We should be treating the visits of Pakistani leaders abroad as part of normal diplomacy that all countries engage in. By paying too much attention to them we boost Pakistan’s political importance and diminish our own stature. Unfortunately, we cannot easily ignore the visits of top Pakistani leaders to the US, not because of concerns about what Pakistan may seek but what the US may dispense.
As I sit before the television I see events hurtling across West Asia at a speed faster than can be discerned. I follow events almost minute to minute but find it difficult to make strategic sense out of many of them. It’s why I pity the layman observer who gets his morning dose of news and cannot reflect deep enough on them. I have no doubt that West Asia continues to occupy the core center of strategic affairs in the world and competing centres in Central Asia and the South China Sea are yet many light years behind.
A year or so before the US-Pakistan relations went horribly wrong in 2011 – the Osama raid, bombing of 26 Pakistani soldiers, the Raymond Davis affair – the two sides had made an effort to have a conversation on the possibility of a civilian nuclear deal of the type that US and India had entered into. The ‘Strategic Dialogue’ on a range of issues between the US and Pakistan did not however turn out to be either a dialogue or strategic. From around late 2012, both sides made efforts to bring their relations back on the rails and restarted a somewhat watered down Strategic Dialogue.
The South China Sea has been an area of friction for the last couple of decades with regular flare ups between states that ring this area due to competing territorial and sovereignty claims. The Spratly Islands have often been in the news with contesting claims of China, Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines leading to acrimonious incidents and even military action between them, on occasion. The area has consequently drawn the attention of world powers though permanent solutions to its complex problems have been long in coming.
Images of the simmering situation in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir broadcast on Indian TV channels appear to have shaken the Indian media, the army of analysts, and perhaps even the government of India out of their decades long slumber over a part of India which isn’t quite a part of India because it is under alien occupation. Pro forma references to the parts of Jammu and Kashmir state under Pakistan's forcible occupation aside, India hasn’t really agitated strongly or seriously over the territory.
“Our defence cooperation with Vietnam is among our most important ones. India remains committed to the modernization of Vietnam’s defence and security forces.”
---PM Narendra Modi, October 2014
After a delay of nearly six months, the 268-page long report of the UNHCR on alleged ‘war crimes’ in Sri Lanka was released during the ongoing thirtieth session of the Commission. Broadly, the report deals with human rights violations during the period 2002 to 2009 when the government forces were engaged in the ethnic war in war in the country. It however, does not delve into the intricacies of alleged crimes which have been left for the next round of investigations.
Sri Lankan commitments welcomed:
The report welcomes the commitments made by the government of Sri Lanka:-
Bangladesh’s tryst with democracy began a new chapter in the nation’s history when the newly independent nation adopted its first Constitution in 1972 with the tenets of nationalism, democracy, socialism and secularism. The then political environment of the country was possibly not conducive to these principles of democracy as it had just witnessed the vicissitudes of political assassinations followed by an extended period of ‘junta rule’ that lasted for nearly two decades. Nevertheless, the aspiration for democracy encouraged Bangladesh to reinstate a Parliamentary form of democracy in 1991.
Even before Nawaz Sharif addressed the UN General Assembly, the Pakistanis had let it be known that he would be bad-mouthing India on the issue of Jammu and Kashmir. There was, therefore, no real surprise in India when Nawaz Sharif raked up the Kashmir issue from the UNGA podium.
Defence and economic cooperation are two prominent and defining aspects of any bilateral relationship in today’s world. While evaluating the growing bilateral relationship between India and Australia, it is heartening to note that in both these areas, the two countries have been moving rapidly over the last few years. Indian investments in Australia was recorded at AUD 10.9 billion in 2014, while Australian investment in India touched AUD 9.8 billion with annual bilateral trade reaching nearly AUD 16 billion (Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 2015).