Hopes and forebodings in India over the rise of Imran Khan
A new predicament now arises for Delhi because the civilian and military leaderships in Pakistan now get along well
By M.K. BHADRAKUMAR JULY 29, 2018 4:18 PM (UTC+8)
Imran Khan speaks to the media after casting his vote at a polling station during the general election in Islamabad on July 25, 2018. Photo: AFP/Aamir Qureshi
Circumstantial evidence can be marshaled to establish that a level playing field was not available to Pakistan?s two mainstream political parties ? the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) and the Pakistan People?s Party ? in the parliamentary poll on July 25.
But that alone cannot delegitimize the victory of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party led by Imran Khan.
Khan likely benefited from the denial of a level playing field to Nawaz Sharif. But that is not the whole story. His mandate is authentic and he is no one?s creation. Khan astutely presented himself as the symbol of ?change? and his mandate reflects the Pakistani people?s craving for change.
In fact, the expectations of the people are high and Khan will be hard-pressed to fulfill them. The national program he outlined in his victory speech challenges entrenched interest groups, who will no doubt resist. Compromises may become necessary, even inevitable. If not, confrontation may ensue. The robust opposition will make the going very tough for Khan at every stage.
Three things must be said here. First, the rout of the ?religious parties? has been absolute. The astonishing part is that Pakistani voters displayed impeccable secular temper to reject any politician who sought to exploit religious sentiment.
Second, India did not figure as a topic during the election campaign. The focus was almost entirely on Pakistan?s political economy. Third, and most importantly, Khan managed to secure a fairly broad-based mandate, although Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa remains his citadel.
[Pakistan] [Imran Khan]
China and Nepal reach across the Himalayan divide
Gaurab Shumsher Thapa
(Asia Times 6/7/2018)
16 July 2018
Nepalese Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli?s visit to China last month was closely watched by both domestic and international observers.
Oli?s visit was a continuation of his groundbreaking trip to China during his first tenure as prime minister in 2016, during which a transit transport agreement between the two countries was signed. Such an agreement should have been inked a long time ago, but the economic embargo imposed by India in 2015 forced Nepal to examine its options. It was regarded as a historic step as landlocked Nepal had such an arrangement only with India until then.
Apart from agreements related to road links, infrastructure and energy, the most significant progress made during Oli?s visit was a memorandum of understanding on establishing railway connectivity between the two countries. This has great significance both in terms of enhancing cross-border connectivity and the fact that the Himalayan frontier would no longer be impregnable.
The Qinghai-Lhasa railway network is set to be extended up to the Sino-Nepalese border point of Gyirong (Kerung) within a couple of years. Similarly, the feasibility study for extending it further up to Rasuwagadhi-Kathmandu has already commenced, although the modalities of investment are yet to be ascertained.
China-Nepal railway connectivity would be a part of the broader concept of a trans-Himalayan multi-dimensional connectivity network proposed by China which, in turn, would be under the framework of the China-led Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
[China] [Nepal] [India] [Belt & Road] [Railways]
Moon Kicks off State Visit to India
By Jeong Woo-sang
July 09, 2018 12:13
President Moon Jae-in kicked off a four-day state visit to India on Sunday afternoon by visiting the Akshardham Temple in New Delhi, the world's largest Hindu temple.
On Monday he joins Samsung chief Lee Jae-yong at the ribbon-cutting for a new Samsung smartphone plant in the nearby city of Noida. He sits down for a summit with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday.
Nepal looks toward China as a measure of last resort
23 June 2018
After an exchange of high-level trips between Nepal and India, Nepalese Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli is to land in Beijing on Tuesday for a five-day state visit. It will be his second state visit since his accession to the Prime Minister?s Office after his party?s landslide victory in the general election in November.
Sources at the Nepalese Ministry of Foreign Affairs have said that China and Nepal would ink several deals to implement the trade and transit treaty of 2016 and the connectivity project under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
Indian media, strategic analysts, and academia have been portraying Nepal?s increasing engagement with China in the areas of trade and transit, investment and the BRI as Oli?s government tilting toward China and demonstrative of China?s aim to limit India?s geopolitical strategic space. However, Nepal has not tilted toward China; India itself has been pushing Nepal toward China for a long time.
India has been imposing a permanent economic blockade by creating many hurdles to Nepalese goods exported to India and third countries, and it is the main cause of an enormous trade deficit that is the upshot of the sluggish economic growth of Nepal. New Delhi has imposed these kinds of hurdles more than 150 times since Nepal and India signed a new trade and transit treaty in 1996, and has created barriers to Nepalese agriculture goods four times in the first six months of this year alone.
Because of the Indian obstruction to goods, Nepal has signed a trade and transit treaty with China as a measure of last resort. The Indian foreign-policy regime should be mindful that no country is able to fulfill Indian interests while economically poor, weak, and bearing an enormous trade deficit and stagnant economy.
Indian political leaders, diplomats, academia, and media repeatedly express that Nepal and India have had a special relationship from the time of antiquity. If India thinks that Indo-Nepalese ties are so valuable, why are there tariffs? Why are there quarantine check posts? Why does India need a sanitary and phytosanitary standard (SPS) for Nepalese agricultural products?
A vast discrepancy exists between what Indian leaders say and the ground realities.
[India Nepal] [China Nepal]
Uncle Sam is shaking down Indian agriculture
7 June 2018
Author: Biswajit Dhar, Jawaharlal Nehru University
In May, the United States submitted a document to the WTO questioning the compatibility of India?s agricultural subsidies with the relevant provisions of the Agreement on Agriculture (AoA). The document targets the minimum support price (MSP) granted to wheat and rice, two key food crops. The United States? complaint is that the MSPs of these two crops are well above the limits set by the AoA.
A farmer winnows rice in a field on the outskirts of Ahmedabad, India, 4 November 2016 (Photo: Reuters/Amit Dave).The main contention of the United States is that the support that India provides to rice was consistently above 70 per cent of the value of agricultural production since 2010?11 and above 60 per cent for wheat during the same period. These levels of subsides, claims the United States, were way above the 10 per cent limit imposed on India by the AoA.
This affront on India?s farm subsidies provides an opportunity to expose the mala fides of the United States, and also the illogicality of the subsidies? regime of the AoA. The AoA was crafted primarily by the United States and the members of the European Union to serve their interests, while developing countries like India were reduced to mere bystanders.
Although the WTO abhors the use of subsidies, it allows this instrument of trade policy to be used for agriculture. The subsidies regime included in the AoA has three forms of subsidies, ranging from those that were considered ?non-distorting? to those that seriously ?distorted? markets
The only thing that differentiates the subsidies is that, while there is no limit for spending on the non-distorting subsidies, spending on the distorting subsidies has to be limited to 10 per cent of the value of agricultural production for the developing countries, and 5 per cent for the developed countries. Significantly, the AoA provides no means to assess the impacts of these forms of subsidies on the market.
An important facet of the subsidies regime of the AoA was that developing countries were relying more on the so-called ?distorting? forms of subsidies, both when the regime was introduced in 1995 and in the years thereafter, while the United States and the European Union used more of the non-distorting categories of subsidies.
[India] [Agriculture] [US] [WTO][UNUS]
India says it only follows U.N. sanctions, not U.S. sanctions on Iran
NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India said on Monday it abided by sanctions imposed by the United Nations but not those imposed by any other country, such as those announced by the United States against Iran.
Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj walk after a photo opportunity in New Delhi, India, May 28, 2018. REUTERS/Altaf Hussain
U.S. President Donald Trump this month withdrew the United States from the Iran nuclear deal and ordered the reimposition of U.S. sanctions suspended under the 2015 accord.
Indian foreign minister Sushma Swaraj said New Delhi?s position was independent of any other country.
?India follows only U.N. sanctions, and not unilateral sanctions by any country,? she said at a news conference.
[Tribute] [Resistance] [Iran]
U.S. sanctions on Iran threaten vital Afghanistan trade project
Jonathan Landay, Rupam Jain
U.S. President Donald Trump?s decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear accord and re-impose sanctions on Tehran threatens to derail a project to help build Afghanistan?s economy, endangering a key goal of the U.S. strategy to end America?s longest war.
An Afghan security guard stands while supply trucks carrying containers for export line at the Customhouse in Jalalabad, Afghanistan May 14, 2018. REUTERS/ Parwiz
The Indian-backed Chabahar port complex in Iran is being developed as part of a new transportation corridor for land-locked Afghanistan that could potentially open the way for millions of dollars in trade and cut its dependence on Pakistan, its sometimes-hostile neighbor.
Building Afghanistan?s economy would also slash Kabul?s dependence on foreign aid and put a major dent in the illicit opium trade, the Taliban?s main revenue source.
But Trump?s decision to re-impose sanctions on Iran and penalize financial institutions for doing business with Tehran is clouding Chabahar?s viability as banks, nervous they could be hit with crippling penalties, pull back from financing.
?President Trump?s decision has brought us back to the drawing board and we will have to renegotiate terms and conditions on using Chabahar,? a senior Indian diplomat said. ?It is a route that can change the way India-Iran-Afghanistan do business, but for now everything is in a state of uncertainty.?
The White House did not respond to requests for comment.
Launched in 2016, the joint Iran-India-Afghanistan Chabahar project already was facing holdups. It has yet to see significant traffic apart from some containers of donated wheat from India, and the first shipments of Afghan dried fruit to India are not expected before July.
[Trump] [Iran deal] Renege] [Consequences] [India]
Pakistan Prevents U.S. Diplomat From Leaving the Country
By Haroon Janjua
May 12, 2018
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan ? The authorities in Pakistan barred an American diplomat involved in a fatal traffic accident from leaving the country on Saturday and briefly detained him for questioning, according to a senior Pakistani intelligence official.
A United States military aircraft flown in to bring home Col. Joseph Emanuel Hall, a U.S. military attach?, had to leave without him, the intelligence official said.
Pakistan?s Interior Ministry said Mr. Joseph is on a ?blacklist? and is not allowed to leave because of the criminal case pending against him.
Colonel Hall is accused of involvement in a road accident in which his car ran a red light and killed a motorcyclist named Ateeq Baig in the capital, Islamabad, on April 7. Pakistan officials have demanded the United States waive his diplomatic immunity so that he can face a criminal trial, but American officials have refused.
On Friday, Islamabad?s High Court, noting that Colonel Hall did not have full diplomatic immunity, left it up to the government to decide whether to add his name to a travel ban list
[Pakistan US] [Friction]
How Modi has failed as prime minister of India
By Sachi Satapathy May 11, 2018
Narendra Modi has completed four years in office but there is widespread disappointment among the Indian people with his performance as their prime minister. There is a strong perception that Modi spent most of the last four years either in state election campaigns, on foreign tours, or giving scores of moral lectures on state-run television, radio, and his own online app.
Modi promised 20 million jobs a year, but instead more than 7.2 million jobs meant for the 15-24 age group were lost over the last four years. Job creation in India is at an eight-year low. There is an undercurrent of anger among the middle-class population over having to pay excessive excise taxes, which has led to historically high prices of gasoline and diesel, in spite of lower international crude-oil prices.
The government has collected US$150 billion in taxes on motor fuel since 2014. Instead of giving the benefit to people, the government is putting more burdens on them.
The previous government of Dr Manmohan Singh lifted close to 140 million people above the poverty line between 2004 and 2014. However, no one has any clue as to whether the present government is doing anything substantive to uplift the poor.
Agriculture exports, which had seen a fivefold increase under the Singh government, have since come down by 21%. At the same time, agriculture imports have risen by more than 60%.
New investment is the lowest it has been in 13 years; bank credit growth has sunk to a 63-year low, while loan growth has fallen to 5.1%, according to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
[Modi] [Economy] [Poverty]
As China cleans up its act, India?s cities named the world?s most polluted
by Annie Gowen May 2
India?s capital, New Delhi, choked by rising automobile emissions and construction dust, was named Wednesday the world?s most polluted megacity by the World Health Organization, which analyzed the levels of the pollutant PM10 in the air in cities with populations above 14 million between 2010 and 2016.
Greater Cairo was the second most polluted large city. India?s other megacity of Mumbai ranked fourth on the list and Beijing fifth.
[Pollution] [China India comparison]
Narendra Modi, Xi Jinping set stage for deepening India-China ties at Wuhan summit
At Wuhan, Narendra Modi thanks Xi Jinping for meeting him twice outside the Chinese capital while Chinese president praises ?good momentum? in India-China ties.
Updated: Apr 27, 2018 23:53 IST
Hindustan Times, Wuhan
Chinese President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Narendra Modi shake hands as they visit the Hubei Provincial Museum in Wuhan.(Reuters via China Daily )
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said cooperation between India and China is essential to maintain peace and stability around the world and offered to host the next informal summit between leaders of the two Asian giants.
Modi said he hoped his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in the central Chinese city of Wuhan would open a new chapter in bilateral relations. The leaders are meeting for two days of candid talks, mostly without aides, in an effort to reset a relationship that was hit by the military standoff in Doklam, at the India-China-Bhutan trijunction, nearly eight months ago.
Following a one-on-one meeting earlier in the day at Hubei provincial museum in Wuhan, Modi and Xi were joined by small delegations for further talks. The delegation-level talks were expected to last for 30 minutes. Instead, they went on for two hours, an indication that both sides were keen on detailed discussions before Modi and Xi engage in three one-on-one conversations on Saturday.
[India China] [Modi]
As China offers a model for developing countries to follow, India must position itself suitably
M. K. Narayanan
March 02, 2018 00:15 IST
Each succeeding week brings fresh evidence of how anarchic the international global order has become. Quite a few nations, including many of the newer ones, are seeking a new salience in the affairs of their region, aiming to establish their dominance. This is one cause for many of today?s turmoils.
The unfortunate aspect is that while there is greater clarity on the new challenges that nations face, the international system is unable to come up with sustainable solutions to deal with these multiple challenges. For instance, currently the U.S. is seen to be incapable of playing a balancing role in Asian affairs, and to have ceded ground to China. China appears unrivalled in Asia at present given its military might and economic power. The only opposition to China today comes from India.
India and China both adhere to a rules-based international order, but a wide gap separates their perceptions of what constitutes the international order. This has more than ordinary significance today even as global powers are beginning to shift their stance, and a ?balance of power? approach is no longer the norm. For Asia, this is proving to be a destabilising development, affecting peace in the region as the U.S. is no longer willing to take on responsibilities for peace.
Indian military scrambles to keep up after China moves to put forces in Africa
China and India are competing for regional supremacy in the Indian Ocean as they look establish a stronger military and economic presence in bordering countries.
In response to Beijing's overseas military base in Djibouti, New Delhi has sought to access facilities in the Seychelles, Oman and Singapore.
Commercial projects by Indian and Chinese firms may be deployed for defense use, experts warned.
Nyshka Chandran | @nyshkac
Competition between historical rivals China and India is spreading across the ocean.
From Tanzania to Sri Lanka, the two Asian heavyweights are trying to establish a stronger military and economic presence in countries along the Indian Ocean in a quest for regional supremacy.
China, the world's second biggest economy, is looking to build what some policy experts call a "string of pearls" ? a network of defense and commercial facilities ? around the massive area. Beijing in 2016 revealed plans to launch its first overseas military base in Djibouti. Numerous business projects by state-owned Chinese enterprises under President Xi Jinping's massive Belt and Road program, which includes a port in Tanzania, have reinforced its efforts.
New Delhi, unsettled by the thought of Beijing dominating its own backyard, is responding in kind.
[China confrontation] [Counterbalance]
China and India: Comparisons of Soft Power
January 29, 2018
2018: Vol. 17, No. 1
Review of Parama Sinha Palit, Analyzing China?s Soft Power Strategy and Comparative Indian Initiatives, Los Angeles, London, New Delhi, SAGE, 2017.
Because India is situated at the very geographic center of the South Asia-Indian Ocean region, Indian civilizational influences have washed repeatedly over that vast region. Indian patriots are keenly aware of this history, and it is easy to assume that Indian influence in the region is somehow natural or inevitable. That may indeed be the case, but the breadth and vigor of China?s efforts to make itself and its policies attractive to the publics and governments of the region suggests that Indian soft power faces a new and very strong competitor.
Dr. Parama Sonha Palit?s book, Analyzing China?s Soft Power Strategy and Comparative Indian Initiatives, offers an interesting and solid study of an important but under-researched aspect of China?s rise in Asia: the scope and character of China?s exercise of soft power. After extracting from the secondary literature a working definition of soft power (the attractiveness of a country) and exploring the evolution of Chinese scholarly thinking about soft power with Chinese characteristics, Palit examines China?s pursuit of soft power in several geographic regions, starting with South Asia. The overarching purpose of China?s soft power activities in the region, Palit concludes, is to establish the image of China as a benign power. Palit turns to a survey of the various mechanisms China uses to advance this soft power goal. The list is long.
[Softpower] [China India]
Samsung Loses Top Spot in Indian Smartphone Market
By Park Keon-hyung
January 31, 2018 12:49
Samsung has ceded the top spot in India's burgeoning smartphone market to China's Xiaomi.
Samsung ruled supreme in India's smartphone market, scaled at more than 100 million phones a year, since 2011. But Chinese rivals aggressively expanded their presence in India, Southeast Asia and Europe and are now posing a direct threat.
Even as Samsung was battling it out with Apple in the premium market, Chinese rivals expanded their share of the affordable market, trapping Samsung awkwardly somewhere in between.
[China competition] [Smartphone]
Cutting Off Pakistan, U.S. Takes Gamble in Complex Afghan War
By Mujib Mashal and Salman Masood
Jan. 5, 2018
Afghan officials have pleaded with three American presidents to reconsider their support for Pakistan, which was both receiving billions of dollars in American aid and harboring the leaders of a Taliban insurgency that the United States has struggled to defeat.
But when President Trump suspended nearly all American security aid to Pakistan on Thursday for what he called the country?s ?lies and deceit,? any jubilation in the halls of power in Afghanistan ? and there was some ? was leavened with worry over how the move might affect a complex war that has pushed the Afghan government to the brink.
If there is one consensus among Afghan leaders and their American counterparts, it is that dealing with Pakistan is both vital and difficult.
[US Middle East Strategy] [Afghanistan] [Pakistan]
Piling on pressure over safe havens, U.S. suspends military aid to Pakistan
Supporters of Pakistani religious groups rally in Karachi on Jan. 2 to condemn President Trump?s comments about Pakistan. (Fareed Khan/AP)
By Missy Ryan, Annie Gowen and Carol Morello January 4 at 7:42 PM
The United States will suspend most of its security assistance to Pakistan, the State Department said Thursday, signaling the Trump administration?s intent to force the country to eliminate militant safe havens.
The announcement came just days after President Trump lashed out in his first tweet of the new year, saying Pakistan had repaid years of generous U.S. aid with ?nothing but lies & deceit,? a claim that Pakistani leaders labeled ?completely incomprehensible.?
Unveiling the new measure in a news briefing, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the suspension would remain in effect until Pakistan takes ?decisive action? against the Taliban and Haqqani network, militant groups blamed for stoking violence in Afghanistan and prolonging a conflict that has become America?s longest war.
?No partnership can survive a country?s harboring of militants and terrorists who target U.S. service members and officials,? Nauert said.
Officials acknowledged that the suspension, which follows a previous decision to freeze $255 million in military aid, will have a mostly symbolic effect in the near term. But it is certain to accelerate a downward trajectory in a fragile anti-terror allegiance forged after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
[Pakistan] [Alliance] [Incompetence] [Counter-productive]
?No more!? Trump tweets to Pakistan, accusing it of ?lies & deceit?
Pakistan?s foreign minister, Khawaja Muhammad Asif (shown here at a Dec. 26 metting in Beijing) promised to give a full accounting of how U.S. aid has been spent. (Pilipey/European Pressphoto Agency-EFE/Rex/Shutterstock)
By Shaiq Hussain and Annie Gowen January 1 at 4:19 PM
ISLAMABAD ? Pakistan?s defense minister responded angrily Monday to an early-morning tweet by President Trump that accused America?s once-close ally of ?lies & deceit,? countering that the United States had given Pakistan ?invective & mistrust? in return.
In his first tweet of the new year, Trump had said the United States had ?foolishly? given Pakistan $33 billion in aid over the last 15 years, ?and they have given us nothing but lies & ?deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools.?
Trump wrote further: ?They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!?
Defense Minister Khurram Dastgir-Khan hit back on ?Twitter, writing that Pakistan, as an ?anti-terror ally? of the United States, had given Washington land and air communication, military bases and intelligence cooperation that ?decimated Al-Qaeda over last 16yrs? while America ?has given us nothing but invective& mistrust.?
[Trump] [Pakistan] [Incompetence]