In light of recent global geopolitical commutes, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s impending visit to India will have a highly beneficial impact and usher in a new era of bilateral and regional cooperation. It has been three years since the last visit of Premier Sheikh Hasina before the Covid 19 Pandemic in 2019. The visit is significant for both Bangladesh and India, and various agreements and MoUs are anticipated to be signed there incorporating connectivity initiatives in land, water, energy, and sub-regional forms. From strengthening political and cultural ties to fostering economically beneficial associations, ‘connectivity’ has become a buzzword in recent years. In the wake of globalization’s second wave, strengthening regional and sub-regional cooperation is widely appreciated and acknowledged at all levels. Thus, connectivity has emerged as a hallmark in Bangladesh-India bilateral relations in recent times. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said, “We need to improve our connectivity. India’s North Eastern provinces – Assam and Tripura – could have access to Chattogram port if the countries’ connectivity is improved”. India and Bangladesh made bold moves to bolster communication via roads, rail, and waterways which would harness the prospects of regional connectivity. The visit is expected to provide a framework for a multimode of connectivity after the two countries resolved major disputes over land and maritime boundaries. Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Vikram Kumar Doraiswami observes that improving trade and transport connectivity between India and Bangladesh, as well as other neighboring countries can be a game-changer not only for the two countries but for the entire region.
Why is Connectivity so Important?
Bangladesh and India have similar historical and cultural roots and a lot of common areas of cooperation which paves the way for a robust strategic partnership. Additional similarities in the bilateral relationships reflect comprehensive cooperation founded on sovereignty, along with equality, trust, and understanding much more than just a neighbor. The implementation of bilateral and sub-regional connectivity projects needs to be accelerated by Dhaka and Delhi as Bangladesh plays a significant role in India’s extensive effort to implement its Look East Policy due to its geographic location and its geographical proximity to India’s northeastern provinces. On the flip side, by boosting its exports to northeastern India and imposing tolls on the vehicles that transport Indian goods across Bangladesh’s land or waters, Bangladesh can also gain significantly. Bangladesh and India share the fifth largest land boundary and 54 joint rivers. Connectivity may offer the routes through which development impulses can be transmitted throughout the region and may increase the dynamism of economic and social advancement in India as well as its neighbors to the east and south. The purpose of the Bangladesh-India connectivity is to resurrect earlier routes that had been in use up until the 1965 India-Pakistan War. Both administrations launched numerous measures to reestablish train connections and other communication ties before 1965. Such advances in India have the prospect of heralding significant changes in its own eastern and northeastern states, including Kolkata.
The expansion of their bilateral connectivity can spill over to the sub-regional level ensuring greater good for the regional countries. India is eager to let Bangladesh use its ports, railways, and other infrastructure, especially for sale to non-Indian nations like Nepal and Bhutan. It is important to look at the greater port, energy, infrastructures, and economic interconnectivity in south Asia.
Domains of Bangladesh-India Bilateral Connectivity Cooperation
At the bilateral, regional, and international levels, Bangladesh and India share heavily prioritized multimodal connectivity plans. An obvious illustration of Bangladesh’s sustained commitment to supporting attempts to increase connectivity and economic integration in the region, notably in the Northeast of India, is the recent opening of the Feni Bridge. On March 9 of last year, Indian Premier Narendra Modi opened the “Maitri Setu” (bridge) over the Feni River to support the port’s connectivity with Chittagong, Bangladesh. Additionally, the recently opened Padma rail-road bridge in Bangladesh may improve the physical ties between the two brotherly countries.
Bangladesh and India share transport connectivity which creates a win-win situation for both countries. To convey Indian commodities to the northeast, Bangladesh has offered India transit and transshipment services. Additionally, it will probably allow the transit problem to benefit from synergies with the recently built Padma Bridge, which connects southwest Bangladesh, including the Mongla Seaport, with the rest of the nation as well as India.
The two South Asian nations enjoyed railway connectivity during the colonial period and even after the partition. Several railway connections between Bangladesh and India are currently in o operational. On December 17, 2020, the freshly rebuilt railway link between Chilahati (Bangladesh) and Haldibari (India) was officially opened by the prime ministers of these two nations. As the COVID-19 pandemic continued, both nations began utilizing side-door container and parcel trains to ensure uninterrupted supply lines. In September 2022, a much-anticipated railway connection between Agartala and Akahura will be completed. During the upcoming visit, it is anticipated that India will probably propose increasing railway connectivity and restoring three more train services between India and Bangladesh since it views connectivity as
The bilateral connectivity also exists and can be expanded much further, for instance, in the maritime domain. Bangladesh has expressed interest to be a part of the India-pioneered initiative – Security and Growth for all in the Region (SAGAR). In July 2020, a successful trial run of the transshipment of Indian commodities from Kolkata to Agartala via Chattogram was completed. Tripura will profit immensely from it, especially as it is in the landlocked Northeast. Both the leaders are likely to discuss the opposition Bangladesh has to the establishment of an Integrated Check Post (ICP) as well as other matters about Tripura. Prime Minister’s visit will pave the way for future connectivity as well as the scope for unresolved bilateral connectivity projects both on land, water, and regional. Thus, both countries will be able to unleash their untapped resources and opportunities in terms of bilateral cooperation and connectivity.
Prospects for Regional and Sub-Regional Connectivity
These two nations collaborated to create a wealthy and secure South Asia, placing particular emphasis on regional cooperation. They discussed collaboration and regional institutions on a bilateral basis. For instance, Bangladesh proposed the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), and India helped make it happen. Additionally, Bangladesh and India collaborate closely on regional platforms such as the Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal (BBIN) Initiative, the Indian Ocean Rim Association, and the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC). To strengthen and broaden regional economic cooperation, Asia must now encourage infrastructure connection inside the area. Investment in infrastructure connectivity could increase productivity and competitiveness, hasten economic recovery, and support medium- to long-term balanced, sustainable, and inclusive growth. Additionally, the connection could encourage environmental sustainability by fostering the growth of international green transportation and energy networks.
Several regional connectivity projects are expected to be materialized which need Bangladesh-India cooperation that can bring overall development to South Asia. Asian Highway Network Routes (AH 1 &2) can provide for greater trade and social interactions between Asian countries, including personal contacts, project capitalizations, connections of major container terminals with transportation points, and promotion of tourism via the new roadways. Additionally, through the execution of the Motor Vehicle Agreement between Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and Nepal (BBIN) and the regional hydroelectricity grid with northeastern India, Nepal, and Bhutan, Bangladesh is also keen on regional connectivity.
India-Myanmar-Thailand (IMT) Trilateral Agreement has possible positive implications in terms of energy development in the region where Bangladesh is aspiring to be a partner. This agreement can increase the capacity of Bangladesh in terms of time and cost and reduce energy dependency on Europe. Bangladesh, China, India, and Myanmar Economic Corridor (BCIM) can provide access to numerous markets in Southeast Asia, improvement of transportation infrastructure, and creation of an industrial zone. Bangladesh-India’s robust friendship and cooperation can be a key factor to make these regional initiatives happen.
Following the Covid pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war, global and local politics, the two blocs are attempting to sway nations to their respective sides in light of the growing rivalry between the West and Russia, and China. Against such a backdrop, Bangladesh and India should work together to address the existing challenges and focus on peace and stability to promote more robust friendship and cooperation. Therefore, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s recent visit can ameliorate the existing arena of connectivity and at the same time, unleash the area of cooperation which have profound significance both in terms of bilateral cooperation and regional solidarity.
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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