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US-Pakistan dialogue: Creating new avenues
As US prepares to exit Afghanistan, the resumption of the strategic dialogue between Pakistan and US signals as an attempt by PM Nawaz Sharif to recast the US-Pakistan ties. Pakistan also wants to move away from the image of a ‘terrorist hub’ and seriously thinking to focus on economic development for which it needs US assistance. Earlier, Pakistan needed US for terrorism funding, once that dried up now there is another attempt to showcase prospects of trade and energy plums from Central Asia for which Pakistan can be a corridor. With the recent developments in Pakistan, it has become clear that PM Nawaz Sharif has a special idea to give Pakistan a much needed U-turn, from terrorism to trade. But that plan comes with opportunities as well as risks.
Indo-Japan ties: Warming for a partnership
India has hosted Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as the guest of honor at its prestigious Republic Day Parade, an honor bestowed on the leaders of those countries with which India attaches special importance. As the leaders of the two countries enhanced cooperation in strategic and economic spheres of bilateral relations, the idea became indispensable that an Indo-Japan partnership has the potentiality to radically alter the imbalance of power in the Asia-Pacific region. While it is a win-win situation for both India and Japan, it sends a clear signal to China that such a partnership can strategically limit China’s capabilities in the region.
Karzai's military help from India may create tension
Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai’s wish-list for India to have deeper involvement in Afghanistan’s military and security sector has indeed put India in a dilemma. If India gets involved militarily in Afghanistan, it may face the risk of increased regional tension and provide Pakistan the legitimacy to continue to support the Taliban. Conversely, if India denies military hardware help then the ANA will not emerge as a potent force to fight the Taliban. Either way, time is running out for India to make a quick decision for peace and security in the region. But Afghanistan should be clear in its thinking what exactly it needs to defend itself and ensure peace in the war ravaged country.
Thailand may face acute political uncertainty
Thailand is no stranger to political unrests and the current agitation against the Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is a political deadlock that is undermining Thailand’s democracy, economy and tourism. While the present unrest could largely be a domestic fight between the ruling Pheu Thai party and the opposition Democratic Party, the role of external elements influencing the ongoing unrest in Thailand cannot be ruled out. As always, the Royal Palace will have to intervene to calm down the tension and PM Yingluck will have to be more accommodative without which Thailand may lose out benefits of ASEAN economic integration.
New Pakistan CoAS can infuse new thinking
After intense speculation, Premier Nawaz Sharif has finally appointed Lt Gen Raheel Sharif as the Chief of Army Staff. Although he is being portrayed as an apolitical and a thorough professional, only time will tell what the system makes him of. History is evident that in Pakistan there is always a lack of balance between the real functioning of military and civilian government. If Nawaz Sharif truly wants to bring a change in Pakistan, he must restructure Pakistan’s security apparatus even at the cost of his personal interests. The new CoAS has some special quality as he has studied military leadership in Germany, apart from UK and Canada, but not exposed to US paw which is popular among Pakistani generals.
Maldives must strengthen democratic pillars
Maldives has been gripped by political instability ever since it experienced a shift from a thirty year autocratic rule to democracy. After much political drama, the country escaped a constitutional crisis and finally elected a President. However, the mismanagement of transfer of power highlighted the teething problems faced by the Indian Ocean Archipelago to transform from an autocracy to a democracy. After such a bitter experience, the Maldivian government should strengthen its democratic institutions so that such unfortunate situations can be averted in the future.
Violence inserts uncertainty for Bangladesh
With elections due next year, the two political dynasties in Bangladesh have begun fighting a political war to consolidate grip over power in a country that has long been plagued by violence, corruption and poverty. The government has repeatedly rejected the opposition demands to quit and put in place a caretaker government instead, but this political crisis, accompanied by the controversial judgment on the 1971 war crimes is not helping the country emerge out of its violent history.
BDCA: A mere tactical understanding with no vision
Publicly it is being discussed that the Border Defence Cooperation Agreement (BDCA) undertaken by India and China would prevent the ugly situation along the LAC from catapulting into a full blown crisis. The BDCA is a protocol that can de-escalate tensions along the LAC through new confidence building measures. However, preventing face-offs is still not within the ambit of the BDCA. The ambiguity in certain clauses could further increase the differences of perception like the
Outcome of APEC-EAS: Competing interests at play
While trade was high on the agenda at the APEC and East Asia Summit, the power struggle between China and US took center stage as both extensively lobbied for their geo-strategic interests. After US’ military and economic pivot towards Asia, China has also stepped up its engagement in the region. However, for US, the road to success in the region will be smoother than that of China, as Beijing will have to be much more willing to accommodate and compromise on sensitive issues like the South China Sea and Senkaku dispute, if it wants to reestablish its influence as an Asia-Pacific power.
US-Iran talks: Exploring possibilities
The United States increasingly finds a military confrontation with the Islamic Republic of Iran a difficult proposition. With the change of regime in Iran, Washington finds an alternate means to engage Iran in a political dialogue and potentially trap it later. At the same time, Iran finds it convenient to end its isolation by resuming talks with P-6 and enhance its influence. Thus, the signals of peace talks sent to each other are part of a recasting of the rules of engagement.