Archive for the ‘Foreign Policy’ Category
Under the resumed dialogue process, the Foreign Secretaries of Pakistan and India met in Islamabad, on 23-24 June 2011 for bilateral talks on Peace and Security including Confidence Building Measures (CBMs), Jammu and Kashmir and promotion of friendly exchanges. In India –Pakistan relations, where atmospherics are as important as actual diplomatic agreements, the meeting was surprisingly cordial. Held in the backdrop of David Headley trial and the incident involving PNS Babar and INS Godavari in the Gulf of Aden, the meeting managed to avoid distractions. It struck out as rather routine minus the usual fireworks expected when Indian and Pakistani delegates meet. Click to continue…
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s recent visit to Africa received extensive attention in the Indian media. Prime Minister Singh attended the second India-Africa Forum Summit in Addis Ababa on May 24th and 25th and visited Tanzania thereafter. The visit was used not only to demonstrate India’s commitment to Africa’s development needs but also highlight the strategy of engagement. As observed by Sudha Ramachandran, “India’s partnering in Africa’s development while laudable is not wholly altruistic”; it serves India’s diverse foreign policy interests. The strategy, however, is of greater significance. The focus is no longer limited to competing with China but on demonstrating the difference in partnership approaches pursued by India and China. Jairam Ramesh, India’s Minister for Environment and Forests, had referred to this difference during the First India-Africa Forum Summit in 2008 when he stated that, “The first principle of India’s involvement in Africa is unlike that of China. China says go out and exploit the natural resources, our strategy is to add value.”
In the same week that President Obama delivered his much awaited Middle East speech, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton inaugurated the State Department’s new diplomatic outreach initiative - The Global Diaspora Forum held during May 17-19, 2011. The initiative, christened as idEA (International Diaspora Engagement Alliance) is based on simple understanding: Diaspora communities often have the local knowledge and contacts; U.S. Government agencies have the technical expertise, global presence, and convening power. Based on these complementarities, the State Department shall develop new diaspora-centric partnership models and undertaking new programs to encourage intra-diaspora collaboration and learning.
The U.S. operation that led to the killing of Al-Qadea leader Osama Bin Laden in Abbottabad earlier this week has stirred a hornet’s nest. While details of the operation continue to pour in each day, the sentiment that “Pakistan has some explaining to do” is gaining force. Pakistan’s Ambassador to U.S. Husain Haqqani, has appeared on more television shows that I can count and attempted to defend Pakistan. Though I may disagree with his analysis, I am much impressed by his diplomatic abilities. After all diplomacy, even in the age of nuclear weapons, is the best tool to defend a country’s interests. This led me to explore India’s diplomatic response to Operation Osama and the larger issue of fighting terrorism in the region. While there is much discussion within the country on how should India deal with the situation, here is a list of diplomatic do’s and don’ts for India.
India’s abstention on Security Council Resolution 1973 approving ‘no-fly zone’ over Libya and authorizing all necessary measures to protect civilians has disappointed India’s supporters and reinvigorated the critics. It is alleged that an ‘emerged’ India has still not come out of the diplomatic closet. It was expected that India would use the opportunity as non-permanent member of the Security Council to play a more active role on the international stage. The abstention is viewed as weakening India’s claim for permanent membership; permanent membership is of little value if India is not able to articulate clear positions on critical international issues. Most of the criticism is based on analysis that interprets aggressiveness as a show of responsibility. On the contrary, India has taken a position on the Libyan issue and has avoided the carrot of permanent membership from coloring its judgement. Four aspects require clarification to comprehend India’s position. Click to continue…
Harvard historian Niall Ferguson’s ‘six killer applications’ theory is the latest attempt to unravel the mystery of the decline of Western civilization. Ferguson in his recent work Civilization: The West and the Rest, chronicles the rise of the Western Civilization during the past 500 years and explains how China and the east may soon overtake the Western countries. According to Ferguson, “what distinguished the West from the Rest – the mainsprings of global power – were six identifiably novel complexes of institutions and associated ideas and behaviours…” The distinguishing features of the Western Civilization, which Ferguson refers to as ‘killer apps’ include competition, science, property rights, medicine, consumer society and work ethic. In Ferguson’s analysis “we are already living through the twilight of Western predominance. But that is not just because most of the Rest have now downloaded all or nearly all of our killer apps. It is also because we ourselves have lost faith in our own civilisation.”
India has an inclination for strengthening democracy as opposed to spreading it.
With the recent flurry of popular protests in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and other countries of the Middle East it looks like balancing support for democracy with strategic national interests has emerged as the central theme for contemporary global relations. The United States while expressing support for democracy movements will restrain active involvement in such campaigns. President Obama’s cautious reaction to the uprising in the Arab world reflects America’s less intrusive approach to democracy promotion. Given these realities, India’s support for democratic values, sans the missionary zeal to promote democratic regimes is fast emerging as a reasonable response to the surge in democratic aspirations across the globe.
President Obama’s comment that “India is not simply emerging but has emerged” charmed his Indian audience. Was President Obama’s assessment rhetorical or was he making a valid appraisal? India’s record on indices of democratic governance, economic growth and socio-political stability are encouraging if not exquisite. Yet power implies a relational aspect which makes India’s foreign policy – style and substance – a critical factor in determining its power profile in international affairs. Though India’s claim to great power glory was professed much before the country achieved independence in 1947, the current phase reflects India’s willingness to work towards that goal rather than make a fortuitous claim to it. India has started the process by taking fresh look at its traditional positions, but the Asian elephant can truly emerge by articulating a vision for the future. Click to continue…
The news of India’s election as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council was reported with a sense of elation by the national media. Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna referred to it as a “chance to prove worth” for the big throne indicating India’s claim for permanent membership of the Security Council. The South Bloc is also excited about the fact that Pakistan voted in favour of India’s membership. The enthusiasm though comprehensible needs to be tempered.
K.P. Nayar’s excellent piece takes us inside the Sharm-el Sheikh Statement.
For those who missed out on what Sharm-el Sheikh was, though it seems improbable to do so, here is brief backgrounder: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Yousaf Gilani met at the sidelines of the NAM Summit at Sahrm-el Sheikh last month and issued a Joint Statement. Both leaders affirmed their resolve to fight terrorism and co-operate with each other in the Joint Statement issued at Sharm el Sheikh. There was also agreement to share real-time, credible and actionable information on any future terrorist threat. The Joint Statement further added that “action on terror should not be linked to the composite dialogue process and these should not be bracketed” and that “terrorism is the main threat to both countries.” India also sought to address Pakistan’s anxieties on Baluchistan by emphasizing non-involvement in the internal disturbances.�
Here is how the Government of India conducted itself in the first major bilateral interaction after the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks. The following piece appeared in the August 25th edition of The Telegraph.
A typical conversation with an Indian ambassador, or any Indian diplomat for that matter, in the last five weeks began with the diplomat asking in obvious disbelief: “How did this happen?”
The “this” in the question is a reference to the Sharm-el-Sheikh joint statement of July 16, which put it on record that Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani “mentioned” to Manmohan Singh “that Pakistan has some information on threats in Balochistan and other areas”. The implication was that the threats came from India in the form of cross-border terrorism. Click to continue…