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Japan, ASEAN join hands for Indo-Pacific peace

Free and Open Indo-Pacific concept is expanding widely from Southeast Asia, India to Africa. It guarantees safety, peace, economic prosperity, and a strong human tie…reports Asian Lite News

Japan and ASEAN are joining hands to enhance economic stability and security related issues.

Dr Rizal Sukma, Senior Fellow at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, Jakarta said, “We, of course, really rely on this security and stability in the Indo Pacific. I think an open Indo-Pacific will benefit not only Indonesia but also benefit other countries as well because this is the most important condition for trade to take place, which is the sea routes, the maritime domains must be secured and also must be stable.”

“ASEAN really expects Japan to play a more active security role and I think ASEAN Outlook on the Pacific will provide a new platform for ASEAN and Japan to work and cooperate on security methods even more. ASEAN and Japan now should really expand their cooperation to include much more activities in the security area as well, not only on economic cooperation. Because we do have common challenges we are facing in the Indo-Pacific,” Sukma said.

Thailand authority analyses the concept of Free Open Indo Pacific.

Dr Pongphisoot Busbarat, Assistant Professor at Chulalongkorn University said, Japan’s contributions to economic development and connectivity in the region and in Thailand in particular so tremendously you know helped these countries emerge as emerging economies and could play important roles in the world economy.

“I believe the concept has a great prospect to be welcomed by Thai policymakers and Thai people within the Thai public. The perceptions of Japan is very positive and I believe in other countries as well. And I think the promotion of FOIP by Japan will even improve and confirm these public perceptions of Japan’s constructive role in the region at large. Thai Japanese relations in particular, is always warm and friendly. So Japan’s constructive role throughout more than Thailand’s economic development will pave a strong and solid background and foundation for our relationship,” Busbarat said.

Free and Open Indo-Pacific concept is expanding widely from Southeast Asia, India to Africa. It guarantees safety, peace, economic prosperity, and a strong human tie. (ANI)

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Jaishankar meets German counterpart, discusses Afghanistan, Indo-Pacific, Ukraine

German Foreign Minister said there is a new war impending right in the middle of Europe, reports Asian Lite News

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar met with his German counterpart Annalena Baerbock on Saturday, and discussed several issues including Afghanistan, Indo-Pacific and the ongoing tension between Ukraine and Russia.

Taking to Twitter, the Foreign Minister said that he also focused on climate action and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) during the meeting.
“A wide-ranging discussion with German Foreign Minister @ABaerbock. Focused on climate action and SDGs, bilaterally and globally. Covered Afghanistan, Indo Pacific and Ukraine. Looking forward to building further on today’s meeting”, Jaishankar tweeted.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock discussed Ukraine crisis at the Munich Security Conference in Germany.

The German Foreign Minister said there is a new war impending right in the middle of Europe. “Russia issues an absolutely unacceptable threat with their troop’s buildup vis-a-vis Ukraine, but also vis-a-vis all of us and our peace architecture in Europe. Therefore, this crisis is therefore no Ukraine crisis. We have to be very careful about our framing. It’s a Russia crisis.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock discussed Ukraine crisis at the Munich Security Conference in Germany. (Photo: Secretary Antony Blinken/Twitter)

Amid escalating tensions between Russia and Ukraine, a “powerful explosion” hit Luhansk, Sputnik reported.

The blast was said to occur at gas pipeline “Druzhba” and lead to a massive fire.

Local gas infrastructure managing “Lyhanskgas” said in a statement that emergency crews are now present on the site, reported Sputnik.

“At 00:10 on 19 February, calls began to arrive about a major fire on the gas pipeline near Malaya Vergunka, emergency teams of the State Unitary Enterprise ‘Luganskgaz’ went to the scene,” “Luganskgaz” told reporters.

Recently, the Quad meeting in Melbourne held a discussion over the ongoing situation between Russia and Ukraine to reinforce rules-based order that applies equally in Indo-Pacific as it does in Europe.

“There was a discussion of Russia and Ukraine in the context of the Quad meeting that we had with our Indian counterparts, our Japanese and Australian allies. There was a strong consensus in that meeting that there needs to be a diplomatic – a peaceful resolution to this. One of the core tenets of the Quad is to reinforce the rules-based international order, and that is a rules-based order that applies equally in the Indo-Pacific as it does in Europe, as it does anywhere else,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said. (ANI)

ALSO READ: NATO remains open for dialogue with Russia: Stoltenberg

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Chinese actions severely affecting environment in Indo-Pacific

China’s unilateral moves to build artificial islands in the South China Sea region, sidestepping the concerns of several other countries, is resulting in environmental degradation…reports Asian Lite News

Chinese activities in the Indo-Pacific are causing severe environmental degradation in the region.

Pia Sherman, writing in Global Strat View said that the Indo-Pacific strategy talks about building regional resilience to 21st-century transnational threats, including by “Reducing regional vulnerability to the impacts of climate change and environmental degradation.”

China’s unilateral moves to build artificial islands in the South China Sea region, sidestepping the concerns of several other countries, is resulting in environmental degradation and impacting marine biodiversity in the Indo-Pacific.

The construction of these artificial islands is in clear violation of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) of 1982, of which China is also a signatory, said Sherman.

China has formed 3,200 acres of artificial land in the South China Sea, raised an airstrip with the capacity to land fighter jets and large commercial planes, built 72 fighter-jet hangers, and commissioned 10-12 large aircraft on Fiery Cross, Subi, and Mischief Reefs in the Spratly Islands. It has made military installations in the Woody Island of the Paracel Islands.

This construction and militarization of the South China sea have caused a steep decline in the fishing stock in the region. In 2015, the South China Sea contributed around 12 per cent of the world’s fish catch per year, but “fish stocks have declined by one-third and are expected to decrease an additional 59 per cent by 2045 if current practices persist,” reported Global Strat View.

This has caused many coastal people to give up fishing as their occupation, threatening their livelihood and causing supplementary food security issues.

Along with fishing, the fishermen are also becoming involved in poaching endangered species such as giant clams and sea turtles. The decline in the fish stock and demand for it leads to more political tensions and clashes in the South China Sea.

Moreover, the dredging process required to build the artificial islands has resulted in the destruction of the coral reefs in the area. Associated coral bleaching and dynamite fishing are further destroying the coral reefs in the sea.

Dredging work done to remove the sand and gravel from the coral reefs destroys the ecosystem. It has also led to changes in water currents. Any change in temperature and salinity in the sea waters could cause extensive damage to the marine habitat. A high sediment concentration in the water will also block the sunlight, adversely affecting the growth of corals in the sea, said Sherman.

Construction of the artificial islands and militarization required constant movement of Chinese vessels, which further pollutes the relatively fragile marine environment of the region.

In areas with significant artificial island-building, there has been a proliferation of harmful algae blooms. The excessive nutrient loadings and algae blooms exhaust the oxygen available in the marine environment and induce acidification, which causes coral erosion.

Any future human activities on the artificial islands will further cause an increase in debris and pollution and lead to further habitat destruction, said Sherman. (ANI)

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Indo-Pacific is a fact of life, says Jaishankar

Speaking at the 3rd Indo-Pacific Regional Dialogue, EAM Jaishankar added that “the politics of the day apparently creates some reluctance in admitting to that”…reports Asian Lite News.

Pointing out that the Indo-Pacific was a fact of life, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Wednesday said that denying the Indo-Pacific was tantamount to denying globalization.

“Even those who ostensibly have reservations behave and operate in a manner that validates the Indo-Pacific. And that validation, as you all know, is in its very seamlessness and inter-penetration. In truth, everybody is aware that there is a fusion of theatres that were unnaturally separated earlier,” he noted.

Speaking at the 3rd Indo-Pacific Regional Dialogue, EAM Jaishankar added that “the politics of the day apparently creates some reluctance in admitting to that”.

“We could all ask why, if the realities were so obvious, that there should be hesitation or more in some quarters from recognizing what is staring us all in the face,” he asked.

“The answer is probably in the mind-set, possibly even in their insecurities. If one is steeped in the ethos of the Cold War and even leveraged it to advantage, it is not easy to accept that others can approach the world very differently. Especially if the objective is to create a wider, more collaborative and more democratic approach to achieve common good,” he explained.

“As globalization advances and becomes more diversified, there will only be a greater appreciation of the inter-dependence and broader footprints that the Indo-Pacific expresses. Given this direction, denying the Indo-Pacific is tantamount to denying globalization,” Jaishankar argued.

In the domain of international relations, it was natural that new concepts take time to be digested, Jaishankar went on to say.

“To facilitate that process, it is also important to show an openness of mind and acceptance that there can be many pathways to approach the Indo-Pacific,” he said.

The 3rd Indo-Pacific Regional Dialogue was organized by the Indian Navy in association with the National Maritime Foundation.

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UK plans to create persistent military presence in Indo-Pacific region

India and the United Kingdom had their first maritime discussion, during which they addressed maritime cooperation, as well as Indo-Pacific, regional, and multilateral cooperation…reports Asian Lite News.

UK Chief of the Defence Staff General Nicholas Carter informed on Tuesday, October 19, that the country intends to establish a “persistent” military presence in the Indo-pacific region. Speaking at a podcast organised by the Centre for a New American Security, Carter said that the visit of the warships to the region will not be on a regular basis but will rather be episodic, news agency Sputnik reported.

General Carter further remarked that the United Kingdom has had a long-standing relationship with numerous countries in the region, dating back to the British Empire and said that London maintained an elite jungle warfare school in Brunei, on the island of Borneo.

He also clarified that the UK’s planned expansion to the Indo-pacific region will not be accompanied by any reduction in London’s contribution to and participation in NATO.

Meanwhile, India and the United Kingdom had their first maritime discussion, during which they addressed maritime cooperation, as well as Indo-Pacific, regional, and multilateral cooperation.

Notably, last month, Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States signed a security arrangement, AUKUS, to “ensure peace and stability” in the Indo-Pacific region. The announcement came as Australia unilaterally withdrew from a $66 billion deal with France’s Naval Group for the delivery of 12 diesel submarines, opting instead for the provision of nuclear-powered vessels through the AUKUS alliance.

In AUKUS’s project, the US and the UK have committed to help Australia in developing and deploying nuclear-powered submarines. The initial talks of the AUKUS deal began at the G7 Summit hosted by the UK in June 2021 and the AUKUS pact was announced on 15 September. The trilateral military pact was signed with an aim to protect the Indo-Pacific from China’s dominance and shield the post-1945 global order.

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India, Japan See Kenya As Key To Indo-Pacific

Kenya’s geographic location, political stability and economic dynamism enables it to play the role of the gateway between Africa and the Indo-pacific, writes Sankalp Gurjar

There are two primary geographic imaginations of the Western periphery of the Indo-Pacific region. The area as imagined by Australia (and until recently, by America), ends at the Western coast of India. As per this visualisation, this region is defined as the one stretching from Bollywood (located in Mumbai) to Hollywood (located in Los Angeles on the Western Coast of America).

The second definition championed by India and Japan includes the Eastern African seaboard as an inalienable part of the Indo-Pacific construct. In fact, in 2016, Japan launched its Indo-Pacific strategy, known as “Free and Open Indo-Pacific”, in Nairobi in Kenya. In 2018, when India outlined its vision for the region, Eastern and Southern African littoral was included as part of the Indo-Pacific.

For India, Kenya being a littoral state and a maritime neighbour located on the Eastern African seaboard, it is important to understand its approach towards the Indo-Pacific. Three recent developments help us to comprehend Kenya’s view of the Indo-Pacific: the remarks by Kenya’s Chief Administrative Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Ababu Namwamba, at the Bled Strategic Forum; remarks Kenya’s President at the United Nations Security Council debate on maritime security and India-Kenya joint statement.

Indian Navy destroyer INS Kolkata and tanker INS Shakti, transits the international waters in the South China Sea along with US, Japanese, Philippine ships. (Photo JMSDF

At the Bled Strategic Forum, held in September 2021, Kenya’s Chief Administrative Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Ababu Namwamba explained his country’s approach towards the Indo-Pacific region. He divided the region into three sub-regions: Eastern, Central, and Western. He argued that Kenya is located in the Western Indo-Pacific and has three key concerns: Militarization, especially of the Red Sea, Piracy and Transnational Crimes, and finally, Oceanic Pollution. Each of these concerns presents challenges as well as opportunities for littoral states.

Kenya is positioning itself as a gateway between Africa and the Indo-Pacific. Kenya’s geographic location, political stability and economic dynamism enables it to play the role of the gateway. Namwamba observed that Kenya is interested in engaging with the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) as a platform that would be useful in bringing prosperity.

As the Indo-Pacific is primarily a maritime region, maritime security has emerged as a key focal point for debates about the Indo-Pacific region. In August, at the behest of India, UN Security Council discussed the issue of maritime security. It was the first time that such a holistic debate took place on maritime security. Kenya is a non-permanent member of the UNSC and President Uhuru Kenyatta delivered remarks at the debate.

Kenya links Africa and the Indian Ocean, and therefore, Kenyatta noted that Kenya’s “wealth and security rely on the building of sound trade and security linkages between these two regions.” However, Kenya is worried about the threat posed by terrorism in its neighbourhood of East Africa and the Horn of Africa. Moreover, for Kenya, “piracy and other sea-based crimes, including attacks on vessels and illicit trafficking of persons, firearms and narcotics, remain a concern.”



He observed that “competition for influence in the Red Sea region, particularly by extra-regional Powers, has intensified over the years.” Kenyatta said that threats to maritime security arise from “land-based situations.” Moreover, he “encouraged more thinking and innovation in developing and launching fair-trade regimes in areas such as the Indian Ocean rim.” Kenyatta underscored the need “to build robust coast guard capacities” and stressed “the threat of climate change to the existence of some small island States.”

For Kenya, the immediate maritime periphery and the extended region from the Red Sea to the Mozambique Channel matters in its Indo-Pacific security calculations. The concerns it has expressed, such as extra-regional military presence and maritime piracy, are primarily important in the context of this broader region. Therefore, it is clear that Kenyatta’s concerns about maritime security and the views expressed by Chief Administrative Secretary on the Indo-Pacific cover more or less similar points. Their emphasis on economic prosperity and trade is noteworthy as well.

The third relevant development was the India-Kenya joint statement issued after the visit of External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar in June. The statement alluded to the Indian Ocean and Indo-Pacific. The joint statement noted that, India and Kenya are “maritime neighbours” and that both countries “recognized the importance of ensuring through shared endeavours greater security, safety and prosperity of the Indian Ocean Region.” Furthermore, they also “held extensive exchanges on global and regional issues including the security situation in the Indo-Pacific region and the Horn of Africa.”

East African littoral is attaining greater strategic importance as a theatre in its own right as well as a vital sub-region in the Indo-Pacific. Regional security and geopolitics are undergoing changes due to the strategic rivalries between the extra-regional players. Therefore, an important littoral state like Kenya is voicing its concerns, articulating its priorities and by doing so, hopes to influence the debates about the region and to place itself in an advantageous position.

Kenya understands the necessity of building the coast guard and security capabilities for tackling threats like terrorism and maritime piracy. It is also interested in drawing economic benefits by engaging with key Indo-Pacific powers through RCEP or otherwise. It has managed to build resilient ties with China on the one hand and America, Britain and Japan on the other. The balancing between major powers is a normal strategy for smaller yet strategically important states. Kenya is no exception to this.

For India, Kenya is a key partner in East Africa and in the Western Indian Ocean region. With Kenya demonstrating greater interest, India could perhaps engage Kenya in an Indo-Pacific framework.

(Sankalp Gurjar is a Research Fellow with the Indian Council of World Affairs, New Delhi. This is a revised version of the original article by the author that appeared at the Indian Council of World Affairs website. Read the original article here. Views expressed are personal)

(The content is being carried under an arrangement with indianarrative.com)

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SECURITY: Advantage India as US Turns Focus on Asia-Pacific

In the Western diplomatic toolkit, Quad is at the forefront due to the assertiveness of China in the Indo-Pacific from military expansion and stealth economic takeover, ‘strategic trap’ to shackle nations under Chinese ‘BRI’ orbit…writes Asanga Abeyagoonasekera

Alliance gives new meaning to political boundaries on physical maps empowering coalitions with political preferences to work together. President Biden does “not seek a new Cold War”, clearly expressing at the UNGA and many other leaders are with Biden, including Indian Prime Minister Modi, where the world divided into two rigid blocks will only limit progress and prosperity to many nations. In reality, Cold War structures will resurrect when the rules-based order is threatened, and robust partnerships are required to maintain the security balance.

President Biden established a more structured alliance, the AUKUS, a week before the first-ever in-person Quad Summit in Washington DC on September 24. AUKUS, the security alliance, will enhance the capability of the US, the UK and Australia on deterrence, an expansion of underwater warfare capabilities of the nuclear-powered submarine fleet to Australia for extended patrols. With more military capacity in Indo-Pacific and substantial naval presence, the like-minded nations in the new security alliance will deter China’s aggressiveness in the South China Sea and the surrounding waters. Many like-minded nations with democratic values who subscribe to Free and Open Indo-pacific (FOIP) norms will be part of the AUKUS security structure in the future. While the security alliances are usually heavily structured, the primary informal structure with a non-militaristic space will be the Quad which is more informal. Michael J. Green from the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) argues, “It’s like a dimmer, not an off-on switche It’s a flexible tool, including who joins. It’s flexible for a Korea or a New Zealand or the UK. If they decide they’re upset with China, they can send a frigate to the next exercise.” The flexibility of the Quad made it easier for nations like Singapore to join military exercises a few years ago with the Quad and many other nations to follow bilateral or trilateral naval exercises to enhance the value of a critical Quad goal, to maintain a free and open Indo Pacific (FOIP).

In the Western diplomatic toolkit, Quad is at the forefront due to the assertiveness of China in the Indo-Pacific from military expansion and stealth economic takeover, ‘strategic trap’ to shackle nations under Chinese ‘BRI’ orbit. “The Quad has come together due to china’s assertive behavioure and economic dependence of some countries”, explains ORF scholar Druva Jaishankar. The Quad is a non-security arrangement due to India’s appeal to leave security out of its core agenda. Focused more on securing supply-chain security, semiconductors and vaccine diplomacy was the primary focus. China was not mentioned during the summit due to the Biden administration’s idea of Quad to project a positive vision towards a vaccine, climate change, critical technologies and not a grouping to contain China.

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However, Raja C. Mohan from ISAS Singapore observed, “China’s peaceful rise has not been peaceful, a concern to many nations… having bitten once [by China] people are finding alternatives.” China’s assertiveness with military expanse, the concern of human rights and coercive economic practices with stealth takeover of strategic assets promoting alternative governance structures with more militaristic regimes such as in Sri Lanka would alter the core agenda of the Quad. India, which preferred a non-military configuration for the Quad, would perhaps be forced to bring insecurity to the Quad agenda in the future to defend and protect the regional balance due to China in its immediate neighborhood.

Quad, initiated in post-Asian Tsunami in 2004, has been at the forefront during the pandemic to “play the role of a force for global good”. Explains Prime Minister Modi, “I’m confident that our cooperation under Quad will ensure prosperity and peace in the Indo-Pacific and in the world.”

Quad’s informal arrangement will allow other non-Quad nations to join and support the norms and values of democracy and international law in the future. The countries that have been direct victims of China’s aggressiveness will join the Quad to deter China in the future. The informal structure of Quad to protect and bring democratic nations together, to give protection to nations that have become victims of China’s “debt trap”, such as Sri Lanka. It will also be a balancing counterweight to Chinese expansion. The “strategic trap” is visible in Sri Lanka from its long term 99 years leased out strategic infrastructure. The Hambanthota port and Colombo Port City were the best examples of strategic expanse. While accepting and expanding the Chinese loans, Sri Lanka rejected substantial grants such as the US MCC. Recently at Carnegie Endowment, the Sri Lankan Foreign secretary explained the rejection of the US MCC grant of $480m by the government was due to “democracy and people’s power” that scrapped the project, defending that there was no China hand behind. The foreign secretary has forgotten the concocted Presidential expert commission report projecting a national security threat.

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Chinese sphere of influence has now enlarged into Sri Lanka’s democratic space, where the Sri Lankan regime defends Chinese human rights in Xinjiang, clear signs of reciprocal arrangements to receive assistance from China to defend the grave human rights concerns in Sri Lanka raised by the UN High Commissioner at the 48th UNHRC session a few weeks ago. The recent expression of Foreign Secretary Jayanath Colombage was “we wish to remain neutral in our foreign policy”, which contravenes with the Chinese bandwagoning foreign policy posture taken by the same regime. Colombage further explained that Chinese warship arrivals are far less than India and Japanese warship arrivals to Sri Lanka, where 563 warships have visited since 2009ehinting a less significance of Chinese presence and interest from the volume of warship arrivals. Unfortunately, the ill-logical view does not capture the broader strategic danger to the Island nation and its neighbour India.

India will have two concerns with Chinese aggression and the strategic takeover of its neighbouring nations. First, to strengthen its external alliance structure, such as from Quad to bring in nations like Sri Lanka towards the norms and values of the international system rather than allowing drift from a Quasi-democracy to military control autocratic regime. This drift towards China will pose a direct threat to India’s security. While economic practices and standards are also part of Quad dialogue, supply chain security shows groups intention to work together in the economic arena where China’s place in the world economy would limit how far the Quad could achieve success in bringing standards to economic practices. Biden administration’s focus on the B3W (Build Back Better World) initiative will complement the economic infrastructure standards and supply chain security in the coming years.

Biden administration will focus more on Quad and the G-7, the two core organizing bodies that will centre on the global international system to achieve tangible results. India has a strong position and voice in both of these platforms than any South Asian nation. As mentioned by PM Modi, India is a “natural ally for the G7 countries in the fight againstauthoritarianism, terrorism and violent extremism, disinformation, and economic coercion, among other threats”.

Second, to partner and support security alliances, a more formal structure such as AUKUS will be of India’s interest since the mini-lateral compliments India’s vision towards achieving a rules-based Indo-Pacific. ORF scholar Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan aptly capture “AUKUS is an important development because it signifies the capability augmentation of one of India’s closest strategic partners, with whom it has just started a 2+2 ministerial dialogue. A strong and capable Australia is in India’s interests, that of the Quad and the broader Indo-Pacific region”.

These mini-lateral platforms will crisscross the Indian Ocean, where Sri Lanka, an important maritime nation located geo-strategically in the Indian Ocean, will be a crucial maritime partner to consider, unfortunately in the present context drifting towards Chinese orbit. Nations like Sri Lanka are essential due to their open access to the Indian ocean, where naval exercises and maritime security will be primary drivers for sustaining the mini lateral military arrangements. Sri Lanka’s security trilateral signed by the Gotabaya Rajapaksa regime with India and Maldives is a mini lateral in the right direction and will benefit Sri Lanka. India would require a two-pronged strategy to its northern borders and its South, the Indian Ocean. India, the only nation among the Quad nations that share a physical geographical border with China, is more vulnerable than the other Quad partners for confrontation, just like in the past. India’s challenges from its western flank, from Af-Pak, will grow with the Chinese footprint expanding in Afghanistan. From India’s South, the security balance of the Indian Ocean will be of primary interest where Sri Lanka, Maldives and other literals cannot be ignored.

The efforts of mini lateral democratic alliances such as Quad should focus more on targeted nations like Sri Lanka by the Chinese “debt and strategic trap”. Sri Lankan regime seeping away from democratic norms to a militarized rule has drifted from the Indo-Pacific configuration, a geographical flashpoint in India’s vicinity. The Quad should actively engage and seek commitment from nations like Sri Lanka, pulling towards the norms and values of a rules-based order. The country-specific strategic push from the Quad will assist Sri Lanka to recalibrate its foreign policy towards a more balanced and progressive path with international norms and values.

(Asanga Abeyagoonasekera is a geopolitical analyst, strategic advisor on security from Sri Lanka)

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Biden says Quad committed to inclusive Indo-Pacific

In a video, Biden said that the four major democracies with a long history of cooperation know how to get things done and are up to the challenges, reports Asian Lite News.

President Joe Biden posted a video of the meeting of Quad heads of state here and said that the group is committed to partnership and inclusive Indo-Pacific.

Expressing his honour at hosting the Quad summit, Biden said that the members are committed to an Indo-Pacific region that is free, open, inclusive.

The video featured Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Australian PM Scott Morrison and Japanese PM Yoshihide Suga along with the Biden during the recently held Quad Summit in Washington.

In the video, Biden said that the four major democracies with a long history of cooperation know how to get things done and are up to the challenges.

“It was an honor to host the first-ever in-person Quad Leaders’ Summit. We’re committed to our partnership and to an Indo-Pacific region that is free, open, inclusive, and resilient,” Biden said in a tweet.

The first-ever in-person Quad Leaders’ Summit was held in Washington on September 24.

The head of the nations of four countries (India, US, Australia, Japan) participated in the meet.

The summit said that the countries will closely coordinate diplomatic, economic, and human-rights policies towards Afghanistan. And aim for an Indo-Pacific region that is free, open, inclusive, and resilient.

The Quad leaders also denounced the use of terrorist proxies and emphasized the importance of denying any logistical, financial or military support to terrorist groups which could be used to launch or plan terror attacks, including cross-border attacks. 

The meeting between the heads of state of the Quad nations held on September 24 at the White House marked a major shift in balance of power in the aforementioned regions. India, the US, Australia and Japan are now firmly placed on the world stage to take on Chinese economic and territorial hegemonic expansion as well as Pakistans attempts to export terrorist jihad in the region.

It also sent a strong message to the Taliban and was echoed during Indian Prime minister Narendra Modi address when he said that it was absolutely essential to ensure that Afghanistan’s territory is not used to spread terrorism and for terrorist activities. Modi also warned Pakistan that using terrorism as a “political tool” was an equally big threat for them as well. And quite rightly so. Ever since the Taliban took over Kabul, Pakistan military forces have come under periodic attacks by Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). And the Afghan Taliban have refused to intervene as a mediator between the Pakistan government and the TTP.

On the other hand, Pakistani Prime minster Imran Khan who chickened out and decided not to attend the UNGA session and a recorded statement instead was exhibited. As always he his tone was hostile. He threatened the global community that if Taliban government was not recognised there would be consequences.

The Prime Minister boasted about reforesting Pakistan through a 10 billion tree plantation drive while illegally cutting down our forests in the Pakistan occupied Jammu and Kashmir (PoJK). At the time when Pakistan illegally occupied PoJK on October 22, 1947, our forests covered 42 per cent of our landmass. Today that figure is reduced to 14 per cent. Our trees are being chopped and sold in the timber black markets in Rawalpindi, Gujranwala and Lahore. It is estimated that Pakistan is robbing us of Rs 52 billion worth of forests annually causing recurring landslides and earthquakes in our region.

Khan informed the session that the gap between the rich and the poor was increasing at an alarming pace due to the plunder of the developing world by their own ruling elite. Well, he forgot to mention that he has given impunity to the military generals who constitute an integral part of Pakistan’s ruling elite and who have been involved in taking kick back and stealing money from development funds and Covid aid received in recent years.

How could a Pakistani Prime Minister’s address to the UNGA not involve India bashing? Khan proved to be no different. While calling RSS and BJP fascists, he praised terrorist late Syed Ali Shah Geelani and demanded that he be reburied in the graveyard of martyrs. He complained that Geelani’s body was snatched from his family and forcibly buried by the security forces. Well, how come Geelani’s corpse was wrapped up in the Pakistani flag?

Taking advantage of ‘right to reply’, First Secretary of Indian mission in the UN, Sneha Dubey took Khan to task by reminding him that PoJK and PoGB were not only an integral part of Pakistan but demanded that Pakistan vacate the occupied territories immediately.

Claiming that Afghanistan might slip into chaos and become haven for terrorists Khan made demand on the global community to recognised the terrorist regime while Taliban continue to hunt down and in certain cases carrying executions on their doorstep afghans who had helped foreign forces or worked for foreign NGOs.

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Defeat Of Taliban Central To Free Indo-Pacific

Afghanistan is a major front in the effort by the Sino-Wahhabi alliance to drain away credibility and morale within institutions such as the Quad, writes Prof. Madhav Nalapat

A kilo of action is worth more than a ton of words, and thus far, while words have continued to flow from those in Atlantic Alliance states, who consigned the people of Afghanistan into a medieval hell, efforts at putting such noble intentions into practice have been zero. The only parts of Afghanistan where women and non-radicals remain safe are in locations where the Taliban have failed to establish a foothold.

The greater the influence and control of different factions of the Taliban in a given place, the less the values and practices claimed to be championed by the more preachy among NATO member-states. This has not blocked the steady empowerment of the more toxic elements of the Taliban through “humanitarian assistance”, of course channelled through Pakistan. This has once again given GHQ Rawalpindi (and its PLA boosters) the ability to promote those loyal to them and obedient to their wishes, while depriving others of any “humanitarian” succour. Not that this fact is unknown to the countries doling out such “assistance”.

Those in charge know that money and materiel funnelled through Pakistan will end up with those elements who have made a living out of violence to their fellow human beings. What is paid is protection money, a bribe that it is hoped will stop radicals from putting at risk the lives of those citizens of NATO member-states who are still in Afghanistan. In reality, the degree of protection is less than strong, for the reason that more and more of the feisty younger elements in the Taliban are no longer responsive to the commands coming from the older leadership, especially those known to be following the dictates of the Sino-Pakistan alliance.

Pashtuns across both sides of the (defunct since 1992) Durand Line are a proud people, who have long chafed under the overbearing approach adopted by either Middle Eastern paymasters or commanders in the Pakistan army, which institution remains firmly in the control of those from the northern and western parts of Pakistan Punjab. This includes the territory from which those belonging to the Hindu and Sikh minorities have been expelled, where they have not been killed or made to change the faith they were born in.

OLD TALIBAN VS YOUNG TALIBAN

There is a widening gap within the collective known as the Taliban between the older leadership and the much young cadre that has been formed ever since the US and its coalition partners openly flaunted the degree of control they had over the governance institutions formed in Afghanistan since the 2001 collapse of the Taliban at the hands of the Northern Alliance assisted by US logistical (but not troop) support. NATO commanders believed that their own troops on the ground were the primary solution to the problem of keeping extremists away from Afghanistan, unwilling to admit (a) that the hyper-emphasis on force protection severely limited the tactical choices essential towards the defeat of enemy combatants, and that (b) ground and air attacks on the wrong targets (a consequence of relying on the Pakistan military for much of the intelligence input) boosted the ranks of those seeking to resist what they saw as just another foreign invasion of their country, and this after they had driven away the Soviet forces by 1989.

Frequent contact with the (overwhelmingly non-Pashtun) officers and men of the Pakistan army combined with the overbearing attitude of the latter to creating a mistrust (and often raw hatred) of Pakistan that is present not just in Afghan civil society in general but also in the ranks of the Taliban. This collective is split

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into six groups, two of which function under the control of the Pakistan army, while another is dominated by those in financial servitude to the PLA, the top ranks of which have a decisive say within the Pakistan military as well.

It would be imprecise to even attempt to put numerical values on the strength of the six factions (including the three that are independent of the GHQ-PLA alliance). What can be said is that the ranks of the three factions controlled by the GHQ-PLA alliance are much smaller (and have a much higher average age) than the three factions that are resentful of the manner in which the Taliban are being sought to be controlled by GHQ Rawalpindi and the PLA through the Central Military Commission in Beijing, which has since 2017 come within the control of CCP General Secretary Xi Jinping, who is in many ways as organisationally powerful a leader as Chairman Mao was.

CHINESE YOUTHS ALARMED BY XI

Perhaps inconveniently for Xi, China has changed since the period when Mao was alive, and the Chairman’s efforts at becoming another anti-elitist leader is going against the sentiments of several young citizens of the PRC, who aspire to the “good life” represented by material success. In other words, the lifestyle that was placed as the centrepi

ece of party policy by Paramount Leader Deng Xiaoping from 1978 onwards, and which remained in place until 2012, when Xi Jinping took over as General Secretary of China’s ruling party.

Whether in the state owned or private sector, those in charge have felt the whiplash of the anti-elitist moves of Xi. These may be earning the party supremo cheers from the six hundred million who feel short-changed by the manner in which the PRC has developed since the 1980s, but is being viewed with alarm and resentment by the middle classes and much of the youth. While political activity (except in support of the CCP) was discouraged, a range of actions was freed of state oversight, thereby giving nearly four hundred million citizens of the PRC freedom of choice that had been absent during the period when Chairman Mao was running the country.

More than 85% of the prosperity of China is because of this segment of the overall population, and it remains an open question whether the attempted return to the Mao-era lifestyle will affect the PRC economy adversely or not. Orders such as restricting online gaming to three hours during weekends for the young, or the authorities going after popular movie stars and singers may cause tensions in Chinese society that for decades had been largely absent, despite the continuing monopoly of control by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). General Secretary Xi seeks to mould a nation in the image of Sparta, a collective of fighters who obey Victorian rules of morality.

From elementary school onwards, the effort is to groom a generation of citizens who will (a) be respectful and obedient to the dictates of the CCP leadership and its subordinates, and (b) embrace in word and deed the goal of Xi Jinping Thought, which is to enshrine China as the centre point of global geopolitical gravity. It is an ambitious task, and to further its progress, Xi has intensified cooperation not only with the Pakistan military but with Wahhabi dispensations and groups across different regions, of course excepting those within his own country. Xi sees in the Wahhabis an ideology and force that is hostile to the Atlantic Alliance, the importance of which in world affairs which Xi Jinping is seeking to reduce to a level such that it would not pose any challenge to the primacy of China (aided by its allies) across the Indo-Pacific and subsequently the Atlantic

TALIBAN VICTORY EMBOLDENS XI

What may be termed the “Creamy Layer” within the Taliban (mostly comprising of the ageing agents of the Sino-Pakistan alliance) is anxious for the opening of the sluice gates of financial assistance from NATO member-states. At present, such handouts are a trickle and are essentially ransom money, paid through the Pakistan army in order to try and ensure safe passage for the hundreds of NATO citizens still stranded within Afghanistan.

The problem is that the younger elements in the Taliban collective regard such individuals as human shields who ensure that there will not be any resumption of the bombing raids that the Taliban fear most from the NATO powers. Although US Secretary of State Antony Blinken may not have received information about the manner in which US citizens and Afghan employees of the former US mission are being prevented from leaving airports across Afghanistan, this is what has been taking place. The older “leadership” elements of the Taliban may have had some control over those under them during 1996-2001, but not anymore. In particular, they are regarded with contempt for their obsequious behaviour towards not just Pakistan but China.

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It was not a surprise that GHQ Rawalpindi involved its forces in the battle over segments of the Panjshir mountain region. Billions of US dollars are at stake, given that elements (most technically retired) of the Pakistan army control the Af-Pak narcotics trade. The military is also looking at securing the role of middleman in ensuring that the PRC gains access to the mineral riches of Afghanistan. They seek to convert Afghanistan into another Balochistan, a colonised country from where riches get drained away, mostly into China. CCP General Secretary Xi Jinping looks upon the Pakistan army as a trustworthy conduit for such exploitation of the mineral wealth of Afghanistan, and has wagered all his cards on this bet.

What is helping boost the confidence of Xi is the fearful response of key NATO member-states, who are competing with each other in their attempt to curry favour with GHQ Rawalpindi and the Taliban, including through cash assistance. The sequence of events that has taken place in the Af-Pak region since the surrender to the Taliban by President Trump at Doha in 2020 has emboldened those close to General Secretary Xi, who have therefore intensified PLA-centric harassment of Taiwan and instituted even harsher measures to neutralise dissenting elements in Hong Kong, Xinjiang, Tibet and restive zones across China.

The ripple effects of the manner of President Biden’s scampering at speed from the Afghanistan theatre are becoming waves that, unless action countering this is not initiated, have the potential of becoming a tsunami that can severely damage security interests of the US, the EU and those countries active in efforts to ensure that the Indo-Pacific remains free and open to all rather than be monopolised by a single country.

China blames US for Afghan crisis

BEIJING PURSUES CREEPING ANNEXATION

Among the measures taken by Beijing to push forward its creeping annexation of land, air and sea space is the declaration that all vessels entering waters that are part of the global commons but which has been claimed by China need prior permission before such transit. Should this command be complied with, rather than ignored as ought to be the case, the countries making such a concession will be identified as soft targets for further active measures designed to lash them firmly to the political and economic interests of the CCP leadership.

In the 1990s, the present writer had pointed out that when the era of single male children monopolising the leadership of the CCP comes about, the risk of an aggressive, assertive stance by the PRC would rise substantially. This is what has happened under Xi Jinping’s watch, and thus far, the international fightback has been nowhere close to the degree needed to convince the leadership in Beijing of the dangers to themselves of the high-risk strategy that they have adopted since 2012 in their hunt for global primacy. Given the hyper-centralised mode of governance adopted by Xi Jinping, there appears to be a tendency in Beijing to underplay the fact that the governance system in the US (or in other major democracies) does not hinge on just the apex of the system in the manner that it now does in China.

While President Biden has miscalculated substantially in his decisions on Afghanistan, thereby doing severe harm to his own viability as an effective Commander-in-Chief, the presence of multiple nodes of authority in the US (such as industry, civil society, the media, opposition parties and others) results in far less damage being done to the overall societal structure in the US from such Presidential blunders than would be the case in the PRC, were Xi Jinping to make a policy error of similar magnitude. GHQ Rawalpindi has sought to disseminate the impression within its “iron” friends in Beijing that the Afghanistan fiasco has damaged the US sufficiently to give extra headway towards efforts by the Sino-Pakistan alliance to weaken US partners such as India and establish as strong a degree of control over Afghanistan as is the case in Balochistan.

The difficulty is that the mechanism of Afghan society is no longer tolerant of groups such as the Taliban, and resistance to that collective and to its outside supporters will grow in the months ahead. The swagger in Afghan cities of officers belonging to GHQ Rawalpindi has caused tensions within Afghan society unhappy at the extent of control that the Sino-Pakistan alliance has over several senior members of the Taliban. Across both sides of the Durand Line, the conviction is growing that if the US military could be sent packing from Afghanistan, would it be an impossible task to do likewise to the Pakistan army in the Pashtun territories across both sides of the Durand Line? Not just the global terrorist network but its antidote, the resistance to efforts by GHQ and its agents in the Taliban, is growing as well.

Taliban tighten grip on Panjshir

INDIA MUST LEAD

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar needs to visit Uzbekistan and Tajikistan in the light of recent events. Both powers understand (although not overtly) that the US-facilitated re-entry of the Taliban into Kabul presents an existential threat to their own security interests. A coordination of effort needs to be made to ensure that the Tajik, Uzbek, Hazara and other communities at risk in a Taliban-ruled Afghanistan are protected. The Resistance Movement concentrated within the Panjshir mountains needs help rather than remain ignored, as has been the case thus far.

Those in the US and elsewhere are wrong who believe that the Af-Pak situation is unrelated to the broader effort to keep the Indo-Pacific free and open. Afghanistan is a major front in the effort by the Sino-Wahhabi alliance to drain away credibility and morale within institutions such as the Quad. And yet the situation within that country and the Pashtun areas to the south of the Durand Line are fraught with fissures that have the potential to embroil the GHQ-PLA alliance in a situation similar to that faced by the USSR in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

What is required from India is leadership in cobbling together an alliance of countries and interests that seek to prevent extremist influence from spreading, and which are opposed to efforts at making large chunks of the territory of other countries or which form part of the global commons into the exclusive zone of primacy-seeking powers. The time for speaking out may not yet have arrived, but a “Wait and Watch” approach on the part of India has passed its expiry date. Intensive efforts are needed to prevent the waves of extremism linked to attempts at primacy from developing into a tsunami that can endanger the future of populations across continents, and as a consequence of the apparent abdication of responsible leadership by President Biden, the need is for Prime Minister Modi to pick up the baton. Silently but firmly.

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France, India, Australia likely to hold leaders’ level meet soon

According to a report, the G20 summit in Italy in October could provide an opportunity for the meet with a focus on Indo-Pacific…reports Asian Lite News

Trilateral-France, India and Australia-is all set to be elevated to leaders’ level as President Emmanuel Macron, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Prime Minister Scott Morrison are likely to meet on the sidelines of any major multilateral summit.

According to a report, the G20 summit in Italy in October could provide an opportunity for the meet.

The development comes almost a year after the group first met at the secretary level. In September 2020, the France, India and Australia trilateral was launched at foreign secretaries’ level with maritime security, environment and multilateralism as three joint priorities.

In May, the first foreign ministers meeting took place on the sidelines of the G7 summit in London. Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and their Australian counterpart Marise Payne met and discussed a number of issues.

The focus of the grouping has been largely on Indo-Pacific. Both France and Australia are part of the Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative (IPOI) announced by India in 2019. In fact, Paris announced that it will join IPOI and take the lead of its ‘Maritime Resources’ pillar during the French foreign minister’s visit to New Delhi in April 2020.

The mandate of the trilateral is being expanded. Ahead of the G20 FMs meeting in Italy, the trilateral had coordinated amongst themselves on a joint strategy at the forum.

Earlier, this year also saw the grouping having met at the senior officials’ level. The Indian side was led by Joint Secretary (Europe West) in MEA, Sandeep Chakravorty; French by Bertrand Lortholary, Director (Asia and Oceania), and the Australian side was led by Gary Cowan, First Assistant Secretary (North and South Asia Division). (India News Network)

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