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South Asia: Re-alignments on the anvil

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By K.N. Pandita

In bilateral relations, there are no permanent friends or foes: there are only permanent interests. US-Pakistan relations almost reached nadir when President Trump; twitted “lies and deceit”. Nobody had anticipated that relations between Pakistan – a country once more aligned than allies – with the US would sink to such depths.

We have the habit of assessing US-Pakistan relations from the prism of Indo-Pak relations which, however, are not cordial at all. This is not the right way of analyzing their relations.

Ever since the birth of Pakistan as a new state on South Asian map, she has been integral to the western bloc. The feudal-cum-army led Pakistani state had no alternative but to be on the bandwagon of the capitalist states of the west. During cold war era, the West focused on one objective of destroying the communist state. Pakistan was a key partner in that agenda.

Creation of mujahedeen in Afghanistan and arming them to the hilt was part of that strategy. It could not have been achieved without the participation of Pakistan. That also explains the camaraderie between the Pentagon and GHQ. Simultaneously, CIA and ISI became complimentary to each other, and interestingly, both found safe outlets for siphoning off huge monies. That invisible relationship between Pakistan army top brass and the Pentagon bosses endeared the former to entire US polity.

Pakistan is serving US interests in Saudi Arabia by opting to night-watch of Saudi monarchy, which does not trust its own security paraphernalia. Pakistan was instrumental in breaking US-China freeze during cold war era. For running these errands successfully, the US rewarded Pakistan by underplaying Pakistan’s clandestine acquisition of nuclear and crucial components technology from China.

A push forward in restoration of relations has come in the shape of the visit of Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Wells to Pakistan. She was preceded by Washington’s reach to General Bajwa. What trickles down the media sources is that it is one more damage controlling exercise, and its significance is that she has not met with the Army Chief General Bajwa perhaps because an understanding between the GHQ and the Pentagon is already in the pipeline. Wells’ exchange of ideas with Pakistani interlocutors indicates that the US has, by way of repairing the damage to relations, made two concessions to Pakistan. One is that the US will not launch attack from Afghan soil on Haqqani and other terrorists groups active in fighting the NATO forces in Afghanistan but enjoying safe havens in Pakistan. The second is that the US does not and will not support the separatist movement in Baluchistan. However, Ambassador Wells made it clear that the US does not recognize good and bad terrorists and that Pakistan groups have to be reined in. She named Haqqani and other groups active in Afghanistan fighting.

Both concessions are intrinsically superficial from Pakistan’s strategic view point. Pakistan has divided Baluch society by deftly using carrot and stick policy against the Baluch people. Moreover, after China’s entrenched interests in Gwadar, and more recently Saini, suppression and decimation of Baluch opposition is foregone conclusion. Iran is wary of its defiant Baluch population and that makes Islamabad feel relieved on Baluch count. As far as containing Haqqani group, this may happen because from the low and polite tone of Ambassador Wells in the course of her interaction with Pakistani interlocutors, one can read the possibility of a tripartite deal in Afghanistan among the main actors’ viz. Haqqani and its affiliate groups, Kabul and Islamabad governments all under the American umbrella.

Of course, ground situation in the Gulf of Oman east has changed much with China’s menacing presence from the Karakorum down slopes to the rim of Indian Ocean.

India’s presence in Afghanistan and Tajikistan even if restricted to developmental enterprises immensely strengthens American strategic paradigms in East Asia. The US is serious about emerging India-Pacific scenario and China’s African Horn Naval Triangle viz. Hambantota-Djibouti-Gwadar. The US understands India’s role in this complex scenario and that is why she has rightly revisited her stance on Indo-Afghan relations.

The US is very likely to revoke the ban imposed on financial aid to Pakistan. So far there is no open commitment by Pakistan of reining in the terrorist group’s active in Afghanistan. Commentators ask why Haqqani cannot be Osamized. Osama was eliminated because at the end of the day Pakistan army succumbed to big bribe. That story can be replicated to Haqqani group also if conditions favour.

Lastly, the role of the Russian Federation in shaping current history in the region cannot be ignored. It is true that from the very beginning Russia has been talking more about terrorism in Eurasian region, the Balkans, Chechnya, Ingushetia, Tataristan etc. She evinced marginal interest in terrorism outside the boundaries of the Federation except when Tajik republic was faced with threat from the Taliban or the Ferghana valley then simmering with Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan or Hizbu’t Tahrir. In post-Soviet period India and Russia saw some souring of relations but Modi has broken the ice and normalization has set in. With China making deep inroads in Eurasia as well, we have to watch the reaction in Moscow. We should not forget that Moscow was instrumental in getting India and Pakistan admitted to the Shanghai Cooperation. Moreover, Moscow is not unfavorably disposed towards China’s offer of joining the CPEC. This will have impact on overall situation in the region.
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Trump–Pakistan jihad love

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By K.N. Pandita

The news has come that Pakistan has imposed a ban on Hafiz Saeed-led Jamaat-ud Dawa and Falah-i-Insaniat Foundation from collecting donations. Pakistani media have given wide publicity to this news in print and in electronic media. Since some years the organization and its chief have been actively collecting donations in the name of ‘crush India.’ Continue Reading…

Trump’s new security strategy

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By K.N. Pandita

Addressing his nation from the Ronald Reagan building in Washington, President Donald Trump has enunciated his administration’s new national security strategy. The strategy paper identifies four vital national interests, or “four pillars” namely (a) Protect the homeland, the American people, and American way of life; (b) Promote American prosperity; (c) Preserve peace through strength; and (d) Advance American influence. Continue Reading…

Cannibal of Mumbai carnage walks free

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By K.N. Pandita

Acquittal of Hafiz Saeed by Lahore High Court is a slap on the face of the US and the UN. They have classified Saeed’s organization JuD as a terrorist group and forefront organization for terrorist outfit LeT responsible for 26/11 Mumbai attack in which 166 innocent persons including six American nationals were killed. Continue Reading…

How much neutral is Switzerland?

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By K.N. Pandita

Around the year 2000, I was in Switzerland working with an African NGO at the Human Rights Council (then it was called Commission). A story was making rounds in the town that some WW II German Jewish refugees had claimed that their close relatives had deposited certain amounts of money in Swiss banks which should be returned to them. Continue Reading…

Iran-US relations: the nuclear spat

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By K.N. Pandita

The US and North Korea are on the verge of nuclear clash. By implication, Iran also figures in the imbroglio. But why and how, let us see. Continue Reading…

Pakistan: Compulsions for Realigning Regional Strategy

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By K.N. Pandita

Pak watchers have noted a flurry of events taking place in succession during a couple of weeks in recent past at GHQ with drop scene in Washington. While GHQ is mulling realignment in Trump era, Pakistan foreign office is in hectic activity at Washington to do some damage controlling exercise. These events need to be examined along with their hindsight. Continue Reading…

Change of guard on subcontinent

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By K.N. Pandita

US Defence Secretary James Mattis recently met with his Indian counterpart, Nirmala Sitharaman in New Delhi. Two subjects took precedence over a variety of items on their agenda for talks. These were (a) meeting the challenge of global terror and (b) strategic defence partnership. Continue Reading…

PM reshuffles his ministerial team

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By K.N. Pandita

For the first time ever since Narendra Modi formed NDA government in 2014, a major reshuffle has been made in the ministerial team. Continue Reading…

Jadhav albatross in Pak army’s neck

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By K.N. Pandita

Pakistan was over confident of its safe passage at The Hague. Therefore the unanimous ruling that laid bare its Jadhav conspiracy came as a rude shock. Continue Reading…

President Pranab Mukherjee presents Padma Awards

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President Pranab Mukherjee presents Padma Awards, 27.22 min, uploaded by DD News, April 13, 2017.

Excelsior columnist Dr. Pandita gets Padma Shri

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Published on Daily Excelsior, Jan 26, 2017:

.70p K.N. Pandita, Daily Excelsior.

Correspondent – JAMMU, Jan 25: Eminent Scholar of the State, a veteran columnist associated with Daily Excelsior a leading newspaper of J&K State and a dedicated social activist, Dr Kashi Nath Pandita is among the 75 noted personalities of the country who were conferred with Padma Shri Award one of the highest civilian awards of the country on the eve of 68th Republic Day. Continue Reading…

Demonetization – a national priority

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By K.N. Pandita

The fracas created by the opposition on demonetization issue shows that it has failed to show due respect to the verdict of the majority of people in this country. It has also to learn that sitting in the opposition does not absolve the opposition of becoming realists about the development of the country. Continue Reading…

Ethnic cleansing in Bangladesh

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By K.N. Pandita

In its editorial of November 16, 2016, The Washington Post carried the story of brutal attacks in Bangladesh killing scores of bloggers, foreigners and members of Hindu religious minorities. A Hindu tailor was killed in April, and a Hindu priest was hacked to death in July last. Over almost two years, radical Islamists have carried out a string of brutal attacks on Hindu minority. July attack in Dhaka left 22 Hindus dead. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her governing Awami League accused Islamist opposition of fomenting terrorism. However, involvement of some leaders of the ruling party is not ruled out. Continue Reading…

Surgical strike on black money

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By K.N. Pandita

Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav calls PM’s ‘operation black money’ as election stunt. Kejriwal calls it “big scam”. Rahul Gandhi stands in queue to change his Rs. 500 note, and the mercenary media gives it TV hype. During Vajpayee regime, American Enforcement functionaries had detained Rahul at JF Kennedy airport with one lakh US Dollar notes in his baggage. Vajpayee intervened. Modi’s adversaries had begun lampooning his election slogan of eradicating corruption from administration. Continue Reading…

Evaluating Indo-US defence agreements

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By K.N. Pandita

Energy, counter terrorism and defence stand out prominently in eight Indo-US agreements signed recently.

The civilian nuclear agreement opens the path for preparatory work on sites for six AP1100 reactors in India to be built by Westinghouse with US Import-Export Bank assuming financing role. India is energy starved. Continue Reading…

On the chessboard of South Asian defense strategies

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By K.N. Pandita

Is the South Asian region (or Khurasan according to Islamic exegesis) emerging as the battlefield of a decisive clash of ideologies? Khurasan, originally an Avestic word, stands for the ‘lands to the East’. In geographical terms it could be Eastern part of Iran, Afghanistan and Baluchistan including its oceanic outreach.

The outcome of recently concluded Nuclear Security Summit in Washington is elusive if not controversial.   Continue Reading…

The ‘Great Game’ Reborn in the Indian Ocean: A Tale of Two Ports

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By K.N. Pandita

The historic 19th century ‘Great Game’ of Lord Curzon’s making may be in the process of revival, albeit in different setting with different actors and varying interests.

From the vast deserts of Central Asia, the new Great Game seems to be shifting to the warm waters of the Indian Ocean, the premier commercial waterway of international trade. The actors are not the old imperial powers aspiring for empires but shrewd traders seeking large markets for their merchandise and accompanying political clout. They act not in isolation but in collaboration without losing sight of their respective national interests. Continue Reading…

Reality about fighting nuclear terror

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By K.N. Pandita

In the two-day summit in Washington, (March 31 – April 1) representatives of forty-nine countries interacted on the danger of terrorists acquiring nuclear weapons as “the most immediate and extreme threat to global security”.

Have four meetings of NSS since 2009 achieved the objective? It is a moot question. Radioactive materials in numerous countries are still vulnerable. International nuclear security architecture continues to be fragmented and predominantly based on nonbinding measures. NSS has not left behind its successor.   Continue Reading…

PM’s visit to Saudi Arabia

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By K.N. Pandita

After concluding Nuclear Security Summit meet in Washington (31 March – 1 April), Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be visiting the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Observers are essaying the diagnosis of this visit in the background of various know or unknown complications.

Objective analyses of Modi’s visits abroad reveal his penchant for reassessment of India’s regional and global relationship with a view of infusing new vitality in the tenets of our foreign policy. His first visit to Middle East region was not to Israel as observers would have anticipated but to Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Continue Reading…