Foreign Policy Watch: India-Pakistan

May, 03, 2019

[op-ed snap] A global label

CONTEXT

Masood Azhar’s listing as a designated terrorist by the UN Security Council at long last closes an important chapter in India’s quest to bring the Jaish-e-Mohammad chief to justice.

Background

  • He eluded the designation for 20 years, despite his release in 1999 in exchange for hostages after the IC-814 hijack, and his leadership of the JeM as it carried out dozens of deadly attacks in India, including the Parliament attack of 2001, and more recent ones like the Pathankot airbase attack in 2016 and the Pulwama police convoy bombing this year.
  • China’s opposition to the listing has long been a thorn in India’s side, given the toll Azhar and the JeM have exacted, and Beijing’s veto of the listing three times between 2009 and 2017 had driven a wedge in India-China relations.
  • Despite the frustration over China’s last hold on a proposal moved by the U.S., the U.K., and France just weeks after Pulwama, the government has done well to approach Beijing with what the Ministry of External Affairs called “patience and persistence”.

Disappointments

  • No mention of Mr. Azhar’s role –There is much disappointment, however, over the final listing released by the Security Council, with no mention of Mr. Azhar’s role in any of the attacks against India, or directing the insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir.
  • Pulwama reference dropped – A specific reference to Pulwama, which was in the original proposal, was also dropped, presumably to effect China’s change of mind on the issue.
  • Pakistan’s claims of a victory in this are hardly credible; Masood Azhar is one of about twenty 1267-sanctioned terrorists who have Pakistani nationality, and more are based there, which is hardly a situation that gives it cause for pride.
  • It is necessary to recognise that India’s efforts and those of its partners in the Security Council have been rewarded with a UNSC designation at its 1267 ISIL and Al-Qaeda Sanctions Committee. The focus must now move to ensuring its full implementation in Pakistan.

Pakistan’s Track record

  • Pakistan’s actions against others on the 1267 list have been far from effective, and in many cases obstructionist.
  • Hafiz Saeed, the 26/11 mastermind and Lashkar-e-Toiba chief, roams free, addresses rallies, and runs a political party and several NGOs without any government restrictions.
  • LeT’s operations commander Zaki Ur Rahman Lakhvi was granted bail some years ago despite the UNSC sanctions mandating that funds and assets to the sanctioned individuals must be frozen.

Way forward

  • It will take constant focus from New Delhi, and a push from the global community, to ensure that Masood Azhar is not just starved of funds, arms and ammunition as mandated, but that he is prosecuted in Pakistan for the acts of terror he is responsible for.
  • Azhar and his JeM must lose all capacity to carry out attacks, particularly across the border.
  • Global terror financing watchdog Financial Action Task Force will also be watching Pakistan’s next moves closely, ahead of a decision, that could come as early as in June, on whether to “blacklist” Pakistan or keep it on the “greylist”.
  • Both financial and political pressure should be maintained on Islamabad to bring the hard-fought designation of Masood Azhar to its logical conclusion.
Apr, 26, 2019

[op-ed snap] India’s perilous obsession with Pakistan

CONTEXT

Come Indian elections, the bogey of Pakistan has overwhelmed the nationalist discourse in the shrillest manner, with the Prime Minister and other Ministers’ relentless branding of the Congress/Opposition as ‘anti-national’ and as ‘agents of Pakistan’. Further, the Prime Minister even made an unprecedented threat of using nuclear weapons against Pakistan.The hyper-nationalistic frenzy to ‘defeat’ Pakistan comes with huge human and material costs.

Historical Hostility

  • As a country born of the two-nation theory based on religion, and then having to suffer dismemberment and the consequent damage to the very same religious identity, it is obvious why Islamic Pakistan must have a hostile Other in the form of a ‘Hindu India’.
  • But what is not obvious is why India, a (much larger) secular nation, must have a hostile antagonist in the form of Pakistan.

Self-defeating goal

  • It is widely recognised that the fulcrum of the Pakistani state and establishment is an anti-India ideology and an obsession with India.
  • But what has scarcely received notice is that India’s post-Independence nationalism has been equally driven by an obsession with Pakistan. .
  • Huge cost associated with jingoism – But, this hyper-nationalistic urge to ‘defeat’ Pakistan and to gloat over every victory, both real and claimed, is ultimately self-defeating, and comes with huge human and material costs. Much of these costs are hidden by jingoism masquerading as nationalism.

Self destructive to Pakistan

  • Words often used regarding the Pakistani state’s actions, even by critical Pakistani voices, are ‘delusional’ and ‘suicidal’, and rightly so.
  • For, no level-headed state would seek to attain military parity with a country that is six and half times larger in population, and eight and a half times bigger economically.
  •  Disproportionate spending on the military  –Hussain Haqqani, the Pakistani diplomat and scholar, compared it to “Belgium rivalling France or Germany”. Pakistan’s vastly disproportionate spending on the military has been self-destructive for a poor nation.
  •  Ruinous policies – In 1990, Pakistan was ahead of India by three places in the Human Development Index. In 2017, Pakistan was behind India by 20 ranks, a sad reflection of its ruinous policies.
  • Sponsorship of Islamist terror groups – More critically, the Pakistani state’s sponsorship of Islamist terror groups has been nothing less than catastrophic.
  •  Victims of Islamist terrorism – What the world, including India, does not recognise is that Pakistan, ironically, is also one of the worst victims of Islamist terrorism.
  • In the period 2000-2019, 22,577 civilians and 7,080 security personnel were killed in terrorism-related violence in Pakistan (the number of civilian/security personnel deaths from Islamist terrorism in India, excluding Jammu and Kashmir, was 926 in during 2000-2018).

Muscular policy

1.No dialogue’ policy –

The fact that Pakistan has suffered much more than India in their mutual obsession cannot hide the equally serious losses that India has undergone and is willing to undergo in its supposedly muscular pursuit of a ‘no dialogue’ policy with Pakistan.

 2. Human and economic costs

  • Wars and military competition produce madness. Nothing exemplifies this more than India-Pakistan attempts to secure the Siachen Glacier, the inhospitable and highest battle terrain in the world.
  • India alone lost nearly 800 soldiers (until 2016) to weather-related causes only. Besides, it spends around Rs. 6 crore every day in Siachen.
  • Operation Parakram (2001-02), in which India mobilised for war with Pakistan, saw 798 soldier deaths and a cost of $3 billion. This is without fighting a war. Add to this the human and economic costs of fighting four wars.

Power Complex in Sub continent

Ten years ago, Stephen P. Cohen, the prominent American scholar of South Asia, called the India-Pakistan relationship “toxic” and notably termed both, and not just Pakistan, as suffering from a “minority” or “small power” complex in which one is feeling constantly “threatened” and “encircled”.

Why is India competing with Pakistan?

  • Here, one should ask the most pertinent question: why does India compete with Pakistan in every sphere, from military to sport, rather than with, say, China, which is comparable in size and population, and which in 1980 had the same GDP as India? (China’s GDP is almost five times that of India’s now.)
  • Of course, emulating China need not mean emulating its internal authoritarianism or its almost colonial, external economic expansionism.
  • On the contrary, it is to learn from China’s early success in universalising health care and education, providing basic income, and advancing human development, which as Amartya Sen has argued, is the basis of its economic miracle. It is precisely here that India has failed, and is continuing to fail.
  • Therefore, despite India being one of the fastest growing major economies in the world since 1991 (yet, only ranked 147 in per capita income in 2017), its social indicators in many areas, including health, education, child and women welfare, are abysmal in comparison with China’s.
  • Worryingly, in the focus on one-upmanship with Pakistan, India’s pace in social indicator improvement has been less than some poorer economies too. The phenomenal strides made by Bangladesh in the social sector are an example.

Conclusion

  • The more India, the largest democracy in the world, defines itself as the Other of Pakistan, a nation practically governed by the military, the more it will become its mirror. Any nation that thrives by constructing a mythical external enemy must also construct mythical internal enemies.
  • That is why the number of people labelled ‘anti-national’ is increasing in India. India has to rise to take its place in the world.
  • That place is not being a global superpower, but being the greatest and most diverse democracy in the world. That can only happen if it can get rid of its obsession with Pakistan.
Apr, 22, 2019

[op-ed snap] LoC trade, in perspective

CONTEXT

India last week suspended the cross-LoC trade, alleging misuse of the facility by individuals linked to terrorist groups.

Background

1. Origin of trade – These measures seems to have originated in a four-point proposal for Kashmir that began to get regular airing from about 2005 from then military ruler General Pervez Musharraf. The four points were:

    • The LoC will stay but Kashmiris on both sides will be allowed to move freely back and forth;
    • Self-governance or autonomy to the region, but not independence;
    • Gradual demilitarisation on both sides;
    • A joint supervision mechanism with India, Pakistan and Kashmir represented on it.
  • In India, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh spoke about “soft borders” and “making borders irrelevant” in Kashmir.
  • On July 7 that year, the Indian Embassy in Kabul was bombed, killing an Indian diplomat and a senior Army officer and several Afghans. The US and India said the ISI was behind the bombing.
  • But the India-Pakistan foreign secretaries’ talks were held as scheduled later that month on July 21 under the composite dialogue format, and they agreed to the opening of trade routes across the LoC.

The two sides then rushed to finalise the details in the following weeks, including at a meeting of the “working group of cross LoC CBMs” on September 22, 2008.

Positive Response

  • Both sides of Kashmir welcomed the opening of the trade routes.
  • PDP president Mehbooba Mufti said at the time “it is a dream come true”, and Sardar Attique Khan, the prime minister of POK, named the day “Youm-e-Karvaan-e-Commerce” (Day of the Caravan of Commerce).
  • The Mumbai attacks put a freeze on India-Pakistan relations, but the cross-LoC trade remained unaffected by that.

Hiccups and demands

  • The agreement was for zero duty trade for a list of 21 items.
  • It ran into problems almost immediately as traders on both sides floundered on currency and communication issues.

1. Establishment of Intra Jammu & Kashmir Chamber of Commerce & Industry (IJ&KCCI) – A chamber of commerce, called the Intra Jammu & Kashmir Chamber of Commerce & Industry (IJ&KCCI), came into existence.

2.Recommendations-

Banking Relations – They pointed to the need for banking relations and mutual acceptance of letters of credit, a communication network, a regulatory network to determine the composition of trade, and a legal network for dispute resolution.

Expansion of list, travel arrangements – The joint chamber recommended expansion of the list of items for trade, facilitation of travel and traders’ access to each other, infrastructure facilities, banking services, use of dual currency of both countries as the mode of payment with the US dollar as the reference point, inclusion of the services sector, and opening of more trade routes.

Complaints – There were complaints that the trade had expanded to include non-Kashmiri goods. The complaints were particularly loud from the traders at Wagah border who catered to the same markets and were envious of the zero-duty cross LoC trade.

Previous suspension

  • Once in 2015, trade was suspended for 40 days after drugs were discovered in a truck from Muzaffarabad.
  • The longest suspension came during the post-Burhan Wani killing agitation in the Valley, for three months.
  • There were other brief spells when trade was suspended, mostly at Chakan da Bagh, on account of heavy cross-border shelling.
  • However, Kashmiris point out that trade has never been suspended for under-invoicing or other such violations at any other port in the country where Customs and other enforcement officials strictly monitor the inflows and outflows, and the same could have been done at the LoC.
  • As for the involvement of former militants in the trade, this was seen as a welcome development towards creating “constituencies of peace” and building stakes for normalcy in the Valley.

Benefits of trade

  • In 2011, a four page report called Intra Kashmir Trade, jointly prepared by the Delhi-based IPCS, Conciliation Resources of London, and the Islamabad-based Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency, said cross border trade had proved it could be insulated from the ups and downs in the India-Pakistan relationship, and had begun to establish a “bottom up” approach to peace-building.
  • Trade has attracted divided families and some former combatants and provided a non-violent and alternative vision for change and conflict transformation,” the report said.
  • It spoke about 40 former militants who had chosen to participate in the economic activity.
  • More than its value in currency terms, the cross Loc trade holds much symbolic value in Jammu & Kashmir, especially in the Poonch-Rawalakot sector, where there are more divided families and villages than at the Uri crossing point.
  • They would be hoping that the current suspension is not permanent.
Apr, 20, 2019

[op-ed snap] A bad deal

CONTEXT

Suspension of LoC trade is a poorly-thought move that shrinks the space for manoeuvre in Kashmir and with Pakistan.

Importance of trade

1.Confidence building In Kashmir – That it was launched at all, and survived the deep freeze of India-Pakistan ties that followed 26/11, growing in value and symbolic importance to Kashmiris on either side of the LoC over the next decade, was due to the all around acknowledgment that Kashmir needs special specific confidence-building measures, and that these need to be kept separate from the India-Pakistan relationship.

2.Symbolic Value – Cross LoC interaction carried huge symbolic value in Kashmir, even though the trade itself has been far below its actual potential, and was tied up with red tape and the absence of banking facilities and telephone connections.

3.High Monetary Value – Moreover, it was being conducted through a barter system, as India and Pakistan could not reach agreement on currency transactions, even though its annual value grew from Rs 1 crore in 2008-09 to over Rs 3,000 crore at the present time.

1.Misuse of trade

  • It is unfortunate that the government has decided to “suspend” this Kashmir-specific confidence building measure now on the ground that it was being misused to push drugs, weapons and counterfeit currency into the Valley from across the border, as well as for trade in goods excluded from the list meant for cross-LoC trade.
  • After all, no trade routes into India are free from misuse.

2.Hawala –

  • Hawala, despite a severe crackdown, continues to exist as a channel through which Indians continue to send and receive money from abroad.
  • In the case of Kashmir, the absence of banking channels must have exacerbated the situation.

Alternatives –

1.Monitoring of trade routes-

  • If the government had apprehensions that the trade across the two sides of Kashmir was being used by terrorist benamis or other unscrupulous elements, the better course of action would have been to monitor the crossing points at Uri and Chakkan da Bagh through which it was taking place four times a week.
  • This is all in a day’s work for customs and other enforcement agencies, and this is how drugs were caught being smuggled in trucks from Pakistan Occupied Kashmir.

Conclusion

1. Signals loss of control – Calling off an entire trade route because it is being misused by some sends out the message that the government has lost control, as with the highway closure.

2. Push to alienation – Plus, drawing increasingly tighter red lines in Kashmir, India only makes it more difficult for itself to get out of the corners it has painted itself into when the time for dialogue comes, as it will eventually.

3. Election motives – But if this has been done to create the impression in the rest of the country in the midst of election season that the government is unsparing with Kashmiris, it can only be described as cutting the nose to spite the face.

Mar, 12, 2019

[op-ed snap]A case for aggressive diplomacy: on India-Pakistan relations

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: IR | India & its neighborhood- relations

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level:Not Much

Mains level: India Should Change it’s Response and strategy from defensive to aggressive.


NEWS

CONTEXT

Tensions between Pakistan and India post Pulwama are rising and diffusing at the same time.

Confusing behaviour

  • akistan alleged on March 5 that it had thwarted the entry of an Indian submarine into its waters. India responded that Pakistan was indulging in false propaganda.
  • On the same evening, the Pakistani Foreign Ministry issued a statement that its High Commissioner to India, Sohail Mahmood, would be returning to Delhiand talks with India on the Kartarpur Corridor would go ahead.

Agenda  behind such acts

  • Pakistan, through its morning assertion, was playing to its domestic audience, while its evening statement was a signal to the international community that it had no further desire to climb the escalation ladder with India.

Winding Down Tensions

  • It was U.S. President Donald Trump who provided the first clear indication of the involvement of major powers in defusing tensions between India and Pakistan.
  •  If the Indian intention post-Pulwama was to isolate Pakistan, that doesn’t seem to have happened.
  • For the two governments, given that the score was level — one had shot down a F-16 and the other had shot down an MiG-21 — they could now respond positively to global concerns.
  • There is little doubt that India got away with its pre-emptive strike in Balakot because Pakistan’s denials that it has nothing to do with fostering groups like the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) carry no credibility, including among thinking members of its own civil society.
  • Further, the JeM even claimed responsibility for the Pulwama terror strike.

Past conflicts and Tensions

  • The India-Pakistan nuclear ‘deterrent’ was first put to test by General Pervez Musharraf, who planned the Kargil incursion months after Pakistan went publicly nuclear in response to the Indian nuclear tests of May 11 and 13, 1998.
  • As India began clearing the Kargil heights of the Pakistani Northern Light Infantry masquerading as ‘mujahideen’, there was enormous pressure on Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to use the Indian Air Force across the Line of Control after the loss of two MiG aircraft.
  •  But Vajpayee held firm against both public and IAF pressure.
  • Pakistan’s conduct during Kargil exposed the state as irresponsible and led to numerous international calls for respecting the LoC.
  • Pakistan went to great lengths to obtain its nuclear capability to insulate itself against India and no “miltablishment” can survive there if it’s unable to even the score with India. The nuclear option is built into the trajectory of its survival as a state.
  • During the Kargil war in 1999, after the Parliament attack in 2001, and post the Mumbai attack in 2008, two Prime Ministers of India had the option of retaliation, but they did not exercise it.
  • Instead, India’s patience projected the responsible nature of the state, which was in stark opposition to Pakistan’s tattered credibility.

Way Forward

  • A conventional response to terrorist groups can demonstrate intent, but does very little to whittle down their abilities.
  • Covert capabilities coupled with deft and persistent diplomacy is the only way forward in such difficult circumstances.
  • The government’s inability to reach out to Kashmiris and its actions against the Hurriyat leadership at a time when the separatists have lost control of the public mood underline an uncaring attitude.
  • This has also created a fertile ground for Kashmiri youth to join terrorist ranks.
  • Indian state responses cannot be reactive to the agenda of terrorist groups, howsoever brutal their actions are.
  • A calm, mature, informed and long-term strategy with aggressive diplomacy at its core, one that leverages India’s economic strength, remains the country’s best bet to deal with the terrorist threat from Pakistani soil.

 

 

Mar, 02, 2019

Explained: How a Prisoner of War must be treated

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: IR | Agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Geneva Convention

Mains level: Prospects of the Geneva Convention


News

Background

  • India has demanded the immediate return of IAF pilot Wg Cdr Abhinandan captured by Pakistan after his Mig-21 fighter aircraft was shot down in PoK during a dogfight with Pakistani fighter jets.
  • India has also lashed out at the “vulgar display of an injured personnel of the Indian Air Force in violation of all norms of international humanitarian law and the Geneva Convention”.
  • A look at the provisions of the Geneva Conventions:

The Geneva Conventions

  • The 1949 Geneva Conventions are a set of international treaties that ensure that warring parties conduct themselves in a humane way with non-combatants such as civilians and medical personnel, as well as with combatants no longer actively engaged in fighting, such as prisoners of war, and wounded or sick soldiers.
  • All countries are signatories to the Geneva Conventions.
  • There are four conventions, with three protocols added on since 1949.

Does the captured pilot count as a prisoner of war?

  • The provisions of the conventions apply in peacetime situations, in declared wars, and in conflicts that are not recognised as war by one or more of the parties.
  • Even though India and Pakistan have been careful not to use the ‘w’ word for the operations each has conducted on the other’s territory over two successive days.
  • India has said its airstrikes were a “non-military” intelligence-led operation — both sides are bound by the Geneva Conventions.
  • This means the IAF officer is a prisoner of war, and his treatment has to be in accordance with the provisions for PoWs under the Geneva Conventions.

What are the provisions for PoWs?

  • The treatment of prisoners of war is dealt with by the Third Convention or treaty.
  • Its 143 articles spread over five sections and annexure are exhaustive, and deal with every kind of situation that may arise for a captive and captor, including the place of internment, religious needs, recreation, financial resources, the kinds of work that captors can make PoWs do, the treatment, and the repatriation of prisoners.
  • The Third Convention is unambiguous about how prisoners must be treated: “humanely”.
  • And the responsibility for this lies with the detaining power, not just the individuals who captured the PoW.

What rights is a PoW entitled to?

  • Article 14 of the Convention lays down that PoWs are “entitled to in all circumstances to respect for their persons and their honour”.
  • In captivity, a PoW must not be forced to provide information of any kind under “physical or mental torture, nor any other form of coercion”.
  • Refusal to answer questions should not invite punishment. A PoW must be protected from exposure to fighting.
  • Use of PoWs as hostages or human shields is prohibited, and a PoW has to be given the same access to safety and evacuation facilities as those affiliated to the detaining power.
  • Access to health facilities, prayer, recreation and exercise are also written into the Convention.
  • The detaining power has to facilitate correspondence between the PoW and his family, and must ensure that this is done without delays.
  • A PoW is also entitled to receive books or care packages from the outside world.

Releasing prisoners

  • Parties to the conflict “are bound to send back” or repatriate PoWs, regardless of rank, who are seriously wounded or sick, after having cared for them until they are fit to travel”.
  • The conflicting parties are expected to write into any agreement they may reach to end hostilities the expeditious return of PoWs.
  • Parties to the conflict can also arrive at special arrangements for the improvement of the conditions of internment of PoWs, or for their release and repatriation.
  • At the end of the 1971 war, India had more than 80,000 Pakistani troops who had surrendered to the Indian Army after the liberation of Dhaka.
  • India agreed to release them under the Shimla Agreement of 1972.

Monitoring the Geneva Conventions

  • The Geneva Conventions have a system of “Protecting Powers” who ensure that the provisions of the conventions are being followed by the parties in a conflict.
  • In theory, each side must designate states that are not party to the conflict as their “Protecting Powers”.
  • In practice, the International Committee of the Red Cross usually plays this role.
Feb, 25, 2019

Explained: Decoding the OIC’s invite to ‘Guest of Honour’ India

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: IR | India & its neighborhood relations

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: OIC

Mains level: Implications of India’s invite to OIC


News

  • India overcame a five-decade-old hurdle to get itself invited to Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) meet.
  • It is a welcome recognition of the presence of 185 million Muslims in India and of their contribution to its pluralistic ethos, and of India’s contribution to the Islamic world.
  • The meeting will be held in Abu Dhabi on March 1 and 2, for which Swaraj has been invited by Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Foreign Minister of the UAE as the “Guest of Honour”.

Why the OIC matters

  • The OIC — formerly Organisation of Islamic Conference — is the second largest inter-governmental organisation in the world after the UN, with a membership of 57 states in four continents.
  • The OIC describes itself as “the collective voice of the Muslim world”.
  • Its stated objective is “to safeguard and protect the interests of the Muslim world in the spirit of promoting international peace and harmony among various people of the world”.

Membership of OIC

  • The OIC has reserved its membership for Muslim-majority countries.
  • Russia, Thailand, and couple of other small countries have Observer status.
  • At the 45th session in May 2018, Bangladesh, the host country, had suggested that India, where more than 10% of the world’s Muslims live, should be given Observer status.
  • However Pakistan had opposed the proposal.

Why India is the Guest of Honour?

I. Improved ties with UAE, Saudi

  • The first-time invitation to India to be a Guest of Honour at the Plenary, especially at a time of heightened tensions with Pakistan is a significant diplomatic victory.
  • The invitation indicated “the desire of the enlightened leadership of the UAE to go beyond our rapidly growing close bilateral ties and forge a true multifaceted partnership at the multilateral and international level”.
  • It is considered as a milestone in our comprehensive strategic partnership with the UAE.

II. Hosting the Prince

  • The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, was a very special Chief Guest at the 68th Republic Day celebrations in 2017.
  • It was the first time that India laid out the Republic Day red carpet for a leader who was neither a Head of State nor Head of Government.
  • The invite may be an important outcome of the MBS visit, apart from being an indication of New Delhi’s improved ties with both Saudi and the UAE, and the Gulf region as a whole.

But, it has been pro-Pak on J&K

  • The OIC has been generally supportive of Pakistan’s stand on Kashmir, and has issued statements criticizing the alleged Indian activities in the state.
  • The 2017 session of the Council of OIC Foreign Ministers had adopted a resolution “reaffirming the unwavering support… for the Kashmiri people in their just cause.
  • At the 2018 meeting in Dhaka, however, “J&K” figured in only one of the 39 resolutions adopted, that too, along with 12 other states or regions worldwide.
  • Pakistan had complained about the Dhaka Declaration, and accused Bangladesh of circulating the text very late.

A new India-Pak tussle is expected

  • Indeed, India has excellent relations individually with almost all member nations of the OIC.
  • This is a reason why it can at times afford to not take the statements issued by the group as a whole seriously.
  • Despite the invitation to MEA — who can be expected to bring up the terrorist attacks in India in her address — it is important to watch what line the OIC takes on J&K in its final declaration.
  • It is certain that Pakistan would be making every effort and behind-the-scenes negotiations for a statement on Kashmir, perhaps using last year’s report of the UN Human Rights Office that criticized India.
Feb, 22, 2019

[pib] Indus Waters Treaty 1960 : Present Status of Development in India

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: IR | India & its neighborhood- relations

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Permanent Indus Commission, Indus Water Treaty

Mains level: Rising tensions between India and Pakistan over various issues


News

Indus Waters Treaty, 1960

  1. The Indus Waters Treaty is a water-distribution treaty between India and Pakistan, brokered by the World Bank signed in Karachi in 1960.
  2. According to this agreement, control over the water flowing in three “eastern” rivers of India — the Beas, the Ravi and the Sutlej was given to India
  3. The control over the water flowing in three “western” rivers of India — the Indus, the Chenab and the Jhelum was given to Pakistan
  4. The treaty allowed India to use western rivers water for limited irrigation use and unrestricted use for power generation, domestic, industrial and non-consumptive uses such as navigation, floating of property, fish culture, etc. while laying down precise regulations for India to build projects
  5. India has also been given the right to generate hydroelectricity through run of the river (RoR) projects on the Western Rivers which, subject to specific criteria for design and operation is unrestricted.

Present Status of Development

  1. To utilize the waters of the Eastern rivers which have been allocated to India for exclusive use, India has constructed Bhakra Dam on Satluj, Pong and Pandoh Dam on Beas and Thein (Ranjitsagar) on Ravi.
  2. These storage works, together with other works like Beas-Sutlej Link, Madhopur-Beas Link, Indira Gandhi Nahar Project etc has helped India utilize nearly entire share (95 %) of waters of Eastern rivers.
  3. However, about 2 MAF of water annually from Ravi is reported to be still flowing unutilized to Pakistan below Madhopur.
  4. The three projects will help India to utilize its entire share of waters given under the Indus Waters Treaty 1960:

I. Resumption of Construction of Shahpurkandi project

  • It is a dam project under construction on Ravi River.

II. Construction of Ujh multipurpose project

  • It is a dam project under construction on Ujh , a tributary of Ravi River.

III. 2nd Ravi Beas link below Ujh

  • This project is being planned to tap excess water flowing down to Pakistan through river Ravi, even after construction of Thein Dam.
  • It aims constructing a barrage across river Ravi for diverting water through a  tunnel link to Beas basin.
Feb, 15, 2019

Explained: What is MFN status, how can India hurt Pak by withdrawing it

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: IR | India & its neighborhood relations

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: MFN status, General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, WTO

Mains level: India-Pakistan trade relationship


News

  • In a major terrorist attack, 40+ CRPF personnel were martyred in J&K’s Pulwama district when a terrorist attacked with an explosives laden vehicle into one of the vehicles of the CRPF convoy.
  • In response to the effect, India withdrew MFN status accorded to Pakistan.

MFN status to Pakistan

  1. India granted MFN status to Pakistan in 1996, a year after the formation of WTO.
  2. Pakistan still hasn’t granted India with MFN status. On the other hand, it came up with a dissimilar but globally popular Non-Discriminatory Market Access (NDMA) agreement.
  3. The reason Pakistan has chosen to adopt the NDMA with India is due to political mistrust and a history of border conflicts.
  4. On November 2, 2011, the Pakistani cabinet decided formally to accord India MFN status. But that decision remains unimplemented.

Trade between India and Pakistan

  1. Bilateral trade between India and Pakistan stands at $2.61 billion.
  2. The major commodities and goods in which both countries trade include cement, sugar, organic chemicals, cotton, man-made filaments, vegetables and certain fruits and tubers, mineral fuels, mineral oils, salts, earths, stone, lime, dry fruits, steel and plastering material.
  3. In FY17, India-Pakistan trade was a mere $2.29 billion, or about 0.35% of India’s overall trade.

Does MFN mean preferential treatment?

  1. In literal explanation, MFN doesn’t mean preferential treatment.
  2. Instead it means non-discriminatory trade that ensures that the country receiving MFN status will not be in a disadvantageous situation compared to the granter’s other trade partners.
  3. When a country receives MFN status, it is expected to raise trade barriers and decrease tariffs.
  4. It is also expected to open up the market to trade in more commodities and free flow of goods.

Pros of MFN

  1. MFN status is extremely gainful to developing countries.
  2. The clear upsides are access to a wider market for trade goods, reduced cost of export items owing to highly reduced tariffs and trade barriers.
  3. These essentially lead to more competitive trade.
  4. MFN also cuts down bureaucratic hurdles and various kinds of tariffs are set at par for all imports.
  5. It then increases demands for the goods and giving a boost to the economy and export sector.
  6. It also heals the negative impact caused to the economy due to trade protectionism.

Impact

  1. The decision by India to withdraw MFN status to Pakistan is intended to isolate Pakistan diplomatically and squeeze the country’s industry.
  2. Even though the low volumes of trade limit the impact that such a step can have, the stoppage of input materials such as chemicals and cotton from India will push up costs of production for the relevant Pakistani industries.
  3. However, it will also give a handle to extremist elements in Pakistan to scale up the rhetoric against India.

Back2Basics

What is MFN Status?

  1. Most Favoured Nation is a treatment accorded to a trade partner to ensure non-discriminatory trade between two countries vis-a-vis other trade partners.
  2. Article 1 of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), 1994, requires every member country of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to accord Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status to all other member countries.
  3. Under WTO rules, a member country cannot discriminate between its trade partners.
  4. If a special status is granted to a trade partner, it must be extended to all members of the WTO.

Benefits of MFN

  1. MFN essentially guarantees the most favourable trade conditions between two countries.
  2. These terms include the lowest possible trade tariffs, the least possible trade barriers and very crucial to trade relations– highest import quotas.
  3. The WTO rules allow discrimination in certain cases like in cases when a country signs free trade agreements in a region.
  4. In that situation, a country may grant special favours and trade concessions to a country as compared to non-member countries of that group.

Shortcomings

  1. The main disadvantage is that the country has to give the same treatment to all other trade partners who are members of the WTO.
  2. This translates into a price war and vulnerability of the domestic industry as a result.
  3. The country is not able to protect domestic industry from the cheaper imports and in this price war, some domestic players have to face heavy losses or growth restrictions.
Jan, 12, 2019

[op-ed snap] Why SAARC is still relevant

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: IR|  Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate..

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Basics aspects of SAARC

Mains level: The newscard discusses the relevance and issues with respect to SAARC, in a brief manner.


Context

  • Imran Khan earned a lot of popular support in Pakistan by opening up the Kartarpur Sahib gurudwara to Sikh yatris from across the border with India. He talked of “peace and trade” and was hailed by the man in the street.
  • In fact, Prime Minister Khan was so sure of “real” public support that he began toying with the idea of mid-term polls to bag a two-thirds majority in parliament that would enable him to change the laws which obstruct his political agenda.

Background

  1. The South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) has come under serious scrutiny in the last few years. Even after three decades of its existence, SAARC’s performance has been less than satisfactory, and its role in strengthening regional cooperation is being questioned.
  2. SAARC faced setback after the 19th summit scheduled to be held in Pakistan in 2016 was suspended for an indefinite period, as member countries declined to participate, pointing to what they said was the absence of a conducive regional environment.
  3. Though SAARC has established itself as a regional forum, it has failed to attain its objectives. Numerous agreements have been signed and institutional mechanisms established under SAARC, but they have not been adequately implemented.
  4. The South Asia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) is often highlighted as a prominent outcome of SAARC, but that, too, is yet to be implemented. Despite SAFTA coming into effect as early as 2006, the intra-regional trade continues to be at a meagre five percent.

Lack of trust among the member countries

  • In the many failures of SAARC, lack of trust among the member countries has been the most significant factor between India and Pakistan. In recent times, Pakistan’s non-cooperation has stalled some major initiatives under SAARC.
  • For example, despite India’s keen interest in cooperating and strengthening intra-regional connectivity by backing the SAARC–MVA during the 18th summit of SAARC, the agreement was stalled following Pakistan’s reluctance.
  • Similarly, the SAARC satellite project that India proposed was abandoned following objection from Pakistan in 2016.

Security cooperation

  • SAARC has also faced obstacles in the area of security cooperation. A major hindrance in this regard has been the lack of consensus on threat perceptions, since member countries disagree on the idea of threats.
  • For instance, while cross-border terrorism emanating from Pakistan is a major concern for India, Pakistan has failed to address these concerns.

Other significant reasons for SAARC’s failures include the following:

  1. The asymmetry between India and other member countries in terms of geography, economy, military strength and influence in the global arena make the smaller countries apprehensive. They perceive India as “Big Brother” and fear that it might use the SAARC to pursue hegemony in the region. The smaller neighbouring countries, therefore, have been reluctant to implement various agreements under SAARC.
  2. SAARC does not have any arrangement for resolving disputes or mediating conflicts. Disputes among the member countries often hamper consensus building, thus slowing down the decision-making process. SAARC’s inability in this regard has been detrimental to its growth.
  3. Given SAARC’s failures, member countries have turned to bilateralism, which in turn has adversely affected the organisation. Bilateralism is an easier option since it calls for dealings between only two countries, whereas SAARC—at a regional level—requires one country to deal with seven countries.
  4. Thus, bilateralism decreases the countries’ dependence on SAARC to achieve their objectives, making them less interested in pursuing initiatives at a regional level.
  5. SAARC faces a shortage of resources, and countries have been reluctant to increase their contributions.
  6. Lack of connectivity between different SAARC countries is another reason for the lackluster performance of SAARC so far. Trade and other relations between India and Afghanistan are hampered by the fact that they don’t share any border and connectivity through Pakistan, and is dependent upon good relations between India and Pakistan.

Why SAARC is still relevant

  1. Although it has not met the expectations it has generated, but it gives opportunities for the leaders as well as the operating level officials to interact regularly and discuss issues of mutual concern is reason enough for SAARC to remain relevant.
  2. The problems faced by the SAARC countries are similar and distinct from other regions. The solutions, therefore, are best found with mutual cooperation in the region. For this reason itself SAARC continues to be relevant.
  3. There is no denying the fact that growth in trade and commerce within the region is an extremely important step in this direction. Agreements for this purpose that have been signed earlier do exist. What is required is to operationalise these. If for whatever reasons some countries are not in a position to do so, it will be better for those countries that can do so to move forward.

Way forward

  1. What is also required is for SAARC to concentrate its activities in core identified areas and not lose its direction by getting involved in too many activities. Since India is literally the pivot around which SAARC revolves, the major responsibility for making SAARC a success is upon India. It, therefore, needs to show willingness and undertake asymmetric responsibilities where required.
  2. To give momentum to this process, one or two projects at the sub-regional level could be identified and vigorously implemented within a specific time frame. These projects, if successful, can show the benefits of mutual cooperation and could persuade the doubting Thomas’s to join in.
  3. Each SAARC country also has to realize that while the political situation in individual countries may keep on changing, the economic situation does not change so rapidly and, as it exists, requires really serious efforts for improvement.
  4. At the end of the day, it is the economy which matters for the impoverished people of the region. SAARC can and should be the instrument for leaders of the region to improve the economic situation of the people of the region, even if to begin with, it is in baby steps.
  5. To make SAARC more effective, the organisation must be reformed and member countries must reach a consensus regarding the changes required. However, considering the differences that exist among the members, particularly between India and Pakistan, such a consensus will be difficult to reach. Until the member countries resolve their issues, the future of SAARC remains uncertain.

Back2Basics

What Is SAARC & SAARC Countries?

  1. The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is regional intergovernmental organization and geopolitical union in South Asia.  Its member states include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, the Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.  SAARC was founded in Dhaka in 1985.
  2. Its secretariat is based in Kathmandu.
  3. The organization promotes the development of economic and regional integration.
  4. It launched the South Asian Free Trade Area in 2006.
  5. SAARC maintains permanent diplomatic relations at the United Nation as an observer and has developed links with multilateral entities.

Observers Of SAARC: – 

States with observer status include Australia, China, the European Union, Iran, Japan, Mauritius Myanmar, South Korea and the United States.

Objectives Of SAARC:-

The objectives shall be:

  1. To promote the welfare of the peoples of SOUTH ASIA and to improve their quality of life.
  2. To accelerate economic growth, social progress and cultural developmentin the region.
  3. Toprovide all individuals with the opportunity to live in dignity and to realise their full potentials.
  4. To promote and strengthen collective self-reliance among the countries of SOUTH ASIA
  5. To contribute to mutual trust, understanding and appreciation of one another are problems.
  6. To promote active collaboration and mutual assistance in the economic, social, cultural, technical and scientific fields.
  7. To strengthen cooperationwith other developing countries.
  8. To strengthen cooperation among themselves in international forums on matters of common interests.
  9. To cooperate with international and regional organisations with similar aims and purposes.

SAARC Law Conference

  • It was established in Sri Lanka in 1991.
  • Since then conference has provided a platform for legal professionals from South Asian region to meet and discuss issues of mutual interests pertaining to justice, legal reforms, good governance and enforcement over a span of 25 years.
  • 14th Conference held in Colombo, SL in October 2017

With inputs from:  ORF

Jan, 03, 2019

India, Pakistan exchange list of nuclear installations

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: IR | India & its neighborhood- relations

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Non-nuclear Aggression Agreement

Mains level: India-Pakistan Strategic Relations


News

  • India and Pakistan has exchanged for the 28th consecutive year a list of their nuclear installations under a bilateral agreement that prohibits them from attacking each other’s atomic facilities.

Non-Nuclear Aggression Agreement

  1. It is a bilateral and nuclear weapons control treaty between India and Pakistan, on the reduction (or limitation) of nuclear arms and pledged not to attack or assist foreign powers to attack on each other’s nuclear installations and facilities.
  2. It was signed on December 31, 1988 and came into force on January 27, 1991.
  3. The agreement says that the two countries will inform each other of nuclear installations and facilities to be covered under the agreement on January 1 of every calendar year.
  4. The two countries have adhered to the practice of exchanging the lists of prisoners and nuclear installations despite recurring tensions.
Nov, 28, 2018

[op-ed snap] The China-Pakistan love affair in troubled waters

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: IR | Effect of policies & politics of developed & developing countries on India’s interests

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: CPEC, Belt & Road initiative

Mains level: New challenges for CPEC and Sino-Pak bilateral relations


Context

Strain in Sino-Pak relationship

  1. Recently, the Chinese consulate in Karachi came under attack with three gunmen trying to enter it and killing four people in the process
  2. The Balochistan Liberation Army took responsibility for the attack
  3. This attack is part of a series of assaults on Chinese projects and personnel in the restive province of Balochistan over the years as China’s footprint has grown in the region

Turmoil in Balochistan

  1. Balochistan sits at the very heart of the ambitious China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), China’s flagship investment project in Pakistan
  2. Despite being rich in minerals, gas and coal, Balochistan is Pakistan’s most impoverished region, resulting in perpetual political turmoil
  3. Baloch nationalists have gained traction by accusing Islamabad of pursuing exploitative policies and never giving the region its rightful share
  4. The ongoing tussle between security forces and Baloch nationalists has made the region’s security precarious, diminishing the region’s economic prospects

Importance of CPEC for Pak as well as China

  1. China has come up with its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) as part of which it plans to link its western Xinjiang province with the Arabian Sea port of Gwadar in Balochistan
  2. With a network of highways, railways and pipelines in conjunction with energy, industrial and other infrastructure development projects, the CPEC aims to enhance connectivity across Pakistan and as well as the country’s overall economic growth prospects
  3. CPEC is being talked about as a potential game changer as it could revive the economic profile of a region that has traditionally been an economic backwater
  4. The CPEC is as much about China’s growing strategic bond with Pakistan as it is about Beijing’s efforts to stem the growing tide of insurgency and radicalism from flowing into its own territory
  5. It is hoping that by generating economic growth and opportunities in Pakistan, it will be able to manage its troubled provinces

Challenges for CPEC increasing

  1. There is growing domestic political opposition in Pakistan—not only from Baloch nationalists but also due to widening differences between provinces and the central government—over the allocation of investments
  2. This has been exacerbated by Pakistan’s economic crisis, which has seen Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves rapidly depleting and the country facing a mounting balance-of-payments crisis, requiring about $12 billion to meet its liabilities
  3. CPEC has been blamed for part of this problem, with imports of heavy machinery and other equipment resulting in Pakistan’s massive trade deficit

Global challenges for China & Pakistan

  1. Pakistan is facing a difficult global environment on the whole
  2. Its relationship with the US has nosedived under the Donald Trump administration which has warned the International Monetary Fund against lending money to Pakistan, arguing that a bailout package could not be used to settle Chinese debts
  3. China is also coming under growing global criticism for its BRI projects with nations as diverse as Thailand, Laos, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and the Maldives all voicing complaints about the terms of the loans from China
  4. China’s debt trap diplomacy is facing a global pushback

Way forward

  1. Though Chinese interests have been repeatedly targeted over the years, Beijing so far has continued to repose its faith in the Pakistani government’s ability to manage the security situation so as to guarantee Chinese investment
  2. Recent attacks in Balochistan merely emphasize that challenges for CPEC and for the China-Pakistan economic relationship are only going to mount in the future
  3. Some kind of a reset in Sino-Pak engagement is inevitable
Nov, 24, 2018

[op-ed snap] Corridor of hope: On the Kartarpur proposal

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: IR | India & its neighborhood- relations.

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Ray of hope in India-Pakistan ties through the kartarpur corridor


Context

Green signal to kartarpur corridor

  1. The announcement by India and Pakistan of plans to operationalise a visa-free corridor between Dera Baba Nanak in Indian Punjab and Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan’s Punjab heeds a longstanding plea of Sikh pilgrims
  2. That demand had gathered pace in 1995 when Pakistan renovated the Kartarpur gurdwara, situated on the site on the bank of the Ravi
  3. It is a shrine built at the place where the founder of the Sikh religion, Guru Nanak Dev, is believed to spent his last 18 years and died

Why is this a positive development?

  1. Given its easy logistics, the 4-km-long Kartarpur corridor is a low-hanging fruit as a meaningful confidence-building measure
  2. The initiative can also become a template for cross-border exchanges based on faith, which could provide a balm for many communities
  3. Kashmiri Pandits have long asked for access to visit the Sharda Peeth in the Neelum Valley in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir
  4. Sufis in Pakistan wish to visit the dargah of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti in Ajmer, Rajasthan
  5. Sikhs in India and Pakistan want to visit important shrines on both sides of the border

Implementation of the announcement crucial

  1. Much will depend on how quickly India and Pakistan act on their commitment
  2. Even more will depend on how the two governments manage their relationship in a way that avoids making pilgrims a pawn in bilateral tensions
  3. It is important that issues related to the corridor are managed in a non-political manner and details left to diplomats and officials to sort out
  4. India and Pakistan entered into an agreement on pilgrimages in 1974 under which both sides issue visitor visas for a handful of shrines on either side
  5. The visa-free corridor is only for Indians
  6. But it will require a separate agreement for operationalisation, which will involve complex negotiations given the security ramifications

A renewed opportunity for both the sides

  1. The proposed corridor holds great potential for a wider thaw in India-Pakistan relations, which have languished in sub-zero temperatures for a full decade now since the Mumbai 26/11 terror attacks
  2. This is probably the first instance of the two sides setting aside mutual hostility to bend to the will of the people
  3. A large part of the failure of the two countries to come out of the holes into which they have dug themselves owes to the vacuum created in citizen interaction

Way forward

  1. Given the bilateral freeze, the Kartarpur project will compel India and Pakistan to engage in a positive and purposeful manner, at a time when few other avenues for engagement exist
  2. It is a reminder that dialogue and search for areas of concord are the only way forward for both countries
  3. India should build on the leap of faith that it took on the Kartarpur corridor

With inputs from the editorial: Kartarpur opening

Nov, 23, 2018

India, Pakistan commit to Kartarpur corridor

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: IR | India & its neighborhood- relations

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Kartarpur Sahib (Location, importance)

Mains level: India-Pakistan Cultural Relations


News

Kartarpur Sahib Corridor

  1. India and Pakistan exchanged letters committing to build the required infrastructure for visa-free direct travel by Indian Sikh pilgrims to Pakistan’s Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara.
  2. This has been done to allow them to mark the 550th Birth Anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev in November 2019.
  3. In a rare sign of concord between the two countries, the letters were exchanged on the same day.

Inception of the Proposed Corridor

  1. The Kartarpur Sahib corridor was first proposed in 1999 when former PM Vajpayee took a bus ride to Lahore.
  2. He raised a long-standing demand from the Sikh community for easy access to the revered shrine across the border where Guru Nanak spent the last 18 years of his life.

Work to begin soon

  1. India proposed building a passage for the pilgrims accessible “365 days and 24 hours.
  2. Officials from India and Pakistan will meet soon to discuss the logistics of the corridor and point of border crossing.
  3. The pilgrims will traverse on the Indian side from Dera Guru Nanak Dev in Gurdaspur district directly to the border and from the Pakistani side of the border directly to Kartarpur Darbar Sahib Gurdwara.
Nov, 09, 2018

[op-ed snap] Embers of hope: on India-Pakistan relations

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: IR | India & its neighborhood- relations

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Kartarpur Sahib (Location, importance)

Mains level: How sports and cultural connect can be used to rebuild India Pakistan ties


 Context

Indo Pak ties

  1. With tension permeating the India-Pakistan military and diplomatic relationship for the larger part of seven decades, people-to-people and economic links have borne the brunt of this mutual aggression
  2. In September, bilateral tensions further soured after the killing of a Border Security Force soldier and the cancellation of a meeting between the two Foreign Ministers

Rays of hope

Two other developments have rekindled hopes of creative collaborations

  • Pakistan’s willingness to open the Kartarpur corridor
  1. This would connect Dera Baba Nanak in India with a historic Sikh shrine, the Darbar Sahib, Narowal, in the town of Kartarpur, Pakistan
  2. Darbar Sahib is where Guru Nanak Dev, the first Guru of the Sikhs, spent the last few years of his life
  3. Various ministers of Pakistan’s newly formed government have given assurance about the opening of the corridor as well as willingness to provide visa-free access to the Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara
  4. This has been a long-standing demand of the Sikh community
  5. This issue is relevant not merely to the Sikh community but to all those who believe in Guru Nanak’s message of peace and compassion
  • India-Pakistan trade
  1. The U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan spoke of Pakistan’s willingness to allow India-Afghanistan trade via Pakistan
  2. Bilateral trade with Afghanistan through Pakistan matters strategically to New Delhi and Kabul
  3. With this move, Pakistan could change the narrative in South Asia

Learning from China

  1. The India-Pakistan relationship could use the India-China relationship as a template
  2. Despite tensions such as the Doklam standoff, bilateral trade rose in 2017-18
  3. People-to-people linkages (for example, in terms of pilgrimages to Kailash Mansarovar through Nathu La) have not been affected

Way forward

  1. It is unfortunate that steps such as opening up the Kartarpur corridor, which can help in building better ties, get relegated to the background once political tensions rise
  2. Such steps could act as the game changer in the process of bringing Indo Pak ties back on track
Sep, 25, 2018

[op-ed snap] Raja Mandala: The world beyond Pakistan

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: IR | Effect of policies & politics of developed & developing countries on India’s interests

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: India’s focus on less relevant issues at UN and how this affects India’s diplomacy


Context

Shadow of India Pak relations at UN meeting

  1. India has decided against talking to Pakistan on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly that is convening this month for its annual session in New York
  2. For more than two decades now, the only question that seems to animate the Indian public interest in multilateral gatherings — from non-aligned summits to the ASEAN Regional Forum and UNGA to SAARC gatherings — is the prospect of a diplomatic encounter between India and Pakistan
  3. One unfortunate casualty of this war of words has been the deepening inability of the two countries to engage with the larger global issues

Reduced impact of India as well as Pakistan

  1. There was a time when the voices of both Pakistan and India mattered on the world stage
  2. India’s political voice mattered a lot at the UN even when its economic weight was rather limited
  3. Today, despite its growing economic salience and expanding global footprint, India seems obsessed with a few issues rather than engage with the unfolding structural changes in the international system
  4. Pakistan was a key member of the Western alliance system in Asia
  5. Islamabad rightly saw itself as a pragmatic Islamic nation capable of exercising influence in the Middle East and acting as a bridge between America and China, which did not have diplomatic relations with each other
  6. Today, Pakistan’s diminished diplomacy plods on about the Kashmir issue and revels in provoking India into a public argument

Mistakes being made by India

  1. Delhi persists with the futile quest for a permanent seat at the UN Security Council when all indications are that it is unlikely to happen
  2. Delhi has also devoted far too much energy in the pursuit of the international convention against terrorism that is unlikely to do very much in addressing India’s security challenges
  3. If India looks beyond Pakistan, terrorism and a seat at the UNSC, it will find much to discuss and reflect upon with its partners

Issues that can be discussed

  • The question of sovereignty and multilateralism
  1. If defending sovereignty was the theme song of India’s UN diplomacy since the end of the Cold War, it is President Donald Trump who has appropriated it now
  2. Since he took charge, Trump has walked out of the Paris agreement on climate change, withdrew from the United Nations Scientific and Cultural Organisation, the UN Human Rights Council, and threatened the International Criminal Court with punitive actions
  3. He insists that he will not let multilateral organisations restrain America’s pursuit of its national interests
  • Global trade
  1. While India’s rhetoric at the UN remains steeped in the old verities of the so-called “global South”, Trump is threatening to pull out of the World Trading Organisation and choking its dispute-settlement mechanism, again in the name of sovereignty
  2. Key trading nations are already beginning to respond with proposals for reform
  • Repositioning in Gulf
  1. Trump is making big moves in the Middle East that breaks away from the conventional thinking on the region
  2. He has junked the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran and is trying to construct a new Middle East Security Alliance of Arab nations threatened by Iran

Way forward for India

  1. For India, this is not a question of taking formal positions on these issues
  2. The geopolitics of the Gulf region where India has massive economic and political stakes is undergoing unprecedented change along with the world trading system and the nature of multilateralism
  3. India’s diplomatic engagements at the UN this year should be about crafting a new strategy to address these challenges
Aug, 28, 2018

Indus water panel to discuss Pakistan’s objection to Indian projects

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: IR | India & its neighborhood- relations

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Indus water treaty

Mains level: Issues related to IWT between India & Pakistan


News

Indus water commission meeting

  1. India and Pakistan are expected to discuss two under-construction hydroelectric projects, initiated by India on the Chenab basin, at the 115th meeting of the Permanent Indus Commission
  2. Pakistan feels that design of two under-construction Indian hydroelectric projects in Chenab basin — Pakal Dul (1,000 MW) and Lower Kalnai (48 MW) — violate the Treaty provisions
  3. The Indian side affirms its right to build these projects and holds that their (projects’) design is fully in compliance of the Treaty

About the treaty

  1. The 1960 Indus Waters Treaty, brokered by the World Bank and signed by then prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Pakistan’s president Ayub Khan, administers how the water of the Indus river and its tributaries that flow in both the countries will be utilised
  2. Under the provisions of the Indus Waters Treaty 1960, waters of the eastern rivers — Sutlej, Beas and Ravi — had been allocated to India and the western rivers — the Indus, Jhelum and Chenab — to Pakistan, except for certain non-consumptive uses for India
May, 29, 2018

Maritime dialogue resumes

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: IR | India and its neighborhood- relations.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Importance of the dialogue


News

A sign of the efforts to improve India-Pakistan relations in recent months

  1. The heads of maritime security agencies of both sides met after a gap of two years and agreed to work on improving exchange of information regarding fishermen apprehended by each other
  2. The dialogue is held annually as per the provisions of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the two agencies in 2005
  3. The meeting was chaired by Director General Indian Coast Guard Rajendra Singh and head of Pakistan Maritime Security Agency, Rear Admiral Zaka Ur

Why is this important?

  1. The dialogue is significant as last year India had refused to participate in the talks following the controversy over the arrest of former Indian Navy officer Kulbhushan Jadhav by Pakistani agencies
  2. Further, both sides also agreed on the need for expeditious exchange of the information about the apprehension of fishing boats and fishermen

India’s demand

  1. During the meeting, the Indian side reiterated the need for instituting Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for immediate release and repatriation of fishermen who cross the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) inadvertently

Agreement on working for maritime environment

  1. The two agencies also agreed to collaborate in preservation and protection ofmarine environment
May, 23, 2018

India to join anti-terror meet in Pak.

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: RATS

Mains level: SCO is seriously focusing on the issue of counter-terrorism.


News

Legal experts to discuss counter-terror strategy among  Shanghai Cooperation Organisation(SCO) members

  1. India is sending senior representatives to discuss legal modalities of counter-terrorism for a meeting that Pakistan will host along with the members of the SCO
  2. India, China and other member countries will participate in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation-Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (SCO-RATS) that will be meeting in Islamabad from May 23 to 25

Why is this meeting important? 

  1. The event will be the first such time Pakistan will host India and other members of SCO to discuss a response to terrorism

SCO focus on counter terrorism

  1. As members of the SCO, countries are expected to be active in the SCO Secretariat and also participate in the RATS, headquartered at Tashkent
  2. Counter-terrorism has been on the agenda of the SCO since its inception in 2001 but has been boosted since membership was granted to India and Pakistan in 2017

Background

  1. The RATS held its meeting in the first week of April to finalise a draft for counter-terror cooperation for 2019-’21
  2. The organisation also held a discussion in Delhi during January 31 to February 2

Back2basics

Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS)

  1. The Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS), headquartered in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, is a permanent organ of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation(SCO) which serves to promote cooperation of member states against the three evils of terrorism, separatism and extremism
  2. The Head of RATS is elected to a three-year term
  3. Each member state also sends a permanent representative to RATS
Mar, 28, 2018

India, Pakistan to hold Permanent Indus Commission meet

Image source

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: IR | India & its neighborhood- relations

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Permanent Indus Commission, Indus Water Treaty

Mains level: Rising tensions between India and Pakistan over various issues


News

Meeting of the Permanent Indus Commission

  1. India and Pakistan will hold a two-day meeting of the Permanent Indus Commission
  2. The meeting will discuss various issues under the Indus Water Treaty
  3. This will be the 114th meeting of the Permanent Indus Commission (PIC), which should meet at least once a year as per the Indus Water Treaty (IWT)

India to raise the issue of dams

  1. The issues relating to India’s Ratle hydroelectricity, Pakul Dul, and Lower Kalnai projects, located in Jammu and Kashmir, may come up for discussion during the meeting
  2. Pakistan contends that these projects located in the Chenab basin were violating the IWT

Back2Basics

Indus Water Treaty

  1. The Indus Waters Treaty is a water-distribution treaty between India and Pakistan, brokered by the World Bank
  2. The treaty was signed in Karachi on September 19, 1960
  3. According to this agreement, control over the water flowing in three “eastern” rivers of India — the Beas, the Ravi and the Sutlej was given to India
  4. The control over the water flowing in three “western” rivers of India — the Indus, the Chenab and the Jhelum was given to Pakistan
  5. The treaty allowed India to use western rivers water for limited irrigation use and unrestricted use for power generation, domestic, industrial and nonconsumptive uses such as navigation, floating of property, fish culture, etc. while laying down precise regulations for India to build projects
  6. As per the provisions of the treaty, India can use only 20% of the total water carried by the Indus
Jan, 31, 2018

Pak. extends Thar Link Express for 3 years

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: IR | India and its neighborhood- relations.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the train

Mains level: The extension shows positive side(though not significant) of the relationship between the two nations.


News

Extension for the Thar Link Express

  1. The rail link between India and Pakistan received an extension from Pakistan
  2. The Thar Link Express that connects Khokhrapar in Pakistan and Munabao in Rajasthan received an extension for three more years from 1 February 2018 to 31 January 2021

Particulars of the train

  1. The weekly train connects Jodhpur and the bordering region of Rajasthan with the province of Sindh in Pakistan
  2. The agreement to run the Thar Link Express was signed in 2006 and is one of the cheapest means of transport between the two rival countries
  3. The rail link facilitates people-to-people contacts which are essential for improving relations between both the countries
Jan, 17, 2018

Pakistan examining proposal for DGMO-level talks with India: report

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: IR | India & its neighborhood- relations

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: DGMO

Mains level: Rising tension along India-Pakistan border and ways to resolve it


News

Reducing tensions along LoC

  1. Pakistan is examining a proposal for a DGMO-level meeting with India after a gap of four years
  2. This is to reduce tensions along the Line of Control and the Working Boundary through fresh confidence-building measures

Measures being planned

  1. According to the report, one of the confidence-building measures being considered for the planned meeting of DGMOs is “calibre reduction” of the arms being used at the LoC

Previous attempts

  1. In November, a telephonic conversation between the two DGMOs took place following a request by the Pakistani side
  2. Pakistan-India DGMOs have a frequent hotline contact, but they last met face-to-face four years ago at Wagah
Jan, 05, 2018

Govt says no proposal to review Most Favored Nation status to Pakistan

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: IR | India & its neighborhood- relations

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: MFN status, General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, WTO

Mains level: India-Pakistan relationship despite long standoff


News

MFN status to Pakistan

  1. The government has denied any proposal to review the ‘most favoured nation’ (MFN) status to Pakistan
  2. India has accorded MFN status to all WTO members, including Pakistan, in accordance with the provisions of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade

What does MFN status mean?

  1. Under MFN, a WTO member country is obliged to treat other trading nation in a non-discriminatory manner, especially with regard to customs duty and other levies

Back2Basics

General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT)

  1. The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) covers international trade in goods
  2. Its overall purpose was to promote international trade by reducing or eliminating trade barriers such as tariffs or quotas
  3.  The workings of the GATT agreement are the responsibility of the Council for Trade in Goods (Goods Council) which is made up of representatives from all WTO member countries
  4. GATT was signed by 23 nations in Geneva on October 30, 1947, and took effect on January 1, 1948
  5. It remained in effect until the signature by 123 nations in Marrakesh on April 14, 1994, of the Uruguay Round Agreements, which established the World Trade Organization (WTO) on January 1, 1995
  6. In addition to facilitating applied tariff reductions, the early GATT’s contribution to trade liberalization include
  • binding the negotiated tariff reductions for an extended period (made more permanent in 1955),
  • establishing the generality of nondiscrimination through most-favoured-nation (MFN) treatment and national treatment,
  • ensuring increased transparency of trade policy measures, and
  • providing a forum for future negotiations and for the peaceful resolution of bilateral disputes.
Dec, 20, 2017

‘230% increase in ceasefire violations’

Image Source

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Internal Security | Security challenges and their management in border areas

Prelims level: BSF and other paramilitary forces

Mains level: Ceasefire violation is an important cause of concern for India. Also, these topics are specially mentioned in the mains syllabus.


News

Increase in ceasefire violations

  1. According to government, there was a 230% increase in ceasefire violations along the Line of Control (LoC) this year compared with the 2016 figure

Background

  1. The 740-km LoC is under the operational control of the Army and 192 km of the International Border in Jammu is manned by the Border Security Force
  2. The truce between India and Pakistan along the IB, the LoC and the Actual Ground Position Line in Jammu and Kashmir came into force in November 2003

Data on terror incidents

  1. The government also released data on the impact of demonetisation on terror incidents
  2. Terror incidents showed an increase in Jammu and Kashmir in 2017 in comparison with last year
Dec, 01, 2017

[op-ed snap] Responding to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor challenge

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: IR | India and its neighborhood- relations.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Suggestions and Concerns discussed in the newscard; regarding the CPEC, security issues, etc.


News

Context

  1. The article talks about some important concerns of India related to the CPEC and suggests some possible solutions

Construction of Diamer-Bhasha Dam

  1. Pakistan has reportedly rejected China’s offer of assistance for the $14 billion Diamer-Bhasha Dam
  2. Pakistan’s demand: Pakistan wants Beijing to take the project out of the $60 billion CPEC so that Pakistan can build the dam on its own
  3. Why: Because the project was in a disputed territory, the Asian Development Bank had refused to finance it
  4. So China was keen to step in but Pakistan realized that the tough conditions being imposed by Beijing, the dam would make the project politically and economically untenable

Controversy over use of Yuan in Pakistan

  1. The dam project was followed by differences on the use of the Chinese yuan in Pakistan along the lines of the US dollar
  2. Pakistan had to reject this demand as well
  3. Pakistan’s demand: common use of the yuan in any part of Pakistan, exchangeable like the dollar, has to be on a reciprocal basis

Some important issues related to the CPEC

  1. China is demanding greater autonomy and security in operationalizing the project and Pakistan is finding it difficult to accede to most of these demands
  2. There are growing voices in Pakistan that China seems to be a bigger beneficiary from CPEC than Pakistan
  3. China’s strategy of getting more benefit: China is saying that Pakistan is not producing the goods that are needed in China
  4. This has reinforced the perception that all China wants is to use the infrastructural advancement of CPEC for the benefit of Chinese companies

India’s take on One Belt and Road Initiative

  1. India so far has steadfastly refused to participate in the Belt and Road Initiative
  2. And maintains opposition to China’s investment in CPEC, which passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir

Long term security concerns for India

  1. The long-term strategic consequences of Obor for India could also allow China to consolidate its presence in the Indian Ocean at India’s expense
  2. China may use its economic power to increase its geopolitical leverage and, in doing so, intensify security concerns for India
  3. CPEC gives China a foothold in the western Indian Ocean with the Gwadar port, located near the strategic Strait of Hormuz(where Chinese warships and a submarine have surfaced)
  4. CPEC can also resolve China’s “Malacca dilemma” which is about its over-reliance on the Malacca Straits for the transport of its energy resources

What should be done from India’s side?

  1. Indian opposition has taken attention of those who remain suspicious of Chinese motives behind Obor in Pakistan as well as in the rest of the world
  2. The West is now more vocal in its concerns and voices in Pakistan are demanding a reappraisal of the project
  3. But India needs to do more than just articulate its opposition
  4. It needs to provide a new template for the world on global connectivity projects
  5. Asia Africa Growth Corridor (AAGC): India has moved in that direction recently with an articulation of the Asia Africa Growth Corridor (AAGC)
  6. Alternative to OBOR: The AAGC, structured to connect East Asia, South-East Asia and South Asia with Africa and Oceania, provides a normative alternative to Obor with its promise of being more consultative and inclusive
  7. This is a welcome first step but given the challenges that CPEC is facing, India will need to do much more to provide an effective counter-narrative
Aug, 29, 2017

[op-ed snap] Trump’s Pakistan test

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

Q.) “US president’s new South Asia doctrine threatening Pakistan with dire consequences if it fails to check jihadists could lead Rawalpindi to revive the policy of strategic defiance.” Critically examine.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not Much

Mains level: Article critically analyse the consequences of the new Afghan Policy.


News

Context

  1. The article talks about the US president’s new South Asia doctrine

The idea of Strategic Defiance

  1. In 1991, a war began to descend over Saddam Hussein’s Iraq
  2. Pakistan, at that time, believed the war would create a Zionist-led order in West Asia
  3. Once the United States started the war, Pakistan would lead a fightback by mid-sized powers like Iraq and Iran, helped by China
  4. This new idea was called “strategic defiance”
  5. However, strategic defiance didn’t actually work for a country(like Pakistan) addicted to United States’ patronage

Consequence of Trump’s new South Asia Doctrine

  1. This new doctrine is threatening Pakistan with severe consequences
  2. And this has made strategic defiance relevant again

The new South Asia strategy of the US

  1. The pillars of the new South Asia strategy are
    (1) Open-ended commitment to the Afghan war, with the use of all the instruments of American power
    (2) A greater role for India there, strategic partnership with India and destroying terror safe-havens in Pakistan
  2. And with it, growing Iranian, Chinese and Russian influence

Up and Down of the US aid to Pakistan

  1. Each time the United States has cut aid to Pakistan, geopolitical situations forced it to reverse course
  2. In 1954, Cold War alliance-building led economic and military assistance to surge steadily to $3 billion in 1963
  3. Aid fell to near-zero levels after the United States detected Pakistan’s nuclear-weapons programme in 1980
  4. But the anti-Soviet Union jihad in Afghanistan saw the United States change course yet again, and started giving aid of over $ 1 billion per year through most of the 1980s
  5. The 1990s saw a sharp reduction in aid yet again, after the anti-Soviet jihad ended
  6. But it surged after 9/11, rising to historic levels of $4.5 billion in 2010

Options in front of the US against terrorism(originated from pakistan)

  1. The United States has the capacity to target jihadist infrastructure and individuals deep inside Pakistan
  2. It could also unleash its Afghan allies’ covert assets to execute retaliatory terrorism in Pakistan
Aug, 02, 2017

Nawaz Sharif loyalist Shahid Khaqan Abbasi elected Pakistan Prime Minister

Image Source

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: IR | India and its neighborhood- relations.

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims Level: New PM

Mains Level: It is important to note political developments in neighborhood.


News

New PM in Pakistan

  1. The Pakistan Parliament has elected ruling Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) nominee Shahid Khaqan Abbasi as the interim Prime Minister
  2. This follows the ouster of Nawaz Sharif after the Supreme Court disqualified him from holding public office till life in the wake of corruption charges against him and his family members
  3. Mr. Abbasi is expected to hand over power to Shahbaz Sharif once the latter is elected to the National Assembly in six weeks

Who is Shahbaz Sharif?

  1. Mr. Shahbaz Sharif is the Chief Minister of Punjab and the younger brother of Mr. Nawaz Sharif
Jul, 31, 2017

Here's how Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif's ouster will impact India

Image Source

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: IR | India and its neighborhood- relations.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims Level: Not Much

Mains Level: It is important to know the possible effects on Indian Foreign policy after these kind of incidents in the neighbor.

News

Context

  1. The article is related to the recent ouster of the Pakistan’s PM and its possible effects on India

Why was Nawaz Sharif ousted?

  1. The court ruled that Mr. Sharif was dishonest in failing to disclose in his 2013 election nomination papers his association with a UAE-based company
  2. And therefore was unfit to continue in office

What it means for India?(short run)

  1. For India, it may not mean much in the short term as the Pakistan government has never been free of military interference in its policy towards India
  2. Since the attack on the Indian Army base in Uri last year, India-Pakistan relations have been strained
  3. The Kulbhushan Jadhav case worsened the ties
  4. Therefore, there was little chance of Sharif making any move to improve the ties with India independent of the military

What it means for India?(long run)

  1. It is good for India if Pakistan is demilitarised, as it desists from sending terrorists into the Indian territory
  2. But in the longer term, military dominance in Pakistan is not positive for India
  3. A free hand for military due to the political instability will increase tensions with India
  4. Also, with Sharif’s exit, there is little chance of any strong leader emerging in future
Nov, 22, 2016

[op-ed snap] General Raheel Sharif begun his farewell calls before his pending retirement

  1. There were speculations about a possible second term of three years for the army chief, with public pressure on PM Sharif to extend his tenure
  2. Appointment system: Pakistan’s PMs have right to “appoint” army chiefs, but do not seem to enjoy the power to “terminate” their services
  3. The civilians have rarely won the battle against the army in Pakistan. That fact makes this exit of General Sharif an important landmark
  4. Effects of this move on India: The on-time retirement of General Sharif will make no difference to the reality of the army’s dominance over the national security politics in Pakistan
  5. Delhi should not rule out change in Pakistan’s civil-military relations and examine if those changes can facilitate a more productive engagement with Islamabad
  6. Delhi’s default position has been to stay away from Pakistan’s internal politics
  7. Some policymakers in Delhi argue that it is not worth supporting the civilian leaders, who have no power to address issues of concern to Delhi such as cross-border terrorism
Nov, 22, 2016

Pakistan risks relations in South Asia if it keeps blocking SAARC initiatives: Jaishankar

  1. Source: Foreign Secretary S.Jaishankar
  2. What: South Asian nations will begin to look at other “alternatives” if Pakistan continues to “block” SAARC initiatives
  3. He said Pakistan risks relations with other SAARC countries if it doesn’t follow “basic standards of regional cooperation”
  4. Context: Pakistan’s decision to reject MFN status for India as well as India’s proposal for a SAARC motor vehicle agreement
  5. He said SAARC countries could opt for “sub-regional initiatives and will look at other initiatives like Bimstec
Nov, 21, 2016

Pak. cannot control terrorism on its soil: Shivshankar Menon

  1. Source: Former National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon
  2. Views: Pakistan can no longer control terrorism on its soil as terrorism is hard-wired into Pakistan’s society and polity
  3. He said that the likelihood of tactical nuclear weapons being used against India has increased
  4. Reason: There are younger officers in an Army that is increasingly religiously motivated and less and less professional
  5. The Pak army has consistently produced rogue officers and staged coups against its own leaders
  6. This, in turn, means that there is an increased possibility of an all-out nuclear war when India retaliates against tactical nuclear weapons with massive retaliation of its own
Nov, 14, 2016

Chinese ship opens new trade route via Gwadar port in Pakistan II

  1. China is building a network of roads and power plants under a project known as China-Pakistan Economic Corridor
  2. It is expected to absorb $46 billion in Chinese investment in the coming decades
  3. Gwadar port is located on the Arabian Sea and it occupies a strategic location between South Asia, Central Asia and West Asia
  4. The port is also located at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, just outside the Straits of Hormuz
  5. China is seeking convenient and reliable access to the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean
  6. Chinese ships now use the Strait of Malacca, a narrow passage between the Malay Peninsula and Indonesia
  7. The proposed new route would give China access to the Persian Gulf region and West Asia
Nov, 14, 2016

Chinese ship opens new trade route via Gwadar port in Pakistan I

  1. Event: The first convoy of Chinese trucks carrying goods for sale abroad has arrived in Pakistan amid tight security
  2. How: It used a road linking Gwadar to China’s Xinjiang region
  3. This opens a new international trade route by seeing off a Chinese ship that’s exporting goods to West Asia and Africa from the newly-built Gwadar port
  4. The port is located in insurgency-hit Balochistan province where an overnight blast at a shrine killed nearly 50 people
Nov, 12, 2016

After India’s strong statement, World Bank appeals for mediation

  1. Context: Reply to a strong statement from India that the WB, a signatory to the Indus Waters Treaty 1960, was favouring Pakistan by going ahead with an arbitration process
  2. The WB “urged” India and Pakistan to agree to mediation on how to proceed in their dispute over two hydropower dam projects in J&K
  3. According to the WB, it has a strictly procedural role under the Indus Waters Treaty
  4. The treaty does not allow it to choose whether India’s procedure should take precedence over Pakistan’s
  5. A WB official admitted that two parallel processes were “unworkable” in the long run, and therefore mediation was required
  6. The dispute is over the Kishenganga (330 MW) and Ratle (850 MW) hydel plants India is constructing on the Kishenganga and Chenab rivers
Nov, 11, 2016

India slams World Bank process on Indus Treaty

  1. What: India lashed out at the World Bank over its decision to favour Pakistan on the Indus Water Treaty dispute process
  2. The dispute is over the Kishenganga and Ratle dam and hydropower projects
  3. India had asked for a neutral expert to be appointed over Pakistan’s objections to the projects first
  4. Pakistan appealed directly for a Court of Arbitration (CoA) to be set up as it claims India has violated the 1960 treaty
  5. The WB has begun the process requested by Pakistan under Arbitration Article IX of the Indus Water Treaty rather than India’s appeal for the Permanent Indus Commission (PIC)
  6. Officials said the World Bank’s action of going ahead with Pakistan’s claim had escalated the differences into an international dispute
Nov, 07, 2016

[op-ed snap] Is New Delhi (ND) reducing itself to a South Asian power? II

  1. Trend of diplomatic efforts: ND’s diplomatic efforts increasingly seem to revolve around Pakistan-backed terrorism
  2. Getting US is not helpful as they unhesitatingly make well-rehearsed statements about terrorism from Pakistan and go back to doing business with Rawalpindi
  3. China’s unwillingness to agree to India’s line on Pakistan-based terror has made Sino-Indian relations thornier than ever
  4. Further damaged Mr. Modi’s global image as a leader focused on governance, trade and growth
  5. Attention has suddenly shifted to self-generated tactical concerns, instead of larger issues such as FDI, global partnerships, institutional reforms, economic diplomacy, etc.
  6. ND has internationalised the Kashmir issue, which it traditionally avoided
  7. ND’s signing of LEMOA is allowing the two militaries to work closely and use each other’s bases for repair and supplies
  8. A clear departure from its traditional policy of not getting into military alliances
  9. India’s interests in the Indian Ocean region should be articulated with more vigour, it should rethink the strategic rationale of its forays into the South China Sea
Nov, 07, 2016

[op-ed snap] Is New Delhi (ND) reducing itself to a South Asian power? I

  1. Context: ND’s decision to reply to Pakistan by raking up Baluchistan in various global fora demonstrates tactical considerations trump strategic thinking in India
  2. Early objectives of this government: Neighborhood first, selling India’s growth story globally, and getting Sino-Indian relations on track- all these lay in tatters
  3. Reason: Foreign policy without a grand strategic blueprint
  4. Result: Reduced to the little box- South Asia because of our never-ending battle with Pakistan
  5. ND’s new-found outrage about human rights violations in Baluchistan is suggestive of misplaced priorities. It is a sheer waste of India’s limited diplomatic energy, owing to shortage of diplomats in MEA
  6. Increasing Sino-Indian disaffection prompts Beijing to confine India further
Nov, 01, 2016

[op-ed snap] Civilians on LOC and border caught in cross fire

  1. Context: Ceasefire violations have become a daily occurrence since the terrorist attack on the Army camp in Uri in September and the subsequent “surgical strikes” by the Army.
  2. Since then there have been 60 ceasefire violations.
  3. Indians suffering more: The density of civilian settlement is much higher on the Indian side in comparison to Pakistan’s. As a result, the increased firing across the border creates more pressure on India.
  4. Hundreds have been shifted to shelters and bunkers for safety.
  5. Post 2003 ceasefire agreement: After the two countries agreed to a ceasefire in 2003, the resultant calm had won the confidence of local residents.
  6. Villagers began farming right up to the fence, tourism picked up, and even informal border trade increased.
  7. Present situation: After the surgical strikes, the security forces retain a free hand in responding to infiltrations and instances of firing.
  8. Government response: No senior government functionary has publicly addressed the issue.
Oct, 28, 2016

ADB declines to fund big dam project in PoK

  1. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has refused to commit funds for Pakistan’s $14 billion dam project on the Indus in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK)
  2. Two years ago the World Bank declined to fund the project following Islamabad’s refusal to seek an NoC from India
Oct, 28, 2016

Arrest of staffer violates Vienna Convention, says Pakistan

  1. Issue: Pakistan on Thursday accused India of violating the international convention for protection of diplomats, under the 1961 Vienna convention
  2. Why: After New Delhi briefly detained a staffer of the Pakistan High Commission
  3. The staffer has been declared a persona non-grata and has been asked to leave India within 48 hours
  4. Context: Heightened tension along the International Border between India and Pakistan
Oct, 27, 2016

BSF Jawan killed in cross-fire in Jammu

  1. What: Another BSF Head Constable was killed in cross-border firing from Pakistan
  2. Where: In Jammu’s Abdullian district
  3. This is the third death of a BSF personnel along the Pakistan border in Jammu in the past one week
  4. The 192-Km long International Border that runs along Jammu has seen ceasefire violations since October 19
  5. Reason: BSF personnel pushed back four terrorists who were trying to infiltrate from the Hiranagar sector
Oct, 21, 2016

Pakistan claims OIC backing on Kashmir

  1. Pakistan has said the Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC) has backed its stance over Kashmir by adopting a resolution upholding Kashmiris’ right to self-determination
  2. The grouping reaffirmed its unwavering support to the just cause of Kashmiri people
Oct, 21, 2016

No ‘blanket ban’ on Pak artists in India

  1. Source: Ministry of External Affairs
  2. The MEA declared that there is no blanket ban on Pakistani artists and they remain free to perform in the Indian entertainment industry
  3. Context: Shiv Sena and the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena have been campaigning to stop release of films featuring Pakistani artists due to India-Pakistan tensions
  4. Context: A ban on Indian TV and radio channels in Pakistan was declared by the Chairman of Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA)
Oct, 19, 2016

Cross-LoC strikes not new: Jaishankar

  1. Foreign Secretary Jaishankar: Army had carried out “target-specific, limited-calibre, counter-terrorist operations” across the LoC in the past too
  2. He also said that this is the first time the government has gone public about such strikes
  3. The Foreign Secretary gave these remarks to the Parliamentary Committee on External Affairs
  4. Fallout: These remarks contradict Defense Minister Parrikar’s claims that these were the first surgical strikes
Oct, 12, 2016

Things changing after Modi highlighted Baloch plight

  1. What? Things are changing rapidly at the international level since Prime Minister Narendra Modi highlighted the plight of the people of troubled Balochistan province in Pakistan
  2. Other countries are coming forward to support the Balochistan issue
  3. The Baloch cause for freedom has received a major diplomatic push
  4. Who said it? Baloch nationalist leader Naela Quadri Baloch
Oct, 08, 2016

India cannot unilaterally revoke or alter Indus Treaty: Pakistan

  1. Pak: The Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) is not time-barred and was never intended to be time or event-specific
  2. It is binding on both India and Pakistan and has no exit provision
  3. According to the sub-provisions (3) and (4) of Article XII of the IWT, the treaty cannot be altered or revoked unilaterally
  4. India: There are differences on the treaty.
  5. For any such treaty to work, it is important there must be mutual trust and cooperation
  6. It can’t be a one-sided affair
Oct, 08, 2016

Indo-Pak border to be sealed by 2018: Rajnath

  1. India will completely seal the border with Pakistan by December 2018 by using all effective means including technological solutions
  2. A proper monitoring mechanism would be in place at the central and state government levels for it
  3. Govt also mooted setting up a border security grid for which suggestions have been invited from all the concerned stakeholders including the States which share border with Pakistan
Oct, 05, 2016

Security Council not discussing India-Pak issue

  1. UNSC Prez: The United Nations Security Council is not discussing the issues between India and Pakistan and has no plans to do so
  2. Pakistan: Has been trying to ensure U.N. involvement in the situation
  3. Nawaz Sharif had raised the issue of human rights violations by India in Jammu and Kashmir in the General Assembly, but no other country has mentioned it
Sep, 30, 2016

Pak. loses $7 bn. by avoiding India goods

  1. Source: ‘Costs of Non-Cooperation’ study by Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS)
  2. Findings: Pakistan suffered a loss of about $7 billion in 2014 by importing items from other countries at a higher cost instead of sourcing them from India
  3. The loss is substantial considering Pakistan’s GDP (nominal, 2015) is only about $270 billion
  4. Many products that Pakistan imported from third countries were at least three times more costly than the price of the same item from India in export markets
  5. Lessons for Pak: The objective of the study is to show Pakistan that they can save on the foreign exchange front if they cooperate in South Asia
  6. Pak’s trade scenario: It is a net-importing nation with a trade deficit of $22 billion in 2015
  7. In 2015, it imported around $44 billion, while it exported only items worth $22 billion
Sep, 29, 2016

[op-ed snap] To revive an old friendship Part 2

  1. The way ahead for India-Russia relations: India needs to rebuild on its strengths and common concerns with Russians e.g. : Need to converge strategies on terrorism, Need to maintain a balancing act between USA and Russia, Need to revive and deepen India-Russia economic, scientific and technological ties, trying for an RIC (Russia, India, China) alliance, leveraging India-Russia ties to isolate Pakistan.
  2. Need to converge strategies on terrorism: India and Russia need to converge their strategies vis-à-vis terrorism in West Asia and Afghanistan and also revitalize the previous India-Russia agreement on intelligence sharing.
  3. Need to maintain a balancing act between USA and Russia: India needs to reassure Russia that India-US relations will not jeopardise Russian interests. India could also consider concluding similar military exercises and logistics agreements with Russia as it has with the US..
  4. Need to revive and deepen India-Russian economic, scientific and technological ties: India needs a continuous engagement and follow-up plan to deepen its scientific and technological relations with Russia eg investments in the oil and gas sector and Joint manufacturing facilities.
  5. Trying for an RIC (Russia, India, China) alliance: India should overcome contradictions with China and build an RIC alliance as suggested by Russia. Russia has its own concerns with China’s increasing international prominence.
  6. This forum can help in effective resolution of mutual concerns.
  7. Leveraging India-Russia ties to isolate Pakistan: The U.S. will always have a dual approach to India and Pakistan, because it needs both. Russia, on the other hand, will not which could be leveraged by India to isolate Pakistan.
Sep, 28, 2016

India to review MFN status to Pakistan

  1. What? India will review the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status given to Pakistan at a meeting called by Prime Minister Narendra Modi
  2. Context: The decision comes in the wake of the Uri attack
  3. Background: The MFN status was accorded in 1996 under the WTO’s General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT)
  4. Both India and Pakistan are signatories to the agreement, according to which they have to treat each other and rest of WTO member countries as favoured trading partners
  5. Indus treaty: PM Modi chaired a review meeting of the Indus Water Treaty, during which it was decided that India will exploit to the maximum the water of Pakistan-controlled rivers, including Jhelum, as per the water sharing pact
Sep, 26, 2016

PM to review Indus Waters Treaty today

  1. Context: The terror attack on an Army camp in Uri, Kashmir
  2. PM Modi is expected to chair a meeting on the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT)
  3. An indication that the Govt is weighing extreme diplomatic actions against Pakistan
  4. Background: SC recently refused to grant an urgent hearing on a PIL seeking declaration of the IWT as unconstitutional
  5. Petitioner: The treaty was unconstitutional as it was not signed as per the constitutional scheme and hence should be declared void ab initio
Sep, 19, 2016

India driven to the wall, must mount response: diplomats

  1. Context: The attack in Uri, close to the Line of Control (LoC), in which 17 Indian soldiers were killed
  2. India has a wide range of options for a measured and effective response to the attack in Uri, according to veteran diplomats and experts
  3. India can consider a mix of diplomatic and multilateral response
  4. A major challenge in crafting a suitable response to Pakistan was its ability to use its nuclear umbrella as a shield for unconventional warfare with India
  5. However, India could engage the Pakistan military in response for Uri without triggering a war
Sep, 15, 2016

India raises Balochistan at UN; hits out at Pakistan

  1. News: Raising the issue of Balochistan for the first time before the U.N., India accused Pakistan of widespread human rights violations there as well as in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK)
  2. The main reason for disturbances in Kashmir is the cross-border terrorism sponsored by Pakistan
  3. It stems from its territorial ambitions over the place that has found concrete expression in repeated armed aggressions
  4. Pak’s dismal record: Many countries have repeatedly called upon Pakistan to end cross- border infiltration; dismantle the terrorism infrastructure; and stop acting as an epicentre of terrorism
  5. India’s credentials: A peaceful, democratic, pluralistic society that is deeply committed to the welfare of its people are well established
  6. The high number of causalities sustained by Indian security forces is a reflection of the tremendous restraint they have displayed in difficult circumstances
  7. J&K is an integral part of India and will always remain so & we reject attempts by Pakistan to denigrate the democratic choice that has been regularly exercised by the people of J&K
Sep, 12, 2016

Pakistan govt under fire for hiding details of Pathankot probe

  1. Pakistan Govt has come under fire from the opposition which accused it of hiding the details of the probe into Pakistani nationals’ involvement in the Pathankot terror attack
  2. It has prompted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to announce that the findings would be made public
  3. The opposition went to the extent of alleging that the government was patronising militants
  4. Pak Govt: The National Action Plan is being implemented and the terrorist incidents, on average, have come down due to that
Aug, 18, 2016

India willing to talk to Pakistan on terror, not Kashmir

  1. News: Lobbing the ball for dialogue back into Pakistan’s court, India said that it is willing to discuss cross-border terror in Kashmir, but not to discuss Kashmir itself, as Pakistan had proposed
  2. Reason: Since aspects related to cross-border terrorism are central to the current situation in J&K, India has proposed that discussions be focussed on them
  3. Also, despite a great effort to reach out to Pakistan, India has faced several terror attacks which have made the relationship difficult to grow
Aug, 17, 2016

Pakistan for mutual ban on nuclear tests

  1. Pakistan: Hopeful of a bilateral agreement with India over a mutual ban on non-testing of atomic weapons that will ease the entry of the two countries into the elite Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG)
  2. An offer regarding non-testing of nuclear weapons agreement has already been made but the proposal did not elicit a favourable response from India
  3. Had proposed to India a simultaneous adherence to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty following the 1998 nuclear tests by both countries
Aug, 16, 2016

Pakistan invites India for talks on Kashmir dispute

  1. Pak: It is the international obligation of both the countries to resolve the issue, notwithstanding India’s insistence that it would talk on contemporary and relevant issues in Indo-Pak relations
  2. Context: The invitation was extended amid tension in bilateral ties due to the war of words between the two nations over the Kashmir issue
  3. Background: Union Home Minister addressed Parliament on the Kashmir issue and said that India was willing to discuss only Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) with Pakistan, and that the question of discussing Jammu and Kashmir with Islamabad just did not arise
  4. India also virtually turned down Pakistan’s proposal that it would invite India for a dialogue on J&K and made it clear that it would talk on contemporary and relevant issues in Indo-Pak relations
Jul, 18, 2016

Pakistan to take river dispute back to international court

  1. News: Pakistan has decided to return to an international tribunal – Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA), The Hague – to settle a dispute with India
  2. The dispute is over sharing waters of the Kishenganga and Ratle river projects
  3. India’s stand: Pakistan is violating provisions of the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT), 1960, in rushing to a third forum – the PCA – without attempting to avail Treaty provisions in resolving the above matters
  4. Background: Pakistan’s previous attempt at the PCA had backfired as the PCA had given a verdict defending India’s right to divert water of Kishenganga
  5. The PCA had also quashed Pakistan’s argument that India’s hydro electricity power plans on the Kishenganga reduced flow of water for Neelum Jhelum Hydro Electricity Project (NJHEP)
  6. Pakistan’s stand: Unlike the previous arbitration at the PCA, Pakistan will take up the issue of “design” of the Kishenganga and Ratle river projects in Kashmir
Jul, 16, 2016

J&K violence a matter of grave concern: US

  1. News: The US has been in touch with both India and Pakistan on the volatile situation in Jammu and Kashmir this week, a State Department spokesperson said
  2. The death of protestors in the State was a matter of ‘grave concern’ for US
  3. US is also clear with the Government of Pakistan that they must target and root out all extremist and militant groups
Jul, 15, 2016

US calls for dialogue on the Kashmir issue

  1. News: The US has called for dialogue between India, Pakistan and Kashmir on the conflict in the valley
  2. India hit back at Pakistan at a UN conference on human rights, after the latter raised the situation in Jammu and Kashmir
  3. Terming Pakistan’s attempt a ‘misuse’ of the forum, India reminded the world body that Pakistan has been shielding designated terrorists on its territory
Jun, 10, 2016

Swedish general appointed to head UN India Pakistan military observers

  1. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has appointed Swedish Major General Per Lodin to head the UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP)
  2. He is to succeed Major General Delali Johnson Sakyi of Ghana, who is completing his two-year assignment in July
  3. Lodin is currently the head of Strategic Material Management at Forsvarets materielverk (FMV), the Swedish defence ministry’s procurement and logistics arm
  4. He had earlier served as the head of the task force centre of Kosovo Force (KFOR), the multi-national peacekeeping mission led by NATO in 2006-2007
Jun, 03, 2016

Pak needlessly internationalising Kashmir: India

  1. India: Kashmir issue is not the main cause of tension but externally sponsored terrorism is the central issue
  2. Pak needs to end its illegal occupation of parts of Jammu and Kashmir and stop interfering in India’s internal matters
  3. India completely rejected the insinuations by the vested interests against India which has rightful sovereignty over the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir
May, 30, 2016

The financing issue of US-Pak deal

  1. US Subsidy: Initially, the $700 million deal for eight F-16 multi-role fighters, was to be partially financed through the U.S. Foreign Military Financing (FMF) programme
  2. However, the Congress disallowed subsidising the sale
  3. Why? Concern that Pakistan had not done enough to end the dreaded Haqqani network’s terror sanctuaries on its soil as well as fears over its nuclear programme
  4. Pakistan was subsequently asked by the U.S. administration to make the full payment for the eight aircraft from its national resources
  5. However, Pakistani authorities were adamant that the offer must come without any preconditions
May, 27, 2016

India to expedite visa process for Pakistani citizens

  1. Context: India has decided to make visa process faster than earlier
  2. Reason: Many complaints received from Pakistani visitors that entire process of visa is too lengthy and cumbersome
  3. Huge demand of visas from Pakistani visitors and verification takes months to clear them
  4. The pending applications will be processed quickly but it will not be relaxing the norms for Pakistani visitors
Apr, 27, 2016

India, Pakistan fail to break deadlock on talks

  1. Context: India-Pak bilateral talks on sidelines of the Heart of Asia summit
  2. Output: Both sides failed to make headway on the Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue, trading allegations
  3. India: Pakistan cannot deny the impact of terrorism on bilateral relationship
  4. Terrorist groups based in Pakistan targeting India must not be allowed to operate with impunity
  5. Pakistan: Indian intelligence agencies are responsible for the unrest in Balochistan
Apr, 17, 2016

India for better ties with Pakistan

  1. Context: Home Minister Rajanth Singh replying to a question pertaining to a video
  2. Video: People in large numbers in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) are seen protesting against the Pakistani establishment and demanding freedom
  3. What he said? India & Pak, both are sovereign countries & India has been consistently trying to improve its ties with Pakistan
  4. However, if anyone raised questions over India’s sovereignty and self-respect, it would not be tolerated
Apr, 08, 2016

Info from Pakistan helped NIA identify Pathankot attackers

  1. Context: Information received from anonymous individuals in Pakistan was crucial in identifying four Pakistan terrorists who stormed Pathankot airbase
  2. How? Photos of the slain Pathankot terrorists were put up on the NIA website
  3. The NIA had published the photographs of the deceased terrorists on its website last month, inviting information from public
  4. NIA received a number of anonymous messages from countries, including Pakistan
  5. It helped them get additional information about the identity of the four terrorists killed at the Pathankot
Apr, 07, 2016

JIT visit took place in cooperative spirit: Pakistan

  1. Context: Pakistani media reports which claimed that the JIT had drawn a blank in India
  2. News: Pak foreign ministry statement that The visit of the JIT to India took place in the context of the cooperative approach being pursued by the Pakistan government as part of its commitment to effectively fight terrorism in all its forms
  3. Doublespeak: statement that the JIT was denied access to security officers who were eyewitnesses to the Pathankot airbase attack
  4. Importance: ininvestigation is now being seen as a key indicator of whether a more restrained and cooperative approach to handling terror will yield results not seen before
Mar, 23, 2016

Pakistan’s probe team will get access to Pathankot airbase

  1. News: National Investigation Agency (NIA) would be coordinating the visit of the Pakistan team
  2. Context: Pakistan’s Joint Investigation Team(JIT) was expected to visit the Pathankot airbase on March 29 and would be flown there in a helicopter belonging to BSF
  3. JIT includes: Pak Intelligence Bureau, military intelligence and the ISI
  4. Support: Govt has decided to be transparent about the Pakistan’s team visit here and have asked the NIA to share as many details as possible with the media
Feb, 01, 2016

U.S. considers re-merger of India, Pakistan desks

De-hyphenating policy started by the U.S. under President Bush, but sealed by the Obama administration, of dealing with India and Pakistan, without referring to their bilateral relations.

  1. 7 years after the State Department was restructured to ‘de-hyphenate’ U.S. relations with India and with Pakistan, it is considering a reversal of the move.
  2. It enabled the U.S. to build closer military and strategic ties with India without factoring in the reaction from Pakistan.
  3. To continue its own strategy in Afghanistan with the help of the Pakistan military without referring back to India.
  4. A proposal to re-merge the office of the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan (SRAP) back with the Bureau of South and Central Asia (SCA) that handles India.
  5. U.S. involvement as a “third party” in talks with Pakistan, which would become the case if special representatives would travel between Delhi and Islamabad regularly.
Jan, 05, 2016

Stay the course, U.S urges India, Pakistan

Sources indicated that U.S officials have been in touch with India and Pakistan over the weekend, but did not elaborate.

  1. U.S urged on improving bilateral relation in the wake of the latest terror strikes on two Indian targets.
  2. The Pathankot air force base and the Indian consulate in Mazar-i-Sharif in Afghanistan.
  3. Strongly encouraged the governments of both India and Pakistan to remain steadfast in their commitment to a more secure and prosperous future for both their countries and for the region.
  4. The U.S is relieved that responses from both India and Pakistan after the terror strikes do not signal any immediate risk of relapse into hostilities in South Asia.
Dec, 26, 2015

PM goes to Lahore, makes a Christmas date with history

With two unannounced stops, in Kabul and Lahore on Christmas day, Prime Minister Modi rewrote the recent history of geopolitics in the region.

  1. PM Sharif welcomed PM Modi and said it is important that the two countries seize the moment and build a prosperous future.
  2. Mr. Modi’s visit to Lahore drew comparisons with Atal Behari Vajpayee’s visit in 1999.
  3. The meeting is a good example of summit diplomacy and both Prime Ministers should from now on steer the diplomatic talks.
  4. India’s presence in Afghanistan has always been viewed with suspicion, and the absence of any negative comments in Pakistan was significant.
Dec, 21, 2015

India, Pakistan have shown great maturity to re-engage: J&K CM

Lauding the resumption of India-Pakistan dialogue, Jammu and Kashmir CM has called for a long-term strategic partnership between the two neighbouring countries.

  1. It has generated hope and expectation among the people of J&K, who have for long yearned for peace and stability in the region.
  2. People of Jammu and Kashmir are direct beneficiaries of friendly and peaceful relations between the two neighbours.
  3. Our responsibility is to sustain the trust and confidence that people continue to repose in us, he said.
  4. It was important to obtain feedback to make a reality check vis-a-vis performance of the government.
Dec, 10, 2015

7 years after 26/11, India and Pakistan resume dialogue

The talks will be called Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue; Pakistan assures early completion of the Mumbai terror attacks trial.

  1. The structured dialogue process significant as the resumption of dialogue comes at the time of the 30th anniversary of the SAARC.
  2. The India-Pakistan Composite Dialogue is rooted in the 1997 SAARC Summit at Male where PM I.K. Gujral and Mr. Sharif agreed to create a Composite Dialogue Process (CDP).
  3. The CDP survived till 26/11 terror attacks on Mumbai led to its suspension.
  4. Now, 10-point Comprehensive Dialogue Process replaces Composite Dialogue Process of eight issues.

10-Point Comprehensive Dialogue Process includes –

  • Peace and Security, confidence building measures
  • J&K, Siachen, Sir Creek
  • Wullar barrage/ Tulbul project
  • Economic and commercial cooperation
  • Counter-terrorism, narcotics control
  • Humanitarian issues
  • People-to-people exchanges
  • Religious tourism
Dec, 08, 2015

Deadlock in India-Pakistan ties partly ends: Aziz

  1. Sushma Swaraj will visit Pakistan for a conference on Afghanistan.
  2. The discussions can range from enhancing trade ties and liberalising the visa regime.
  3. The Heart of Asia conference was an opportunity to take the situation forward, in this environment of hostility.
  4. In 2016, there would be more opportunities for high-level engagements, as India will host the Heart of Asia conference , and Pakistan will host the SAARC summit.
Dec, 07, 2015

India, Pakistan NSAs meet in Bangkok

The two Prime Ministers had a brief but close chat on November 30 in Paris where they had gone to attend the climate summit.

  1. The MEA said the discussions covered, “peace and security, terrorism, Jammu and Kashmir, and other issues, including tranquillity along the LoC.”
  2. Some of the details of the Bangkok dialogue were ironed out between the existing channels of communication between the NSA and Pakistan High Commissioner to India.
  3. The newfound bonhomie between Delhi and Islamabad has also raised hopes from the cricket authorities over the possibility of a series to be played between India and Pakistan.
Oct, 24, 2015

India against infrastructure projects in PoK: MEA

  1. With the US expressing support to Pakistan’s efforts to arrange funds for the Diamer Bhasha dam in Gilgit-Baltistan, India raises a RED FLAG!
  2. The 4,500-mega watt dam project has been unable to make any headway for want of funds.
  3. India also expressed its reservation on US’ supply of F-16 Fighter Jets.
Oct, 16, 2015

Mainstreaming a nuclear Pakistan

It is in India’s interest to ensure that Pakistan’s nukes are under international supervision

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (left) poses with Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif during their meeting in New York on September 27, 2015.


Simply put, what is Nuclear Deal ?

A nuclear deal is primarily about undertaking responsibilities and the constant demonstration of good behaviour in exchange for an ability to engage in nuclear commerce and energy production.

What should New Delhi’s response be to a potential nuclear deal between US and Pakistan ?

  • The NSG has been organising outreach meetings with Pakistan regarding nuclear exports for sometime now.
  • Pakistan has reached out to the international community to help end its status as a nuclear outcast and to be treated on par with India.
  • At the Hague Nuclear Security Summit in March 2014, PM Nawaz Sharif called for “Pakistan’s inclusion in all international export control regimes, especially the Nuclear Suppliers Group.”
  • Pakistan also holds the key to the commencement of negotiations on a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT) at the Conference on Disarmament.

With Strong Chinese support to Pak

  • China, whose consent is necessary for admitting new members to the NSG, has consistently supported Pakistan’s entry into the NSG.
  • The Chinese willingness today to consider membership for both India and Pakistan will influence the thinking in Washington and key Western capitals.

Critics of the U.S.-Pakistan Nuke deal

  • Firstly, Pakistan has a terrible track record of nuclear proliferation and that a nuclear deal would be seen as rewarding such irresponsible behaviour.
  • Two, it would enable Pakistan to enhance its nuclear arsenal which, is directed against India, making the latter more insecure.
  • Third, U.S.-Pakistan nuclear deal will hyphenate India and Pakistan once again in the international discourse, something New Delhi viscerally detests.

Four sets of reasons why a ‘conditional nuclear deal’, in India’s national interest.

  • First of all, Pakistan’s admission to the global nuclear order is good news for the international non-proliferation regime.
  • Second, It is better for the international community to be in the know of Pakistan’s nuclear programme.
  • More importantly, It will bring the Sino-Pak. nuclear relations under international scrutiny.
  • Third, if India’s experience of inking the nuclear deal with the U.S. and other states, signing the India-specific Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA, the road to nuclear normalcy is not going to be a smooth one for Islamabad.

Pakistan should meet conditions

  • For one, Separation of its civilian and military facilities, leading to a less feverish production of fissile material by Pakistan, thereby producing fewer nuclear warheads.
  • Second, some restrictions on its weapons programme, materially and doctrinally.
  • Third, Pakistan will have to give up its opposition to FMCT negotiations as a precondition for the deal.

What about India’s National Security Interest ?

A U.S.-Pakistan civilian nuclear deal will make absolutely no difference to India’s national security interests.

We must, ask the U.S. and other stakeholders to press Islamabad to stop stalling the FMCT negotiations, and agree to a nuclear ‘No-first-use’ agreement with India, which is already part of the Indian doctrine.

India should insist that Pakistan, as part of the deal, should be asked to negotiate nuclear confidence building measures (CBMs) with India without linking them to conventional arms control.

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