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Keep foreign hands off Afghanistan June 22, 2015

Posted by nishankmotwani in : Afghanistan, Guest authors , comments closed

Gabriela Marin Thornton and Arwin Rahi

For much of its history, Afghanistan has been a battlefield for conflicts over regional influence in what has been called the Great Game. Now a weak state with deep ethnic divisions, located in a challenging security environment, Afghanistan is a key front in the pushback against terrorism.

Once again, the country has turned into a battleground for great powers, mainly in the form of proxy wars.

But if the goal is to build lasting peace in the region, the rules of the game must change. As the US withdraws its forces, regional powers such as India, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran and (a more recent aspirant) China should stay out of Afghanistan politics.

The Afghan government, for its part, needs to reclaim its sovereignty and oppose foreign interference in its internal politics.

An Afghan girl looks out of a damaged window of a shrine. REUTERS/Mohammad Ismail

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The politics of the India-Pakistan peace talks August 23, 2013

Posted by nishankmotwani in : By contributor, Future Directions International, Guest authors, India , comments closed

Lindsay Hughes

Despite the best will of the Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan, their attempts at creating a relatively stable relationship have been hijacked by various factions on both sides.

Background

Pakistani Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, has repeatedly stated, even before he won the last general election, that he wishes to create a better relationship with India. This, he alleged, was crucial to Pakistan’s economic development. India’s Prime Minister has echoed this sentiment. From his perspective, better ties with Pakistan will enable India to concentrate on the “China threat” along its northern and north-eastern borders with that state. Also, the economic benefits to be accrued from a better relationship with Pakistan make it an attractive goal. Unfortunately for both Prime Ministers, though, forces in both countries are working, deliberately or otherwise, against such a resolution of their differences. Attempts at peace-making are no longer a diplomatic issue, but a highly politicised endeavour. (more…)

Diplomatic damage from latest India-Pakistan border clashes August 21, 2013

Posted by nishankmotwani in : By contributor, Future Directions International, Guest authors, India , comments closed

Stephen Westcott

The recent killing of five Indian soldiers by Pakistani troops has put the Indian Government under pressure. The incident is likely to cause the suspension of the scheduled dialogue between the two countries.

Background

On 6 August 2013, five Indian soldiers were shot dead in an ambush in Indian-controlled Kashmir, near the India-Pakistan Line of Control (LoC). While it is unclear who was responsible for the attack, blame has been attributed to either militants backed by the Pakistan Army, or the Pakistani Special Forces themselves. Although Pakistan has denied any involvement and its Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, has sent his condolences over the killings, tensions have markedly increased. Intermittent exchanges of small arms fire across the LoC have occurred throughout the week, wounding several soldiers and civilians. The most recent incident occurred on 11 August, with both sides using machine guns.

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The unresolved Kashmir dispute: Let the people decide October 25, 2012

Posted by nishankmotwani in : By contributor, India, Pakistan, Snedden, Christopher , comments closed

Christopher Snedden

The Kashmir dispute is alive and (un)well, as statements made in September at the United Nations General Assembly by Pakistan’s President Zardari and India’s Foreign Minister Krishna show.  These came almost 65 years after the accession to India by Maharaja Sir Hari Singh, the ruler of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K).  Singh’s accession on 26 October 1947 was contentious.  He was reluctant to join India or Pakistan as he favoured independence for ‘his’ princely state.  Singh primarily acceded to India in order to obtain military help to defend J&K from Pukhtoon tribesmen from Pakistan who invaded Kashmir Province on 22 October 1947.  Their plan was to capture J&K for Pakistan.  India accepted the accession, promised a plebiscite so the people of J&K could decide their future, then sent its military to J&K.  It secured Jammu, the Kashmir Valley and Ladakh for India.

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India, the ‘New Asia’ and the American presidential elections September 26, 2012

Posted by nishankmotwani in : By contributor, India, Stoddart, Brian , comments closed

Brian Stoddart

Any American presidential election reverberates around global policy corners but, for India, the 2012 contest carries unusual significance. With its economy slowing, national government under severe pressure, and competition with China over ‘new Asian power’ status sharpening, India has a strong stake in the November result. Superficially, India could be contented. A late 2011 Congressional Research Service report shows two-way trade totalling approximately $US50 billion.

The US is India’s largest direct investment partner at over $16 billion, and one of its largest trading partners. As India’s economic growth flourished, American interest and investment soared. The highpoint was America’s 2008-9 agreement on nuclear development and trade – as for Australia a few years later, that was the cost of doing business with India.

Obama met with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in November 2009 in what was seen as a further sign of a strong emerging relationship between the two countries. EPA/Shawn Thew

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Some thoughts about the South Asian ‘region’ May 27, 2010

Posted by southasiamasala in : Snedden, Christopher, South Asia - General , comments closed

Christopher Snedden

In April 2010, the body attempting to create a South Asian region—the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC)—celebrated 25 years of existence. The fact that SAARC has existed since 1985 is an achievement in itself. SAARC members have few connections with each other apart from SAARC itself, some historical links with British imperialism, and geography.  South Asia is a long way from becoming a unified and coherent region.

SAARC’s most recent ‘Meeting of the Heads of State or Government’ was held in Bhutan from 28-29 April.[1] The summit’s (largely aspirational) ‘Thimphu Silver Jubilee Declaration’ was positively titled ‘Towards a Green and Happy South Asia’. Somewhat surprisingly, however, its third point ‘emphasized the need to develop a “Vision Statement” ’, something that should have been done a long time ago.  Furthermore, SAARC has held only sixteen summits in 25 years, despite its Charter stating that ‘The Heads of State or Government shall meet once a year’.  ‘Annual’ summits were not held in 1989, 1992, 1994, 1996, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2006 and 2009. More than one of these meetings was abandoned due to the parlous-to-poor state of India-Pakistan relations. (more…)