Category Archives: International Affairs

Terroristan (Pakistan)

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Balochistan might be like Kashmir, but Pakistan is no India – Ahmar Mustikhan

Ribhu Vashishtha

Should Kashmiris thank the Ashoka Chakra, so to speak, for being nationals of India? One does not know what to do, laugh or cry on reports that Kashmiri protesters Wednesday led by separatist leader Masarat Alam Bhat had chanted “Kashmir banega Pakistan,” or Kashmir will become part of Pakistan, slogans.

India Today, released a video that showed Bhat chanting slogan, with the apt caption, “The Democracy that is India. Here Masarat Alam can chant “meri jaan Pakistan” and “Kashmir banega Pakistan fearlessly!” The reason why I felt crying was I was told by Baloch sources in my native Balochistan that Pakistan launched its first drone attack in Mekran Friday afternoon around the same time protests were being held in Srinagar. Some sections of the media also reported that Bhat had raised Pakistan flags, but others question this charge as frivolous. However, after Bhat is clearly heard saying “meri jaan Pakistan”…

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India’s Soft Power

Ribhu Vashishtha

The recent tie-up of Prasar Bharti with Germany’s broadcaster Deutsche Welle is a welcome step in the arena of India’s ever expanding soft power in the world. The tie-up will pave the way for availability of Doordarshan channel with the name “DD India” to 120 million viewers in Europe, Central Asia, Middle East, North Africa and Australia. This marks our ascent on the world stage with international TV channels like CNN, BBC, Al Jazeera and Russia Today. These channels play an instrumental role in shaping international public opinion about various events that occur daily in the world. Often, they provide different and sometimes even conflicting views about the same event. Now, India has got a long due chance to present her angle to these events to the international audience and showcase her magnificent culture on the television platform for attracting tourists, investments, admirers, artists to Incredible India!

While we still have miles to go…

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Spying gracelessly : Balochistan

Source : The Indian Express -C. Raja Mohan (Twitter @MohanCRaja)

It’s natural for India and Pakistan to spy on each other. But it’s time they instituted spy swaps to bring them home when they get caught.

It’s shocking! So shocking to discover that New Delhi and Islamabad spy on each other! Louis Renault, the corrupt police captain in the film Casablanca, who simulates shock at gambling in Rick’s cafe, endears himself by lacing venality with wit. The media warriors in South Asia, however, refuse to let even a bit of commonsense colour their easy outrage. The latest provocation for their huffing and puffing is Pakistan’s claim that it has arrested an Indian spy in Balochistan.

It’s not for nothing that spying has been called the second-oldest profession. It’s as ancient as statecraft. Any self-respecting sovereign would maintain an effective ring of spies as the first line of defence against potential threats, both internal and external. All states indulge in spying, political and commercial. And not just against their adversaries. Keeping a tab on your friends and partners is considered just as important.

Thanks to WikiLeaks, we know how intensively the United States spies on its friends. The US National Security Agency (NSA) was routinely snooping on German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff.

What is really shocking, though, has been the lack of any grace attached to spying in the subcontinent. Elsewhere in the world, it’s respected as a tough profession and valued as a special art. India and Pakistan have generally tended to disown spies who get caught. It would be more sensible for India and Pakistan to acknowledge, at least in private, their respective spooks and bring as many of them home through spy swaps. That’s what Russia and America did at the height of the Cold War.

We might never really get to know the real story behind the claims and counter-claims in Islamabad and Delhi on the purported arrest of an Indian spy in Balochistan. Truth is always hard to pin down in the cloak and dagger business. For Islamabad, the claim reinforces the charge that India is destabilising Pakistan in Balochistan. These charges are not new. Recall the insistence of then Pakistan Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani to include Balochistan in a joint statement with then-PM Manmohan Singh on the margins of the 2009 non-aligned summit at Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt.

Unlike the UPA government that turned defensive amid the angry reaction in Delhi, the NDA government is a lot less coy on these things. Some analysts would see the incident boosting Delhi’s current image of being very tough on national security. It might also be an advertisement for the new will in Delhi to pursue muscular approaches to counter Pakistan’s cross-border terrorism.

What’s intriguing, though, is the Pakistan army’s statement that it has raised the issue of Indian spying in Balochistan when General Raheel Sharif called on visiting Iranian President Hassan Rouhani last week. In his press conference at the end of the visit, Rouhani, however, denied that there was any discussion about the Indian intelligence agency, R&AW, and its alleged activities in Iran and Balochistan.

That General Sharif publicly accused Tehran of colluding with Delhi in Balochistan is a reminder that all is not well between Iran and Pakistan. Although the R&AW is a favourite whipping boy for Pakistan, Islamabad has problems of its own with Tehran in Balochistan. The border between Iran and Pakistan, which runs down the Baloch lands into the Arabian Sea, has long been turbulent. At the end of 2014, the simmering tension boiled over into an exchange of fire between the security forces of Iran and Pakistan. Tehran has long accused Pakistan of sheltering Sunni militant groups, like Jundullah and Jaish al-Adl, hostile to Iran.

That’s only one part of a more complex story in Balochistan. Enduring tribal resentments in Balochistan against Pakistan’s oppression have erupted in frequent revolts over the decades. The Pakistan army, which has put them down with considerable force, has often accused Delhi and Kabul of supporting the Baloch insurgents.

If Delhi has longstanding complaints about Pakistan’s cross-border terrorism, Kabul points to Rawalpindi’s open support for the Afghan Taliban, whose leadership has made Quetta, the capital of Balochistan, its home. Tehran has long been apprehensive of the Afghan Taliban’s Sunni extremism and has been wary of its return to power in Kabul with the Pakistan army’s support.

Delhi and Tehran have, indeed, had a common interest in countering Taliban rule in Afghanistan during 1996-2001.That’s not all. Don’t forget the Russians, Americans, Saudis and Israelis — all of whom have had varying degrees of interest and involvement in the politics of Balochistan.

China now has growing stakes in Balochistan, where its ambitious Pakistan economic corridor connects with an even more expansive project, the 21st century Maritime Silk Road. As China builds a new port in Gwadar, Iran is building its own a few miles to the west in Chabahar.

One doesn’t have to count all the competing interests and contradictions to appreciate that Balochistan will remain a dangerous but very inviting hunting ground for the world’s spies in the coming years.

India, US, Japan to work together to maintain maritime security

Source: ET

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NEW YORK: Reflecting the growing convergence of their individual interests in the Indo-Pacific region, India, US and Japan have agreed to work together to maintain maritime security through greater collaboration.

The agreement was reached at the inaugural US-India-Japan Trilateral Ministerial dialogue held here on Tuesday on the sidelines of the 70th UN General Assembly session.

US Secretary of State John Kerry hosted the dialogue with Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida.

Representing a quarter of the world’s population and economic production

power, the three countries highlighted their shared support for peace, democracy, prosperity, and a rules-based international order, according to a joint statement.

The three ministers highlighted the growing convergence of their respective countries’ interests in the Indo-Pacific region.

They also underscored the importance of international law and peaceful settlement of disputes; freedom of navigation and overflight; and unimpeded lawful commerce, including in the South China Sea, it said.

They reiterated their support for ASEAN centrality in the multilateral political and security architecture in the Asia-Pacific region and emphasized the importance of the East Asia Summit as the premier leaders-level forum for addressing key political and security issues of the region.

The three countries agreed to work together to maintain maritime security through greater collaboration, the statement said.

The US and India welcomed Japan’s participation in the 2015 MALABAR exercise.

Recognizing the three countries’ extensive disaster response capabilities and converging interests, the three sides agreed to convene an experts-level group on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief to enhance ability to respond jointly to complex disasters.

In an effort to capitalise on collective capacities in promoting regional economic linkages, the three ministers launched an experts-level group on regional connectivity to identify collaborative efforts that can help strengthen regional connectivity, including between South and Southeast Asia.

The three ministers expressed interest in exploring trilateral cooperation on women’s skill enhancement and economic empowerment to further social and economic development.

All three ministers welcomed the inaugural Trilateral Ministerial as a platform for strengthening cooperation and noted their interest in meeting again.

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US, China to be part of Indian Army’s largest joint drill (FTX-2016) in Pune next year

Source: http://defencenews.in/defence-news-internal.aspx?get=new&id=jeqieMXFGUw=

NEW DELHI: Indian Army will hold its largest ever multi-nation military exercise in Pune next year, in which all the ten member states of ASEAN and its eight dialogue partners including China, Japan, Russia and the US will participate.

Army sources said for the period of 2014-17, Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) had developed a roadmap to build common understanding to achieve interoperability in the fields of Humanitarian Mine Action and UN Peacekeeping Operations in the region.

“For the first time in the history, Indian Army will be conducting one of the largest multinational exercise in March 2016 in Pune,” one of the sources said.

The sources added that the Field Training Exercise (FTX-2016) would involve participation from 18 ASEAN plus nations for a period of one week.

The countries that will take part in the joint exercises are the ASEAN’s 10 member states and eight dialogue partner countries which are China, Japan, South Korea, the US, India, Russia, Australia and New Zealand.

“The FTX-2016 would promote practical cooperation and give opportunity to share and learn good practices from each other,” a source said.

The Exercise Planning Conference for the FTX-2016 will start at Pune from tomorrow and end on September 30, and members from ASEAN Headquarters, Cambodia, Vietnam, South Korea and India would plan and coordinate the exercise events. Indian delegation is being led by Brigadier Ashok Narula from Army Headquarters, the sources said.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is a political and economic organisation of ten Southeast Asian countries Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. ASEAN and India reaffirmed their commitment to strengthen and advance the strategic partnership earlier this year and agreed to step-up cooperation.