters believe that the New World Order is actually taking hold.
Brian L. Keeley, a professor of philosophy at Pitts College who devotes himself to the study of modern conspiracy theories, believes that an important feature of conspiracy theorists is that they cite some trivial and overlooked incidents and then propose a perfect explanation compared to an embarrassed official response. The reason why the conspiracy theory explanation can be widely disseminated is that it has no argumentation process to deny. It is just a judgement that jumps directly from hypothesis to conclusion. In the argumentation process, it is only a subjective interpretation of the event.
Nevertheless, for the public that does not fully understand the incident, the conspiracy theory provides an “explanation” for the unknown part of the said incident, and this “explanation” cannot be denied (because its very existence is not corroborated by real arguments and facts). It is therefore recognised as a valid argument by many people.
For example, no one has substantial evidence to prove that the Illuminati actually exist, but no one can prove that the Illuminati are purely fictitious. Therefore, you cannot deny their existence because their existence is “perfection without evidence”.
Columnist Martha Gill wrote in The Guardian on the subject, describing the Illuminati as the most enduring conspiracy theory organisation in world history.
“Conspiracy theories relating to the 1969 moon landing mission, the Kennedy assassination, the 9/11 attacks, etc., are all limited to a specific time and place. But conspiracy theories supporting the existence of the Illuminati can connect them. Anything about these connections, however, is difficult to prove”. In other words, the supporters of conspiracy theories may have common imagination and attribute everything to this organisation, so that every irrational phenomenon in the world can be explained.
Although no one can prove the real existence of the Illuminati, there is actually an alleged “global shadow government” in the world whose name is the Bilderberg Group. The Bilderberg Group holds an annual world-class private meeting and participants include elites from all walks of society such as government, business, media, science and technology.
Known as the “World’s Most Mysterious Conference”, the Bilderberg Group invites various famous political and economic figures to participate in its meetings every year.
Prince Bernhard van Lippe-Biesterfeld (1911-2004) held the first meeting in 1954. As the venue for the meeting was the Bilderberg Hotel in Oosterbeek, that name was used as the name of the group.
The existence of the Bilderberg Group is not a secret, but the content of the topics discussed at the Conferences is absolutely confidential and mainstream media cannot report on the content of the meetings.
The Bilderberg Group issues a press release every year to introduce the Conference participants and the outline of the topics discussed. Over the years, participants have come from many places, including Prince Philip of Edinburgh (1921-2021) of the British Royal Family, Crown Prince Charles, former British Prime Ministers, French President Macron, German Chancellor Merkel, former US Presidents Bush and Clinton, and even Bill Gates and other Internet giants. There were also Italians, as reported years ago in a newspaper of our country.
The 2018 Conference was held in Turin, Italy, in June. According to the description on the Bilderberg Group’s official website, the main topics included European populism, the development of artificial intelligence, quantum computer technology and the “post-truth” era. Obviously the actual content and results of the meeting’s discussion have never been reported.
Therefore, the Bilderberg Group has naturally become a locus where conspiracy theorists want to draw material. They describe the Bilderberg Group as true evidence of the theory that a very small number of elites controls the world, and the participants are planning a New World Order.
On the subject of strange things, let us give some examples. In June 2018, the British Royal Family was also caught up in conspiracy theories. When Prince Harry and his wife Meghan attended a show, they were caught on camera motionless, like two stiff and dull robots. Later related clips went viral on the Internet and netizens were in an uproar: many people believed that the distinguished members of the Royal Family were actually robots developed by high technology.
However, the management of the London museum, Madame Tussauds, later explained the mystery by stating that Harry and Meghan were only played by two actors who wore extremely high-realism wax masks on their faces – all to promote an exhibition of wax statues – and inadvertently caused an uproar.
In that short video, Harry and Meghan did not change their facial appearance and their expressions were stiff just like robots. Consequently, conspiracy theorists used this as evidence that they were robots secretly built by the British Royal Family.
This argument is an extension of the ‘trivial evidence’ mentioned above. The argument proponents ignore any argumentation process and directly draw the final conclusion through the above stated “trivial evidence”. This conclusion is highly topical and quite appealing. With the fast spread of the Internet, the “quick truth” will naturally be recognised and sought after by many people.
I think many people still remember the “Mandela effect” that spread wildly across the Internet in the early years as a false memory. The name “Mandela effect” is believed to have come from Fiona Broome, a self-described “paranormal consultant”, who created a website called the “Mandela effect”. Supporters of the ‘Mandela effect’ claim to “remember” that former South African President Mandela died in prison in the 1980s. But in reality, after being released from prison, Mandela served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999 and died in December 2013.
So why should anyone believe this seemingly absurd statement? The Internet has become a support platform for a lot of false content, fake news, as well as unreasonableness and lack of justification. When someone shared that ‘false memory’ with others on the Internet, many people believed it to be true, and even suddenly recalled having that memory: “Mandela died in prison that year”.
As a result, lies inconsistent with facts continue to spread. The lie is repeated thousands of times and many people consider it to be the truth: this learning phase is the first misleading rule on the Internet.
In the Internet era, multidimensional and multiplatform features have generated a number of online “malignancies” of conspiracy theories. Moreover, their dissemination ability is not limited to “believers” only. Since online social media provide a widespread and wide dissemination platform, one passes it onto ten people, ten spread it to a hundred, a hundred to a thousand, and so it goes on in geometric fashion, thus turning a ‘hot’ topic on the Internet into an absolute truth. Those who want to believe are naturally prepared and willing to do so. Moreover, these false opinions on the Internet may even have an impact on the real world.
For example, at the political level, everyone can now comment and participate in the online arena. For politicians to get the right to speak and set the agenda, the key is to rely on the public’s direction on the Internet. The Internet discourse has become the dominant factor of the political storytelling, and not vice versa. The characteristics of social networks are precisely the breeding ground for conspiracy theories.
The Internet is easy to spread among the public and it is exactly the breeding ground for conspiracy theories.
Nowadays, conspiracy theories are enough to influence politics and even political developments. A specific conspiracy theory gains a number of supporters through the Internet that promotes it to become a highly debated topic among the public. Consequently, it enters the real political arena coming from the virtual community and its influence can change the direction of governmental decisions.
Looking at it from another perspective, when conspiracy theories are put on the Internet and continue to proliferate – regardless of whether the Illuminati exist or not – they are enough to establish a New World Order. The real-world public opinions, as well as the composition of opinions and the basis of social discussions are changed, and thus world’s countries, politics and rulers are affected.
USA and Australia Worry About Cyber Attacks from China Amidst Pegasus Spyware
Pegasus Spyware Scandal has shaken whole India and several other countries. What will be its fallout no one knows as we know only tip of iceberg. Amidst Pegasus Spyware Scandal USA and Australia both have shown serious concerns about Cyber Attacks on US and Australian interests. Both say that China is hub of malware software and both face millions of such attacks daily.
I am trying to understand why a software is needed to spy on a particular individual when all calls, messages, data, emails are easily accessible from server. In most of cases these servers are located in USA and some cases these are located in host country. In certain sensitive cases Government Agencies have their own server like Central Intelligence Agency and hundreds of other agencies and military establishment world over including India. Now point is who installs those servers.
A couple of years back I had talked to Mr Mike Molloy who is Chief Executive Officer of Orion Global Technologies previously known as Orion SAS. He had explained me how his company installs servers in host countries on request of private or gov bodies. He talks about contract and trust. That means even when a company or Gov buys a server or software for designated uses the “Secrecy” Factor remain on discretion of company which has supplied server or software.
Now if all data, e-mail, chat, messages, calls are accessible to Gov as per law and technology (Through Server all components of Communication are accessible and thats why me and you see start seeing call recording of a person even after many years later), I am unable to understand why a Gov will be needing a software to Spy on any one.
Now coming to where Australia and USA wants to carry the whole debate.
Australian Foreign Minister Sen Marise Payne said, “Australian Government joins international partners in expressing serious concerns about malicious cyber activities by China’s Ministry of State Security.
“In consultation with our partners, the Australian Government has determined that China’s Ministry of State Security exploited vulnerabilities in the Microsoft Exchange software to affect thousands of computers and networks worldwide, including in Australia. These actions have undermined international stability and security by opening the door to a range of other actors, including cybercriminals, who continue to exploit this vulnerability for illicit gain”, She further added.
She opined, ”The Australian Government is also seriously concerned about reports from our international partners that China’s Ministry of State Security is engaging contract hackers who have carried out cyber-enabled intellectual property theft for personal gain and to provide commercial advantage to the Chinese Government”.
She warned China by saying, “Australia calls on all countries – including China – to act responsibly in cyberspace. China must adhere to the commitments it has made in the G20, and bilaterally, to refrain from cyber-enabled theft of intellectual property, trade secrets and confidential business information with the intent of obtaining competitive advantage”.
On other hand USA’s The National Security Agency (NSA), Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) released a Cybersecurity Advisory on Chinese State-Sponsored Cyber Operations. National Security Advisor said, ”Chinese state-sponsored cyber activity poses a major threat to U.S. and allied systems. These actors aggressively target political, economic, military, educational, and critical infrastructure personnel and organizations to access valuable, sensitive data. These cyber operations support China’s long-term economic and military objectives”.
The information in this advisory builds on NSA’s previous release “Chinese State-Sponsored Actors Exploit Publicly Known Vulnerabilities.” The NSA, CISA, and FBI recommended mitigations empower our customers to reduce the risk of Chinese malicious cyber activity, and increase the defensive posture of their critical networks.
Afghan issue can not be understood from the simplistic lens of geopolitical blocs
Authors: Tridivesh Singh Maini and Varundeep Singh*
On July 14, 2021 a terror attack was carried out in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) province in which a number of Chinese engineers, working on the Dasu hydropower project (a project which is part of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor) were killed. The attack predictably evinced a strong response from China. The Chinese foreign minister, Wang Yi speaking before a Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Foreign Minister’s meeting asked the Taliban to disassociate itself from ‘terrorist elements’ and in a meeting with Pakistan Foreign Minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, asked Pakistan to bring the perpetrators to book. Earlier in April 2021, a car bomb attack took place at Serena hotel in Quetta which was hosting China’s Ambassador to Pakistan (four people were killed and twelve were injured)
Wang Yi significantly praised the Ashraf Ghani government, for its attempts towards building national unity and providing effective governance. Beijing clearly realizes that its economic investments in the country as well as big ticket infrastructural projects can not remain safe if there is no security. Afghanistan also criticized Pakistan for its role in sending 10000 Jihadis to Taliban, this is important in the context of the region’s geopolitics.
Like all other countries, Beijing and Islamabad, would have expected uncertainty after the US withdrawal of troops but perhaps over estimated their capabilities in dealing with the turbulence which had been predicted by many.
Importance of Chinese Foreign Minister’s statements
Wang Yi’s statements are important because days earlier a Taliban spokesman, Suhail Shaheen had praised China and welcomed its role in the country’s reconstruction. He had also assured China that those involved in the insurgency in Xinjiang would not be given refuge in Afghanistan (one of China’s major concerns has been the support provided by Taliban to the East Turkmenistan movement)
While Beijing may have opened back channels with the Taliban and realized that it needs to adapt to the changing geopolitics, recent developments would have increased its skepticism vis-à-vis the Taliban. On the other hand, Russia has been more favorable towards the Taliban. Russia’s Deputy Chief of Mission in India, Roman Babushkin argued that the Taliban are a reality which needs to be accepted, and also that any military activities without a political process are insufficient.
Babushkin did make the point that for successful negotiations, Taliban needed to end violence.
‘that Taliban should deal with the problem of terrorism and other related issues in order to become legitimate, in order to [get] delisted [at the UN Security Council], in order to go ahead with the future Afghanistan and creation of the inclusive government
It would be pertinent to point out, that Zamir Kabulov, Russian President’s Afghanistan envoy went a step further and said that the Afghan government was not doing enough to make talks with Taliban a success.
China’s statements subtle warning to the Taliban, indicating its reservations, and praise of Ghani indicate a possibility of greater understanding between Washington and Beijing (even though Beijing has repeatedly attributed the current troubles in Afghanistan to Washington’s decision to withdraw troops).
Can US and China find common ground
It remains to be seen if Biden who has exhibited dexterity on a number of complex issues reaches out to Xi Jinping to find common ground with regard to Afghanistan. Significantly, while US-Turkey relations had witnessed a downward trajectory and Biden has been critical of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s authoritarian tendencies and Human rights record, both leaders met on the sidelines of the NATO Summit in June 2021. During the meeting Turkey agreed to secure Kabul Airport. US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan while commenting on Turkey’s assurance said
‘The clear commitment from the leaders was established that Turkey would play a lead role in securing Hamid Karzai International Airport, and we are now working through how to execute to get to that,’
Taliban earlier this week warned Turkey of ‘consequences’ if the Middle Eastern nation increased its troop presence in Afghanistan.
Russia’s statements with regard to the Taliban indicate that it is not totally on the same page as China (its prior experience in Afghanistan has made it more cautious and circumspect), and that the Afghan issue can not be understood from the simplistic lens of geo-political blocs and traditional lenses. All major stakeholders in Afghanistan, both within the region and outside, seem to be understandably befuddled by the turn of events. It is not just the US, but even China which would be worried not just from an economic stand point but the overall security implications of the turmoil in Afghanistan. The terror attack in KPK indicates that other CPEC related projects could also face threats from militant groups. Beijing would thus need to be quick to react to the overtures from the Taliban in order to secure its economic assets and lives of Chinese workers in neighbouring Pakistan.
It is especially important for Washington, Beijing and other important stakeholders in the region to work together for dealing with the near term turbulence as well as long term challenges Afghanistan is likely to face.
*Varundeep Singh is an Independent Policy Analyst.
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