Showing posts with label South Asia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label South Asia. Show all posts

16 October 2018

Paddling Upstream: Transboundary Water Politics in South Asia

AMBIKA VISHWANATH

Analysis about South Asian geopolitics tends to gravitate toward the often-competitive ties between China and India. This tendency can be seen on many newsworthy issues, such as rival attempts to establish blue-water navies; competitive efforts to shape how the region’s roads, bridges, and ports are funded and built; and the omnipresent Pakistan issue. Such topics are undoubtedly important. But other practical, everyday policy concerns like water sharing and usage often receive less attention, are combined with larger security or border concerns, or are dealt with only when natural disasters occur. Yet water politics has far-reaching consequences for the prosperity and security of China, India, and other neighboring countries alike. And while this transboundary issue is integral to the national development policies of these countries, it is not analyzed enough or well enough understood.

12 October 2018

Nepal: Getting federalism right

by Madhukar SJB Rana

So far, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's vision for "cooperative federalism" was a commitment shown in public that has not been realised through action and outcome. Under his leadership, his party, the BJP, is forced to pursue a polity without an inclusive outlook. Precisely, all that was said was not done. Of late, Niti Aayog is holding the baton to seek a bottom up development through its "Aspirational Districts Programme"The programme aims to quickly and effectively transform the selected districts. The broad contours of the programme are convergence (of Central & State Schemes), collaboration (of Central, State level 'Prabhari' Officers & District Collectors), and competition among districts driven by a mass movement. With States as the main drivers, this program will focus on the strength of each district, identify low-hanging fruits for immediate improvement, measure progress, and rank districts.

9 October 2018

Myanmar-International Pressure and Consequent China’s Gains:

By Dr. S.Chandrasekharan

Of late, the media in Myanmar is full of articles of possible Coup, failure of the Government, the international pressure on the Rohingya Issue and consequent bad relations between the Tatmadaw and the Civilian Government. The inference being made out is that if the Government does not act, the possibility of a coup cannot be ruled out! 

What is missed is that, even now the Army has the upper hand under the 2008 Constitution and can afford to wait till the situation worsens. The Army did not fail to play a 40 minute version of the events of the violence and the riots that followed the 1998 uprising that started with the students from the Yangon University. What was hidden again was the massacre that followed when thousands of innocents were killed particularly in the area around Sule Pagoda. The man who was responsible for the massacre Gen. Khin Nyuint is said to be happily running an antique shop and his book on “those days” is being quoted even now!

8 October 2018

BIMSTEC can usher in a New Asian Order

Maj Gen Binoj Basnyat (Retd.) 

The BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Co-operation) Summit was held in Kathmandu on August 30-31 amid contentions that India is losing its influence and goodwill within the immediate neighbourhood, while Chinese political influence is on the rise, through economic assistance.

When Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the BIMSTEC military exercises, political, diplomatic and civil society in Nepal received the message with suspicion. Nepal sent only military observers even if troops were committed during the preparation for the military exercise.

The nature of threats is altering with the shift in balance of power, so the world is witnessing a crisis of trust, problems in multilateralism, cyber criminals, corruption, poverty, gender violence and trafficking and environmental degradation leading to disasters.

4 October 2018

The Maldives’ New Government: Mission Impossible?

By Sudha Ramachandran

Just days after Maldivians poured into the streets of the Maldivian capital, Male, to celebrate the defeat of the archipelago’s autocratic President Abdulla Yameen in the September 23 presidential elections, the mood in the country turned somewhat somber. After initially conceding defeat to joint opposition candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, Yameen appeared to be preparing to subvert the election verdict to hold on to power.

Such fears gathered momentum with the Election Commission dragging its feet on announcing the final results. Besides, Yameen was reported to be planning to challenge the verdict in the Maldives’ High Court and had apparently instructed loyal police officers to prepare reports backing up his claim that the election was rigged in his opponent’s favor.

“People were understandably nervous, and on the edge, as to whether President Yameen would relinquish power without trying something through the courts [to negate the election result],” Dr. Farah Faisal, former Maldivian ambassador to the United Kingdom told The Diplomat.

3 October 2018

The Maldives has another shot at democracy – but it needs help

JJ Robinson
The international community has a rare second chance to help the Maldives make a peaceful democratic transition, after the shock ousting of its authoritarian leader in Sunday’s election.

The opposition’s unassailable lead in the provisional results surprised everyone, not least the sitting president, Abdulla Yameen. Over five years he had jailed or forced into exile the entire opposition leadership and seized control of state institutions, including the judiciary and elections commission. Many of the commission’s staff were Yameen loyalists, seen cheering at his rallies. The elections commissioner himself had previously been secretary general of Yameen’s own political party. Mohamed Nasheed, deposed in a coup in 2012 and the opposition’s first choice of candidate, was barred from contesting following a spurious conviction for terrorism. Foreign journalists, meanwhile, found themselves suddenly blocked from entering the famous tourism hotspot by byzantine new visa procedures.

1 October 2018

Beijing loses a battle in the Maldives — but the fight for influence goes on

Source Link
Brahma Chellaney

The Indian Ocean nation of the Maldives, comprising 1,190 coral atolls, has been roiled by a deepening national crisis since its first democratically-elected president was forced to resign at gunpoint in 2012.

This week’s surprise defeat of authoritarian President Abdulla Yameen in a national election opens the path to stability and reconciliation under the leadership of the winning opposition candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.

Yameen’s defeat, despite the jailing of opponents and Supreme Court justices and efforts to manipulate the election, shows how autocrats can be swept out of office by a voters’ backlash. And that even in a country with weak democratic traditions.

30 September 2018

Not Only China: Quantum Satellite Communication on the Rise in the Indo-Pacific

By Mayuko Yatsu

It has been a while since cyber and space were recognized as rising domains in both the economic and national security arenas. It is natural that the more popular each of these two domains becomes individually, the more attention the integrated domain captures from the public. One of those areas is satellite-to-ground quantum communication, and today many Indo-Pacific nations have joined the race to develop related technologies.

Quantum communication through satellite transmission is, in simple terms, the mixture of two distinct technological realms: quantum mechanics-based communication and satellite communication (SATCOM). The former is enabled by the transmission of information-carrying photons (particles of light) and cryptographic methods (such as quantum key distribution), and is often referred to as “unhackable.” Due to the law of quantum mechanics, the status of the photons used for the communication transforms and generates a warning signal when a hacker attempts to steal information. Given the increasing demand for secure communication in general, this technology is considered one of the most promising solutions for the future.

29 September 2018

Jalaluddin Haqqani: Life and Times of a Jihadist Lynchpin


An Afghan by birth, the leader of the Haqqani Network was the first and foremost Pakistani jihadist proxy who took up arms against the Afghan state in 1973 – long before there was any Soviet or American presence in Afghanistan.

“Son, do you not know who I am?” said in Urdu the man with a henna-dyed beard and the Holy Quran on his lap. Reading the perplexed expression on the young man’s face, he then answered his own question, “I am Jalaluddin Haqqani – Commander Haqqani.”

The year was 1994 when a young sub-inspector of the Punjab police had stopped a convoy of double-cabin vehicles on their way out of the twin cities Islamabad-Rawalpindi, heading towards Peshawar. The young officer had spotted tens of armed men in those trucks and was debating whether he – with his tiny posse – should insist on inspecting the ominous-looking entourage or not. The officer thanked his stars when a wireless message from higher-ups came through, telling him to clear the motorcade without inspection. The officer told me that he still did not know who Haqqani was but waved him through!

27 September 2018

Nepal: Federalism Only In Name? – Analysis

By Dr. S.Chandrasekharan

This month two issues among many dominated the political discourse in Nepal. The first one was the abrupt postponement of Inter State Council Meeting of the Chief Ministers that was being eagerly awaited by the Provincial Leaders. Second was an equally abrupt withdrawal of Nepal from the first ever military exercise of BIMSTEC countries initiated by India way back in June.

Last week, the Chief Ministers of all the seven provinces met at Pokhara for a two-day session to lay the groundwork for the ensuing Inter State Council meeting to be chaired by the Prime Minister.

The Group lamented at the lack of laws, policies, financial and human resources that have failed the provincial governments in delivering services to the people. The Meeting concluded that a “Constitutionally guaranteed Federalism will not be effective in the country without an effective functioning of the provincial governments”. They were right.

Bangladeshi Islamists Go to Washington

ABHA SHANKAR AND SAM WESTROP

Bangladesh, nestled under India to the West, North, and East, with it's southern tip touching Myanmar 

From October 9 to 12, London-based barrister Abdur Razzaq will visit Washington, D.C. to meet with White House officials, legislators, House committee staffers and analysts at a number of think tanks. That a lawyer is speaking with politicians is not particularly worrying. But the fact that Razzaq is also an assistant secretary general of the violent South Asian Islamist group, Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), is an enormous problem. Are D.C. officials aware of who exactly they are meeting?

26 September 2018

The Coming of Pakistan-China ‘Entente Cordiale 2.0’

By Abdur Rehman Shah

With China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) coming under increasing global scrutiny, major aspects of the country’s international role, investments, and activities have drawn a lively debate. From Sri Lanka to Malaysia, questions are being raised as to how the “project of the century” is shaping the economies of host countries. It is within this context that the Pakistan-China relationship has become a subject of newfound interest. After all, the “flagship project” of the BRI is the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

CPEC has led to a major transformation in Pakistan-China ties. A relationship that was fundamentally defined by close diplomatic and strategic cooperation is swiftly molding into a geoeconomic collaboration, but with China holding an asymmetric position. The broader contours of this relationship can be categorized into three periods: the beginning from 1949-1962; “Entente Cordiale 1.0” from 1963-2012 and “Entente Cordiale 2.0” from 2013 onward. While giving an overview of Entente Cordiale 1.0 this article focuses primarily on the changing dynamics of the Pakistan-China relationship since 2013, under Entente Cordiale 2.0. It argues that the latest stage is more comprehensive but simultaneously more liable to challenges and risks. Unlike the previous stage, when bilateral ties were related to specific fields of cooperation and accordingly dealt with by precise state-to-state level entities — i.e. diplomats, incumbent governments, and security institutions — Entente Cordiale 2.0 is broader in scope and more open to public debate.

25 September 2018

The Nepalis Fighting America’s Wars

By Peter Gill

In his farewell address days before vacating the Oval Office in 1961, President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned Americans about an emerging “military-industrial complex,” saying, “In the councils of government, we must guard against [its] acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought.” The former five-star general added, “The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist.”

Eisenhower was concerned that the rising influence of the weapons industry amid a Cold War arms race would unnecessarily divert government funds from domestic priorities like education, health-care, and infrastructure. In the over-a-half-century since his speech, the role of private defense companies in America’s wars — from Vietnam to Afghanistan and Iraq, and the smaller conflicts in between — has grown immensely. In addition to arms suppliers, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) now relies on contractors to manage most of its bases abroad and to run and guard the bases’ supply lines for everything from diesel to water, food, and laundry services. The DoD receives nearly one-fifth of the U.S. federal budget. In 2013, it spent roughly one-half of this on contractors — in other words, approximately 9 percent of the entire U.S. federal budget went directly to for-profit contractors who arm, supply, feed, and guard the military.

24 September 2018

China-Myanmar Economic Corridor Ambitions Meet Hard Reality

By: Sudha Ramachandran

China and Myanmar have been widely expected to sign a 15-point Memorandum of Understanding on the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor by the end of this year (Global Times, June 26). However, this mega project, a key component of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), may have hit a rough patch. Apprehensive over being saddled with massive debt that it may not be able to pay, the Myanmar government is considering scaling down one of the project’s central elements over concern it will land the country in the sort of ‘debt trap’ that has ensnared other sovereign borrowers from the PRC (Myanmar Times, July 12). A recent study warns of “potential local resistance” to Chinese projects if “investment strategies do not consider the local context carefully” (The Irrawaddy, June 22). The CMEC may also exacerbate ethnic conflict in a country already riven by serious inter-ethnic strife.

14 September 2018

Nepal’s communist challenge to India

Brahma Chellaney

Nepal is a state symbiotically tied to India. Yet today it has an openly pro-China communist government that is hostile to India. The number of communist-ruled countries in the world increased by one to six earlier this year when landlocked Nepal joined China, Cuba, Laos, North Korea and Vietnam. Despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s efforts to woo him, Nepal’s new prime minister, Khadga Prasad Oli, persists with his troubling tilt toward China. Consider the latest two reminders of Oli’s approach: His government has pulled out of the first ever anti-terror military exercises being held from September 10 in Pune under the auspices of the grouping known as the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation, or BIMSTEC; and it has implemented a transit transport agreement with China mainly to undercut India’s leverage.

12 September 2018

Nepal’s Communist Government Tightens Its Grip on Civil Society

By Arun Budhathoki

The 2015 constitution of Nepal ignited hope in ordinary Nepalis that a new era had finally dawned on the nation. That hope, however, didn’t last long after the rise of Communist Party of Nepal (CNP). Starting last month, not only is Nepal’s civil space shrinking, but the pillars of democracy, like freedom of the press, equality, and liberty, are facing the hammer of new draconian laws. The new National Integrity Policy proposed by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA) is set to tighten the Nepal government’s grip on international governmental organizations (INGOs) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The proposed policy was first formulated on June 8, 2017, when Sher Bahadur Deuba was the prime minister. The proposed document has lays out 13 policies for NGOs and 25 for NGOs in a 23-page paper and aims to strictly monitor them. Moreover, its policies expand to diplomats, constitutional bodies, professors, teachers, doctors, private sector firms, and cooperatives. Also, legal and structural bodies will be activated to monitor the aforementioned sectors.

10 September 2018

SOUTH ASIA INTELLIGENCE REVIEW [SAIR]

Ajai Sahni

The unfolding of the alleged ‘urban Maoist conspiracy’ is, at once, both tragedy and farce, exposing the utter collapse of standards in policing and governance. The Pune Police have now arrested 10 ‘urban Maoists’, five on June 6, 2018, and another five on August 28, 2018, from different parts of the country. While the Supreme Court stepped in quickly in the case of the second batch of arrests, refusing to allow transit remands or police custody, and ordering that the accused be held under house arrest till September 6, when the Court will take up this case again, the five arrested on June 6 have since been languishing in jail, with bail denied. All ten are supposedly charged for inciting the Bhima Koregaon violence between Dalits and upper castes but, interestingly, the bulk of Police arguments before the Court and disclosures to the Press have focused on flights of fantasy, including a plot to assassinate the Prime Minister; to raise an “anti-fascist front” in order to destabilize the government (ironically implying, thereby, that the government is a fascist organisation); and using exhibitions of photographs of mob lynchings to overthrow the government.

31 August 2018

Rohingya Crisis Diminishes Aung San Suu Kyi – Analysis

By Azeem Ibrahim*

Over the past year, more than 700,000 people, more than 70 percent of the minority Rohingya population in Myanmar, have fled their homes and the country of their birth in the face of a sustained and coordinated military cleansing campaign directed by the state and aided by Burmese Buddhist-nationalist hardliners. The crisis is highly visible, with the Rohingya people largely living in hastily assembled refugee camps in southern Bangladesh. A UN report has accused the Myanmar military of genocide. Still, the international community is flummoxed – not wanting to threaten the little progress that has been made in opening Myanmar to the world and risk pushing the country back toward China. In the years when the military regime was isolated, China had emerged as the sole benefactor of the country.

20 August 2018

Sirisena does a Rajapaksa, changes stand on Chinese investments

By GUNJAN SINGH 

Over the last few years, Sri Lanka has become a case study of how Chinese money and clout have the capability to buy favors and concessions. The government under Mahinda Rajapaksa gave China a free hand in how it chose to invest in Sri Lanka. Beijing put a lot of money into economically non-viable though strategically important projects, especially the Hambantota Port and Airport. With time, the projects failed to achieve any benefit for the Sri Lankan economy. Rajapaksa lost the presidential elections in 2015 to Maithripala Sirisena. The issue of mounting Chinese debt played a major role in the latter’s victory. However, the Hambantota loan forced the Sri Lankan government to lease the port for 99 years to a Chinese shipping company with the hope of repaying the debt in due course.

6 August 2018

Can Buddhist Values Overcome Nationalism in Sri Lanka?

BARANA WAIDYATILAKE, MYRA SIVALOGANATHAN

Nine years since the end of its civil war, Sri Lanka continues to suffer from ethnic tensions that could derail its fragile transitional justice process and ignite new rounds of conflict. Despite the end of open hostilities, resentment continues to aggravate relations between the primarily Buddhist Sinhalese—Sri Lanka’s ethnic majority—and the minority community of Tamils. Tensions are also growing between Sinhalese Buddhists and the Muslim community, who constitute Sri Lanka’s second-largest ethnic minority. Sinhalese-Buddhist nationalism has been identified as a major driver of past conflicts and current tensions. Some attribute this nationalism to Sinhalese Buddhists’ insecurity about their lack of transnational networks of support, compared to their Tamil or Muslim compatriots. Such insecurity has been compounded by international criticism of the Sri Lankan state and expressions of sympathy toward Sri Lankan Tamils.