India and Tajikistan have nurtured warm and strong relations through the ages. Tajikistan is in India’s extended neighborhood, and is a geo-politically significant country.
At the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation’s (SCO) forthcoming annual summit meeting in Bashkortostan in Russia in July 2015 , it is expected that India’s status would be elevated from an Observer to a full member. If reports are true, it would indeed be a positive development for India. A regional Grouping, the SCO, comprises of countries some of whom are part of its extended / strategic neighbourhood. Today India’s neighbourhood is in a state of flux, the shape of future scenario in Afghanistan is uncertain.The process of withdrawal of Western coalition forces from Afghanistan has begun.
India’s relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran over the last few years have been marked by various hurdles. These pertained to the unresolved payment imbroglio for the import of Iranian crude oil; inability to streamline trade between the two countries and various other issues. These limitations have cropped up ever since the United States imposed economic sanctions on Iran for its controversial nuclear programme. The sanctions have led to negative impacts on India’s overall bilateral relations with Iran.
On 25 October 2013, the Iranian State News Agency reported that fourteen Iranian border guards were killed and five wounded in clashes with “armed bandits” near Saravan on Iran’s southeastern border with Pakistan. There were also reports of three (to six) soldiers of having been taken hostage and moved across the border into Pakistan. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has since called for an investigation into the incident.1 The Balochistan region (with areas falling in Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan) has for long been associated with instability and armed conflict.
Afghanistan was the main focus of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit held in September this year at the Kyrgyz capital of Bishkek. Though there was some distraction caused by the Syrian crisis with all the members supporting non-intervention in the affairs of a sovereign country yet the Afghanistan situation received the most attention from both the members and the observers. President Hamid Karzai has been seeking the support of SCO members since he attended the SCO summit for the first time in 2004. It was only last year that Afghanistan was admitted as an observer.
Salience of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and its relevance to India has been growing since India was first admitted to SCO as an observer in 2005. Over the years, SCO has acquired increasing significance as an important platform for cooperation on regional economic and security issues. India has been keen to engage the Central Asian countries in a wide variety of issues though keeping away from the power politics of the region.
In a development that could very well upset India’s geo-strategic apple cart, China is making deft and vigorous moves to woo Iran to accept its offer of US$80-million to upgrade the Chabahar port located on the coast of Gulf of Oman, off the Strait of Hormuz. Perhaps it could be a well thought out move on the part of China, which through its “string of pearls” strategy is busy expanding its area of influence across the Indian Ocean region, to keep India away from the project and slowly intrude into the Indian geo-political space in Tehran.
Even though much awaited President Putin’s visit to Pakistan in the first week of October has been shelved, causing disappointment among the Pakistani establishment, the doors for finding a new understanding between the two on Afghanistan and regional issues remain wide open. Putin was to pay a bilateral visit to Pakistan before the quadrilateral summit that was scheduled for 2-3 October in Islamabad. Pakistan had become part of the quadrilateral of Russia, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Pakistan in July 2009 when the forum’s first summit was held in Dushanbe.
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