If enemies like North Korea and the US can come together to hearth a fresh start after months of growing threats, what is there to stop any other arguing countries in the world from concealing their own differences? Talks are the essence of the moment. But until Pakistan is ready to join the hands, militant China and Islamists and, Indo-Pak dialogue will not be fruitful.
Both showmen, US President Donald Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, have met at Singapore and according to Trump, created history in abandoning the path of mutual annihilation and agreeing on the outline of a negotiated formulation of their relationship to the great relief of other nations of the world.
Of course what Kim could do at the most is to attempt to hit the United States with at best one or two missiles with nuclear weapons that too if they manage to evade the missile shield America will deploy if Kim’s push comes to a shove. But no one doubted Trump’s capacity to totally annihilate all of North Korea given the “Big Button” the US President always carried with him that would set a thousand nuclear-tipped missiles into pre-planned action against the enemy.
Then, overnight, the two met in Singapore and in three meetings created history. Kim has signed a document pledging denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, whatever it means. Trump says he will end the seven decades of hostility and diplomatic isolation of the US from North Korea, whatever that means.
The world, taken by surprise by the quick turn of events, watched the developments in Singapore in awe and disbelief. Kim can be brash (only such a dictator can threaten the mightiest power on earth) and unpredictable while Trump can be firm at any cost and determined to implement his election pledges like he did in withdrawing from the Iranian deal despite all his allies opposing the withdrawal.
Considering the level of hostility that Kim of North Korea displayed against America and the annihilation he threatened American allies South Korea and Japan with — he even demonstrated his nuclear and missile capabilities — the hawk turning into a dove transformation at Singapore is certainly historic.
But many analysts who have studied the type of uncompromising dictatorship the Kim family has subjected North Korea to will say that Kim only wanted to be seen by the world at the same level with the US President mainly to satisfy his image of himself. This cannot be easily dismissed as speculation.
When this Kim’s grandfather consolidated power in North Korea with Soviet and Chinese help in the 1940s Kim Il Sung compelled every Korean to believe that all books whether in science or humanities published by the North Korean regime were written by him. Grandfather Kim spent money in many countries building up his image as the world leader respected by every nation that bowed to his authority and greatness.
In India, for instance, hundreds of newspapers, including many with little circulation as well as the large ones, used to carry two or three pages of advertisements praising the ‘world leader’ — all paid for in cash. The game only stopped when the Government here got to know the flow of cash behind it and put a stop to cash payments and with it the ads also stopped.
Interestingly these ads used to be relayed in North Korean dailies to tell the people under the Communist dictatorship how the great newspapers of the world were praising Kim Sung as the world’s greatest leader. We may here wonder how an entire people could be fooled. But in a dictatorship where no other than official publication was allowed this was possible. So, no wonder that grandson Kim wanted to demonstrate how he was so great as to make the US President eager to meet him and arrive at a deal with him.
Most reports from inside North Korea reveal a picture of poverty and deprivation of people held together by a ruthless dictatorship of a family now three generations in power which does not allow any challenge to it. The question that arises for New Delhi regarding what went down in Singapore between the US and North Korea is: Can India and Pakistan come together, shedding the hostility between the two over seven decades, and take a forward step for mutual benefit? The argument for such a detente have been played out so many times that by now we in India are familiar with it. The first step was taken by the BJP-led NDA Government under the Prime Ministership of Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Soon after, however, the Pakistan Army launched infiltration in Kargil and created a war-like situation but Atalji did not lose his bearing.
The leading powers of the world like the US and China to whom the Pakistan Prime Minister turned for support tersely told him to work with India. This led to a humiliating defeat for the Army in that country and to save its face the Army under General Pervez Musharraf exiled Nawaz Sharif and took control of the country. The previous occasion when the Army in Pakistan took control of the country was after the Bangladesh War in which the country was divided and the Bengali-speaking eastern wing was freed from the dominance of the Urdu-speaking, Punjabi-dominated western part.
The brief civilian regime of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was removed by General Zia ul Haq who was at the head of the longest period of army rule when the Constitution was changed and the foundation was laid for Islamic fundamentalism and the subsequent rise of armed militant Islam which, with the Army, has become a third force in determining Pakistan Government policies, especially towards India.
That the elected civilian Pakistan Government does not speak for the state is well known in all informed circles that keep a close watch on the state. Nawaz Sharif, after his recent loss of power, has revealed that the basic weakness of Pakistan is this dominance of non-elected actors.
Next month, Pakistan will go to polls and the result will reveal how far the Government can speak for the state. Though Nawaz Sharif’s party PML-N has welcomed a Indo-Pak dialogue in the present context, Government of India has been circumspect. It cannot afford to ignore the present fluid situation in the governance of Pakistan and welcome just any talks with it.
Secondly, Pakistan has had a long relationship with Kim Jong Un’s regime and got missile and nuclear technology from it. With its surrender to China by transferring a part of occupied Kashmir to build the railway connecting the Indian Ocean to South China through the Gwadar-Xinjiang railway, Islamabad is also obliged to submit to Chinese interests as already demonstrated in various critical areas.
All this, in addition to what the Pakistan Army on the one hand and the militant Islamists on the other want. As long as this situation remains, any resumption of Indo-Pak dialogue can hardly be expected to yield worthwhile results.
(The writer is a political commentator and a former BJP Rajya Sabha MP)
Writer: Balbir Punj
Courtesy: The Pioneer
According to the present day international system, It is the good time of summitry.Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Chinese President Xi Jinping in Wuhan and US President Donald Trump met the European counterparts as part of the G20 where in the rest intended to stem the tide of rising America First doctrine along with the pricey protectionism which has been rebooted by the adventurous American President.
Summitry or not, antagonism and prevarications might mar another set of negotiations which are very crucially juxtaposed with the East Asian BOP system with much wider ramifications for the rest of the international system. It is the unique and the feisty phantasmagorical quality of the talks and the twin proud palavers which make the negotiations between Trump and youngling communist dictator Kim Jong-Un a quick stand-out diplomatic one-up act. It is no more “the theatre of the absurd” as both the state heads are making an attempt to rise above the skullduggery witnessed in the past half a year and more. Either the summitry par excellence could have been negated by the previous threats of a walkout by Trump or a refusal by Kim to denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula could have acted as a precursor element to a diplomatic fiasco. These were the key observations which were being bandied about in the context of the high-wire summitry and the mother of all summits between the two state heads who were at loggerheads not so long ago. The positive fallout is that the talks have ended with a promise at the Capella hotel which might have a plaque in the future bearing testimony to the summitry akin to the flick, Independence Day, which showcases a similar plaque bearing the words, “ Mankind came here in peace”.
Trump postulated and Kim acquiesced. What is going to be the cost of disarmament in the besieged Peninsula was one of the pertinent posers while the one-to-one talks were on the anvil and even when both the leaders lived a “fantasy” and went ahead with the negotiations. Already “a-without-the-aides” five hours were spent in Sentosa Island in Singapore and Trump contended that it is all a sage camaraderie through and through. The entire world was keeping its fingers crossed. Thus, the talks were very unusually pleasant without the blistering forecasts of the day which prognosticate the confrontationist streaks in both the leaders. It was the bluster and the spectacle of sparring, which formed the key conditionality of the relationship and the avidly followed verbal bouts between them. The ease with which both the state heads, with one reflecting the most powerful nation state on the face of the Earth and the other representing a crank and prank ridden spectacle of a policy maker, made good of the bout is exemplary. The Americans have normally stayed away from entangling alliances but this bout of diplomacy in Singapore was facilitated after a great deal of spade work by the American establishment, and, the strivings of the Chinese counterpart too. Of all talking spectacles, Kim went in a royal train to meet his Chinese counterpart before the tete-a-tete with the American President in Singapore.
In the city citadel of Singapore, it has been a “felt and a sentimentally touching exchange” between Trump and Kim. The joint declaration which emerged out of the exchanges was of “a surprisingly ordinary nature” in the light of the kind of sparking denouement which was expected in the aftermath of the talks. There is as expected no well-delineated and well-defined agreement on the theme of the Peninsular disarmament and the declaration is sugar-coated with a filial understanding of peace and friendship. What are the takeaways in the talks? It was a necessity that a “cooling off” period was attained by the region in the light of the future of US umbrella states of the order of Japan and South Korea and also for the betterment of the politically confrontationist clime of the region. Also, the initialising was well orchestrated with the meet between the two leaders of North and South Korea’s with the visage of the leaders standing partitioned by an elevated platform of concrete with gravel lying strewn all across the floor. It was a symbolic image of the roughshod manner in which the negotiations were rebooted in the Korean quagmire. The Guardian reports in its naturally critical and acerbic manner that “We must be clear-eyed on what a diplomatic success with North Korea looks like, that would be “complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearisation” of the Korean peninsula. It is imperative that we actually get action here, not just photo ops,”
A minority leader in the US Senate informs that there are no details in Trump’s signed statement about the definition of “complete denuclearisation. Unfortunately, the entire document is short on details. It is worrisome, very worrisome that this joint statement is so imprecise.”
This palaver about “worrisomeness” emanating out of the democratic stable is quite a continuation of the irrepressible takes on Trump’s so-called erratic foreign policy idiom. It is definitely a first on response which actually and realistically verges on to become one of the major foreign policy coups of the Trump establishment. The opposition will react anyhow. Still, the non-proliferation plank of the quintessential streak can come much later after the trust deficit has been tided over between the open and the closed world. The China factor too bears a weight, wherein the efficacy of the Chinese support to North Korea has always been a destabilising element in the regional scenario. No quick fix solutions are probable in the heat of the “diplomatic moment,” wherein the world had reached a state of irreversible Armageddon in the light of the “menacing-flying-over-the-seas” missiles of the North Korean denomination. It would be unreasonable to blame the American intransigence and the larger role in the besieged Peninsula. General Douglas Macarthur would be a sad personage today and squirming in his grave wherein he demanded that President Truman opened the floodgates of an all-out military aggression during the original war in the Korean peninsula in the early part of the decade in the fifties, a freedom run which President Truman did not allow for him. The Chinese aggression was a cause of mayhem across the Yalu river in the truncated Peninsula. Another pathway open for the American President living true to the philanthropist streak of the US foreign policy would be to attempt a normalisation of relations between both the estranged Koreas. The talks might be hurt in the longer run by the doomsday prevarications of the North Korean satrap-dynasty, but still the easing of tensions and the cooling of temperature between the nations can be an ideal platform for a historic East Asian détente. The Americans have a role to play where they can stamp their regulatory role and zeal over a troubled Korea with their patience and diplomatic sanity and the accompaniment of other willing powers in the region and in other sections of the world polity. The US President has a destiny to fulfil even if it may require becoming a compromising peacenik.
(The writer teaches International Relations at Indian Institute of Public Administration, Delhi)
Writer: Manan Dwivedi
Courtesy: The Pioneer
China fails to get Indian support for (OBOR) Belt and Road project ahead of meeting between Xi, Modi. The decision as India’s first summit as a full SCO member was initially taken as part of New Delhi’s policy of not compromising on territorial issues. India has called OBOR or the Silk Road project a threat to its sovereignty over concerns on the CPEC (China Pakistan Economic Corridor).
The recently concluded Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Qingdao, China, saw Prime Minister Narendra Modi coin yet another acronym to go with the many others he has for both domestic and international audiences. SECURE — or S for security, E for economic development, C for connectivity, U for unity, R for Respect and E for environmental protection — may or may not have been a bit labored but Modi’s resounding ‘No’ to endorsing Beijing’s grand One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative was anything but. It was an emphatic and unambiguous articulation of India’s deep concern about China playing ducks and drakes on the twin issues of sovereignty and territorial integrity, eliding these issues when it comes to India’s concerns while being historically ultra-aggressive when it comes to any questioning of its own claims on disputed territories and its stand on what constitutes interference in its sovereign decision-making sphere.
In reiterating India’s stated position on OBOR from a high-profile platform such as the SCO summit, the Prime Minister has also ensured that China will have to accept that arguments about “regional prosperity” and “economic imperative” which Beijing’s apologists in India and the region trot out in support of the “inevitability” of the initiative will not pass muster. At least not as long as the Modi Administration is around. In nuancing its opposition to OBOR, New Delhi has done well to decouple the need for greater cooperation within and economic integration of the region and the countries that will be served by OBOR from the issue of each nation’s sovereign rights, which has a major implication in the projection of power in the region. After all, if sovereignty is chipped away in the name of future prosperity the existing regional hegemon is only the gainer in geopolitical terms. Support for terrorism and the expansionist designs of certain nations in the region (without naming either Pakistan or China) is also a concern that reflects in New Delhi’s opposition to the Chinese-initiated project. In fact, Modi’s plenary speech at the SCO laid the ground for the Indian stand when he pointedly said India welcomed connectivity projects which respect sovereignty.
We must, however, be prepared for a pushback from Beijing. The wording of the communique issued after the two-day meet ensured India was clearly identified by omission while lauding the other nations for reiterating support for the OBOR and its implementation and, to underline New Delhi’s so-called isolation on an issue of great concern to it, the SCO added that meddling in the affairs of other nations on the “pretext of fighting terror” was not acceptable.There is also pressure being applied on the KP Oli Government in Kathmandu to not be too gung-ho about the India-Nepal connectivity mega project. We are in for interesting times, to say the least, and the lack of domestic agreement on how to deal with a rampant China is a cause for worry.
Courtesy: The Pioneer
Rajnath Singh on Thursday said it’s time to end combat operations in J&K. The matter would be reviewed thoroughly and discussed with Pak to extend or withdraw after the month of Ramzan.
He sought Pakistan’s cooperation in combating terrorism and counselled the neighbouring country to take India’s help if it is unable to stop terror activities from its soil.
The Home Minister reiterated his offer of talks with separatist leaders. He said a dialogue needed right-minded people to succeed and not necessarily the like-minded people. “Everything is encompassed in this sentence. The right-minded people must come forward,” he said and added that talks could be held with everyone.
On the possible extension of Center’s decision to stop initiation of counter-terrorism operations during the holy month of Ramadhan, the Home Minister said that the issue would be thoroughly discussed in security review meetings. “All options are on the table. No possibility can be ruled out,” he declared.
Rajnath arrived here on 2-day visit to take stock of the security and developmental scenario. This was his first visit after the Center announced unilateral cessation of combat operations in the backdrop of holy month of Ramzan. The Home Minister chaired a security review meeting and held separate meeting with Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti who is chairperson of the Unified Command Headquarters.
He said that the Center has appointed its representative (Dineshwar Sharma) to hold talks in Kashmir and whosoever was interested in dialogue must approach him. “So far as question of dialogue is concerned, we have appointed special representative for this purpose. We have not sent him for holidaying. He has arrived 11 times. I want to repeat my appeal to people to come forward for talks. We can talk to anyone,” he said.
He said the BJP Government was firmly committed to solve the problems of Kashmir and not to let it linger on. “We don’t want that another generation is lost in the vortex of violence,” he said.
Referring to acts of violence in Kashmir during the ceasefire period he questioned the intentions of the perpetrators. “Those who cannot stop their activities during the month of Ramzan, cant we call their intentions contaminated,” he asked.
He said that it was understandable as to why Pakistan is allowing its soil to be used for terror activities. “WE have asked Pakistan to stop terror activities from its soil. If Pakistan is not able to stop it, why it is not taking help from the neighbouring country,” he said.
He said that terrorism has no religion and it is difficult to say when and whom it is going to devour.
He said the Central Government will take all measures to overcome the obstacles to bring lasting peace in Kashmir. He lauded the role of security forces including Army and Police who have worked with utmost restraint. He gave a detailed description of strengthening police and central security forces in Jammu and Kashmir.
Rajnath said the Central Government is profoundly concerned about the future of J&K youth and development of the state as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s mantra that he espoused from the precincts of Red Fort. He said Modi’s words “not by bullet or abuse, only by embracing Kashmiris” remains core spirit of the BJP Government.
Home Minister said the Centre decided to withdraw cases against those youngsters misled into stone pelting as it was concerned about the future of Jammu and Kashmir’s youth.
Singh appealed to the youth to harness their immense talent and not to tread the path of destruction. He said the Centre and the State Government had initiated several schemes to help them secure their future.
Writer: Khursheed vani
Courtesy: The Pioneer
Narendra Modi delivered the keynote address at the Shangri-La Dialogue (SLD) in Singapore. He showed adherence to the rules that are mentioned in international forums. The keynote was the repetition of this principle without directly pointing a finger at china.
Shangri-La is usually associated with a place in the Himalaya immortalised by James Hilton in his 1933 novel, the Lost Horizon; a mystical valley where people live in harmony under the compassionate direction of a lamasery: In other words, a paradise on earth, a high-altitude utopian retreat, a permanently happy land.
The Shangri-La Dialogue (SLD) or Asia Security Summit annually organised by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), an independent think-tank based in London, is not about a perfect word, it deals with today’s chaotic real world. But the Track One inter-governmental security forum attended by heads of Government, defence ministers or military chiefs of the Asia-Pacific States, happens to be held in a hotel called Shangri-La in Singapore since 2002.
According to the organisers, “the Dialogue has (helped) built confidence and fostered practical security cooperation, by facilitating easy communication and fruitful contact among the region’s most important defence and security policymakers.” It is not an easy proposition, to ‘cultivate a sense of community’ in the region.
This year, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave the keynote address: “I am pleased to return to a region, known to India since ancient times as Swarnabhoomi, (the Land of Gold),” he told the delegates, adding: “For thousands of years, Indians have turned to the East. Not just to see the Sun rise, but also to pray for its light to spread over the entire world. The human-kind now looks to the Rising East, with the hope to see the promise that this 21st century beholds for the whole world, because the destiny of the world will be deeply influenced by the course of developments in the Indo-Pacific region.”
For decades, we were told that the pinnacle of diplomacy was ‘non-alignment’. Though it did not lead India anywhere, it became almost a religious dogma which often translated into an alignment with Moscow and a rejection of the West (except in November 1962, when Nehru ran to the United States for support).
Today, the situation is more healthy; Delhi, keeping India’s interests in mind, ‘aligns’ with the world’s major shareholders; it has perhaps been the greatest foreign policy’s achievement of the four-year rule of the Modi Sarkar.
US Defence Secretary James Mattis was not the last to praise the Prime Minister for his warning on the debts incurred by some countries; Modi had spoken about the dangers of accepting loans that were ‘too good to be true’.
Mattis told reporters: “(Modi) made a really good point there about the dangers of accepting loans that are ‘too good to be true’, and being forced into another agenda.”
The message was obviously targeting some of China’s practices through the Belt and Road Initiative; countries like Pakistan, Sri Lanka or Nepal, all India’s neighbours, are at the wrong end of these ‘loans’.
This year China sent a lower-than-usual delegation “in stark contrast to previous events, none of its members will give a keynote speech,” wrote The South China Morning Post before the event. When asked to explain, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying remained blissfully vague, it had ‘to do with work arrangements’.
But according to the he South China Morning Post’s sources: “The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) had scaled down its presence at the Shangri-La Dialogue to focus on domestic reforms.” The Chinese delegation to the 17th Shangri-La Dialogue was headed by Lt Gen He Lei, deputy head of the PLA’s Academy of Military Sciences.
But it is not that China was not listening, despite the remarks on ‘debts’, China was pleased with India, especially after Modi declared: “No other relationship of India has as many layers as our relations with China. Our trade is growing. I firmly believe that Asia and the world will have a better future if India and China work together with trust and confidence, keeping in mind each other’s interests.”
During a press conference, He Lei praised these words as a friendly and positive gesture; he also explained: “The mission of the Chinese delegation is to elaborate China’s foreign diplomacy and its defensive defense strategy, as well as to show the confident image of China’s military.”
The South China Sea issue was of course the ‘hot topic’ of the Dialogue, Here Hilton’s harmonious paradise was still far-away and China’s image has recently taken a beating.
However, the Chinese representative strongly defended his country’s interests and affirmed: “The Chinese government and the Chinese people will never allow any person, any organization and any political party to separate any piece of Chinese territory from China at any time and in any form.” He also added that the PLA “has the determination, confidence and ability to safeguard the security of China’s sovereignty, unity and development interest.”
At the same time, China’s tone remained surprisingly soft vis-à-vis India. Zhao Xiaozhuo, a research fellow at the PLA Academy of Military Sciences, told The Global Times: “The India factor is what makes this year’s SLD different from previous ones,” perhaps because Beijing saw in Modi’s speech that, “the quasi-alliance between the US, Japan, India and Australia will not last long.”
Lt Gen He Lei, however, justified China’s deployment of ‘defensive’ facilities on the artificial islands as legitimate and necessary.
By now, China probably realised that its unilateral occupation of the South China Sea may not be accepted as a permanent fact by the rest of the Indo-Pacific community.
Take France and Britain, their defence ministers announced that their warships would sail through the South China Sea “to challenge Beijing’s expanding military presence in the disputed waters.”
Florence Parly, the French Armed Forces Minister told the forum that a French naval task group, together with British helicopters and ships, would soon be visiting Singapore “and then sail ‘into certain areas’ of the South China Sea.”
The French and British warships may cross into ‘territorial waters claimed by Beijing’; Parly even envisioned a potential encounter with China’s military: “At some point a stern voice intrudes into the transponder and tells us to sail away from supposedly ‘territorial waters’. But our commander then calmly replies that he will sail forth, because these, under international law, are indeed international waters.”
Mattis also spoke of the US plan to ramp up its freedom of navigation operations to counter Beijing’s militarisation in the region. The US does not accept Beijing’s contention that these territorial disputes are a matter between China and its Asian neighbours only.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi conluded by mentioning ‘Five S’, Samman (respect); Samvad (dialogue); Sahayog (cooperation), Shanti (peace), and Samriddhi (prosperity). He promised that “India will engage with the world in peace, with respect, through dialogue and absolute commitment to international law,” while adding: “We will work with others to keep our seas, space and airways free and open.”
But Delhi so far has managed to keep a balanced foreign policy; and India does not need to be non-aligned for that.
(The writer is an expert on India-China relations and an author)
Writer: Claude Arpi
Courtesy: The Pioneer
The astute reader of international politics would have noted that in the UK the Labour Party (socialist)has been having a torrid time of late. In particular, accusation after accusation has surfaced, both from within the Party membership as well as from those on the outside. So, what say you all are these accusations related to? And the answer in a nutshell, it’s with regard to overt and covert racism against the Jewish community, and the turning of a blind eye to the anti-Semitism that appears to be rife in some corners of the Labour Party.
There has been a long-standing myth that the Labour Party in the UK is on the side of the ethnic minorities. I use the word, ‘myth’, because in my view and experience it has become apparent over the past several decades that maybe this perception that the Labour Party has enjoyed thus far might not be a true representation of its real under belly. So let’s start with the new leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn. He became the unexpected leader of the Labour Party on 12th September 2015. I say unexpected since even his own MP’s did not want him, yet by a quirk of the voting methods used by the Labour Party, the vote bank politics of the Unions and the far-left dominated membership he was brought to power. The victory of Corbyn was almost like a signal to the far-left of the Party to do whatever they wanted to do. To the horror of the centrist Labour MP’s, Corbyn supporters saw this as a green signal and went on a political rampage. Within a short period of time a far-left group calling itself ‘Momentum’ started to take over the Labour Party narrative. It was almost as if the old Labour Party had been hijacked by the farleft, and the Unions who now seemed to have been given unchecked access to do whatever they wanted to do. In effect the Labour farleft seemed to be empowered toattack anyone who stood in their way, or in the way of their leader. The pent-upvenom over decades of frustration of the farleft was unleashed, and it seemed that their initial targets appeared to be their own MP’s and the centre of the Party membership.
The alarm bells were not just ringing, they were exploding with the news that the old guard of the Labour Party was finished and the new comrades of Corbyn were now in power. Labour MP’s in their last-ditch stand passed a vote of no confidence in Corbyn by 172 votes to 40 following the resignation of around two-thirds of Corbyn’s Shadow Cabinet. Now under any other democracy and for any other leader who had any honour and integrity, that would certainly mean walking away. However, Corbyn defied all logic in the knowledge that he had a majority of the membership votes, and the vote bank of the Unions that would keep him in place anyway. Labour MP’s were no longer in any position of influence. Labour had reached a bizarre position where the Parliamentary MP’s overwhelmingly rejected Jeremy Corbyn, yet the Party membership voted him in. The Labour Party as we knew it was finished.
So by now you must be asking the question, where and how does this antiSemitism issue arise? Well, in 2016 the Labour Party instigated what was called the Chakrabarti Inquiry. It was to investigate allegations of antisemitism and other forms of racism in the Labour Party. At that time comments made by two high-profile Labour figures, Naz Shah and Ken Livingstone had been deemed to have been anti-Semitic in nature were therefore to be investigated. On 30 June 2016 the findings were presented stating that although antisemitism and other types of racism were not endemic within Labour, there was an “occasionally toxic atmosphere”. The report was seen by most independent readers as a white wash. This became even more toxic when the British public discovered months later that the Chair of the same inquiry, Shami Chakrabartiwas suddenly made the Labour appointment to the House of Lords. Marie van der Syl, vice-president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, called it a whitewash for peerages scandal. The tone was set, increasingly it became clear to most people that something was not quite right. The Jewish community was outraged to the core. If this was not bad enough for the Labour Party, a cross-party Select Committee on antisemitism described the Chakrabarti Inquiry as “compromised”. It criticised the Labour party’s handling of anti-Semitism, concluding “the failure of the Labour Party consistently to deal with anti-Semitic incidents in recent years risks lending force to allegations that elements of the Labour movement are institutionally antiSemitic”.
Now to most sane people you would have thought that the writing was on the wall,and it was very clear. However, either the Leader of the Labour Party was deluded, compromised, part of the problem or just plain stupid to grasp the seriousness of the issues emerging. Whatever might the truth be, what was abundantly clear to most independent by-standers was that Labour was in trouble on the anti-Semitism issue and that it was not going to go away.
In early 2018 devastating news broke. It turns out that Jeremy Corbyn (and some other senior members of the Labour Party) were part of several Facebook groups. It also emerged that in some of the discussions taking place in these groups, there seemed to be antiSemitic views expressed openly. In what became a farce, Corbyn’s defence was that he did not know of these views being expressed in these groups, even though he was a member. In the end the leaders of British Jewry wrote an open letter to the Labour Party and Jeremy Corbyn stating, ‘enough is enough’. Never in the history of modern day politics has the Jewish community been so outraged, and so abused, that they felt compelled to write in the bluntest fashion that they had, had enough of the rhetoric and platitudes from the Labour leader.
I have of course touched on just the tip of this messy racist iceberg. The Labour Party has hitherto ridden a wave of support from various ethnic minority groups who have seen it as a champion for equality and human rights. However, and increasingly, people are beginning to question whether this is in fact a true representation of the Labour Party now, or whether it has managed to escape close scrutiny by offloadingsuch accusations onto the Conservative Party.
I have done a bit of digging myself and it seems that it is not just the Jewish community that is angry with the Labour Party.
I have come across many community leaders from the Hindu, Sikh and Jain communities who have also expressed serious concern and reservations about the Labour Party. When you delve a bit further you come across time and again, community leader after community leader telling you that they now perceive the Labour Party to be anti-India. In fact, they went on and stated that the impression they were getting was that Corbyn wasfundamentally anti-Modi with some suggesting that he was also anti-Hindu.
I am reminded of the first visit by PM Modi to the UK. It was under the stewardship of the then PM,David Cameron who welcomed the Indian PM with incredible hospitality. I remember the huge event that took place at Wembley Stadium when PM Cameron and PM Modi were on stage together as good friends. During that visit it was remarkable how the senior figures from the Labour Party were absent at most of events taking place. It was almost as if they had gone into hiding, trying their best to avoid coming into contact with PM Modi. The people noticed this open undermining of the Indian PM by the Labour Party. It was only towards the end of the visit that a hastily arranged meeting between the Labour leader and PM Modi took place – which I am told was a face-saving exercise for Corbyn. I am told, PM Modi gave him a few minutes only. A clear sign to the labour leadership that they cannot disrespect the biggest democracy on the planet and hope to get away with it so easily.
I asked many community leaders as to why the leader of the Labour Party had behaved in such a disgraceful fashion. Their answer was enlightening. As far as they were concerned the Labour Party was now a Party that was intertwined with the Pakistani community. Labour needed the Sunni and Kashmiri vote and could not do anything to alienate that community. In effect it seems the Labour Party had decided that harvesting the Sunni vote was more productive to them than trying to keep the votes of the other minorities. Again, one was left a bit perplexed. Surely such a strategy would be disastrous. And once again the very same leaders came back to me and said, not quite. It seems that the Labour Party had rightly concluded that the Hindu, Sikh and Jain vote was in the bag anyway, and given that these communities are not as well united and organised like the Pakistani community, they would not be able to damage their overall votes. There is a lot of truth in that view. History showed us there is still a sizeable Hindu, Sikh and Jain vote that always goes to the labour Party. This blind allegiance means that the Labour Party can get away with disrespecting their faith, their culture and their country of origin, knowing that they groups are too brainwashed to vote for anyone else. The Jewish vote for Labour on the other hand has gone down dramatically – they know how to show their displeasure.
When you investigate the matter further it transpires that most of the EDM (Early Day Motions in Parliament) that are negative to Israel and India tend to be led by Labour MP’s. No surprise there I suppose. In factthe Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn supported an EDM seeking a Visa ban for Shri Narendra Modi. Yes, you read that correctly.Even more startling, he wanted to ban PM Modi from the entering the UK. So readers in India, think about this seriously. You now have the leader of the Labour Party in the UK, who could potentially become the next PM of UK, who has openly sought to ban PM Modi from the UK. Add to that the fact that you still have some Indians in the UK who will blindly vote for Corbyn and Labour. I am informed that some of these very same Indians are also key advisors to PM Modi. Now how mad is that? It’s almost as if the Indian PM is being advised by, and is listening to, the very people who want to undermine him and India. Folks you cannot make this up if you tried. This is ground reality and I would hope that someone in PM Modi’s camp might see enlightenment and act accordingly, and quickly. If they want to know more, then I am always available to share my thoughts.
So let us move back to how the under belly of the Labour started to get exposed. The Jewish lobby is very powerful in the UK (as it is anywhere else in the world). I salute the Jewish community since they have learnt the lessons of history and have concluded, never again will they allow the racist from the far left,or the far right, to dictate the agenda and leave them in a precarious position. As soon as they raised their voice and took proactive action, we saw the fear in the Labour Party spreading. Jeremy Corbyn was forced to accept that his ideological positioning was not compatible with British society. Every media channel, including the proLabour media, ran the story to the end with remarkable editorials that more or less showed that Jeremy Corbyn was unfit to be a leader. We had endless apologies from him as well his senior MP’s in the Shadow Cabinet. Do I think the public believed a word of it? Simple answer, it seems most of the British public don’t believe a word he utters on this subject. It has become toxic to such an extent that even his own Jewish MP’s like Luciana Berger stated in Parliament that anti-Semitism within the party has become “commonplace, conspicuous and corrosive”.In May of this year, in many parts of the UK we had our Local Elections to elect Councillors and Councils. The Labour Party had been stating for months that this would be a total wipe out for the Conservative Party. The reality has now hit them hard. As the results were announced, the vast majority of Labour supporters were left devastated. Their prediction of winning everything in sight was way off the mark. In the end, the Conservative Party after 8 years in Government held on to most of the Councils and the wipe out that was predicted, never materialised. The reason, the anti-Semitism row took its toll. The Jewish community showed that not only can they affect and impact elections where they are in large numbers, but their reach goes much wider and affected results across the country.
India is the emerging giant. India under PM Modi has garnered huge respect around the world. However, it has yet to take people to task when India or Indians are undermined or disrespected. PM Modi needs all the support he can get from the nation. However with that support he, and his Government, must also deliver on some of the core issues emerging. India stands at the gateway of a glorious future. The dreams of Bharat varsh can be achieved where each and every Indian will be respected, valued and will find a place in the nation to fulfil their aspirations. This is not a time to blink, it’s time to stare your destiny in the eye and secure it.
In the words of Swami Vivekananda ji:“Arise awake and stop not until the goal is achieved.”
Twitter: @kk_OEG The writer is a seasoned businessman and a leading thought provoking writer from the UK. His command of detail and his ability to see issues and events years before they come to fruition is worthy of note. He has advised very senior politicians on a variety of issues. Being independent of thought, he does not compromise, nor does he bow to pressures to become politically correct.He understands the East, and he lives in the West. A unique grasp of perspectives that is often food for thoughts for all of us.
Former PM Nawaz Sharif’s confessional interview has smashed the traditional deceitfulness of Pakistan’s official positions. The fact is that in Pakistan, every institution need enemies to withstand importance and relevance for itself.
The confessional interview of former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has the Pakistani establishment in knots and squirming in its seat to cover up for the embarrassing candour and plain-speak by the three-time Prime Minister who has busted the traditional-duplicitousness of the official Pakistani positions. From confirming the Pakistani hand in terror infrastructure, facilitation process, dilly-dallying and specifically its nefarious role in 26/11, the rooster of honest self-goals by Nawaz Sharif was unprecedented in its admission.
The expected fallout included disruption in distribution of the concerned media house which initiated the interview, red-faced denials by the ruling Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) spokespersons, including Nawaz Sharif’s own brother and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif who said, “The report has incorrectly attributed certain remarks to PML-N Quaid Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, which do not represent the party policy.” Above all, he hurriedly, called a meeting of the National Security Council (NSC) to consider the situation arising from Nawaz Sharif’s damaging remarks.
Major General Asif Ghafoor, the official spokesperson of the Pakistan Army tweeted a cryptic: “NSC meeting suggested the Prime Minister to discuss recent misleading media statement regarding the Bombay incident.” However, the cat was out of the bag and for once, the entire spectrum of the Pakistani ‘establishment’ and Opposition leaders were united in slamming the obvious shame coming out of the spilling of sovereign beans — this time from the longest serving Prime Minister of Pakistan and the ‘Quaid for life’ (leader for life) of the ruling party, PML-N in Pakistan.
Sophistications of terror infrastructure aside, the concept of ‘non-state actors’ that Pakistan routinely pedals to rationalise terror that is invariably traced back to it, is riling the sub-continental neighbourhood and the global community committed to the ‘war on terror’.
The martyr-syndrome on terrorism that Pakistan has appropriated for itself in recent times has very few takers as the background and the continued involvement of the Pakistani establishment is well-documented. Calling the bluff on track of Pakistani victim-card, the Assistant to the US Secretary of Defence for Public Affairs, Dana White, clarified at a briefing held at the Pentagon that Pakistan was both a victim of terrorism and guilty of “sponsored terrorism”.
On Nawaz Sharif’s specific revelations, White agreed that Pakistan was now at an “inflexion point” of choices that it needs to make. Such disconcerting observation from the US Administration aside, almost daily accusations from both New Delhi and Kabul on Pakistan’s insincerity and complicity in terror is acquiring a global chorus that usually falls on deaf ears in Islamabad, which still attributes all wrongdoing to the convenience of ‘non-state actors’.
Earlier in February, it was not India but a combine of the US, the UK, France and Germany that co-sponsored a move to put Pakistan on the ‘grey list’ of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) for international money-laundering and terror-financing. The convenient charade of ‘non-state actors’ that seeks to absolve the state of Pakistan from the blame-game in all terror attacks from Mumbai, Pathankot, Uri among others, was fully exposed much before Nawaz Sharif’s soul-cleansing act of clever politics.
Deep down, the entire Pakistani establishment knows the deceitful logic of ‘non-state actors’. Following the Uri attack, Pakistan Peoples Party leader Aitzaz Ahsan had slammed the Pakistani Government when he said, “The Government has been completely unsuccessful in imposing restrictions on non-state actors according to the National Action Plan.”
He further deplored the rote move to blame ‘non-state actors’ by saying that the standard position that Pakistan has no hand in the Uri attack is not a categorical denial. He added that the phrase implied: “We don’t know if our non-state actors are behind it.” Similarly, Awami National Party leader Asfandyar Wali Khan wondered at the establishment’s unexplained laxity by saying, “Why the Government is helpless before non-state actors?”
However, Pakistan’s only practical recourse to relevance in its so-called ‘jugular vein’ of Kashmir is through these home-grown and nurtured ‘non-state actors’. This tactic has offered the Pakistani state to claim plausible (though no longer believable) deniability for the violent acts of terrorism by these ostensible ‘non-state actors’ — this tact fits in perfectly with the previous dictator General Zia-ul-Haq’s infamous doctrine of “bleeding India through a thousand cuts.”
The more direct and head-on approach of the sort in 1965, 1971 and more recently ‘Kargil’, resulted in humiliating defeats for Pakistan and it is only through these covert proxies or ‘non-state actors’ that the Pakistani establishment has been able to keep the violence and unrest brimming.
This practice was first deployed within days of Pakistan gaining independence when it slipped in tribal raiders and marauders into the Kashmir valley, in its first of the multiple failed attempts at taking Kashmir.
Even the precursor to the full-fledged 1965 Indo-Pak War had seen Pakistan sending jihadis in the mistaken belief that they would be able to instigate a local uprising. While this practice was fine-tuned to an art in the Afghan war of the 80’s, nurseries and infrastructure continue to bedevil both New Delhi and Kabul till date. Despite the unbelievable human price that the Frankenstein monster of Pakistani terror industry has afforded on the Pakistanis, the establishment still pursues running with the hare and hunting with the hound, on terrorism.
Afghan President unequivocally pointed fingers at Pakistan’s benevolence and hospitality to these ‘non-state actors’ when he said, “Some still provide sanctuary for terrorists. As a Taliban figure said recently that if they had no sanctuary in Pakistan, they wouldn’t last a month.”
The ‘non-state actors’ manifest in the form of the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network for Kabul and Delhi continue blaming Islamabad for propping the likes of Lashkar-e-Tayyeba, Jaish-e-Muhammad, Hizbul Mujahideen etc, and politically, even the Hurriyat parties.
In Pakistan, everyone from the revivalist clergy, the over-fed military to the opportunistic politicians needs an ‘enemy’ to sustain relevance for itself and that is the invaluable service provided by these ‘non-state actors’ who do the Pakistani establishment’s bidding even if occasionally the embarrassing truth spills out, like it did in the case of Nawaz Sharif.
(The writer, a military veteran, is a former Lt Governor of Andaman & Nicobar Islands, and Puducherry)
Writer: Bhopinder Singh
Courtesy: The Pioneer
FIFA World Cup, one of the world’s most popular sport, is starting in Russia in a couple of weeks. Though it will not top over the international games schedule decline but will still be enthralling on television.
Many countries will come to a stop later this summer as the 21st edition of the world’s largest sports tournament gets cracking in the world’s largest country, Russia. This is the first time that the country is hosting the World Cup. While the way in which Russia and the 2022 host, Qatar, were awarded the World Cup rights remain shrouded in controversy, the 2018 tournament is upon us, questions that need to be asked more important in the eyes of some than the corruption scandal or Russia’s brutal crackdown on dissent or even the crisis in the Eastern Ukraine and the annexation of the Crimean peninsula.
For 90 per cent of the sports watching population across the world, such questions can wait out the six weeks of the tournament, which is a pity because hosting the tournament usually can put a lot of pressure on the hosts to behave themselves, but other than forcing Russia to ‘suspend’ some homophobic laws for the duration of the tournament, FIFA and the world, particularly Western Europe, which misses no opportunity to hector their giant Eastern neighbour, have been quiet. In Germany and the United Kingdom, more pressing issues have emerged — that is how will their national men’s football teams perform in Russia, spy poisoning scandals be damned. Such is the hypocrisy of the Western media.
However, World Cup tournaments themselves during their durations have a way of altering the worldview and the world’s view of nations. Germany, for example, got a massive economic and social boost following the 2006 World Cup they hosted. The world’s image of the Germans as a stiff teutonic nation was irrevocably changed into one of a hip, modern and inclusive nation. The foundations of Germany’s 2014 World Cup win and their unquestioned leadership in Europe today were laid in 2006. However, the 2014 World Cup in Brazil had the opposite effect — it was the catalyst that laid bare the social strife at the heart of the nation that spent money they did not have to host the tournament. Today, Brazil is in political and social turmoil.
However, it was the deep-rooted corruption in the global football federation FIFA and the world body’s failure to spread the sport more successfully into China and India that is becoming a huge issue going forward. Even though the Indian Super League has had some commercial and viewership success, it pales in front of the runaway success that is the Indian Premier League in cricket. Indeed, football’s spread to several new territories will be challenged by cricket, as the IPL has demonstrated India’s soft power in neighbouring countries. But much like the IPL and other T20 leagues across the world have gnawed away at the core of the international game in cricket, overload and competitiveness of the club game, especially the European club game, is challenging international football.
Unlike international cricket, where players can play beside each other as much as a hundred days in a year, international football players barely spend a few weeks together in a year once their professional careers start. The European football season officially comes to a close on Sunday at the conclusion of the Champions League final between Spain’s Real Madrid and England’s Liverpool Football Club, which will be a highly competitive match between two clubs loaded with talent. But one reason the club game has become so popular is because of the mixture of talent and the fact club football is the only space for some of that talent to really shine through. Take Liverpool’s talismanic Egyptian striker Mohamed Salah. While he will play at the World Cup, it is unlikely that he can raise the rest of his team to the level they need to be to get into the second round. But when surrounded by talent from all over the world, he will win several trophies in Liverpool.
And Salah is not the only example, Leo Messi, who along with Cristiano Ronaldo is a superstar and one of the best to ever have stepped onto a football pitch, has not won a major international tournament. And this is where things have changed from the times of the previous Argentine football God, Diego Maradona. Messi is no less of a legendary player because he has won nothing in the blue and white of Argentina because he has won everything a club player can in the ‘Blaugrana’ of Barcelona. Maradona was defined by his performance at Mexico, 1986. Messi has been defined by his time at Camp Nou alongside other superstars like Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta.
Lack of frequency of international football matches, particularly compared to the fifty-plus games a year that some of the top clubs play, almost all of which are broadcast in high-definition into our homes have changed the game of football. That coupled with the rot inside the global football federation which spent, among other things, $25 million producing a movie about themselves ‘United Passions’ instead of promoting the game properly has been a problem, FIFA and for that matter the Indian football federation have not built on the back of the successful Under-17 World Cup hosted in india last year. If India is to be successful at the sport, much more money and coaching talent is needed from FIFA. However, it is almost certain that an Indian-born player will succeed at the top of the club game, it is almost certain that player has been born already. Because it is easier for one or two to succeed than a whole team.
FIFA plans to expand the World Cup Finals to a truly incredible 64 teams going forward, quite the opposite solution of the International Cricket Council which is reducing participation. This runs the risk of making the international game even more unrelatable and irrelevant. No country is particularly fond of failure in an international sporting event, so with more countries failing and it might turn people away from the sport. One could argue that a lot of Brazil’s current turmoil started after their horrendous 7-1 defeat by Germany. Smaller, tighter and highly competitive tournaments might be the best way for the international game to stay relevant at a time of the club game.
That said, I for one will certainly be enjoying this tournament, which on the face of it it seems the most open tournament since 2006. Despite all the controversy and the issues surrounding the federations and the hosts, the tournament ought to be a success. Here is wishing all the players, coaches and volunteers all the best for Russia, 2018.
(The writer is Managing Editor, The Pioneer)
Writer: Kushan Mitra
Courtesy: The Pioneer
Indonesia and India are the two major powers both on the sides of the Indian Ocean. Both the countries when come together, can play a balancing role in an unbalanced region during tensions regarding the South China Sea.
A public lecture by HE Luhut Pandjaitan, Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia on ‘Indonesia’s Maritime Policy and Thinking of ways forward for India-Indonesia as Maritime Neighbours’ on May 17, organised by the Nehru Memorial Library and Museum, envisaged a plethora of strategic scenarios where India can choose to play a significant role in the region. In fact, the South China Sea (SCS) dispute has prompted a re-look at India as a balancing factor.
Besides drawing a wide canvas of India’s probable roles, Luhut Pandjaitan substantiated all components of foreign policy of Indonesia, which provide congenial environment for India, to forge stronger economic and strategic ties. He also highlighted common issues such as poverty and terrorism faced by the two countries. His visit to India is important as Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to make a three-day visit to Indonesia later this month in reciprocation to the recent visit by Indonesian President Joko Widodo.
The Prime Minister’s upcoming visit will bring both the countries closer as a number of agreements are on the cards. Among the known agendas, as revealed by Luhut Pandjaitan, is that Modi will lay the foundation stone for a hospital at the Sabang port which is the westernmost coastal location of Sumatra Province and is strategically perceived to be important for both countries. Prime Minister Modi is also expected to announce several investments to strengthen the Sabang Port and its economic zone, which, with its deep harbour, is capable of hosting submarines along with other Naval vessels.
This development is seen to be accentuating India’s probable role as a balancer in the region amid brewing unstable situation in the SCS through which an annual trade of $5.3 trillion passes and where the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has continuously been installing several strategic bases in an attempt to build its war effort in the SCS.
The precedence of the Chinese establishment in SCS shows PRC’s adamant behaviour and closely echoes a popular Indian proverb: “If an elephant passes through a market, barking of dogs is natural.”
Indonesia is itself facing issues with its Natuna islands located in the southern part of SCS which were partially claimed by the PRC. China also had a tiff with the Indonesian Navy in 2016. Though, according to Luhut Pandjaitan, situation is now under control, it seems he is not fully convinced as the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), off the coast of Natuna, is partially within China’s SCS claim, which is indicated by the so-called “Nine-Dash Line.”
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), whose basic agenda was to promote political and economic cooperation and regional stability, never achieved a consensus on any commonly perceived external security threat. This because each and every country in the region reels under different kinds of pressures, either economic or strategic, mounted by the PRC. In reality, they are reeling under diplomatic pressure, which the PRC has augmented in recent years by seriously engaging directly with individual countries in the region at different levels ie, bilateral trade, investments, political and domestic affairs as well.
Some global think-tanks term the formation of Asean as a security community since no significant war has taken place among themselves. The reason for the Asean being a peaceful place may be attributed to Indonesia, the largest country in the region which suffered for 32 years under the dictatorship of Suharto who was rather an inward-looking person and depended mostly upon the US for its external security issues. The rest of Asean nations were concerned with domestic issues such as insurgency, political instability, economic stability and state-building. Another factor that has prevented Asean from becoming a security community is non-interference in each other’s internal affairs which is its sacred principle.
The second factor was proved by the experience of the two countries in the region viz Philippines and Vietnam, who are major stakeholders in the SCS and are equally bullied by the PRC. However, they hardly found any shoulder from Asean to support their genuine claims. This was clear when the Hague Ruling (under Article 287, Annex VII of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea) debunked the PRC’s so-called historical claim on the SCS and the islands that it encompasses.
Silence on SCS issues, exhibited by the Asean, emboldens PRC’s claim and that’s the primary reason why China continues its belligerence, giving a signal that it was completely immune to all external factors, including world public opinion in this regard. It has increased its patrolling, construction and military installations with upgraded surveillance equipment in the SCS, created fierce geopolitical tensions among big powers and uncertainty among nations in the region.
The paradox is that all Southeast Asian (SEA) nations, even those who do not stake claim to the SCS, are directly or indirectly going to be impacted with the PRC standing vigilant just across its doorstep. On the outcome of the Hague verdict, Philippines, with its allies, was in a celebrating mood while other claimants seemed sceptical in displaying public cheer. The outcome, which was already feared by the countries of SEA before the Hague verdict, was visible in their statements from day one.
India’s swift handling of the Doklam issue with the PRC followed by Modi’s recent visit to PRC and his continuous efforts to balm the escalated injury exhibited by the Chinese military was taken as a role model for Asean countries. Their conviction towards India is getting stronger which is proved by an ever-increasing exchanges of leaders between India and Asean, especially with Indonesia. The change in India’s Look East Policy to Act East Policy seems to be placed at the right time.
Relationship between India and Indonesia is based upon deep shared culture and agama as Indonesian archipelago thrived under one umbrella of Indic fraternity, which is currently termed as the Indic Belt. However, post the formation of nation-states, both the countries got engaged in bigger power alliance politics, overlooking the power of cultural bonding between them. India could not take advantage of this opportunity to strengthen bilateral relations with Indonesia and other countries in the region. The foundation of Indian foreign policy under Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru changed its course frequently and tilted more towards holding Western hands, post Chinese attack on India.
In order to counter aggressive, and assertive hegemony of PRC, India marginalised its approach to strengthen relationship with smaller but strategically powerful nations in SEA at the cost of building economic and strategic blocs. On the other hand, the PRC utilised its diasporic presence in the Asean countries only to exhaust its industrial products, flooding the market with mundane products which could have been easily produced and marketed among themselves.
Thus, leaving India far behind in terms of gross trade, PRC has emerged as a sole economic giant in the region. India’s trade with Asean reached to $71 billion in 2017 while China’s bilateral trade with Asean stood over 500 billion in 2017. In contrast to China-Asean trade relations, the Indian trade is not making any rapid growth.
Luhut Pandjaitan called for stronger and balanced bilateral ties between the two countries. Aaccording to him, both countries are very large and powerful and share common maritime boundaries. Indonesia’s westernmost Province, Aceh, is only 100 nautical miles, which translates into 45 miles away from India’s Andaman Nicobar islands. This itself gives a great prospect with an abundance of possibilities of building economic bridge between the two countries. Sumatra islands of Indonesia seems to be flooded with huge deposits of coal, gas and minerals and India can tap the resources given its geographical proximity. To balance the trade deficit, Indonesia is expected to increase its import on pharma, IT, defence and meat products for which it is dependent on Australia and other Western countries as revealed by Luhut.
(The writer is Assistant Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi)
Writer: Gautam Kumar Jha
Courtesy: The Pioneer
As Beijing strengthens the execution of military principle, mainly media manipulation, India must stand organized. Information will be significant for any battle of tomorrow.
In 2003, China’s Central Military Commission approved the concept of ‘Three Warfares’, namely: (1) the coordinated use of strategic psychological operations; (2) overt and covert media manipulation; and (3) legal warfare designed to manipulate perceptions of target audiences abroad.
In recent months, Beijing has been intensifying the implementation of this military/civilian doctrine, particularly ‘media manipulation’. Take the example of an article published last week in The South China Morning Post. It speaks of “large-scale mining operations on the Chinese side of the border with India where a huge trove of gold, silver and other precious minerals has been found.” It argues that it “may create a new military flashpoint with India.”
Though no large-scale mining has yet been spotted in Lhuntse County, north of Arunachal Pradesh, the writer connects it with the Chinese claims in the area: “People familiar with the project say the mines are part of an ambitious plan by Beijing to reclaim South Tibet [the Chinese name for Arunachal], a sizeable chunk of disputed territory currently under Indian control.”
The article mixes the Longju border incident in 1959, the 1962 war with India, the Chinese claims and the supposedly huge deposit of rare earths. The sad part of the story is that the article was immediately copied and pasted by PTI and the next morning, the entire Indian media reported about the issue and linked the happenings on the Tibetan plateau with the Chinese advances in the South China Sea.
Ironically, a day later, the ultra-nationalist Chinese tabloid, The Global Times, called the article “a dodgy report disturbing the Sino-Indian ties.” It said that the article had lit a firestorm but remarked that after Indian Prime Minister’s visit to Wuhan, the two countries have achieved major progress in strengthening mutual trust, further it said China “has no intention of provoking border disputes”.
The Global Times added that though: “the report severely lacked factual evidence and was coarse,” the Indian media “was extremely excited to see such a topic,” adding: “to many Chinese people, their first impression is that the report is not credible, given the vague facts, the geopolitical point quoted by a geologist and the denial by the expert.”
Whether it is an orchestrated move by Beijing to first plant a ‘dodgy’ piece, knowing fairly well that some Indian correspondents in Beijing are experts at copy-paste reporting, and later to throw water on the fire, is difficult to know.
It is not the first time that The South China Morning Post has done it. On October 29, 2017, Jack Ma’s newspaper reported that “Chinese engineers are testing techniques that could be used to build a 1,000km tunnel — the world’s longest — to carry water from Tibet to Xinjiang;” again the Indian media jumped to the bait. There is no doubt that India needs to be prepared for Information Warfare in the coming months.
Another favorite topic of the Chinese media propaganda has been the 1962 War with India. Beijing is keen to rewrite the narrative and sell it to lakhs of its citizens visiting South Tibet; its idea is to prove that India attacked China in October 1962.
At the end of October 2017, as an offshoot of the Doklam episode, Sina.com published an album of photos “to commemorate the 55th Anniversary of the Outbreak of the Self-Defense Counterattack.” Note that for Beijing, it is the ill-equipped and unprepared Indian troops who attacked the Chinese, giving China no option but to ‘counterattack’, killing hundreds of Indian jawans and officers in the process.
One of the photos, showing the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) parading in front of the Potala in January 1963, in Lhasa linked the 1962 War with the 2017 standoff in Bhutan: “The leader of the Chinese Communist Party, Mao Zedong, once estimated that India’s ‘embarrassment’ [of the 1962 War] could usher in 10 years of border security and peace. History has proved that the period of peacetime has been longer than estimated. Today, 55 years later, India once again provoked China.” The message was clear. At the time of the 1962 War, disinformation already existed.
In his Monthly Report for April 1963, the Political Officer in Sikkim informed New Delhi: “Early in the month it was announced by the Chinese authorities that the Chinese frontier guards in Tibet would be releasing 3,213 Indian prisoners which included amongst others one Brigadier [John Dalvi], 26 Field Grade Officers and 29 Company Grade Officers.”
The PO added: “The propaganda machine of the Chinese made out that the Indian prisoners were living in Tibet in a state of idyllic bliss. The detention camp was described as having been established in picturesque surroundings where the prisoners spent their time playing games or fishing and otherwise enjoying themselves. The food was supposed to have been so good that the prisoners had according to the Chinese statement on an average gained 1.35 Kgs per head. The nursing care received by the sick is supposed to have so overwhelmed the recipients as to have induced them to say that even their parents had not bestowed more loving care on them.”
The Indian PoWs reported the opposite; they ate only radish and immensely suffered during their months of captivity on the cold Tibetan plateau. Today, the Chinese propaganda is using the 1962 conflict to its benefit.
Che Dalha (alias Qizhala), the Governor of the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) recently visited Zhayul, north of the McMahon line in the Lohit Valley. Some 50 km south in the same valley, the famous Battle of Walong took place in November 1962; here Indian troops and particularly the six Kumaon regiment of the Indian Army managed to stop the Chinese advances and paid a high price for it; the Chinese too suffered heavy casualties.
China has built a Hero Memorial Park to honour its deaths in Zhayul. During his visit, Che told the villagers that the masses should always cherish the memory of the revolutionary martyrs; he laid a wreath for 447 Revolutionary Martyrs at the War Memorial.
The story will now be told to thousands and thousands Chinese visitors, how ‘the Indians attacked our troops’. Incidentally, Che took the opportunity to urge the villagers to watch for strangers or suspicious persons (Indian?); he asked them to cross-examine them and send a report to the PLA manning the Indian border.
Another memorial stands north of the Thagla ridge in Tsona County. The Forward Command Post of General Zhang Guohua, who commanded the PLA operations in 1962, has been reconstituted and opened to tourists. It is located in Marmang village, the first hamlet north of the McMahon Line.
This gazetted national-level historical site also mentions the ‘Sino-India Self Defense Counter Attack Battles’, hotels are already mushrooming to receive the visitors. ‘Information’ will certainly be an important part of any battle of tomorrow. Has India grasped this? Not sure. In the meantime, Indian journalists should scrupulously verify the facts when they write.
(The writer is an expert on India-China relations and an author)
Writer: Claude Arpi
Courtesy: The Pioneer
PM Narendra Modi and Russia’s Vladimir Putin summit is a big proof of New Delhi showing promptness in answering to global power play.
The fact that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, welcomed warmly by Russian President Vladimir Putin to Sochi for an informal bilateral summit on Monday, leads an Indian administration that is refreshingly responsive to the rapidly shifting sands of contemporary geopolitics is beyond doubt. Even the Prime Minister’s severest critics ought to concede that he is doing a spirited job of keeping India in play at a time when the US, Russia, China and the European Union are all re-calibrating their tactical plays and/or redefining their strategic objectives. It isn’t an easy job, especially because both multilateral and bilateral relationships of the above-mentioned are in state of, let’s say redevelopment. Additionally, for India, we happen to live, to paraphrase the late King Hussein of Jordan, in a tough neighborhood, which makes it incumbent upon New Delhi to pay close attention to what’s going down in South Asia as well as what’s happening in Indian Ocean rim-countries.
Some strategic experts trace the current state of flux in the context of which Modi and Putin have met to iterate the strategic level of the longstanding Indo-Russian partnership with an emphasis on defence ties to the moves made by the US under President Donald J. Trump. The argument goes that it is a result of Washington no longer being willing to go along tail tucked neatly between its legs with accepting the inevitability of China’s rise as a fait accompli or Russia’s attempts to reclaim the Soviet legacy in terms of heft on the world stage and is entirely unwilling to continue with one-sided economic ties — especially its trade deficit with other nations/groupings — as a price for being feted as a so-called leader of the free world. Indeed, it is true, that the US under Trump – who promises to make America Great Again — has resulted in others reacting to protect their own national interests in turn thereby strengthening an emerging multipolar world. But it would be facile to put it down this trend to merely a change in US administrations. No, what many have missed but India for once has not, is that these developments are a manifestation of deeper shift in world politics after the end of the Cold War and perhaps the most fundamental rejig of the premise on international relations have been conducted after the end of World war II than is commonly recognized. We are, not to put too fine a point on it, going back to the future in a sense, with the nation-state once again as the primary unit of interaction globally and multilateral alliances increasingly becoming tactical rather than strategic in nature. India, which was a subject nation in the era of empire, has, thankfully, got it right this time around.
New Delhi’s outreach to Moscow at a time when US sanctions are a real threat for the latter while simultaneously deepening its ties with Washington is a reflection of that understanding. Its balancing act in terms of engaging with Teheran, another object of Trump’s ire, and making clear its sympathies lie more with the Russia/EU position is another example. India has also been quick to respond to China’s accommodative overtures given the US pushback against Beijing’s growing global influence which has forced the latter to show some flexibility towards its lesser adversaries. In sum, while all political parties in India have long accepted the primacy of our national interest, it has taken a Government with an ideological commitment to the idea of the nation-state in general and the Indian civilizational nation on which a modern, democratic state is being crafted in particular to walk the talk.
Courtesy: The Pioneer
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