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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.
APEC & EAS: Need for a regional security architecture
Most top ranking global and regional powers are going to assemble in the South East Asian region next week for the APEC and subsequently for E AS to deliberate on series of critical issues facing the Asian region and the world. Although the expectations are placed at a low level as far as achievements are concerned out of such summits, the demand for a credible regional security architecture for Asia is gaining ground. Indeed, power rivalry is going to derail most of the achievements and push the region towards for a polarization, if there is no cooperative approach.
Holding CHOGM is shameful for former colonial nations
No matter how eloquently a justification for the existence of an organization like CHOGM is presented, its vagueness and futility cannot be underestimated. No one has a clear idea, except Britain, why such a grouping exists well after the sun is set and what exactly it promotes. So far, CHOGM’s achievements are confined to promoting British interests, sometimes it turns out to be a profit-making venture as well. It has no connection with promoting democracy, freedom of expression, development and universal values, except selective rhetoric from time to time.
Sharif-Manmohan meet: Need for a roadmap
After much speculation, the stage has been set for Indian Prime Minister to meet his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif. Indeed, keeping communication channels open is the only way to negotiate their crisis-ridden issues. It is very important that the talks have a roadmap without which, they may be futile. The key is to take small steps towards resolution of disputes, starting from less sensitive issues like trade and water-sharing mechanisms and gradually proceeding to more serious issues like LoC violations, terrorism and Kashmir. Good diplomacy means meaningful engagement while detachment could make matters worse.