Thursday, 13 April 2017

Pak- Afghan



A collective border management initiative between Afghanistan and Pakistan has remained a disputed issue. Pakistan– often questioned for its role in  managing cross border movements—  has on several occasions, pitched the idea of reforming the unregulated soft border concept to a more vigilantly monitored zone.
However, most of these initiatives have not been properly implemented owing to local grievances and due to a significant portion of Afghan leadership capitalising on ethnic sentiments.
Last year too; despite Pakistan intimating Afghan political elite well in advance- the construction of  gates at Torkham crossing– brought forth a low point in Pak-Afghan bilateral relations coupled with  several clashes between the security forces on both sides.
Once again the start of this year sparked a series of terror attacks across Pakistan and refreshed the relevance of this issue. Stuck between a rock and a hard place; Pakistan was compelled to shut down its border with Afghanistan– which accentuated resentments of sorts on both sides.

Read Full Article Here: Pak- Afghan

Agenda Trumps US Hegemony



The White House has unveiled its federal spending priorities in what it is touting as the “America first budget”, where the President has made deep, offsetting cuts to key federal bodies, including the State Department, USAID, PBS, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Energy Department. The new budget proposal slashes billions of dollars from diplomacy, cutting international aid packages and diplomatic programs. In addition, it scales back funding for the World Bank and the United Nations—a move that can prove devastating for global American diplomacy.
Almost all state departments are allocated major cuts, except for one: defense.
President Trump called to boost military spending by 54 billion dollars. If the Trump campaign is anything to go by, this move is not out of character for the administration. However it still came as a bit of a shock. This is because America already spends more on defense than China, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Great Britain, France, India and Japan. In fact, the US military has the largest defense budget in the world, a staggering 600 billion dollars. Another area that holds Donald Trump’s interest is the border security situation with Mexico, which is also allocated a special spot in the budget.

Read Full Article Here: Agenda Trumps US Hegemony


No Closure



The Afghan-Pakistan border crossings at Torkham and Chaman-Spin Boldak were closed by the Pakistani government after a string of militant attacks in mid-February, which the Pakistani military leadership claimed were carried out by militants operating from sanctuaries in Afghanistan. As a result, hundreds of Pakistani and Afghan citizens, carrying valid travel documents, were stranded on the 1600 mile border. The border closure was intended to increase security in Pakistan and check the influx of terrorists from Afghanistan. It was painted out by the Pakistani administration as a ‘necessary step’ in the interest of both countries to be able to work together in combating terrorism—as though closing one of South Asia’s busiest trade routes and halting trade could help the fragile Afghan-Pak relationship resolve its differences.
This begs the question: What does the government’s decision to seal the Pak-Afghan border then achieve?
Apparently, it led to a surge in the already very high anti-Pakistan sentiment in Afghanistan. The closure was read by majority Afghans as a way to inflict pressure on the Kabul government to take action against terrorist sanctuaries on Afghan soil.

Read Full Article Here: No Closure


Eerie peace in the pipelines

Construction of the long overdue contentious TAPI pipeline recently began its  first phase in Pakistan.
A project conceived in early 90’s spearheaded by Unocal and other prominent US companies– was meant to originate from one of the largest gas field in the world– Galkynysh– in Turkmenistan and terminate its path in India.
The project was viewed as integrating Central Asia’s vast energy supplies with the energy hungry South Asia.
However, suspicions of hegemonic agendas have kept the project in doldrums.
At the time, when the project was carved- Russian influence of Central Asian gas supplies was viewed as a potential threat; as Russia for a long period denied access to foreign companies to utilize the existing routes, adding on to that concern– a falling out between the US companies and Taliban from 98 onwards led to a deadlock on TAPI progress — efforts only resumed post 2008.
In this duration, China’s rise and quest for strong ties with Central Asia for stable energy routes added another dynamic to the clashing agendas.

Read Full Article Here: Eerie peace in the pipelines


Wednesday, 12 April 2017

US-Pakistan Relations: Breaking the prism



Loud clamors perish the very essence of peace.
The debate– in some spheres– on the appropriate approaches for Pakistan are on the rise; the conundrum is that neither carrots nor sticks produce the desired results and therefore a creative solution needs to be carved out.
A recent article ‘US-Pakistan Relations and the Big Stick’ written by Michael Krepon voices similar concerns.
Firstly, The ‘final say’ on labeling Pakistan as a state sponsor of terrorism would be far from accomplished if some voices in India or US present subjective views incase of any unfortunate mishap. Few past Incidents of such sort have occurred; but the voice of majority has always shunned this misguided perception.
Little doubt, that the squeeze Pakistan camp maybe on the rise–despite Pakistan standing on the front line of US led war.
The appalling ally has breached trust– significantly, owing to its  – hollowing silence on the sacrifices incurred by Pakistan and a near non recognition of the externally influenced hostilities perpetrated on its ally’s soil.

Read Full Article Here: US-Pakistan Relations: Breaking the pris

Monday, 20 February 2017

Trump Reaffirms US Commitment to One China

In his first semiofficial act of foreign policy, President-elect Trump affronted China and upset the apple cart of US-China relations by accepting a congratulatory telephone call from Taiwan’s President, Tsai Ing-wen, breaking thirty-seven years of American tradition.

China considers Taiwan a renegade breakaway province, and its leaders were not pleased when Trump’s aides reported that Trump and Taiwan’s President have spoken about “close economic, political, and security ties” between the two countries. When the news of the Trump-Tsai phone call first broke, foreign-policy experts were appalled; everyone generally agreed that it was a dramatic departure from four decades of the United States’ official non-recognition and partial isolation of the island that both China and Taiwan consider their own.

At that time, it was unclear whether Trump with this decision intended to abruptly change geopolitics, or whether this was simply a new administration-unschooled in the diplomatic protocol of US-China relations-incompetently improvising. There is indication of both; in either case, the manner in which Trump chose to act was very dangerous. The Asian governmental and scholarly communities however remain divided on whether the Trump-Tsai call was inherently a good or a bad thing.

Read Full Article Here: Trump Reaffirms US Commitment to One China

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Pins and Needles: Pakistan’s Concerns

The undercurrents of Pak-Afghan relations are often seen shifting, dictated by leaders in power, national security interests, and foreign policy ties. While many attribute erratic relations between the two countries to their historical baggage, others cite Afghanistan’s swelling affair with India as a reason for its disengagement, and Pakistan’s growing distrust. While Ghani’s appointment got many hoping that a reconciliation was possible between the two countries, more than it was under Karzai, soon into his tenure he was seen blasting Pakistan on international forums and media over its alleged covert and ‘undeclared’ war in Afghanistan, and functioning as a sanctuary for the Afghan Taliban.

However, what remains largely ignored in this narrative is an understanding of Pakistan’s concerns and core interests in Afghanistan, and consequently, its goals and motivations in the country.

Read Full Article Here: Pins and Needles: Pakistan’s Concerns