In recent weeks, there has been some puzzlement over India’s somewhat less than enthusiastic response to Afghan overtures for re-engaging and revitalizing the Strategic Partnership Agreement signed between the two countries in 2011. At a time when Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s misplaced faith, or if you will Great Gamble, on Pakistan’s bonafides has started to unravel, many analysts imagined that India would be more than willing to step into the breach.
It is mystifying why commentators on the Indian side, including some who have officially dealt with Pakistan, should have been so critical of their own government for the failure of the Ufa initiative. They seemingly hold our side more responsible for the fiasco, overlooking or downplaying not only Pakistan’s conduct prior to the talks, but its almost seven decades of perennial hostility, recourse to violence and single-minded pursuit of its Kashmir agenda.
Ever since Nawaz Sharif became Prime Minister of Pakistan for the third time in 2013, his statements professing his sincere desire for normalising relations with India have been quite at variance with his actions on ground. The result has been that whatever progress was made under his two predecessors – Gen Pervez Musharraf and Asif Zardari – on a host of issues ranging from terrorism to trade, including the issue of Jammu and Kashmir (a phrase that Pakistanis so adamantly insist on adding on to anything to do with India) have regressed significantly.
The undercurrents in Kashmir Valley, the covert and overt actions of Pakistan across the International Border and Line of Control (LoC) with India require to be analysed in depth if we are not to be reactive in our strategy to thwart separatist designs and Pak motives. A few new trends in the valley are cause for concern and require addressing before they snowball into another set of challenges. A lot of them are at the strategic level, requiring actions at Kashmir and also, Delhi.
The ambient air quality has been monitored in Delhi since 1984 by the Central Pollution Control Board formerly known Delhi Pollution Control Committee. The collected data and analysis shows there is deterioration in air quality of Delhi. The air pollution has been a matter of concern because it is impacting environment and health. To combat the air quality problem it is important to understand the reason of problem to implement successful robust action plan in time frame.
Will it be fourth time lucky for Ranil Wickramasinghe? Sworn in as Prime Minister of Sri Lanka on Friday afternoon, Ranil Wickramasinghe is not new to the post. He has been PM in the past--1993-94, 2001-04--and since January this year when he and President Maithripala Sirisena joined hands to oust Sinhala strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa as President of the country. Wickramasinghe's first two stints were not spectacular. But in the current circumstances, his popularity vests him with an authority that he perhaps lacked in the two earlier stints.
In conventional warfare command decisions are based on a range of options, the escalation matrix is well understood and risk is quite easily calculated on the basis of resources, surprise and leadership. However, in irregular warfare the challenge of decision making is sometimes of a higher order. Keeping the threshold low and escalation within control is difficult. The situation on the LoC in J&K is tricky and quite unlike situations which present themselves in conventional operations.
A proper atmosphere has to be created for talks between any two countries to progress. In the case of India and Pakistan, with decades of conflict and mistrust poisoning their relationship, it should be all the more necessary to abjure any aggravating action or rhetoric that would foul up the atmosphere even before the talks have begun. If there is sincerity in wanting to turn the page in the relationship, then past tactics have to be discarded.
“Today, we mark not merely the end of a problem, but the beginning of a new future.” Thus spake the Prime Minister on August 3, after the Naga Peace Accord was signed in New Delhi. The terms of agreement were not released – only the framework was outlined. According to Kiren Rijiju, Minister of State for Home, it may take about three months to finalize the exact terms of the agreement. Nevertheless, according to sources, the accord seeks a “lasting solution” to the Naga problem.
The resistance by powerful Afghan Taliban leaders and field commanders to the nomination of Mullah Akhtar Mansoor as successor of Mullah Mohammad Omar and his elevation as the new Emir of the Taliban movement has, for now at least, spoiled the elaborate end-game that the Pakistanis had planned in Afghanistan. The talks between the Afghan Taliban and the Afghan government have been put on hold and there is no clarity if they will re-start anytime soon, if at all. And even if they do re-start, there are doubts whether these talks will be able to deliver anything close to peace.