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Determining status of a super power

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K.N. Pandita,

Cold war era ended in 1991. Close on its heels emerged a new phase of rivalry among big powers, which historians and political punditry deviously call New Great Game. In reality it is a long and ruthless rivalry between the US and the Russian Federation for controlling the new and vast hydrocarbon sources in Central Asia and the Caspian region. Did the collapse of the Soviet Union leave the lone super power really free to dictate terms of future course of world history? By a strange quirk of destiny, the nascent independent states of former Soviet Central Asia have assumed much more importance in the new scheme of things than what they enjoyed during the Soviet era.

As early as 1998, Clinton administration eyed Central Asian energy resources to offset over-sized dependence of the US and her western allies on energy supplies from the Gulf States. Big American oil cartel like Unocal rued the transportation of Turkmen (Daulatabad) gas across Afghanistan and Pakistan to the Persian Gulf and invested quite a bit in surveying the pipeline route. They even initiated secret negotiations with the Taliban whom Washington had begun to befriend.

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Exploring ‘Southern Silk Route’

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K.N. Pandita

The much publicized IPI gas pipeline project is seen by the US as a strategy of nibbling at its uncontested oil and gas monopoly of the Gulf region. Moreover the US and her western allies are in no mood to give Iran a free hand in regional strategy.

For more than two centuries, western commentators have been hinting at Moscow’s lurking desire of finding a corridor to the warm waters of the Indian Ocean. Some go to the length of attributing 1979 Soviet incursion into Afghanistan essentially to that lurking desire.

Russia’s access to the warm waters in the contemporary situation when Afghanistan is bogged down with fundamentalist Taliban insurgency, Pakistan with deepening domestic crisis and Iran quite defiant on nuclear issue, seems next to impossible.

But alternatives have to be found and worked out. The contours of the “New Great Game” are indicating a re-thinking on the part of Russia, Iran and India to explore the possibility of a Southern Silk Route.

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Karakorum – the region of insurgencies

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By K.N. Pandita

We may be tempted to make a short but pointed comparative study of the rise and handling of armed Islamist insurgency in two contiguous regions of Karakorum, namely Kashmir and Uighur dominated Xinjiang, the Eastern province of China. The ground situation in the two regions shows some similarity between the two but in many ways they are dissimilar. Both have predominant Sunni population and both have been nursing independence from respective dominant powers viz. China and India. In both the regions Islamists trusted combat tactics as the means of achieving their objective. Both the regions obviously look to the Muslim world for its response and reaction.

However, among the dissimilarities, we find that in Kashmir two sovereign states, India and Pakistan have been laying claim to Kashmir on geographical, historical, religious and political basis. In Kashmir the insurgents are mainly divided into two groups one opting for separation from India and accession to Pakistan and the other struggling for independence. Another marked difference is that while the people in Indian part of Kashmir have tasted democratic and egalitarian arrangement for last half a century, Uighurs have not had that luxury.

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