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Afghanistan releases hydrocarbon acreages July 26, 2012

Posted by nishankmotwani in : Afghanistan, By country, Future Directions International , comments closed

Liam McHugh


In July, the Afghan Mining Ministry announced the release of exploration rights for oil and gas developments in the state’s north-west. Extractive industries could provide Kabul with much needed revenue as it enters the next stage of its post-Taliban reconstruction period. The existence of resources, however, does not automatically translate to productivity. Geopolitical politicking, corruption, governance issues and the security situation may constrain the sector.

Sources: U.S.G.S.; Afghanistan Geological Survey; U.S. Department of Defense


US-Pakistan relations deteriorate as Washington looks to India for new regional support June 21, 2012

Posted by nishankmotwani in : Future Directions International, India, Pakistan , comments closed

Andrew Manners


US-Pakistan relations are currently ‘the worst they’ve ever been’, according to a senior US official.  The tumultuous relationship continues to be hampered by an impasse over NATO supply routes to Afghanistan and the perceived reluctance of Pakistan to crack down on militants in its northern tribal areas. As US military aid to Pakistan remains suspended, there are now signs that the US is looking toward New Delhi, rather than Islamabad, as its key regional ally.


While the US has traditionally viewed Pakistan as its key regional ally in the War on Terror, recent events have seen the relationship hit a new low. In particular, the two remain at loggerheads over Pakistan’s six-month blockade of NATO troop supplies meant for Afghanistan and its supposed harbouring of militants in the northern tribal areas.

U.S. Secretary of Defence, Leon E. Panetta inspecting the Guard of Honour in New Delhi


Pakistan: fallout over NATO supply route escalates May 29, 2012

Posted by southasiamasala in : Afghanistan, DeSilva-Ranasinghe, Serge, Future Directions International, Pakistan , comments closed

Sergei DeSilva-Ranasinghe

Although there has been recent progress in cross-border cooperation, the modalities of a revised agreement between Pakistan and the US to re-establish a NATO supply route, have escalated domestic and regional tensions.

On Friday last week, after six months of stand-off, Pakistan for the first time authorised a US supply convoy to pass into Afghanistan, with office supplies destined for Kabul. The symbolic cross-over, however, after months of ongoing tension, has not resulted in the recommencement of the NATO supply route, a goal much desired by the US.

Since the imposition of the blockade, US and NATO forces in Afghanistan have been compelled to use the Northern Distribution Network. This is a series of alternative, and more costly, supply routes that transit through the Caucasus, Central Asia and Russia. The US is also eager to resume the NATO supply route through Pakistan to facilitate the withdrawal of its forces and military equipment from Afghanistan by 2014.


Maldives: democracy, back in transition mode? May 15, 2012

Posted by southasiamasala in : Future Directions International, Guest authors, Maldives , comments closed

N. Sathiya Moorthy

With the People’s Majlis, or Parliament, clearing President Mohammed Waheed Hassan’s vice-presidential nominee, Waheed Deen, after the “majority” Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) group stayed away, the Indian Ocean archipelago seems to be back in democratic transition, for the second time in three years. A new element has been added this time, with a National Inquiry Commission (NIC) probing the circumstances surrounding the resignation of then MDP President Mohammed Nasheed and his succession by Vice-President Waheed. The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group has given the Waheed Government four weeks in which to make the probe team credible.

The last time the Maldives went through a similar phase, the nation ushered in multi-party democracy after 30 years of one-person rule under President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. He was elected for six successive terms of five years each, under a constitutional scheme that provided for only a single candidate in national elections. That is firmly in the past, yet, the Nasheed resignation has left a situation of instability. His subsequent charges of a coup-cum-conspiracy, involving some in the uniformed services and “discredited sections” of the polity, and the fact that fresh presidential polls are still a year or so away, in November 2013, have all given rise to the question of whether democracy is really back in transition mode in the Maldives.


Pakistan’s 21st Century naval modernisation programme May 11, 2012

Posted by southasiamasala in : DeSilva-Ranasinghe, Serge, Future Directions International, India, Pakistan , comments closed

Sergei DeSilva-Ranasinghe

This article first appeared here on the Future Directions International web site on 9 May 2012.


In spite of progress being made to enhance bilateral ties, geopoltical rivalry between Pakistan and India continues to escalate. The most recent example was demonstrated by the launch of India’s Agni-5 nuclear-capable intermediate-range ballistic missile, which was closely followed by the launch Pakistan’s Hatf-4 Shaheen-1A nuclear-capable intermediate-range ballistic missile. While this strategic rivalry has been notable on land, escalation in the maritime domain has made Pakistan increasing concerned at India’s unprecedented plans to modernise its navy.

Pakistan navy Tariq class frigate


Implications of India’s long-range missile capabilities May 4, 2012

Posted by nishankmotwani in : DeSilva-Ranasinghe, Serge, Future Directions International, India , comments closed

Sergei DeSilva-Ranasinghe

This post first appeared on Future Directions International on 2 May 2012.


As the latest addition to India’s expanding arsenal, the launch of the Agni-5 long-range missile on 19 April is another step forward in the diversification of India’s nuclear strike capabilities. While India celebrates its technological achievement, the development of a nuclear-capable intermediate-range ballistic missile, with an estimated range of 5,000 kilometres or 3,100 miles, is likely to intensify strategic competition between Pakistan and China, which have viewed these developments with reservation.


Although senior Indian officials publicly say that the Agni-5 is for deterrence purposes only, India has a clear rationale behind the missile’s development, which is to: demonstrate its expanding strategic strike capabilities, impress the world’s major powers that possess intercontinental missiles and deliver a strong message to Pakistan and China. (more…)

Implications of India’s decision on Sri Lanka UNHCR Resolution April 5, 2012

Posted by nishankmotwani in : Future Directions International, Guest authors, India, Sri Lanka , comments closed

Shanaka Jayasekara

First published in Future Directions International on 4 April 2012


The Indian decision to vote in support of the March 2012 US-sponsored United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) resolution on Sri Lanka seems a departure from its stated doctrine for an Indian sphere of influence.


Former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi stated, in the so-called “Indira Doctrine”, that ‘India will neither intervene in the domestic affairs of any state in the region unless requested to do so, nor tolerate such intervention by an outsider power.’ By supporting the US resolution, India, in some sense, has outsourced its regional stake to an external power.

But, is this a complete change in Indian foreign policy at the behest of Tamil Nadu, or part of a new Indian approach to broaden the stakeholders in the region? India has, in recent times, opted to stand in the shadow of multilateral processes to deal with regional issues. In Nepal, the Indians preferred to watch the UN’s UNMIN special mission manage the peace process. In the Maldives, India outsourced responsibility, with the Commonwealth Secretariat taking the lead. (more…)

Pakistan and Russia seek enhanced cooperation March 24, 2012

Posted by southasiamasala in : Afghanistan, DeSilva-Ranasinghe, Serge, Future Directions International, India, Pakistan , comments closed

Serge Desilva Ranasinghe

This post first appeared on Future Directions International on 21 March 2012.


As part of its changing foreign policy focus, Pakistan’s rapprochement with Russia is one of its most significant attempts to shape the post-2014 geo-political order in Afghanistan. Islamabad is looking to alternative strategic partners to counterbalance India’s rising influence in Afghanistan, Central Asia and the Middle East and its own strained ties with the US. In this context, the recent visit to Moscow of Pakistani Foreign Minister Ms Hina Rabbani Khar on 7-9 February is symbolic of the rapidly transforming relationship between Islamabad and Moscow.


Such bilateral interaction is a significant departure from the acrimonious 1980s and 1990s, when Pakistan heavily supported the Afghan Mujahadeen against invading Russian forces in Afghanistan and accused Russia of covertly supporting Baluchi separatists. Similarly, Russia had also accused Pakistan of providing support to Islamist insurgents active in Chechnya and Tajikistan.

In Moscow, the Pakistani Foreign Minister relayed her country’s growing interest in developing stronger ties with Russia through trade and investment, especially in the areas of joint co-operation in Pakistan’s energy sector. The visit is indicative of the vastly improved bilateral relations between the two countries over the last decade. For example, according to the website of the Consulate-General of Russia in Karachi, two-way trade between Russia and Pakistan increased from a minute US$92 million in 2003, to US$441 million in 2006 and US$630 million in 2008.


The Indus Water Treaty revisited March 22, 2012

Posted by sandygordon in : Future Directions International, India, Pakistan, Weigold, Auriol , comments closed

Auriol Weigold

This post first appeared on the FDI web site on 21 March 2012.

The Indus Water Treaty (IWT) (1960), negotiated by Indian Prime Minister Nehru and then President of Pakistan, Field Marshall Mohammad Ayub Khan under the eye of the World Bank, agreed on the utilization of the six rivers of the Indus Basin to benefit each country. The Treaty, intended to settle inter-country water disputes and govern water usage, allocated the Indus, Chenab, and Jhelum Rivers to Pakistan, and the Ravi and Beas (Sutlej in Pakistan) to India. These rivers have, however, been the subjecs of on-going disputes and failed arbitration under IWT provisions.

Differences over water-sharing were evident pre-independence and persist in disputes today as both countries prove unable to resolve issues in the ever more rapidly escalating water resource rivalry, increasing tension across other already fraught issues in their bilateral relationship.


‘A third of the RAN is based in the Indian Ocean’ Vice Admiral Ray Griggs, Chief of the Royal Australian Navy March 14, 2012

Posted by southasiamasala in : DeSilva-Ranasinghe, Serge, Future Directions International, South Asia - General , comments closed

Serge DeSilva-Ranasinghe

An FDI Feature Interview first published on 12 March 2012

Key Points
–      One third of the RAN operates in the Indian Ocean.
–      HMAS Stirling, located in Western Australia, is the RAN’s largest base.
–      While the Asia-Pacific will continue to remain critically important, the Indian Ocean has markedly risen in importance to the RAN.


At a time of economic turbulence and escalating regional geopolitical challenges the Royal Australian Navy’s chief, Vice Admiral Ray Griggs, recently spoke with Sergei DeSilva-Ranasinghe about the Navy’s ongoing commitments to maritime security in the Pacific Ocean, the increasing pre-eminence of the Indian Ocean, and the dynamics of the Australian defence department’s ongoing Force Posture Review.

Read this interview – Vice Admiral Ray Griggs,A Third of the RAN is in the Indian Ocean’