Xi Jinping in Pakistan: Shifting Alliances in South Asia?

“America has no permanent friends or enemies, only interests.” Henry Kissinger

Rapidly unfolding events confirm shifting post-cold-war alliances in South Asia. Chinese President Xi Jinping is starting his first state visit to Pakistan to commit investment of over $45 billion in Pakistan, representing the single largest Chinese investment in a foreign country to date.

This investment is part of China's “One Belt, One Road” initiative, which is a global project in character and scope representing China’s inexorable rise on the world stage as a superpower. The Pakistan part of it is variously described as Pakistan-China "economic corridor""industrial corridor", "trade corridor" and "strategic corridor".

Pak-China Industrial Corridor Source: Wall Street Journal


Chinese and Pakistani naval forces have also agreed to boost maritime security cooperation in the Indian ocean with the sale of eight diesel-electric AIP-equipped submarines capable of carrying nuclear weapons. This cooperation is aimed at defending against any threats to shipping lanes in and out of Pakistani ports serving the planned Pak-China Corridor.

Russia, too, has lifted arms sales embargo on Pakistan and agreed to sell weapons and make energy infrastructure investments.  Plans are in place for first-ever Pakistan-Russia military exercises.

These development come on the heels of US President Barack Obama's second visit to India and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's recent tour of Western capitals with the signing of deals confirming Modi's India's status as the West's latest darling.

How strategic are China-Pakistan ties? I am reproducing the following post I published about two years ago:

China's new Prime Minister Mr. Li KeQiang has just ended a two-day visit to Pakistan. Speaking to the Senate, Li declared that "the development of China cannot be separated from the friendship with Pakistan". To make it more concrete, the Chinese Premier brought with him a 5-points proposal which emphasizes "strategic and long-term planning", "connectivity and maritime sectors" and "China-Pakistan economic corridor project".


Source: China Daily




From L to R: Premier Lee, President Zardari and Prime Minister Khoso
Here's a recent report by  China's State-owned Xinhua News Agency that can help put the Chinese premier's speech in context:

“As a global economic power, China has a tremendous number of economic sea lanes to protect. China is justified to develop its military capabilities to safeguard its sovereignty and protect its vast interests around the world."

The Xinhua report has for the first time shed light on China's growing concerns with US pivot to Asia which could threaten China's international trade and its economic lifeline of energy and other natural resources it needs to sustain and grow its economy. This concern has been further reinforced by the following:

1. Frequent US statements to "check" China's rise.  For example, former US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said in a 2011 address to the Naval Postgraduate School in California: "We try everything we can to cooperate with these rising powers and to work with them, but to make sure at the same time that they do not threaten stability in the world, to be able to project our power, to be able to say to the world that we continue to be a force to be reckoned with." He added that "we continue to confront rising powers in the world - China, India, Brazil, Russia, countries that we need to cooperate with. We need to hopefully work with. But in the end, we also need to make sure do not threaten the stability of the world."


Source: The Guardian


2. Chinese strategists see a long chain of islands from Japan in the north, all the way down to Australia, all United States allies, all potential controlling chokepoints that could  block Chinese sea lanes and cripple its economy, business and industry.





Karakoram Highway-World's Highest Paved International Road at 15000 ft.


Chinese Premier's emphasis on "connectivity and maritime sectors" and "China-Pakistan economic corridor project" is mainly driven by their paranoia about the US intentions to "check China's rise" It is intended to establish greater maritime presence at Gwadar, located close to the strategic Strait of Hormuz, and  to build land routes (motorways, rail links, pipelines)  from the Persian Gulf through Pakistan to Western China. This is China's insurance to continue trade with West Asia and the Middle East in case of hostilities with the United States and its allies in Asia.


Pakistan's Gawadar Port- located 400 Km from the Strait of Hormuz


As to the benefits for Pakistanis, the Chinese investment in "connectivity and maritime sectors" and "China-Pakistan economic corridor project" will help build infrastructure, stimulate Pakistan's economy and create millions of badly needed jobs.

Clearly, China-Pakistan ties have now become much more strategic than the US-Pakistan ties, particularly since 2011 because, as American Journalist Mark Mazzetti of New York Times put it, the  Obama administration's heavy handed policies "turned Pakistan against the United States". A similar view is offered by a former State Department official Vali Nasr in his book "The Dispensable Nation".

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Comments

Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan first beneficiary of Asia Infrastructure Bank spearheaded by China:

One of the earliest recipients of money from the international bank spearheaded by China appears to be Pakistan. In his weekly roundup of news from the Frontier Markets, the Wall Street Journal’s Dan Keeler writes, “Pakistan received some welcome news this week with the revelation that China plans to invest as much as $46 billion there as a core part of its efforts to open new trade and transport routes across Asia. China’s newly-established Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and its Silk Road Fund could be used to help finance the spending plans, a senior Chinese official said.”


Additionally, Chinese Premier Xi Jingping said in an article for the Pakistani press that, “This will be my first trip to Pakistan but I feel as if I am going to visit the house of my own brother.”

Both China and Russia have begun an all-out charm offensive to move the Pakistani government in their direction. China certainly sees an opening in that part of Asia with the departure of the US military from Afghanistan; while Russia seizes on a much-needed market by committing $3 billion to build an LNG pipeline from Karachi to Lahore.

The Pakistan economy appears to be the biggest benefactor here, as reflected in the benchmark index of the Karachi Stock Exchange (KSE100), up more than 20% in one year. US investors can gain exposure there only by investing in the iShares MSCI Frontier 100 ETF (
FM
), in which Pakistan has a 9.51% slice.

Read more: http://www.nasdaq.com/article/frontier-markets-pakistan-investments-cm466838#ixzz3Xs9RHQfn
Riaz Haq said…
Excerpt of Washington Post on Chinese President's visit to Pakistan:

It (China-Pak Corridor) is an impressive proposal, on a scale that we've come to now associate with China's overseas footprint — more usually in corners of Africa. According to the BBC, the Chinese state and its banks would lend to Chinese companies to carry out the work, thereby making it a commercial venture with direct impact on China's slackening economy.

The project is also a key cog in China's own grand-historic vision of itself as a global power and the font of new sea and land "Silk Roads." The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor would link up a major land route in Central Asia to what China imagines will be a key maritime hub at Gwadar.

Sure, there remain real reasons to be skeptical. Much of the new construction would be done in the vast, restive Pakistani province of Baluchistan, where the army is still grappling with an entrenched separatist insurgency. Moreover, as Pakistani journalist and columnist Cyril Almeida points out, the proposed Chinese numbers stretch credulity, especially when set against the meager sums currently being invested from the outside into Pakistan's economy. The proof, in this case, will be in the building.

----------
China, Small suggests, "is finally easing into its role as a great power." And, indeed, it's using Pakistan as a corridor.


http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2015/04/21/what-china-and-pakistans-special-friendship-means/
Riaz Haq said…
China signed 51 agreements with Pakistan in a ceremony in Islamabad Monday that could ultimately lead to $48 billion in infrastructure projects.
For now, $28 billion in spending is planned. China President Xi Jinping made his first state visit to Pakistan to unveil the development program known as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor; it will include railway upgrades and power plant construction. China and Pakistan share a “mutual antagonism toward India, but their economic ties had lagged behind,” The Wall Street Journal reports.

Xi and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif highlighted five projects, including a $1.4 billion dam that will deliver 720 megawatts of electricity, and a $1.5 billion solar power park that will add 900 megawatts of power to the grid.----------

Renaissance Capital analysts Daniel Salter, Charles Robertson, Seki Mutukwa and Omair Ansari write that Pakistan is “an undervalued reform story” and add:

“The government is delivering on privatisations with the Habib Bank stake sale, and initial shipments of LNG [liquefied natural gas] have started to arrive (an important first step in rebalancing the country’s energy mix). On the negative side, the government again delayed the anticipated gas tariff hike until July. … If there has been one theme that has worked well in EM of late it is reform. Pakistan ticks many of the boxes here, yet trades on a far lower valuation (8.4x 12-month forward P/E) than other emerging markets and frontier market reform stories such as Vietnam (13.5x), India (16.8x), Philippines (20.0x), Bangladesh (21.4x) or Sri Lanka (13.4x). We believe Pakistan should be of interest not only to frontier funds, but also to mainstream emerging market investors able to look outside of their benchmark index. We like cement, consumer and, to an extent, banks top-down. Our top picks from our bottom-up coverage are: Lucky Cement (LUCK.Pakistan), DG Khan Cement (DGKC.Pakistan) and Packages (PKGS. Pakistan).”

In February and March, the MSCI Pakistan Index fell by over 20% in dollar terms, and the 13% drop in March was the largest in five years, Renaissance Capital reports. But the MSCI Pakistan Index started to rebound this month, up roughly 9%. So far in April, the iShares MSCI Frontier 100 ETF (FM) is up 4%, the WisdomTree India Earnings Fund (EPI) is down 1.5%, and the iShares MSCI India ETF (INDA) has tumbled 2.6%.


http://blogs.barrons.com/emergingmarketsdaily/2015/04/21/how-to-play-pakistan-as-china-invests-billions/
Riaz Haq said…
If enacted, that (Pak-China Corridor) plan would enable China’s naval vessels and merchants to bypass the Malacca Strait, long a haven for pirates and militants who prey on unsuspecting ships. The CPEC would allow the government and banks in the mainland to lend to Chinese companies operating in Pakistan, facilitating construction along the route. Some of the other line items in the deal aim to fix Pakistan’s failing energy infrastructure: the CPEC calls for $15.5 billion in investments ranging from coal to solar and hydroelectric power, scheduled to become part of Pakistan’s national electricity mix in 2017. That will follow a fiber optic cable linking Xinjiang and Rawalpindi, which will come at the cost of $44 million.

China has plenty of incentive to unleash a spigot of investment, despite fears that Pakistani radicals are stoking violence in Xinjiang among the 10 million Uyghur Muslims that live there. Beijing has already pushed heavily for other projects in the region, including the 1,240 km Karachi-Lahore motorway, a six-lane, high speed corridor expected to be completed in the fall of 2017, and orchestrating upgrades to public transportation, including metro and bus service, in six cities, including Lahore, Karachi, and Rawalpindi. Modernizing the Karakoram highway, which runs 1,300 km from Kashgar, the ancient silk road crossing in Xinjiang, all the way into the heart of the Punjab, Pakistan’s biggest province, will also prove critical.

All of that leads to Gwadar, which China hopes to transform into a free-trade zone on the order of a Singapore or a Hong Kong, another major focus for Chinese investors. That carries geopolitical weight. China’s aid to Pakistan now exceeds American spending, which has totaled $31 billion since 2002. Washington’s investments have slowed since counterterrorism funding authorized by Congress during the Afghan surge has dried up.

It’s not as though China isn’t interested in military issues. President Xi also used the occasion to finalize a deal to send eight submarines to Pakistan, in a long-promised deal. They’re also working to get on shared ideological ground: the Research and Development International think tank (RANDI), will be chaired by Pakistani and Chinese leaders. That unfortunate acronym became the butt of plenty of Twitter jokes on Monday. But the group could wield serious influence, especially in thinking up plans to help Pakistan fight terror and potentially determining the role of mediators in talks with the Taliban in neighboring Afghanistan.

China’s grand plan for Pakistan’s infrastructure has taken shape over the course of President Xi’s visit. It will have a major impact on what the future holds for Islamabad, and the entire Indian Ocean basin.

http://thediplomat.com/2015/04/chinas-grand-plan-for-pakistans-infrastructure/
Riaz Haq said…
How the U.S. special relationship with Pakistan lost out to China’s strategic ‘silk road’ by Harlan Ullman

That Islamabad has turned east not surprising. When George W. Bush famously declared Pakistan as a U.S. non-NATO major ally, Pakistan expected far more than it got from its American partner in assisting in the global war on terror. That relationship always suffered from mutual misperceptions and expectations generating inherent flaws and cracks that would come apart over time and under stress.
That unhappy history is too well known. After the attacks of September 11th, President and Gen. Pervez Musharraf was encouraged or bullied to join America in destroying Al Qaida then headquartered in and protected by Taliban-run Afghanistan.
Afghanistan had always been of great strategic importance to Islamabad in part because it provided “strategic depth” in the event of hostilities with India and in part because Pakistan’s intelligence service, ISI, enjoyed influence over parts of the Taliban organization.
It was naïve to think that Pakistan would alter those strategic interests for unlimited support of the U.S. war on terror. Until last year, Pakistan distinguished between “good (i.e. Afghan) and “bad (i.e. Pakistani)” Taliban by aiding the former while taking on the latter. Further, while the U.S. believed it was financially generous with coalition support funding for the Pakistan military in battling Al Qaida and later with the Kerry-Lugar-Berman Act that provided $1.5 billion a year for five years in assistance, Islamabad saw that aid as miserly coming from an economic superpower.
Politically, because President Obama did not hold President Zardari in high regard, Army Chief of Staff Ashraf Pervez Kayani was treated as the de facto head of government bypassing civilian authority. Then, the case of CIA contractor Raymond Davis who shot and killed two Pakistanis and finally was freed with “blood money” paid to the victims’ families brought the relationship to its nadir.
That nadir was eclipsed with Seal Team Six’s raid in Islamabad that killed Osama bin Laden conducted without informing the Pakistani government in advance. Exacerbated by drone strikes, positive Pakistani perceptions of America were measured in single digits. And the Obama administration’s decision to withdraw from Afghanistan leaving that country close to civil war was not calming to Islamabad.
Along came China.
From Beijing’s perspective, Pakistan had been a long-term friend and potential strategic ally against India. More importantly, China understood that in the 1950’s and 1960’s, Pakistan had been a thriving economy and could become one again based in part by opening a new silk road connecting east and west and bringing China closer to the Middle East and Africa where its economic interests were rapidly expanding. Developing the Pakistani seaport of Gwadar bordering on the Persian Gulf would be the logistical springboard for this link up.
Additionally, China is providing Pakistan with eight submarines. Reports of transferring stealthy jet fighters and other military technologies to Pakistan may or may not be accurate. But China certainly recognizes the geoeconomic and geopolitical importance of a strategic relationship with Pakistan.
Some in the U.S. will view China as usurping U.S. influence. Others may argue for closer ties with India to compensate for this new Sino-Pak relationship. While both views are understandable, each is flawed.
Stability in the region is dependent on a prosperous and stable Pakistan, a condition that is very much in doubt given current circumstances. Despite its efforts, the U.S. could not deliver on that promise.
If China can, the region will be better off. Perhaps the wisdom of Sun Tzu can meet the vision of Pakistan’s chief founder Mohammed Ali Jinnah without alienating India. The U.S. should be very supportive of that prospect. That it will is very much in doubt.

http://www.worldtribune.com/2015/04/29/how-the-u-s-special-relationship-with-pakistan-lost-out-to-chinas-strategic-silk-road/
Riaz Haq said…
Political parties on Thursday hammered out a consensus on the route of Pak-China Economic Corridor during an All Parties Conference chaired by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

The APC agreed that the western route of the corridor would be completed first, which would be built from Hasan Abdal to Gwadar, passing through Mianwali, Dera Ismail Khan and Zohb.

The prime minister told the meeting that a parliamentary committee would be formed to monitor the project while working groups would also be formed to address the concerns of all the provinces.

The prime minister said China had provided a unique opportunity in the form of economic corridor.

During the meeting, Federal Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal said no new road would be built as part of the project instead different roads would be connected to link them with Khunjrab.

He dispelled the notion about a change in the original route of the Pak-China Economic Corridor.

The minister told the participants of the APC that the Pak-China corridor was not only the name of a road rather it was a portfolio consisted of different projects, including infrastructure, energy, Gwadar port and industrial cooperation.

This was the second APC to be called on the CPEC project. The first APC took place on May 13. The conference has been called to build consensus among political parties and remove any concerns they have regarding the mega project.

"I hope this becomes a tradition that even in the future we sit together to bring about consensus to move forward on national issues," said Sharif in his opening address to the attendants of the meeting.

http://www.geo.tv/article-186230-Political-parties-evolve-consensus-on-Pak-China-Economic-Corridor-route-
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif Visits #Russia to Forge New Ties

http://www.voanews.com/content/pakistan-army-chief-visits-russia-to-forge-new-ties/2825903.html …

This recent thaw between the cold war rivals is a “natural outflow of Russia’s concern about what is going to happen to Afghanistan after the withdrawal of the U.S.,” explained Nandan Unnikrishnan, who has served as Press Trust of India’s bureau chief in Moscow for several years.

If Afghanistan becomes unstable, the spread of militancy and Islamist radicalism is expected to spread to the weak states around it.

“The weak states are not China and Iran,” explains Center for Strategic and International Studies analyst Michael Kofman, who focuses on Russia and has worked on Pakistan.

Most of the Central Asian states around Afghanistan have porous borders, weak governments, and varying degrees of autocracies which makes them prone to instability or ethnic conflict. Militants from some of these states are already present in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“Frankly Tajikistan, Turkemenistan, Kyrgyzstan, these are all great targets, and Uzbekistan too,” Kofman said.

This is Russia’s backyard. Russia has a military presence in several of these countries and a large military base in Tajikistan.

Furthermore, there is a sizeable Muslim population inside Russia. So far the country has not faced issues of radicalization and militancy but it is not immune from them, particularly if the neighboring states fall victim to them.

Another reason for Russian overtures toward Pakistan may be to gain leverage with the Afghan Taliban via Islamabad in case the elected Afghan government falls.

“In the minds of Russian security services there is little doubt that Pakistani intelligence services and Pakistani establishment have very strong links with some of the Afghan Taliban,” according to Indian journalist Nandan Unnikrishnan.

Russia’s attempt at redefining its relationship with Pakistan comes at the risk of upsetting India, its traditional ally and largest defense sector customer.

However, Russia has justified this by pointing out that India has also looked to its rival, the United States, for its purchases. In the last few years, the U.S. has surpassed Russia to become India’s largest arms supplier.

Russia may also be looking to Pakistan as an untapped market. Pakistan’s direct defense trade with Russia has been limited, $22 million a few years ago compared to billions of dollars of trade with India.

Pakistan has usually received Russian equipment through China, which is not known for making aircraft engines and often uses Russian engines in its planes.

One of the benefits for Pakistan in trading with Russia will be “to cut out China as the middle man and save a lot of money,” according to Kofman of CSIS, who pointed out that Pakistan’s JF-17 Thunder aircraft, jointly developed with China, and recently in the news for receiving its first foreign order, uses Russian engines.

He also explained that the extent of this defense cooperation will depend on how much money Pakistan can spend.

“Russia, at the end of the day, is not in a position like the United States to subsidize defense deals,’ he said.

However, in a post Ukraine world of increased hostilities between Russia and the West, it is in Russia's interest to show that it is not isolated and has partners willing to do business with it.

Meanwhile, the United States has long encouraged countries in the region to take a greater interest in the stability of Afghanistan and has strongly supported China’s efforts in facilitating peace talks between the Afghan Taliban and the government of Afghanistan.

Many analysts think that at this point the United States is happy to have any actor that can contribute towards stability in Afghanistan, including rivals Russia and China.
Riaz Haq said…
Nuclear-armed rivals Pakistan and India will start the process of joining a security bloc led by China and Russia at a summit in Russia later this week, a senior Chinese diplomat said on Monday, the first time the grouping has expanded since it was set up in 2001.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) groups China, Russia and the former Soviet republics of Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, while India, Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan and Mongolia are observers.

"As the influence of the SCO's development has expanded, more and more countries in the region have brought up joining the SCO," Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Cheng Guoping told a news briefing."...India and Pakistan's admission to the SCO will play an important role in the SCO's development it will play a constructive role in pushing for the improvement of their bilateral relations."

India and Pakistan have fought three wars since 1947, two of them over the divided Muslim-majority region of Kashmir which they both claim in full but rule in part. Pakistan also believes India is supporting separatists in resource-rich Baluchistan province, as well as militants fighting the state.

The SCO was originally formed to fight threats posed by radical Islam and drug trafficking from neighboring Afghanistan.

Cheng said that the summit, to be attended by Chinese President Xi Jinping, would also discuss security in Afghanistan.

Beijing says separatist groups in the far western region of Xinjiang, home to the Muslim Uighur minority, are seeking to form their own state called East Turkestan and have links with militants in Central Asia as well as Pakistan and Afghanistan.

China says that Uighur militants, operating at the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), has also been working with Islamic State.

"It can be said that ETIM certainly has links with the Islamic State, and has participated in relevant terrorist activities. China is paying close attention to this, and will have security cooperation with relevant countries," Cheng said.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/07/06/us-china-russia-pakistan-india-idUSKCN0PG09120150706
Riaz Haq said…
#Russia, #Australia, #NewZealand oppose #India's bid for sanctions against #Pakistan The Economic Times http://ecoti.ms/40o0yZ


There is unease in Delhi over recent stand that old ally Russia took at a recent anti-terror financing meet organised at Brisbane by opposing move by India to demand censure against Pakistan for its inaction against JuD & LeT.

While New Zealand and Australia also opposed the move, India is surprised with Russia's position which in the past has been very supportive of India's stand on Kashmir to the extent of vetoing resolutions in UN Security Council.

Official sources in ..

Read more at:
http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/articleshow/47952231.cms?utm_source=contentofinterest&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=cppst
Riaz Haq said…
India and Pakistan, the newest prospective members of a growing economic club formed by Russia and China in the Eurasian region, have hailed the emergence of an economic axis not centered around the West.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said at a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in the Russian city of Ufa that the expanded group, which with the addition of India and Pakistan would represent half the world's population, will serve as a "springboard" to make Eurasia's economy one of the most dynamic in the world.

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said that Russian President Vladimir Putin's "efforts will enhance the political and economic scope of the Eurasian belt."

Modi used the occasion of the summit to schedule a state visit to Pakistan next year, in a sign the two nuclear-armed rivals may see the economic group as a rare forum for mutual cooperation and an easing of tensions.

"We have everything we need to succeed," Modi said. "The time has come to reach out across the region."

Putin showed his pleasure at attracting some of the world's biggest emerging economies, and said that the new entrants would enhance the economic clout and reach of the organization.

"These are powerful nations with strategic prospects, the future leaders of the world and the global economy," he said.

"We will actively develop our relations with those who want to work with us," he said, in a pointed reference to the unwillingness of the West to do new business with Russia after imposing sanctions last year when Russia seized Crimea and backed a separatist rebellion in eastern Ukraine.

"It has become clear that economics are being used as a political weapon.... But we should not close ourselves off with some kind of wall," he said. "We will use all the tools of collaboration with all countries -- the United States, Europe, and Asia."

Putin used the Shanghai summit and a previous one involving the world's largest emerging economies to show that Russia is not isolated in the global economy, despite bickering with the West over Ukraine.

Analysts said India and Pakistan likely wanted to join the Eurasian group to develop relations with major energy producers like Russia and Kazakhstan.

The group also includes other Central Asian former Soviet republics Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan.

"Membership could better position India to benefit from Central Asia's gas riches," said Michael Kugelman, an associate at the Wilson Center in Washington.

But while the addition of India and Pakistan beefs up the group's economic gravitas, "India and Pakistan wouldn't be dominant powers" within the organization, he said. "China and Russia would retain that title."

The Shanghai group did not invite Iran to join, although it has long sought membership. The group says Iran can join only after reaching a deal with big powers on its nuclear program.

With the addition of Iran, the group would control around one-fifth of the world's oil and represent nearly half of the global population. The BRICS account for one-fifth of the world's economic output and 40 percent of its population.

http://www.rferl.org/content/pakistan-india-hail-new-eurasian-economic-axis-russia-putin/27121657.html
Riaz Haq said…
As #China Awakens, #America -- And #Pakistan -- Should Take Note http://huff.to/1IvsiJN via @theworldpost

With Pakistan's good relations with both China and the U.S., it is ideally placed to help bring the two powers together, as it did in the past. It is sometimes forgotten that Pakistan facilitated President Nixon's historic visit to China.

The current global geopolitical alignment for the first time in history has both the U.S. and China maintaining good relations with both India and Pakistan. While noting the unmistakable affection for Pakistan in China, I saw no overt signs of hostility towards India. On the contrary, Chinese scholars talked with optimism of the new relationship between China and India. They pointed to President Xi's visit to India and Prime Minister Modi's visit to China, which were conducted in an atmosphere of cordiality and resulted in billions of dollars in economic deals. But reality warns us that India and Pakistan are so conditioned by their hateful rivalry that they will turn any event to their favor and against their opponent. Perhaps the vast economic and political benefits that are possible in China's initiatives will influence them in this case. In spite of the numerous naysayers, those of us who dream of a peaceful South Asia taking its place on the world stage as a cultural and economic powerhouse see a ray of hope in today's situation.


Perhaps the greatest lesson that emerged in the recent U.S.-China dialogue that I attended was the importance of face-to-face meetings with open minds and hearts and at convivial meals. Free from files and official agendas, people of different backgrounds see each other with empathy as fellow human beings.

We are still left with Napoleon's enigmatic comment ( "When China wakes, she will shake the world"). The answer to the inherent question contained in it may be tied to Xi Jinping's vision of the future of China. In either case, it is time to watch the awakening of China with interest.
Riaz Haq said…
With #Iran’s Help, #India Eludes #China and Bypasses #Pakistan in Race for Gas Riches http://bloom.bg/1gNasI4 via @business

With U.S. sanctions easing, India is racing to build a port in Iran that will get around the fact that its land access to energy-rich former Soviet republics in Central Asia has been blocked by China and its ally Pakistan.
“We’re seeing the latest manifestation of the Great Game in Central Asia, and India is the new player,” said Michael Kugelman, a South Asia expert at the Washington-based Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. “It’s had its eyes on Central Asia for a long time.”
While the world focuses on what Iran’s opening means for Israel and Arab nations, the ramifications are also critical for Asia. Closer Iran-India ties would allow New Delhi’s leaders to secure cheaper energy imports to bolster economic growth and reduce the influence of both China and Pakistan in the region.
The six nations that make up Central Asia hold at least 11 percent of the world’s proven natural gas reserves, as well as substantial deposits of oil and coal, according to data compiled by BP Plc. Afghanistan says its mineral wealth is valued at $1 trillion to $3 trillion.
“Iran can offer us an alternative route to Central Asia,” Indian Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar said in Singapore on July 20. “The resolution of the nuclear dispute and lifting of sanctions will allow our agenda of energy and connectivity cooperation to unfold seriously.”
‘Alternative Route’
India can be the first country to benefit from the deal in Asia, an Iranian diplomat told reporters in New Delhi this week. Iran was seeking billions of dollars in investment from India for ports, railways and airports, the diplomat said, asking not to be identified due to government rules.
Even before the deal to end sanctions was clinched, India reached an agreement to upgrade the Iranian port of Chabahar on the Arabian Sea. Two Indian state-run companies -- Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust and Kandla Port Trust -- have plans to invest $85 million to upgrade two berths.
On a five-nation Central Asian tour last month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi backed an ambitious transit route through Iran that would effectively connect Europe to India by a series of sea, rail and road links. Currently, cargo from India has to go by air or take a detour through the Suez Canal.
Pathway to Europe
---

China Dominance
China is the biggest economic player in Central Asia. It’s the top commercial partner for every nation except Afghanistan, with its $48 billion in trade to the region dwarfing that of India, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Turkmenistan pipes almost 80 percent of its gas to China.
China has welcomed the nuclear deal, noting in a statement that Iran once played a pivotal role in the ancient Silk Road trade route linking Europe and the Far East.
Pakistan is also important. The only Muslim-majority country with a nuclear bomb has refused to allow Indian trucks to pass through to Central Asia, and plans to build overland gas pipelines from Iran and Turkmenistan had long stalled.
“Pakistan has essentially had a stranglehold over India’s policy in the region,” said Harsh V. Pant, a professor of international relations at King’s College London. “India wanted to break that. Now, that constraint has been removed.”
Even so, Pakistan doesn’t see much of a threat, according to Commerce Minister Khurram Dastgir Khan. China is investing $45 billion in an economic corridor through Pakistan stretching from China’s western border to the Arabian Sea. Pakistan is also seeking a free-trade agreement with Iran.

“The scale of Chinese investment in Pakistan and in the corridor really dwarfs anything Indian is attempting in Iran,” Khan said in an interview in Islamabad on Wednesday.
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan warms up to #Russia with helicopter deal, gas pipeline investment http://on.wsj.com/1J7dd0f via @WSJ Russia has agreed to sell military helicopters to Pakistan and is poised to build a $2 billion natural-gas pipeline in the South Asian country—its biggest investment there in decades—as Islamabad turns toward a former adversary and away from the U.S., its longtime ally.

Islamabad has been weighing its strategic options amid rising tension with Washington, which views Pakistan as an unreliable ally in combating Islamist militants in the region, including neighboring Afghanistan.

On Thursday, Pakistan said it would buy four Russian Mi-35 attack helicopters for an undisclosed price, after a spate of high-level visits between the two countries.

In the Russian city of Ufa last month, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif met Russian President Vladimir Putin and declared that he wanted a “multidimensional relationship” encompassing defense, commerce and energy. That represents a major shift for both countries, in response to a changing geopolitical dynamic. Pakistan worked alongside the U.S. to defeat Soviet forces that occupied Afghanistan in the 1980s, while Russia built close ties with India, Pakistan’s estranged neighbor and rival.

Now, the U.S. is increasingly embracing India as a counterweight to a rising China, which it views as a strategic competitor. That has encouraged erstwhile enemies Russia and Pakistan to mend fences.

“Pakistan has decided it is no longer an American client state,” said Zafar Hilaly, a former senior Pakistani diplomat. “Pakistan has decided that although America will remain important, it must have other alternatives.”

The biggest marker of this new relationship is a proposed 1,100-kilometer (684-mile) pipeline, to be built by Russian state-owned industrial conglomerate Rostec. The two countries are expected to sign an agreement to move ahead within the next month, officials from both sides said.

The pipeline would carry imported natural gas from the port city of Karachi to Lahore in the east, helping the country deal with crippling energy shortages. Rostec, run by a close friend of Mr. Putin’s, would finance, own and operate the pipeline for 25 years.

“It’s very important for Russia from a geopolitical point of view. Russia is trying to enter this market and compete with China and the U.S.,” said Vladimir Sotnikov, senior research associate at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute for Eastern Studies.

Despite Islamabad’s outreach to Russia, experts said it is likely to seek continued close ties to the U.S., which is Pakistan’s biggest supplier of military aid and equipment. Since 2002, the U.S. has provided Pakistan with $31 billion in civilian and military aid and reimbursements, according to the Congressional Research Service.

Pakistan recently signed a nearly $1 billion deal to purchase 15 American AH-1Z Viper helicopters, as well as 1,000 Hellfire missiles and other equipment.

Both Russia and China are concerned about protecting their southern underbellies against the export of extremism and instability from Pakistan and Afghanistan, by investing there to promote economic development.

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The Russian pipeline would represent Moscow’s first major project in Pakistan since the early 1970s, when the Soviet Union helped build a steel mill in Karachi during a brief warming of relations that followed the election of a left-leaning leader in Islamabad. The two countries are now discussing ways that Russia can upgrade the mill, Pakistani officials said.
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Rostec said it would raise the funds needed for the project. The U.S. imposed financial sanctions on Rostec after Russia’s interventions in Ukraine, effectively cutting it off from U.S.-dollar financing.
Riaz Haq said…
#US DoD awards #Pakistan gives contract for 15 AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters to Bell Helicopter Co- IHS Jane's 360 http://www.janes.com/article/53825/dod-awards-pakistan-ah-1z-contract#.Vd3bDTSqOpk.twitter …

The US Department of Defense (DoD) has awarded Bell Helicopter a USD581 million contract that includes the delivery of AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters to Pakistan.

The contract, which was announced by the DoD on 26 August but awarded the day before, covers the manufacture and delivery of 15 Lot 12 UH-1Y Venom utility helicopters, 19 Lot 12 AH-1Zs, one Lot 13 UH-1Y, and 21 auxiliary fuel kits for the US Marine Corps (USMC) and government of Pakistan.

Pakistan requested the sale of 15 AH-1Z helicopters in April, and this announcement is the first official confirmation that a deal has been signed. While the notification does not say how many of the 15 helicopters have been signed for at this stage, it states that 10% (USD57.9 million) of the overall contract value covers the sale to the government of Pakistan. This suggests that this is an initial deal for the first two helicopters only, with contracts for the remaining 13 (plus spares and support) to follow.

According to the DoD, these initial helicopters will be delivered by the end of August 2018. The original US Defense Security Co-operation Agency notification of Pakistan's request included 1,000 AGM-114 Hellfire II air-to-surface missiles for "a precision-strike, enhanced-survivability aircraft that can operate at high altitudes. By acquiring this [AH-1Z and Hellfire II] capability, Pakistan will enhance its ability to conduct operations in North Waziristan Agency [NWA], the Federally Administered Tribal Areas [FATAs], and other remote and mountainous areas in all-weather, day and night environments".

The contract notification is the latest development in Pakistan's ongoing efforts to bolster its rotary-winged attack capabilities. As well as procuring the 15 AH-1Zs to bolster and eventually replace its existing 32 AH-1F Cobra platforms, Pakistan has also evaluated the Chinese CHAIG WZ-10 attack helicopters, which has included flying them operationally on counter-terrorism missions, and is rumoured to be interested in the Russian-built Mil Mi-28NE 'Havoc' as well. On 19 August it was announced that Pakistan and Russia had signed a formal agreement for the procurement of four Mi-35 'Hind' attack helicopters, with more likely to follow.
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan-#Russia talks on delivery of Su-35, Mi-35s underway: Russian Deputy FM http://www.dawn.com/news/1206088

NIZHYNY TAGIL: Pakistan and Russia are in talks about the delivery of Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets and previously agreed upon delivery of Mi-35M helicopters, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister (FM) Sergei Ryabkov said, Sputnik reported.

Earlier this year, a draft contract for the delivery of four Mi-35M 'Hind E' combat helicopters was sent to Pakistan from Russia, a source in the Russian military and technical cooperation was quoted by the Russian news agency TASS.

Increasing military cooperation between Islamabad and Moscow would not negatively impact Russia's ties with India, Ryabkov said, adding that Pak-Russia ties were improving in other sectors as well ─ including energy.

The Russian Deputy FM Ryabkov referred to Pakistan as Russia's closest partner and said, "I do not think that the contacts under discussion will cause jealousy on the part of any of the two sides."

The twin-engine Su-35 is a fourth generation multi-role combat aircraft which also incorporates technology from fifth generation jets, according to details available on the Sukhoi company's website. It is also said to be more agile as compared to previous models.

Read: Pakistan, Russia sign landmark defence cooperation agreement

Pakistan and Russia had signed a bilateral defence cooperation agreement aimed at strengthening military-to-military relations in November last year. The deal had to be followed by another ‘technical cooperation agreement’ to pave the way for sale of defence equipment to Pakistan.
Riaz Haq said…
#India Surges to Second-Biggest U.S. Weapons Buyer After #SaudiArabia #Modi #China #Pakistan http://bloom.bg/1LHS0wL via @business

As China rises as a military power in Asia, India is buying more and more U.S. weapons.

Monday’s meeting between President Barack Obama and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi highlights the converging strategic interests between the nations, which had strained relations during the Cold War. India was the second-biggest buyer of U.S. arms last year behind Saudi Arabia, up from almost nothing five years ago.
The latest purchase came last week, when India’s cabinet approved a $3 billion deal for Boeing Co. military helicopters. The 22 Apache attack choppers and 15 Chinook cargo choppers comprised the biggest defense contract since Modi came to power.

The stronger military ties represent a shift for India’s leaders as they look to reduce dependence on Russia for weapons and counter growing Chinese naval capabilities in the Indian Ocean. Modi is looking to access the technology needed to build up India’s local defense manufacturing as he spends $150 billion to modernize its military by 2027.
"India wants more sophistication and has the money to get that wherever that technology is available, whether it’s Israel, France, the U.S. or elsewhere," Jon Grevatt, Asia-Pacific defense-industry analyst for IHS Jane’s, said by phone from Bangkok. "Countries are falling over themselves to transfer technology to India."
Riaz Haq said…
Is U.S. Trying To Make Up To Pakistan?

A little too late?
Although US has agreed to provide Pakistan precision strike capabilities in the near future, one has to question if it’s a really desperate move from Washington to patch things up with a country that is slowly slipping away from its influence?

American policymakers do realize that they have to change their mindset toward Pakistan but on the same hand, they need to realize that the Pakistani authorities would definitely have a trick up their sleeves and will use USA’s efforts as a great chance to fill the gaps it has in its defensive and offensive capabilities while also making sure that a major chunk of assistance is taken from Moscow and Beijing.

U.S trying to retain an ally?
Since its early days, Pakistan has been always an important ally for Pentagon, thanks to its geographical location. And in the coming years, Pakistan’s importance to US cannot be ignored. However, broken promises and duality has really started costing US and it is high time for Washington to wake up before the damage it has done is irrevocable.

Currently US shuffling across the board and doing all it can in a bid to stop the Chinese armada that has already become so influential in Pakistani policy and they are unsuccessful in doing it. With the growing economic corporation with Beijing and rapidly growing bilateral ties with Moscow, has forced Washington to offer Pakistan gifts that China and Russia cannot. And although this is going to help Pakistan from a defensive point of view, it is basically US making attempts to keep a bird in its cage like it has for years.

The growing power of eastern block is alarming for Washington, as not only economically but also militarily, they are getting strong and forming alliances that will help challenge America’s global presence and influence. This alliance can shift the economic hub and can tilt the balance of power towards the east. Though it is not simple as it sounds but the reality is that it is happening, albeit at a slow pace.

Now, it is up to US policymakers how they want to change all that. Changing the tone towards Pakistan might be a good start indeed!


http://www.valuewalk.com/2015/10/u-s-trying-make-pakistan/
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan is "the only all-weather strategic partner" of #China - Global Times. #CPEC

http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/960904.shtml#.VoKzAasXjJs.twitter …


In April when President Xi Jinping visited Pakistan, China and Pakistan elevated the bilateral relations to "all-weather strategic cooperation partners." China has established partnerships with a lot of countries in the world, but Pakistan is the only one that is called an "all-weather strategic cooperation partner."

For countries with different social systems and ideologies that want to collaborate with each other, the China-Pakistan relationship has become a model to follow. This type of relationship is not based on common values and systems, but on same or similar strategic and security interests. Today common security concerns still exist, and some new concerns like global terrorism and maritime security have arisen for both sides in recent years.

Since the beginning of the 21st century, the basis of China-Pakistan cooperation has expanded. The "One Belt, One Road" initiative and China-Pakistan Economic Corridor has enlarged bilateral strategic and cooperative partnership to a more comprehensive framework.

Before, the basis of the all-weather partnership mainly included political, strategic and security cooperation, now the closer economic ties have become a part of this basis, which makes two countries form a "community of shared destiny." The two sides not only have common economic interest and common security concerns, but also share the dream of national peace, stability, and prosperity. "Shared destiny" is the solid foundation for our cooperation in international affairs.

China-Pakistan international cooperation has some key features as follows: First, China and Pakistan respect principles, value friendship, and "share weal and woe." When dealing with international affairs, both sides take the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence as the basic principle; when facing international affairs, both sides advocate justice and fairness, protect the common interests of developing countries, and have the courage to speak up.

In addition, China-Pakistan cooperation is always based on close communication and coordination, deep understanding of the other side's situation and interest, and full consideration of the other side's feeling. Pakistan always gives China full support on the Taiwan, Tibet, Xinjiang, and South China Sea issues. China is also a strong supporter of the independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity, and national dignity of Pakistan.

In 1972, the People's Republic of China used its veto power for the first time to support Pakistan at the UN Security Council by refusing to admit Bangladesh, the former East Pakistan, to the UN. After 1989, every time when China was blamed by the US and other Western countries at the UN Commission on Human Rights, Pakistan was always the first one to stand up and speak for China.

China and Pakistan conform to trends of the times, expand scope of cooperation, and jointly resolve challenges. After the Cold War, especially in the 21st century, the world has seen a trend toward peace, development, and cooperation.

Apart from traditional security issues, more and more non-traditional challenges arise. As a result, China-Pakistan cooperation has expanded from political and security fields to economy and trade, climate change, food and energy security. China takes the interests of Pakistan and other developing countries into careful consideration when it negotiates with Western countries.
Riaz Haq said…
#Chinese prefer #Pakistan, want to move away #India as neighbour: #China Global Times Survey #CPEC http://toi.in/b67Q1Z

Majority of Chinese would like to move India away along with Japan and a host of other neighbouring countries with whom Beijing has territorial disputes and would prefer Pakistan and Nepal as neighbours, if given a chance to 'play God' to redraw China's map.
A total of 13,196 people wanted to "move away" Japan, the highest number of votes polled in a survey seeking their views to select neighbours, if they can 'play God' and rearrange the countries at China's borders.
More than 200,000 internet users took part in the survey conducted by the Chinese edition of the state-run tabloid Global Times known for its nationalistic postures.
Other countries that were "moved away" include the Philippines (11,671), Vietnam (11,620), North Korea (11,024), India (10,416), Afghanistan (8,506), and Indonesia (8,167), the results published in the daily on Friday said.

While historical disputes including the second world war atrocities by Japanese forces may have weighed in Chinese people's minds to move Japan away, the border dispute and "protection" to Dalai Lama and his associates whom China regards as separatists led to adverse view of India, Chinese analysts said.
"China and India have disputes over 120,000 square kms of land and the two have not signed treaty to settle the border disputes," Sun Lizhou, deputy director of the Academy of the World and China Agendas, Southwest University of Political Science and Law, told the Global Times.
India-China have a disputed border stretching up to 3448km. China claims Arunachal Pradesh as part of southern Tibet. The recent initiatives by India and China to improve relations had little effect on Chinese perceptions.
Unsurprisingly majority wants Pakistan often referred as all-weather ally by Chinese leaders and media to remain as a neighbour.
"Net users used their votes to show the bond shared by China and Pakistan, with 11,831 people wanting the country to 'stay as a neighbour'," the report said.
Considering the fast developing ties with Nepal, the Chinese wants it too to remain as a neighbour.
The news paper gave 36 countries to choose from as options for "new neighbours".
Sweden earned 9,776 votes, accounting for 5.8 per cent.
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan's resource-rich territorial waters, as big as 30% of nation's landmass, being neglected by #Islamabad. http://tribune.com.pk/story/1030431/still-waters-pakistans-coastline-of-apathy/ …
Pakistan’s maritime zone is approximately 30% of its land mass – a region bigger than Punjab. Yet, the resource-rich marine remains a victim of abject apathy.

Special marine battalion to protect Gwadar Port, Chinese engineers

Last year in March, 50,000 square kilometres of continental shelf was added to the country’s existing 240,000 square kilometres after its claim was accepted by the United Nation’s Commission on the Limits of Continental Shelf. As a result, Pakistan gained exclusive rights over the seabed and subsoil resources spread over 290,000 square kilometres in the Indian Ocean. The country’s sea limit was also extended from the existing 200 to 350 nautical miles.

Lack of awareness about the importance of maritime, however, meant that barely anyone noticed this significant development achieved through tedious diplomatic efforts. Let alone exploiting subsoil resources, Pakistan has also failed to explore the full potential of seafood exports. An official study claims Pakistan’s coastal area produces more than 625,000 tonnes of fish, out of which only 131,000 tonnes is exported. If fully materialised, the exports can fetch an additional $2 billion. Moreover, according to WWF-P, approximately 1,000 species of fish and 12 species of cetacean, or marine mammals, are found in Pakistan’s waters.

There are over 30,000 fishermen in Pakistan, with another 700,000 people associated with the trade. Many use trawlers and small nets to catch fish, a practice considered harmful for marine life. Unsustainable practices in fishing, destructive gear, uncontrolled fleet size, and poorly-planned development are other factors leading to untapped potential.

Fighting fit: A place of hope and healing

The developed coastal areas of Karachi and Port Qasim are facing an even graver threat. The sea there is being used a dumping ground for sewage and solid waste, resulting in heavy pollution at Karachi Harbour, Gharo and Phitti Creek.

Call of the deep blue

The sea is Pakistan’s lifeline for trade. More than 90% of the country’s trade with other countries along with all its oil imports are routed through the sea. By 2020, it is estimated that the volume of this trade will reach a staggering $100 billion. There is, however, a snag. Pakistan National Shipping Corporation, which is the national flag carrier, has only nine vessels, of which four are oil tankers. As a result, the country pays more than $4.5 billion to foreign freight carriers every year. In fact, having only four oil tankers of its own puts Pakistan in a vulnerable position, one an enemy state can easily exploit in the event of a conflict.

Pakistan has had a shipyard since 1954. The shipping industry, however, has remained in disarray, with little heed paid to its upkeep. Fortunately, the government seems to be stirring from its slumber and is now in the process of reviving it. After the catastrophic oil spill in Karachi by the MV Tasman Spirit in 2003, an urgent need was felt for the formulation of a comprehensive anti-pollution plan.

Special operations: Pakistan, Bahrain hold joint naval drill

Subsequently, a comprehensive National Marine Disaster Contingency Plan (NMDCP) was prepared to deal with all marine disasters, including oil spills, search and rescue, and salvage operations. The execution of NMDCP was ordered by the chairman of the Pakistan Marine Disaster Management Board, which is headed by the Chief of Naval Staff.
Riaz Haq said…
#US has much bigger global agenda with #India than #Pakistan: Says US Def Sec Ashton Carter - The Economic Times http://ecoti.in/P0zksb

"With respect to Pakistan, that also is an important security partner. A whole lot of issues of which counter-terrorism looms largest. And we work with the Pakistanis all the time on that," he said.

"We are long past the point in US policy-making where we look at the India-Pakistan dyad as the whole story for either one of them. We have much more to do with India today than has to do with Pakistan," Carter said.


"The days are gone when we only deal with India as the other side of the Pakistan coin, or Pakistan as the other side of the India coin. I know that there are those in India and Pakistan who are still glued to that way of thinking. But the US put that behind us some time ago," Carter said yesterday in response to a question on impact of India-US relationship on Pakistan at the Council for Foreign Relations (CFR), a top American think-tank.
Riaz Haq said…
Russia remains one of the major contenders for a tendering procedure for building India’s fourth aircraft carrier; however, Indian defense officials have already grown concerned about Russia’s ethics after INS Vikramaditya’s three-fold cost increase and a five-year delay. Moreover, Moscow agreed to participate in India’s “Make in India” national program, but this has only further revealed its inability to live up to many of New Delhi’s expectations. In particular, difficulties are coming to light during the Indo-Russian fifth generation fighter jet multibillion-dollar program, with Russia currently failing to fulfill most of India’s indigenous production goals.

New Delhi’s growing dissatisfaction with the mutual partnership and the country’s quest for diversification are perpetuating the shift. India needs improvements and is keen on trying other suppliers; however, Moscow sees these moves as impinging on its current stance.

The Kremlin wants to slow down the impending downward trend, as well as leverage its influence over New Delhi, by skillfully utilizing the “Pakistan card.” By engaging with Pakistan, Russia leaves New Delhi with a hard choice: to honor its strategic commitment to Russia and make concessions or to observe Russian-Pakistani rapprochement, which could potentially erode India’s military advantage.

This maneuver comes in line with the Kremlin’s realpolitik strategy, which has become traditional over the recent years. In 2010, Vladimir Putin famously said that “Russia is not maintaining military cooperation with Pakistan as it takes into account the concerns of Indian partners.” Moscow was sensitive to the India-Pakistan rivalry before; however, altering geopolitical realities goaded Russian foreign policy into exploring new horizons.

Russian-Pakistani relations were far from harmonious during the previous decades. The Kremlin supplied Pakistan with weapons in 1960s but both countries eventually faced a major split, as Moscow selected New Delhi to be its strategic regional partner. Furthermore, Moscow and Islamabad had a proxy conflict during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, with Pakistan openly supporting the mujahideen. The geopolitical vector did not change after the USSR’s collapse. It is only now, after a quarter of a century, that Moscow is looking to rekindle bilateral relations.

The Kremlin has chosen its moment wisely. Islamabad has grown cautious lately about its alliance with the United States, as it perceives a lack of reliability from the White House. In particular, the recent U.S. refusal to subsidize Pakistan’s purchase of F-16 fighter jets may have pushed both countries farther away from each other, with Russia potentially emerging as an alternative supplier.

Interestingly, though, Moscow is not ready to move full-speed ahead and is keen on maintaining its distance while portraying other reasons for its recent engagements with Islamabad.

It is not a secret that Russia is extremely alarmed by the growth of ISIS and a possible collapse of Afghanistan, to the extent that it is even ready to engage with the Taliban. By actively coordinating with Pakistan, Moscow should be able to halt the radical jihadists’ future spillover to Central Asia. Therefore, Russia is trying to portray its own security concerns as the raison d’être behind the rapprochement.

Russia will not become a major Pakistani partner any time soon, and will remain closely connected to India. Still, the Kremlin’s move delivers a strong message to the Modi administration. In effect, New Delhi acknowledges Moscow’s security concerns but also understands that the Russia-Pakistani partnership would continue to evolve proportionally to India’s cooperation with the West.


http://thediplomat.com/2016/05/whats-behind-russias-rapprochement-with-pakistan/
Riaz Haq said…
#Modi Bolsters #India’s Ties With #America as #Trump's Vows to Limit immigration Worry Indian officials. #Obama #H1B

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/08/us/politics/narendra-modi-us-india.html?_r=0

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Another reason Washington and New Delhi have grown so close is the increasingly testy relationship between the United States and Pakistan, India’s longtime rival. Although Pakistan is formally an ally of the United States, American officials have made clear that India has displaced Pakistan in American interests and hearts.

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“We have much more to do with India today than has to do with Pakistan,” Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter said in April. “There is important business with respect to Pakistan, but we have much more, a whole global agenda with India, agenda that covers all kinds of issues.”

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The two sides also announced that they intended to complete a deal in which India will buy six nuclear reactors from Westinghouse by June 2017, fulfilling an agreement struck in 2005 by President George W. Bush. The price is still under discussion, but more difficult issues like liability have been resolved.

“We continue to discuss a wide range of areas where we can cooperate more effectively in order to promote jobs, promote investment, promote trade and promote greater opportunities for our people, particularly young people, in both of our countries,” President Obama said in the Oval Office during the meeting.

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“The United States is well aware of the talent that India has,” Mr. Modi said in Hindi. “We and the United States can work together to bring forward this talent, and use it for the benefit of mankind and use it for the benefit of innovations and use it to achieve new progress.”

Mr. Modi has made clear that he intends to set aside decades of standoffishness — rooted in India’s colonial experience — to cement closer ties with Washington, in part because the next American leader may not share President Obama’s enthusiasm for India.

The news media in India has extensively chronicled comments by Mr. Trump that critics have said were racist, his “America First” views and his unorthodox campaign. While Mr. Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, has said little about India, his vows to tighten immigration policies worry Indian officials.

“Modi wants to get as much as he can out of Obama’s last months in office,” said Ashley J. Tellis, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

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Mr. Trump has vowed to “cancel” the Paris climate agreement if elected, something Mr. Obama is eager to prevent. Once the accord enters into legal force, no nation can legally withdraw for four years.

“If the Paris agreement achieves ratification before Inauguration Day, it would be impossible for the Trump administration to renegotiate or even drop out during the first presidential term,” said Robert N. Stavins, the director of the environmental economics program at Harvard.

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The two sides also announced joint efforts for the United States to invest in India’s renewable energy development, including the creation of a $20 million finance initiative.

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The two countries finalized a deal that allows their forces to help each other with crucial supplies, and the United States formally recognized India as a major defense partner, which should allow India to buy some of the most sophisticated equipment in the United States arsenal.

India’s increasing willingness to form military partnerships with the United States is, in part, a result of its deepening worries about China. Recent patrols by Chinese submarines in the Bay of Bengal have unnerved New Delhi, and a 2014 visit to India by the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, did nothing to soothe Indian sensibilities, as Chinese troops made an incursion into border territory that India claims as its own.

China’s refusal in the months since to resolve the territorial claims at the heart of the standoff has quietly infuriated Indian officials.
Riaz Haq said…
US Senate approves $800m fund for "strategic partner" #Pakistan, rejects "strategic partner" #India bill http://indianexpress.com/article/world/world-news/us-senate-approves-800m-fund-to-long-standing-strategic-partner-pakistan-2856229/ … via @vuukle


US Senate approves $800m fund to ‘long-standing strategic partner’ Pakistan

On Thursday, the US Senate had rejected the bill on India's ‘global strategic and defence partner’ status.


The US Senate has passed its draft of the National Defense Authorization Bill, which includes provision to set up a new fund to reimburse Pakistan for its efforts in war against terrorism.
The $800 million has been authorized under a provision called the ‘Pakistan Security Enhancement Authorisation’, reports Dawn.
The draft also fences $300m behind a similar Haqqani network provision that has existed in the annual defense authorization acts since the fiscal year 2015.


The proposed reimbursement mechanism for Islamabad replaces the Coalition Support Fund (CSF), which was used to reimburse both Afghanistan and Pakistan for their efforts to combat terrorism.
In total, Pakistan has received $3.1 billion since 2013 under the CSF. But this fund expires in the current financial year. The US Senate Armed Services Committee in a report filed with the draft Defense Bill called Pakistan “a long-standing strategic partner” and stressed on the need to continue a strong relationship with the country.
It also noted that after 9/11, Islamabad has been a vital partner of Washington in efforts to combat terrorism in South Asia.
While both houses of the Congress have passed their versions of the Defense Bill, now a conference committee will be formed to develop a consensus draft. After the consensus draft is passed from both houses of the Congress again, it will be sent to the President for signature.
The bill also requires Islamabad to keep open ground communication lines to Afghanistan for receiving reimbursements from this fund.
The House of Representatives last week also passed another bill, which linked $450m from a total of $900m proposed for Pakistan to take action against the Haqqani network.
Riaz Haq said…
Pro-#India legislators seeking aid cut to #Pakistan defeated in #US House - The Economic Times

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/international/world-news/legislations-seeking-aid-cut-to-pakistan-defeated-in-us-house/articleshow/52807141.cms

Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen of Coalition Support Fund said it remained a critical tool to enable Pakistan to effectively deal with future challenges emerging from the US drawdown.

"It also remains a cost-effective tool for the US to remain engaged in the region and with Pakistan. We shouldn't be abandoning Pakistan, because we might actually have something even worse than what the gentleman describes if we turn our back on Pakistan," he said.

Read more at:
http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/articleshow/52807141.cms?utm_source=contentofinterest&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=cppst
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan not isolated. #Delhi is to #Washington what #Islamabad is to #Beijing. #US still quietly supports Pakistan
http://tribune.com.pk/story/1145063/pakistan-not-isolated/

Some recent events and statements originating in Washington, Warsaw (NATO summit) and Kabul, seemed to have created a triumphant, though largely misplaced impression that both India and Afghanistan have managed to encircle Pakistan. An appended perception was that of Islamabad’s international isolation. But these noises beg some reflection. Is Pakistan really isolated? Let us look around for an answer.

China has stuck its neck out for a mutually beneficial multi-billion dollar China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Russia too, is embarking on a new phase of relations with Pakistan, particularly after the latter’s entry into the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.

The World Bank has loaned some $5.5 billion to the country in the last three years, which wouldn’t be possible without a nod by Washington, which holds majority shares in the Bank.

And what about power brokers in Washington DC itself?

Well, one finds a lot of cockcrows, trying to belittle Pakistan; among them, Balochistan-fame congressmen like Dana Rohrabachar, or the Afghan-American Zalmay Khalilzad; although he has served as the US ambassador in Afghanistan, but in Washington he sounds more like the Afghan ambassador. During the July 12 proceedings of a sub-panel of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Khalilzad and Bill Roggio, senior editor of the publication Long War Journal, accused the Pakistan military of maintaining ties with the Taliban and Haqqani militants.

This is the time to increase the pressure by suspending all assistance to Pakistan — military and civilian — and move towards isolating Pakistan internationally, including not supporting IMF renewal of financial support, Khalilzad argued in his testimony, which was vociferously shared with the media by Indian and Afghan officials in Washington.

Unlike these noises by presumably directly or otherwise paid lobbyists, remarks by Senator John McCain and other members of a bipartisan congressional delegation to Pakistan and Afghanistan after their Islamabad visit, offered an interesting read — contrary to the demands of isolating Pakistan.

“They have cleared out that part of Pakistan… they are looking at securing the Pakistan border in a more substantial way… I would acknowledge it a step in the right direction”, Senator Lindsey Graham said in Kabul, according to a Voice of America report. Graham also spoke of “a new attitude [under General Sharif] that is beginning to show some progress.

“The COAS says I hope you leave your troops here — he told us that — because if you withdraw too quickly the place is going to fall apart and it will hurt us,” Graham recalled during a press talk.

Senator McCain, too, acknowledged the progress made in Waziristan and underscored the importance of good relation among US, Pakistan and Afghanistan, but spoke of the Haqqani network as the “major impediment” in relations that required serious action.

True that the Haqqani Network represents a major hurdle in the trilateral relations and that nearly 40 per cent of the US security assistance is now tied to action against this entity, but this certainly doesn’t indicate a break or a tool to isolation, something acknowledged by spokespersons of the State Department and the Pentagon.

Both Mark Toner and the Pentagon Press Secretary, Peter Cook, for instance, made it clear that the that TTP terrorist Umar Khalifa Mansoor (responsible for the murder of over 130 children at APS, Peshawar) and “four other enemy combatants” were killed in a July 9 strike in view of “the specific relevance… and the common security interests shared by all three nations.”

In an obvious reference to the Zarb-e-Azb operation, the Senators as well as the spokespersons acknowledged “the progress in shutting down terrorist safe havens”, and restoration of government control in many parts of Fata and elsewhere Pakistan.
Riaz Haq said…
The Bargain Basement Sale of #Modi's #India's Sovereignty to #Washington http://thewire.in/52780/the-basement-sale-of-indias-sovereignity/ … via @thewire_in

By drawing even closer to the United States and signing binding agreements, India is giving up years of carefully calibrated balance in its foreign policy.

This is the first of a three-part series on India’s foreign policy.

In two lacklustre years of governance the BJP has done very little to fulfil its promise of economic revival and vindicate the trust that the people of India had bestowed upon it. That may be why its propagandists have worked overtime to portray the signature of the Logistics and Supply Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) with the USA, and President Obama’s designation of India as a “major defence partner” as a huge success in his foreign policy.

With very few exceptions, commentators in the national media have fallen in line with this assessment. Only a few have noticed that in his eagerness to cement a closer defence relationship with the US Modi had given away India’s most prized asset – its zealously guarded independence of foreign policy – in exchange for a barrage of flattery and a bunch of verbal assurances that do not even add up to the proverbial thirty pieces of silver .

Declaring India a major defence partner has cost the US nothing. Unlike NATO or the US’s defence treaty with Japan, it is not a mutual defence pact and does not bind the US to coming to India’s aid if it is attacked. The most that India can possibly aspire to is a relationship somewhat similar to that of the US with Israel, where the US constantly reiterates its determination to come to Israel’s aid if it is attacked, but not via a defence treaty.

But India is not Israel. Its India-born American community is rich, and becoming politically more influential by the day. But it can never, even remotely, aspire to the power to shape US policy. American military power is not, therefore, ever likely to be deployed against India’s two main adversaries, Pakistan and China: Pakistan because it too is ‘a major non-NATO ally’, and China because it is simply too big for an already war-weary nation to take on.

In sharp contrast, the commitments that India has made to become worthy of this award (for that is all it is) are concrete, onerous and, worst of all, open-ended. Indian diplomats who have been involved in the negotiations insist that, unlike the Logistics Supply Agreement (LSA) that the US has signed with its other allies, it does not give the US Navy and Air Force an automatic right to use Indian bases while waging its wars. What it will facilitate automatically is the refuelling, restocking and repair of their craft at Indian naval and air bases during joint exercises, anti-piracy and other UN-sanctioned operations in the Indian Ocean.

This is the assurance that Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had rushed to Beijing to give to the Chinese after postponing the signature of LEMOA at the last minute during US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter’s visit to Delhi in April. But in practice, these caveats against automatic involvement in America’s wars are hollow because Delhi will find it exceedingly difficult to deny these facilities to the US once the latter has committed itself to a military operation – because of the angry reaction that will provoke in the US media, and the Congress.

LEMOA is also only the thin end of a rather fat wedge. The US has made it clear that signing it will make it easier to acquire sensitive dual-use technologies. But to get the most out of it, India will have to sign two supplementary “foundational” agreements, the Communication and Information Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA) and the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA).

The US needs these to ensure that sensitive technological information shared with India does not get passed onto ‘unfriendly’ countries. But this concern will cut both ways. Its immediate result will therefore be to cut India off from access to cutting edge Russian armaments and technology.
Riaz Haq said…
#China And #Pakistan Beware -- This Week, #India's #Modi And #USA's #Obama Sign Major War Pact via @forbes

http://www.forbes.com/sites/charlestiefer/2016/08/28/china-and-pakistan-beware-this-week-india-and-us-sign-major-war-pact/#4b479b8364e1

President Barack Obama meets with Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India in June. (Photo by Dennis Brack-Pool/Getty Images)

Around August 30, in Washington, India and the U.S. will sign a major war pact that makes them logistical allies against, among others, the superpower China currently making a bold power grab in the South China Sea.

Specifically, Indian Defense Mister Manohar Parrikar will sign the deal during a two-day visit in Washington. The deal is the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA), a foundational agreement for India and the U.S.. In this instance, the agreement provides for each to use the other globally for supplies, spare parts, services and refueling. Effectively, U.S. armed forces can operate out of Indian bases, and vice versa, on a simple basis.

For the U.S., this is part of the “pivot” to Asia intended by President Obama to meet a rising China. The U.S. Navy plans to deploy 60 percent of its surface ships in the Indo-Pacific in the near future. Instead of having to build facilities virtually from the ground up, as in Afghanistan and Iraq, the U.S. has the benefit of simple arrangements for the tremendous Indian facilities.

For Prime Minister Modi, it is a major step for India away from its Cold War alliance with Russia, toward a new alliance with the U.S. (and Japan and Australia) to protect the Indian Ocean and the seas off Southeast Asia, especially from China. India remains on hostile terms with China from border disputes dating back to a war in the 1960s. And, the gigantic engines of their economies are, for the most part, rivals.

For both the U.S. and India, LEMOA responds to the powerful challenge of Xi Jinping’s artificial islands – with air bases — in the South China Sea. It may also matter against the common enemy of the U.S. and India in radical jihadists.

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There are prior deals and policies here. The U.S. recognized India as a Major Defense Partner. It brought India into the Missile Technology Control Regime. Among other aspects, the various deals expedite India obtaining the keys to the kingdom, namely, licenses for top U.S. defense technology. In other words, U.S. contractors are getting, through LEMOA as through prior deals, a much better launching pad from which to sell many billions of dollars of top-of-the-line armament to India. Conversely, India often requires a degree of coproduction domestically, so LEMOA and other deals will help India grow as a gigantic weapons dealer itself, selling to the rest of the world.

All these arms matter in many friction points. Take the nasty Islamist terrorist organization, Jaish-e-Mohammed (JEM). Pakistan’s powerful and dangerous intelligence arm, ISI, uses JEM against India, but it is also among a group of organizations backed by ISI that the U.S. considers a U.S. enemy, too. JEM’s chief is Masood Azhar. India tried unsuccessfully to tag Azhar at the United Nations as a terrorist. Who blocked it? China. So while the South China Sea may seem far off from India, China is breathing down India’s neck, up close and personal

The U.S. did not make the bellicose move in the South China Sea. Xi Jinping did. There are many downsides to an arms races. But if we do not move, we lose. We have little choice but to play catchup.
Riaz Haq said…
#China Warns #India: Hands Off #Balochistan. #CPEC #Pakistan

http://www.thecitizen.in/index.php/OldNewsPage/?Id=8585&China/Warns/India:/Hands/Off/Balochistan

Beijing has broken its silence over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remarks on Balochistan with an influential think tank maintaining that “China will have to get involved if India intervenes in Balochistan.”

This sharp response given through an interview to IANS has already elicited a statement from the Congress party that has urged PM Modi to officially ask China what this involvement means.

In an interview to India’s IANS, Hu Shisheng, the director of the Institute of South and Southeast Asian and Oceanian Studies at the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR), said that India’s growing ties with the United States, and its new position on the South China Sea were ringing alarm bells in Beijing.

“The latest concern for China is Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech from the Red Fort in which he referred to the issues like Kashmir (occupied by Pakistan) and Balochistan,” Hu said.

“It could be regarded as a watershed moment in India’s policy towards Pakistan. ” he added.

Hu said China fears India may use “anti-government” elements in Pakistan’s restive Balochistan where Beijing is building the $46 billion CPEC -- a key to the success of its ambitious One Road One Belt project.

“There is concern that India may take the same approach, which is believed by the Indian side Pakistan is taking, asymmetrically using anti-government factors in Pakistan,” Hu said according to IANS.

“If this kind of plot causes damage to the CPEC, China will have to get involved,” he said, referring to the alleged involvement of India in backing separatists in Balochistan, Gilgit-Baltistan and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).

PM Modi’s decision to put the spotlights on Balochistan, with India now openly embracing what was earlier at best a covert program, was expected to elicit a China response by foreign policy experts here. More so as the CPEC is a prestigious program for China, connecting Xinjiang with the Gwadar port in Balochistan. This corridor passes through PoK and Gilgit-Baltistan. India has consistently refused to join or support China’s One Belt, One Road program from the outset.

Hu told IANS, “This will not help Pakistan to become a normal country. And it will also further disturb India-China relations.”

Hu in fact spelt out the Chinese position on India’s relations with the US saying earlier they were not so concerned but the growing relations under PM Modi were sending an “alarming signal to China. It is a concern for China.”

He said it was imperative for India to resist the pressure being exerted by the US and Japan to counter China several issues said that earlier China was not particularly worried about growing India-US relations but now was concerned” Hu pointed out. He said this specifically on the increase in defence, technology and trade ties, referring alo to the Logistics Agreement being signed by India and the US.

“We also know that the US and Japan, as well as Australia, are very keen on getting India in their camp. They are also exerting pressure”he added.“They are also luring India by giving high-technology deals and advanced military weapons. It is up to India whether India can resist this kind of temptation.”

On India’s stand on the South China Sea, Hu added.“In the past, India’s stand on the South China Sea was impartial. Indian is getting more and more involved. This attitude is another concern for China.”

“Our problem is with the US. We can see India is becoming more vocal in issuing joint statements with the US and Japan on the South China Sea,” he added.

Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan in Talks With #Russia to Purchase Su-35 fighter Jets for #PAF http://sputniknews.com/military/20160905/1044975853/pakistan-russia-ambassador-su35.html … via @SputnikInt

Pakistan Air Force Chief of Staff had fruitful talks in Moscow in July on purchasing of Russian Su-35 fighter jets.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Chief of Air Staff of the Pakistan Air Force Sohail Aman had "fruitful talks" in Moscow in July on purchasing of Russian Su-35 (NATO reporting name: Flanker-E) fighter jets, Pakistani Ambassador to Russia Qazi Khalilullah told Sputnik. "Chief of Air Staff Marshal Sohail Aman had fruitful talks with the Russian partners on this issue in July," Khalilullah said answering a question on whether Islamabad could purchase the Su-35 aircraft. According to the official, the Pakistani Air Force "is considering different options of deepening cooperation with Russia."

Read more: http://sputniknews.com/military/20160905/1044975853/pakistan-russia-ambassador-su35.html

Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan Interested in #Russian Air Defense Systems, Tanks. #DefenceDay https://sputniknews.com/asia/20160906/1045009123/pakistan-russia-army-defense.html … via @SputnikInt

KUBINKA (Moscow region) (Sputnik) – The Pakistani armed forces are interested in Russian arms, including air defense systems and tanks, Maj. Gen. Naveed Ahmed, the director general of defense procurement for the country, told Sputnik on Tuesday.

"Our army services are [showing] keen interest in different Russian products. We are looking for the air platform, for any sorts of helicopters; for the army we are looking for tanks, we are looking for anti-tanks weapon system and more importantly we are looking for the air defense system," Ahmed, who is leading the Pakistani delegation to the Army-2016 military expo, said. The military forum, which is taking place on September 6-11 in Kubinka, a western suburb of Moscow, brings together representatives from the Russian defense industry, research institutes, universities, as well as foreign companies. Over 800 Russian and foreign participants will mount some 7,000 exhibitions throughout the week. The forum's participants and guests will attend a number of conferences and round-table discussions to discuss the future development of military technology. On Monday, Pakistani Ambassador to Russia Qazi Khalilullah told that Minister of Defense Production Rana Tanveer Hussain would visit the forum. According to the ambassador, Pakistan is interested in expanding its military and technical cooperation with Russia.

Read more: https://sputniknews.com/asia/20160906/1045009123/pakistan-russia-army-defense.html
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan, #Russia Negotiating Deal on #Russian Su-35, Su-37 Fighter Jets. #PAF https://sputniknews.com/military/20160908/1045073021/pakistan-russia-negotiating-fightersu-jets.html … via @SputnikInt

Islamabad and Moscow are negotiating a deal on Su-35 and Su-37 jets, Shahab Qadir Khan, deputy director of export promotion services in the Pakistani Defense Export Promotion Organization, told Sputnik.

Read more: https://sputniknews.com/military/20160908/1045073021/pakistan-russia-negotiating-fightersu-jets.html
"Pakistan is involved in negotiations with Russia on a deal for Su-35 and Su-37. We are in initial stage now," Qadir Khan said.

According to Qadir Khan, the Pakistani Defense Ministry's delegation which came to the Army-2016 expo includes technical experts, who assess capabilities of the jets as well as look for Russian helicopters. "We already have Russian transport helicopters Mi-17, but we are looking for other helicraft, and we are looking at assessment of Mi-35 to buy in the near future," Qadir Khan added. The Army-2016 expo, organized by the Russian Defense Ministry, kicked off on Tuesday and is due to last through Sunday. The forum is held in the military-themed Patriot Park in Kubinka near Moscow and in a number of locations in Russia's military districts. The event brings together representatives from the Russian defense industry, research institutes, universities, as well as foreign companies. Over 800 Russian and foreign participants are expected to be involved in some 7,000 exhibitions throughout the week. The forum's participants and guests are attending a number of conferences and roundtables to discuss the future development of military technology.

Read more: https://sputniknews.com/military/20160908/1045073021/pakistan-russia-negotiating-fightersu-jets.html
Riaz Haq said…
US State Dept: #US to stay with #Pakistan 'long into the future'

http://www.business-standard.com/article/international/us-to-stay-with-pakistan-long-into-the-future-116091300165_1.html

The US would continue to stay engaged with Pakistan and provide it economic assistance "long into the future", said a State Department spokesperson.

In a statement shared with Dawn online, the State Department on Monday also emphasised the need for Pakistan to take immediate steps to stop cross-border terrorist attacks into Afghanistan.

"We have urged the government of Pakistan to redouble its standing commitment to closer counter terrorism cooperation with Afghanistan against all groups that pose a long-term security threat to both countries," the official said.


The State Department pointed out that "robust civilian and security assistance" to Pakistan allowed the US to jointly work on issues important to both countries, such as energy, economic growth, security, education and health.

"The US has a joint interest with Pakistan in the development of Pakis­tan's civilian institutions and its economic growth. Our diplomatic and assistance engagement will continue long into the future," Dawn online reported citing the statement.

The State Department spokesperson, while explaining the rationale for staying engaged with Pakistan, noted that the country had suffered greatly at the hands of terrorists and violent extremists.

"The US stands in solidarity with the people of Pakistan and all who fight the menace of terrorism, and we are grateful for the sacrifices the Pakistani military has made in shutting down terrorist safe havens, most recently in the North Waziristan operation," the official said.
Riaz Haq said…
#India wary of growing #Russia-#Pakistan military ties

http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/south-asia/india-wary-of-growing-russia-pakistan-military-ties

India has expressed concern over Russia's fledgling but growing defence relationship with Pakistan, ahead of a meeting between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of a world summit in India.

Mr Putin has, in recent years, moved to establish defence ties with Pakistan as India began diversifying beyond Russia for its defence equipment and deepening ties with the US.

Russia and Pakistan have held discussions over the sale of military hardware and signed an agreement last year for the sale of four attack helicopters to Islamabad. In a sign of their growing defence engagement, the two countries held their first joint military exercise, "Friendship 2016", that ended on Monday, much to New Delhi's unease.

"We have conveyed our views to the Russian side that military cooperation with Pakistan, which is a state that sponsors and practises terrorism as a matter of state policy, is a wrong approach and it will only create further problems," India's Ambassador to Russia Pankaj Saran was quoted as saying to Russian news agency Ria Novosti last Friday.

Russia and India are fond of calling each other "time-tested friends" and are Cold War allies with a diplomatic relationship dating back to 1947.

For years, India depended on Russia for all its military supply. While the two countries remain major defence partners, India is now increasingly sourcing weapons from other countries such as the US and France. Moscow has lost out on major jet and helicopter deals to other countries. Bilateral trade between India and Russia is below US$10 billion (S$13.8 billion), partly due to poor transport links. India's trade with the US is now more than US$100 billion.

Officials said Russia would remain an important country for India but experts noted that ties between Pakistan and Russia would remain an irritant for India.

"We have always seen Russia as a close ally. Russia will remain important but the Modi government is clearly annoyed with Russia over Pakistan and it is making that clear," said former Indian foreign secretary Lalit Mansingh.
Riaz Haq said…
#BRICSSummit: #India's & #Modi's Failure. #China. #Russia refused to name #Pakistan on #terrorism http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/web-edits/brics-summit-why-china-and-russia-did-not-name-pakistan-on-terrorism-3087651/ … via @IndianExpress

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has just been delivered an unhappy lesson at the just-concluded BRICS summit in Goa: though nine-tenths of geopolitics is about bluff, the critical one-tenth is about knowing when to fold.
The Prime Minister proclaimed, in his closing statement at the summit, that BRICS member-states were “agreed that those who nurture, shelter, support and sponsor such forces of violence and terror are as much a threat to us as the terrorists themselves”. The BRICS 109 paragraph summit declaration, however, doesn’t have a single sentence reflecting this purported consensus—not even the words “nurture”, “shelter” or “sponsor”.
Worse, from India’s optic, the summit declaration calls for action against all United Nations-designated terrorist organisations which include the Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Muhammad but names only the Islamic State and al-Qaeda’s proxy, Jabhat al-Nusra—both threats to China and Russia but not to India.

China’s President Xi Jinping, said success against terrorism made it imperative to “addresses both symptoms and root causes”—a stock-phrase Islamabad often uses to refer to the conflict over Kashmir. Russian President Vladimir Putin made no mention of terrorism emanating from Pakistan at all.
Add to this, the United States’ studied refusal to be drawn into harsh action against Pakistan and there’s a simple lesson to be drawn: less than a month after it began, the Prime Minister’s campaign to isolate Pakistan is not gaining momentum.

Riaz Haq said…
Why #Russia Is Getting Closer To #Pakistan And Abandoning #India? #US #China #BRICS #CPEC http://www.valuewalk.com/2016/10/russia-pakistan-india-relations/ … via @ValueWalk

Russia and India have been friends for nearly 70 years. Moscow and New Delhi have supported one another on the international diplomatic sphere; they signed lucrative military deals and deepened economic ties…

But Russia-Indian relations came crashing down in 2016. Why?

So why on Earth would Russia lose interest in its seemingly perfect, long-time ally? Why all of a sudden Russia has warmed up to Pakistan, its Cold War rival and the biggest historical enemy of India?

Global relations are the answer. While many may argue, Russia has been very smart about global relations in terms of strategical and long-term planning.


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By having both Russia and China as its allies, Pakistan wins a lot. Islamabad had been friends with the U.S. and Saudi Arabia for years, but it now realized that neither Washington nor Riyadh really care about its interests.

Pakistan now sees that the U.S. and Saudi Arabia have been sending all those funds in order to prevent the country from becoming an intimidating force in South Asia and becoming financially independent.

Russia and China, meanwhile, are offering that independence as well as the prospect of becoming the most powerful country in the region (thus, signing military deals and holding military drills).

It also adds to the fact that both America and Saudi Arabia have played a huge role in spreading sectarianism and terrorism in Pakistan. So naturally Islamabad has doubts about their good intentions.

During the BRICS summit earlier this month, China protected Pakistan from India’s accusations. And by not standing up for India this time, Russia showed on whose side it’s on.
Riaz Haq said…
#China, #Russia, #Pakistan #Superpower Triangle Becoming Reality http://www.valuewalk.com/2016/11/china-russia-pakistan-super-power/ … via @ValueWalk

The Russia, China and Pakistan superpower triangle is becoming a reality. Moscow has just announced it will hold trilateral Russian-Chinese-Pakistani talks next month.

As theories around the Russia, China and Pakistan superpower triangle continue to build up, Moscow has just expressed its interest in strengthening ties with Islamabad and Beijing. The agenda of next month’s talks will be establishing a wider regional partnership on Afghanistan.

Zamir Kabulov, Russian Foreign Ministry’s director of the Second Asian Department, announced on Monday that the Russian-Chinese-Pakistani consultations will be held in Moscow in December.

“We are discussing this with the Chinese, the Iranians, Indians, Pakistanis. There is work on specifics,” Kabulov said, adding that it’s in the regional nations’ “natural” interests to guard themselves from terrorist threats in the region.


The news comes amid rising war tensions between India and Pakistan. Although Russia remains India’s key weapons supplier, there is a number of reasons why the Russia, China and Pakistan superpower triangle is becoming a reality.

Russia has been actively strengthening its military, economic and diplomatic ties with both China and Pakistan. Even though Pakistan is Russia’s Cold War rival, Moscow is understandably keen on forming an alliance with Islamabad and Beijing. China and Pakistan have been traditional allies for decades. Beijing has always provided its military and diplomatic support to Islamabad against its historical enemy, India.

Forming the Russian-Chinese-Pakistani superpower triangle would not only allow them to impose efficient measures to counter the spread of terrorism and radicalism in the region but also stand up to America’s growing influence in the region. In fact, given that Russia, China and Pakistan are all nuclear powers, their alliance also makes them an intimidating nuclear force to be reckoned with.

Russia, China and Pakistan have about 7,620 nuclear warheads (according to the official figures provided by the SIPRI) combined. That’s a serious advantage in a potential military confrontation against any enemy of such a superpower triangle, whether it’s India or the United States.


Interestingly, Russia announced the Russian-Chinese-Pakistani talks a few days after India, Pakistan’s traditional nemesis, signed a historical nuclear deal with Japan. In fact, it was the first-ever nuclear deal signed by Japan, which is the only country to have suffered a nuclear attack, with a non-NPT nation.

India, like Pakistan, never signed the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). Seeing that India is strengthening ties with its regional allies, Russia and China decided to ramp up their support for Pakistan. The Russian-Chinese-Pakistani talks in December will mark yet another indication of Russia and China’s growing interest toward Pakistan.

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China has repeatedly pledged to help Pakistan in case of any foreign aggression. It also adds to the fact that China supplies Pakistan with more weapons than any other country in the world. For Russia, meanwhile, Pakistan is a potentially lucrative buyer of its advanced weapons.

Aside from strengthening military and diplomatic ties with Islamabad, Beijing is also actively building nuclear reactors in Pakistan. So basically, the superpower triangle between China, Russia and Pakistan can become an intimidating force in the region.
Riaz Haq said…
#Chinese naval ships in #Pakistan's #Gwadar port challenge #India's regional policy. #Russia #Iran http://scroll.in/article/822619/chinese-naval-ships-in-pakistans-gwadar-port-call-for-a-rethink-of-indias-regional-policy … via @scroll_in

The transformation of Gwadar port on the Pakistan coast as a base for Chinese Navy ships was long expected, but when media reports actually appeared on Friday to that effect, it was startling news. The reports quoted Pakistani officials saying that China proposes to deploy its naval ships in coordination with the Pakistan Navy to safeguard Gwadar port, which is the gateway to the $46-billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

India would have had some intelligence tip-off, which probably explains the mysterious episode on November 14 of an Indian submarine lurking in the vicinity of Pakistani territorial waters. It was brusquely shooed away by the Pakistani Navy. Of course, the corridor was operationalised a fortnight ago with Chinese ships docking at Gwadar to carry the first containers brought by a Chinese trade convoy from Xinjiang for despatch to the world market.

Viewed from many perspectives, the month of November becomes a defining moment in the geopolitics of our region. But the strangest bit of news would be that earlier this month, Gwadar also received Russia’s Federal Security Services chief Alexander Bogdanov. It was a hush-hush inspection tour aimed at assessing the efficacy of Russian ships using the port during their long voyages, to assert Moscow’s return to the global stage.

Equally, this is the first visit by a Russian spy chief to Pakistan in over two decades and it took place just as America elected a new president, Donald Trump. Maybe the timing is coincidental, but more likely, it is not. The Russian diplomacy invariably moves in lockstep. Bogdanov’s visit was scheduled just a few weeks before the planned trilateral strategic dialogue between Russia, China and Pakistan, ostensibly regarding the Afghan situation, in Moscow next month. Bogdanov reportedly sought a formal Russian-Pakistani collaborative tie-up over the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

Moscow wouldn’t have made such a move without coordinating with China first. At a meeting in Moscow with his Chinese counterpart, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu was quoted as saying that China-Russia military cooperation is “at an all-time high and it will contribute to peace and stability on the Eurasian continent and beyond”.

Meanwhile, Chinese regional diplomacy, too, is moving in tandem. The Chinese Defence Minister Chang Wangquan (who is also vice-chairman of China’s Military Commission, which is headed by President Xi Jinping) paid a three-day visit to Iran last week. Chang’s visit held considerable geopolitical significance for the region and he described his meetings as signifying a turning point in the China-Iran strategic partnership. It is useful to recall that during Xi’s visit to Iran in January, the two countries had signed a 25-year strategic cooperation agreement that included a call for much closer defence and intelligence ties.
Riaz Haq said…
#American engineers find #India's home-made first aircraft carrier is a dud. Need another 10 years to make it work http://blogs.wsj.com/indiarealtime/2016/11/30/u-s-effort-to-help-india-build-up-navy-hits-snag/?mod=e2fb When top American naval engineers recently inspected India’s first locally made aircraft carrier they expected to find a near battle-ready ship set to help counter China’s growing sway in the Indian Ocean.

Instead, they discovered the carrier wouldn’t be operational for up to a decade and other shortcomings: no small missile system to defend itself, a limited ability to launch sorties and no defined strategy for how to use the ship in combat. The findings alarmed U.S. officials hoping to enlist India as a bulwark against China, people close to the meeting said.

“China’s navy will be the biggest in the world soon, and they’re definitely eyeing the Indian Ocean with ports planned in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh,” said retired Admiral Arun Prakash, the former commander of India’s navy. “The Indian navy is concerned about this.”

The February carrier inspection, in the port of Kochi, formed part of U.S. plans to share aircraft carrier technology with India. Indian naval officials followed up with a tour of an American shipbuilding yard in Virginia and strategy briefings at the Pentagon in September, the people close to the meetings said.

The U.S. and India are drawing closer politically and militarily. The two have participated in joint naval exercises with Japan. The U.S. has agreed to sell New Delhi everything from attack helicopters to artillery. Washington has approved proposals by Lockheed Martin and Boeing Co. to make advanced jet fighters in India. And in August, the two countries signed a military logistics-sharing accord.
Riaz Haq said…
#Russia and #Pakistan slowly move towards an embrace. #India #China #CPEC #Gwadar @AJEnglish
http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2016/12/russia-pakistan-slowly-move-embrace-161203083811644.html

Or, how Russia got a warm-water port without firing a shot.

Ahmed Rashid is a journalist and the author of five books on Afghanistan, Pakistan and Central Asia. His latest book is 'Pakistan on the Brink, the future of Pakistan, Afghanistan and the West'.

After decades of hostility, Russia and Pakistan are gingerly trying to improve relations. Russia is cautiously wooing Pakistan in a bid to temper Islamabad's support for the Afghan Taliban and to end the civil war in Afghanistan, which is threatening Central Asia - the soft underbelly of Russian influence in the former Soviet Union territories.

Pakistan faces increasing isolation in the region - spurned by India, Afghanistan and Iran, and criticised by the US and NATO countries - because of its continued harbouring of the Afghan Taliban. At present, it is solely dependent on Chinese economic and political support.

It is not surprising, therefore, that Pakistan is desperately keen to rebuild relations with Russia. Islamabad would like to use warmer ties with Moscow to counter US and western pressure and be able to boast of more than one ally in the region.

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Pakistan offered Russia the use of Gwadar, its new Chinese-built port on the Gulf, which is close to Iran and opposite Oman. From Tsarist times, Russia has always wanted a port in the ''warm waters'' of the Gulf. When the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, Pakistan was convinced that the Russian dream was to have a base on Pakistan's Gulf coastline. Ironically, Pakistan is now offering the same facility.

However, Gwadar port is yet to become fully operational and it is surrounded by insurgencies in Afghanistan and Balochistan province. Its capacity is being enhanced by a Chinese-built network of roads that will eventually connect to the Chinese border in northern Pakistan.

Use of the port by foreign ships is still some way off, and Pakistan has not made it clear if it would allow Russian warships to dock there. The Chinese navy has already been granted landing rights at the port.

Russia has also agreed to sell helicopters to Pakistan, lifting its decades-old arms embargo against Islamabad, while India is now looking for arms from Western nations such as the US and France.

Riaz Haq said…
#Russia rejects #Indian, #Afghan criticism on #Pakistan. #HeartofAsia #Modi #India https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/169900-Russia-rejects-Indian-Afghan-criticism-on-Pakistan …

Says Heart of Asia Conference shouldn’t be used for point scoring; if Russia doesn’t complain about India-US cooperation, then why complain about Pak-Russia cooperation

AMRITSAR: Russia on Sunday lauded Pakistan's stance at the Heart of Asia conference and said the agenda of the conference has not been hijacked.

Addressing the Heart of Asia Conference in Amritsar on Sunday, Russian envoy Zamir Kabulov rejected the Indian and Afghan criticism on Pakistan and said that Sartaj Aziz's speech at the conference was friendly and constructive. He said it is wrong to criticise Pakistan.

The Russian envoy said that Afghanistan is the pivot of Heart of Asia conference and the agenda of the conference has not been hijacked. He said being friends and supporters, we should avoid the blame game and work together.He said all parties involved in the war-torn country's reconstruction must work together and that the Heart of Asia was not the platform for India and Pakistan to score brownie points.

Downplaying Russia's military exercise with Pakistan held two months ago, Zamir Kabulov, who overseas Russia's engagement in Afghanistan, referred to India's increasing cooperation with the US.

“The HoA should not be used by India and Pakistan for scoring points,” he told reporters. He said bilateral issues should not cloud forums like the Heart of Asia.

Kabulov represented Russia in the Heart of Asia conference where he articulated Moscow's position on Afghanistan's transition. He said all the major players must extend all possible support to Afghanistan in its transition.

“India has close cooperation with the US, does Moscow complain? Then why complain about much lower level of cooperation with Pakistan,” he asked when referred to the Russia-Pakistan military exercise.

India has a strategic partnership with Afghanistan and is implementing projects worth $2 billion to help rebuild the country's infrastructure. The Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process was launched in 2011 and the participating countries include Pakistan, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, China, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and the United Arab Emirates.
Riaz Haq said…
#Russia throws its weight behind #CPEC, #China-#Pakistan corridor, keeps #India on tenterhooks http://toi.in/eJCcoa via @timesofindia

Russia's nebulous public position on its growing ties with Pakistan continues to give sleepless nights to Indian policymakers who have sought to isolate Islamabad on the issue of terrorism.
After it officially denied reports that it had shown any interest in China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), Moscow has not just declared strong support for the China-funded project but also announced its intention to link its own Eurasian Economic Union project with CPEC.
CPEC, which will link Gwadar in Pakistan's restive Balochistan province to Xinjiang in China, remains a major bugbear for Indian foreign policy as it passes through the Gilgit-Baltistan region in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (Pok) claimed by India. Beijing has shown scant regard for India's concerns despite PM Narendra Modi himself having taken up the issue of Chinese involvement in the disputed territory with President Xi Jinping.
Moscow last month emphatically denied Pakistan media reports that it was looking to involve itself in CPEC by acquiring access to the port built by China at Gwadar. Russia's ambassador to Pakistan Alexey Y Dedov has now been quoted as saying that Russia and Pakistan have held discussions to merge Moscow's Eurasian Economic Union project with the CPEC.
Dedov said Russia "strongly" supported CPEC as it was important for Pakistan's economy and also regional connectivity.
The mixed signals emanating from Moscow, as strategic affairs expert Brahma Chellaney said, are injecting uncertainty in the direction of the Russia-India relationship whose trajectory long epitomized constancy and stability.

"It is as if Moscow no longer sees India as a reliable friend or partner. Indeed, by seeking common cause with India's regional adversaries — including by supporting the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor through internationally disputed territory and engaging with the Pakistan-backed Taliban — Russia is challenging India's core interests," said Chellaney.

India continues to officially maintain that it doesn't see any "downward trend" in relations with Russia even as it works behind the scenes to convince Moscow that Pakistan remained the fountainhead of terrorism in the region. For India though, Russia further queered the situation in Afghanistan by declaring that it regarded Afghan Taliban as a national military-political movement. Russia is looking to engage the Taliban apparently to defeat IS but, as the MEA spokesperson warned last week, India wants any engagement with Taliban to respect the internationally recognized red lines, including giving up violence and severing ties with al-Qaida.
The comments made by Dedov are only the latest in a series of Russian doublespeak on Pakistan this year. As it officially conveyed to Moscow, India was disturbed by Russia's decision to hold its first ever joint military exercise with Pakistan days after Uri terror strike which left 19 Indian soldiers dead. The Russians justified it by saying that the exercise was meant to help Pakistan deal with terrorism

At the Brics Goa summit in October, Russia chose not to help India publicly name Pakistan based terrorist outfits like Lashkar and Jaish in the official declaration in the face of Chinese resistance.
Russia continues to insist that its ties with Pakistan will not come at India's cost. Asked about the Russia-Pakistan military exercise though, at the recent Heart of Asia conference, Russia's presidential envoy to Pakistan Zamir Kabulov said Moscow didn't complain about India's close cooperation with the US and so India also shouldn't complain about "much low level" of cooperation between Russia and Pakistan. India may or may not complain, but it's certainly watching with eyes wide open.

Riaz Haq said…
#Russia Publicly Favors #Pakistan Over #India. #Modi #BJP http://www.valuewalk.com/2016/12/russia-publicly-favors-pakistan-vs-india/ … via @ValueWalk

When Russia rejected India’s efforts in November to isolate Pakistan politically, tensions between Moscow and New Delhi reached their peak. While concerns are rising within the Indian government, Russia continues to warm up to Pakistan and has recently shown interest in Pakistan’s joint project with China, the $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Earlier this month, Alexey Dedov, the Russian Ambassador to Pakistan, declared Russia’s strong support for the upcoming lucrative project. He also announced that Russia wants to link the Eurasian Economic Union project with the CPEC, a move that would further deteriorate relations between Moscow and New Delhi.

The CPEC is a sensitive issue for India because the project passes through the disputed Gilgit-Baltistan region in Kashmir. By backing the project, Russia automatically declares its support for Pakistan’s position in the long-standing Kashmir issue, a major development in Russian-Indian relations that could end their seven-decade friendship once and for all.

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India is worried that its nearly 70-year friendship with Russia is about to end. Russia is warming up to India’s biggest historical enemy, Pakistan, which inevitably has led to tensions between New Delhi and Moscow. So even though India and Russia were very close for nearly seven decades, Russia-Indian relations have come crashing down over the last two years.

Geopolitics is the reason the relationship between the two countries is deteriorating. Moscow and New Delhi have backed one another on the international diplomatic sphere for decades. But when Russia refused to support India’s bid to turn Pakistan into a pariah state this year, Moscow took a major step away from its friendship with New Delhi.

Russia and India may have signed large-scale military deals over the past seven decades, but when Moscow held its first-ever joint military drills this year with Pakistan – India’s biggest adversary – it was a sign that Russia is trying to send a message.

Last week, Moscow and Islamabad held their first-ever foreign office consultations, leaving India understandably worried that Russia is further deepening its ties to Pakistan. During those consultations in Islamabad, Russian and Pakistani officials discussed a wide variety of regional issues and pointed out some areas of mutual interest, including economic cooperation.

According to the Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Pakistani and Russian officials “exchanged views on important global and regional developments.” The ministry added in the statement that “it was also decided that the next round of consultations will be convened in Moscow in 2017.”

Just last year, nobody in their right mind would believe that Russia could make friends with its Cold War rival Pakistan. But by selling four Mi-35M helicopters to Pakistan in 2015, Russia mutely announced huge changes in its geopolitical strategies. Then in October 2015, Russia and Pakistan held their first-ever joint military exercises labeled “Druzhba” (friendship), which sent India into frenzy. However, India remained mute about the drills for the most part because it still has a number of pending military deals with Russia it doesn’t want to lose over its resentment.

Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan, #Russia & #China to hold trilateral meeting on regional issues including #Afghanistan in #Moscow. #India

http://indianexpress.com/article/world/pakistan-to-attend-trilateral-meet-with-russia-and-china-4440521/

Pakistan Thursday said its foreign secretary will travel to Russia to participate in a trilateral meeting with Russia and China next week which will discuss key regional issues including peace process in Afghanistan.
“The Foreign Secretary will lead the Pakistani delegation in this meeting. This is an existing forum for undertaking informal discussions on issues of regional peace and stability, including situation in Afghanistan,” Foreign Office (FO) spokesman Nafees Zakaria said at the weekly press briefing here.
The trilateral meeting will be held on December 27 and peace in Afghanistan will be on the top of the agenda due to increasing threat of ISIS to Central Asia, which is considered as Russian backyard.
There are also reports of contacts between Taliban and Russian officials as the latter recognise the importance of Taliban in checking the threat of ISIS. Zakaria said peace and stability in Afghanistan was in the interest of Pakistan and the entire region.
“In this spirit, we remain committed and extend all cooperation to the efforts towards bringing peace and stability in Afghanistan. Pakistan has played a very positive role in bringing warring factions to the negotiating table. Whenever we are approached to help bring the warring factions to the negotiating table, we will assist,” he said.

Riaz Haq said…
#China, #Pakistan, #Russia to Meet on #Afghanistan, Angering #Kabul Leaders. #Taliban #ISIS #India #Washington

http://www.voanews.com/a/china-pakistan-russia-to-meet-on-afghanistan-angering-kabul-leaders/3651066.html

Top Foreign Ministry officials from China, Pakistan and Russia will meet in Moscow on Tuesday to review what they perceive as a "gradually growing" threat to their frontiers posed by Islamic State extremists in Afghanistan.

"This is an existing forum for undertaking informal discussions on issues of regional peace and stability, including the situation in Afghanistan," Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesman Nafees Zakaria told VOA.

Pakistan's foreign secretary, Aizaz Chaudhry, will lead Islamabad's delegation, he added. Officials say future meetings could include Iran.

Chinese, Pakistani and Russian officials say they were driven to joint action by the efforts of IS affiliates to establish a foothold in Afghanistan.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani's national unity government has reportedly questioned the motives of the trilateral dialogue, which will take place without Kabul being represented.

Russian officials maintain the "working group on Afghanistan" is one of several initiatives Moscow has undertaken with regional countries, including Afghanistan, to develop a "wider partnership" for containing IS influence.

Beijing, Islamabad and Moscow say the three-way talks will also explore ways to bring the Taliban to the table for peace talks with the Afghan government. All three governments maintain overt contacts with the insurgent group.

Russia and officials in Pakistan argue that military operations by the U.S.-led international forces and their Afghan partners have not weakened the Taliban but instead created ungoverned areas where terrorist groups like IS, also known as Daesh, can establish a foothold.

Russia's ambassador to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, told the U.N. Security Council last week that the deteriorating security situation has encouraged IS militants fleeing Syria and Iraq to look at Afghanistan for shelter. He said they will eventually pose a threat to Russia through neighboring central Asian states.

Using another acronym for IS, he said, "There is also information about the presence in Afghanistan of ISIL camps and safe harbors where people from central Asian states and northern Caucasus republics are being trained and where 700 terrorist families from Syria have already arrived."

Churkin again rejected Afghan and U.S. concerns that Moscow's overt ties to the Taliban are meant to undermine international efforts aimed at establishing peace and stability in Afghanistan.

"Our contacts with representatives of Taliban are limited to the task of providing for the security of Russian nationals in Afghanistan and also aimed at moving the Taliban towards joining with the process of national reconciliation," he said.

Pakistani officials say Russia is eager to include Iran in future meetings of the tripartite "working group" and that the issue will be taken up at Tuesday's meeting. Iran borders both Afghanistan and Iraq, where IS is present, and is fighting Islamist insurgents among other anti-regime forces in Syria.

While U.S. counterterrorism forces in partnership with Afghan forces have conducted major operations against IS fighters, the Taliban have also engaged in clashes with the rival group to deny it space in Afghanistan. Russian officials say they are developing ties with the Taliban to prevent IS influence from spreading into Afghan border provinces.
Riaz Haq said…
#Russia, #Pakistan, #China warn of increased #ISIS (#Daesh) threat in #Afghanistan. #India #Taliban http://reut.rs/2i3xLkN via @Reuters

Russia, China and Pakistan warned on Tuesday that the influence of Islamic State (IS) was growing in Afghanistan and that the security situation there was deteriorating.

Representatives from the three countries, meeting in Moscow, also agreed to invite the Afghan government to such talks in the future, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

"(The three countries) expressed particular concern about the rising activity in the country of extremist groups including the Afghan branch of IS," ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told reporters after the meeting.

The United States, which still has nearly 10,000 troops in Afghanistan more than 15 years after the Islamist Taliban were toppled by U.S.-backed Afghan forces, was not invited to the Moscow talks.

The gathering, the third in a series of consultations between Russia, China and Pakistan that has so far excluded Kabul, is likely to deepen worries in Washington that it is being sidelined in negotiations over Afghanistan's future.

Officials in Kabul and Washington have said that Russia is deepening its ties with Taliban militants fighting the government, though Moscow has denied providing aid to the insurgents.

Zakharova said Russia, China and Pakistan had "noted the deterioration of the security situation (in Afghanistan)".

The three countries agreed a "flexible approach to remove certain figures from sanctions lists as part of efforts to foster a peaceful dialogue between Kabul and the Taliban movement," she added.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani last month asked the United Nations to add the Taliban's new leader to its sanctions list, further undermining a stalled peace process.

Earlier on Tuesday, Afghan Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ahmad Shekib Mostaghni said Kabul had not been properly briefed about the Moscow meeting.

"Discussion about the situation in Afghanistan, even if well-intentioned, in the absence of Afghans cannot help the real situation and also raises serious questions about the purpose of such meetings," he said.

A number of Afghan provincial capitals have come under pressure from the Taliban this year while Afghan forces have been suffering high casualty rates, with more than 5,500 killed in the first eight months of 2016.

An offshoot of Islamic State has claimed responsibility for several attacks in the last year.

Riaz Haq said…
#Russia, #China support taking #Afghan #Taliban off #UN sanctions list. #India #Pakistan #Terrorism

http://tribune.com.pk/story/1277084/russia-china-favour-taking-taliban-off-un-sanctions-list/

Russia and China, being permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, have decided to work towards delisting the Afghan Taliban from the world body’s sanctions list in a move, they said, is aimed at launching peaceful dialogue between Afghanistan’s government and insurgent groups.

The announcement came in a joint statement issued after the trilateral meeting involving senior officials from Pakistan, Russia and China. The three-way talks that discussed the current situation of Afghanistan were held in Moscow on Tuesday.

Interestingly, Afghanistan was not part of the discussions, causing concerns in Kabul. The joint communique, however, said all the three countries agreed to proceed with consultations in an expanded format and would welcome the participation of Afghanistan.

The most significant takeaway of the Moscow meeting was Russia and China’s announcement to show a ‘flexible approach’ to delisting Afghan individuals from the UN sanctions lists as their contribution to the efforts aimed at launching peaceful dialogue between Kabul and the Taliban.

The participants agreed to continue their efforts towards further facilitating the Afghan-led, Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan according to the known principles of reintegration of the armed opposition into peaceful life, the joint statement reads.

It was not immediately clear how Afghanistan’s government and the United States would react to the move by Beijing and Moscow to remove some Afghan Taliban commanders from the UN sanctions list.

The development, nevertheless, is an indication that both Russia and China are now flexing their muscles to play a more proactive role in the Afghan peace process that could not make any headway due to the current hiccup in ties between Kabul and Islamabad.

The Ghani administration has accused Pakistan of providing sanctuaries to the Afghan Taliban leadership and the Haqqani network. It also asked Islamabad to use force against these groups since Taliban refused to enter into the negotiations.

Pakistan, however, made it clear that it does not harbour any Taliban on its soil and insisted that all-inclusive peace process is the only way forward to achieve lasting peace in Afghanistan.

Observers believe that the outcome of trilateral meeting in Moscow is a major diplomatic success for Pakistan since two big powers—Russia and China—vindicated its stance by supporting the Afghan peace process. More importantly, this also showed increased cooperation between Pakistan and Russia, which during the cold-war era were in opposite camps mainly due to the Afghan conflict.

The trilateral meeting in Moscow also means that Pakistan, Russia and China have now convergence of opinion on how to deal with the long running conflict in Afghanistan, where the Da’ish is also trying to establish a foothold.

Kabul slams tripartite meeting in Moscow

The three-way talks in Moscow minced no words in expressing concerns over what they called the ‘deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan’.

They particularly voiced concern regarding the increased activities of extremist groups, including Da’ish-affiliates in the country.

Riaz Haq said…
#China makes worldwide ports' investments as great maritime power. #CPEC #Gwadar #Pakistan https://ig.ft.com/sites/china-ports … … via @F

Pakistan’s Arabian Sea port of Gwadar is perched on the world’s energy jugular. Sea lanes nearby carry most of China’s oil imports; any disruption could choke the world’s second-largest economy.

Owned, financed and built by China, Gwadar occupies a strategic location. Yet Islamabad and Beijing for years denied any military plans for the harbour, insisting it was a purely commercial project to boost trade. Now the mask is slipping.

“As Gwadar becomes more active as a port, Chinese traffic both commercial and naval will grow to this region,” says a senior foreign ministry official in Islamabad. “There are no plans for a permanent Chinese naval base. But the relationship is stretching out to the sea.”

Gwadar is part of a much bigger ambition, driven by President Xi Jinping, for China to become a maritime superpower. An FT investigation reveals how far Beijing has already come in achieving that objective over the past six years.

Investments into a vast network of harbours across the globe have made Chinese port operators the world leaders. Its shipping companies carry more cargo than those of any other nation — five of the top 10 container ports in the world are in mainland China with another in Hong Kong. Its coastguard has the globe’s largest maritime law enforcement fleet, its navy is the world’s fastest growing among major powers and its fishing armada numbers some 200,000 seagoing vessels.

The emergence of China as a maritime superpower is set to challenge a US command of the seas that has underwritten a crucial element of Pax Americana, the relative period of peace enjoyed in the west since the second world war. As US President-elect Donald Trump prepares to take power, strategic tensions between China and the US are already evident in the South China Sea, where Beijing has pledged to enforce its claim to disputed islands and atolls. Rex Tillerson, the Trump nominee for US secretary of state, said on Wednesday that Washington should block Beijing’s access to the islands. Relations were also dented over Mr Trump’s warm overtures toward Taiwan, which China regards as a breakaway province.

China understands maritime influence in the same way as Alfred Thayer Mahan, the 19th century American strategist. “Control of the sea,” Mr Mahan wrote, “by maritime commerce and naval supremacy, means predominant influence in the world; because, however great the wealth of the land, nothing facilitates the necessary exchanges as does the sea.”

Drummed into military service

The Gwadar template, where Beijing used its commercial know-how and financial muscle to secure ownership over a strategic trading base, only to enlist it later into military service, has been replicated in other key locations.

In Sri Lanka, Greece and Djibouti in the Horn of Africa, Chinese investment in civilian ports has been followed by deployments or visits of People’s Liberation Army Navy vessels and in some cases announcements of longer term military contingencies.

“There is an inherent duality in the facilities that China is establishing in foreign ports, which are ostensibly commercial but quickly upgradeable to carry out essential military missions,” says Abhijit Singh, senior fellow at the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi. “They are great for the soft projection of hard power.”

Data compiled or commissioned by the Financial Times from third-party sources show the extent of China’s dominance in most maritime domains.

Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan Is Drifting Away From Japan
Ties thrived in the early post-war period, but lately Japan-Pakistan relations have stalled out.

http://thediplomat.com/2017/01/pakistan-is-drifting-away-from-japan/

Pakistan’s relations with Japan have drifted away in the past decade. In the past six years, there have been no high-level visits between the two countries. The last such exchange came in February 2011, when President Asif Ali Zardari paid a visit to Tokyo. Before that, Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi Junichiro visited Islamabad in April 2005.

For reasons unknown, the incumbent government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has not tried to revive diplomatic momentum with Japan. In general, the government has not shown interest in its own ”Vision East Asia” policy, supposed to target outreach toward East Asian countries.

On the contrary, Indian Prime Minister Narendera Modi has deepened India’s ties with a number of East Asian countries, from Mongolia to Fiji. Pakistan’s foreign policy, however, remained inactive with East Asia, even though an active ”Go East” policy is the need of the hour in line with India’s ”Act East” policy. Pakistan’s foreign policy community has not broadened their focus beyond the country’s fundamental issues with India, Afghanistan, and the United States.

In the region of Southeast Asia, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has made only one visit, to Thailand in 2013. Other than China, East Asian countries are not on the diplomatic radar of the Sharif government, which is seemingly unaware that Japan, ASEAN, and South Korea are all important diplomatic and economic points for carving out a strong foreign policy in the region.

In the long run, Pakistan might pay a heavy price for neglecting East Asia. The Asia-Pacific is a highly crucial region in today’s international politics. Pakistani diplomats are not fully equipped to respond to increasing challenges in the South China Sea and the Asia-Pacific in general, even though the region is of vital importance to China, a close friend of Pakistan.

Japan used to be an important pillar of Pakistani diplomacy and economics. There was cordial diplomacy between Pakistan and Japan, starting right after Pakistan’s independence. Japan was a source of aspiration as Pakistan constructed it industry and economy in the 1950s and 1960s. Meanwhile, it was Pakistan that pleaded the case for postwar Japan, including early restoration of its sovereignty and economy. In one sense, Japanese post-war diplomacy in Asia began with Pakistan when they exchanged high-level visits in 1957.

Despite this rich history, at present, Japan’s economic activities in Pakistan are quite limited. Unlike China, Japan is not offering or participating in any national mega projects in Pakistan. Maybe for Japan, the situation is “not ripe” for business and investment in Pakistan “at the moment” — at least, these have been Japanese traditional pretexts for not doing business and investing in Pakistan.

It is true that Pakistan’s domestic situation, including apathy from government departments and terrorism, forced Japan to stay at bay for a long time. However, the situation has much improved now, including drastic changes in Pakistan’s economic fundamentals.

Today, the main issue might be the way China is welcomed in Pakistan, given Japan’s own tensions with its East Asian neighbor. Japan has historical differences with China and Pakistan has historically friendly ties with China. In the maritime dispute between China and Japan, Pakistan leans toward China; Japanese diplomats often grumble about this in private.

For Japan, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a source of irritation; Japanese analysts argue that Chinese mega projects will not produce tangible results for Pakistan. There has been no official response from Japan on CPEC as of yet; the Japanese government is reluctant to give its opinion because of the growing enmity with China. CPEC offers huge investment and collaborative opportunities, but Japanese companies are disinclined to join in.

Riaz Haq said…
Stratfor recommends #America use divide-and-conquer strategy in the #MidEast #Iran #SaudiArabia #Sunni #Shia #ISIS https://geopoliticalfutures.com/us-strategies-in-the-middle-east/ …

https://geopoliticalfutures.com/us-strategies-in-the-middle-east/


From the beginning of American history, the U.S. has used the divisions in the world to achieve its ends. The American Revolution prevailed by using the ongoing tension between Britain and France to convince the French to intervene. In World War II, facing Nazi Germany and the Stalinist Soviet Union, the United States won the war by supplying the Soviets with the wherewithal to bleed the German army dry, opening the door to American invasion and, with Britain, the occupation of Europe.
Unless you have decisive and overwhelming power, your only options are to decline combat, vastly increase your military force at staggering cost and time, or use divergent interests to recruit a coalition that shares your strategic goal. Morally, the third option is always a painful strategy. The United States asking monarchists for help in isolating the British at Yorktown was in a way a deal with the devil. The United States allying with a murderous and oppressive Soviet Union to defeat another murderous and oppressive regime was also a deal with the devil. George Washington and Franklin D. Roosevelt both gladly made these deals, each knowing a truth about strategy: What comes after the war comes after the war. For now, the goal is to reach the end of the war victorious.

In the case of the Middle East, I would argue that the United States lacks the forces or even a conceivable strategy to crush either the Sunni rising or Iran. Iran is a country of about 80 million defended to the west by rugged mountains and to the east by harsh deserts. This is the point where someone inevitably will say that the U.S. should use air power. This is the point where I will say that whenever Americans want to win a war without paying the price, they fantasize about air power because it is low-cost and irresistible. Air power is an adjunct to war on the ground. It has never proven to be an effective alternative.
The idea that the United States will simultaneously wage wars in Syria, Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan and emerge victorious is fantasy. What is not fantasy is the fact that the Islamic world, both strategically and tactically, is profoundly divided. The United States must decide who is the enemy. “Everybody” is an emotionally satisfying answer to some, but it will lead to defeat. The United States cannot fight everyone from the Mediterranean to the Hindu Kush. It can indefinitely carry out raids and other operations, but it can’t win.
To craft an effective strategy, the United States must go back to the strategic foundations of the republic: a willingness to ally with one enemy to defeat another. The goal should be to ally with the weaker enemy, or the enemy with other interests, so that one war does not immediately lead to another. At this moment, the Sunnis are weaker than the Iranians. But there are far more Sunnis, they cover a vast swath of ground and they are far more energized than Iran. Currently, Iran is more powerful, but I would argue the Sunnis are more dangerous. Therefore, I am suggesting an alignment with the Iranians, not because they are any more likable (and neither were Stalin or Louis XVI), but because they are the convenient option.
The Iranians hate and fear the Sunnis. Any opportunity to crush the Sunnis will appeal. The Iranians are also as cynical as George Washington was. But in point of fact, an alliance with the Sunnis against the Shiites could also work. The Sunnis despise the Iranians, and given the hope of crushing them, the Sunnis could be induced to abandon terrorism. There are arguments to be made on either side, as there is in Afghanistan.
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan’s Response to Hybrid War on CPEC?
The over 100 Pakistani martyrs who were killed over the past week as part of the joint US-Indian Hybrid War on CPEC don’t need to have their sacrifices be in vain.

By Andrew Korybko - February 17, 2017


http://regionalrapport.com/2017/02/17/pakistans-response-hybrid-war-cpec/

Pakistan was attacked by terrorists over the past five days when eight separate blasts ripped through the country and reminded the world that Islamabad is on the front-lines in the War on Terror. Unlike after the end of the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan, this time it wasn’t just ‘wayward freedom fighters’ boomeranging back to their home base and setting off a chain reaction of blowback, but dyed-in-the-wool terrorists hell-bent on wreaking as much havoc as possible in order to offset China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Old Tactics for New Reasons

This major contextual difference is attributable to the redefined geostrategic significance of South Asia across the past couple of years. The CPEC has become the driver of China’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) global vision of New Silk Road connectivity and the poster project for the emerging Multipolar World Order, thus making Pakistan the “Zipper of Pan-Eurasian Integration” at the “Convergence of Civilizations”.

The US and its unipolar allies such as India have a completely different conception for how the future should look, and are dead-set opposed to CPEC for the simple reason that it would undermine their hegemonic ambitions. Instead of joining the project and contributing to a win-win solution for all of Eurasia, Washington and New Delhi have decided to sabotage CPEC out of the pursuit of their own subjectively defined self-interests.

Pursuant to this goal, both actors utilize Afghan-based terrorists in order to destabilize Pakistan, understanding that this can in turn reduce the attractiveness of CPEC to international investors and partners. The thinking goes that if high-profile terrorist attacks capture the global media’s attention, they’ll inevitably succeed in leading the worldwide audience to once more inaccurately conflating Pakistan with instability, which in turn feeds speculation and thus creates a dire risk for the business vitality of CPEC.
Riaz Haq said…
It seems that only small European or island nations like Britain, Spain and Portugal focussed on building navies for "exploration" and "trade" that later led to colonization of America, Asia and Europe.

Henry Kissinger in his book "On China" explains why China failed to rule the world in spite of having a long coast and a large fleet in 1400s.

Kissinger traces this failure to the decision under a Ming ruler to disband its massive Navy in 1433 that was built by a Muslim Chinese Admiral Zeng He.

Here's an excerpt of "On China" by Henry Kissinger:

"Zeng He was a singular figure in the age of exploration: a Chinese Muslim eunuch conscripted into imperial service as a child, he fits no obvious historical precedent. At each stop on his journey, he formally proclaimed the magnificence of China's new Emperor, bestowed lavish gifts on the rulers he encountered, and invited them to travel in person or send envoys to China. There, they were to acknowledge their place in the Sinocentric world order by performing the ritual "kpwtow" to acknowledge the the Emperor's superiority. Yet beyond China's greatness and issuing invitations to portentous ritual, Zeng He displayed no territorial ambition. .....Zeng He's expeditions abruptly stopped in 1433, coincident with the recurrence of threats along China's northern frontier. The next Emperor ordered the fleet dismantled and the records of Zeng He's voyages destroyed.

The expeditions were never repeated. Though Chinese traders continued to ply the routes Zeng He sailed, China's naval abilities faded---so much so that the Ming rulers' response to subsequent menace of piracy off China's southeast was to attempt forced migration of the coastal population ten miles inland."


https://books.google.com/books?id=4pFfYliTIMkC&pg=PT19&dq=chinese+admiral+zheng+he+kissinger+on+china&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj0pP3W6KbSAhUFMGMKHYj4CjAQ6wEIGzAA#v=onepage&q=chinese%20admiral%20zheng%20he%20kissinger%20on%20china&f=true
Riaz Haq said…
#India must join #China #Pakistan One Belt, One Road #CPEC initiative to stay in the game via @htTweets

http://www.hindustantimes.com/columns/india-must-involve-itself-in-the-china-pakistan-one-belt-one-road-initiative-to-stay-in-the-game/story-uTtxhRzcn8iCnUHsB91haJ.html

The recently held strategic dialogue between India and China provides a useful reality check on the state of the play. Over the past year, the relationship had reached an impasse owing to China’s unwillingness to support India’s entry into the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group and to allow Masood Azhar of Jaish-e-Mohammed to be placed on the United Nations Security Council’s terror list.

In both cases India had insisted that these were litmus tests of its ties with China. New Delhi’s stance stemmed from an under-estimation of the growing importance of Pakistan to China and from an over-estimation of its own clout. If the former underscored the inability of the government to get the measure of China-Pakistan convergence, the latter flowed from the curious belief that international influence was mostly about talking ourselves up.

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The prospect of a trade war sparked off by Trump’s imposition of tariffs is surely a major cause for concern to the Chinese leadership. But they also know that United States does not hold all the chips. For one thing, China can retaliate against American exports on a range of things from aircraft to soya bean. More importantly, American tariffs will undercut global value chains and the accompanying deep integration of regulatory systems — commercial laws, taxation, intellectual property rights — fostered assiduously by the US in the past.

While this will hurt China in the short run, it also provided Beijing an opening to reorient economic integration in Asia under its leadership and on more congenial terms.

The collapse of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the rolling out of the One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative have already provided Beijing the perfect setting in which to pursue a more ambitious agenda of Asian connectivity and integration. Chinese economists have also mooted ideas to channel a greater portion of Asian savings into investments in Asia — instead of persisting with the current pattern of effectively sending those savings to the US and allowing American banks and financial institutions to reinvest them in Asia. All this will take time and enormous effort, but the Chinese are well poised.

Politically, too, Beijing will stand to gain from Trump’s attitude towards longstanding partners in Asia. If an ally like Australia — which stood by the US even during the Vietnam War — came in for rough treatment, what are the odds that others are going to have smooth relationship with the Trump administration? To be sure, many of these countries will continue to be concerned about China but the emergence of countervailing coalitions may become difficult.

Unlike Beijing, New Delhi does not have many cards to play. Despite repeated expressions of interest, India’s record in fostering economic integration even in the subcontinent is underwhelming. Further, New Delhi has firmly refused to sign up to the Chinese OBOR initiative. The two sides did, however, discuss the possibility of cooperating on developmental activities in Afghanistan. Again, while this is welcome, New Delhi should recognise that Beijing does not really need to work with it in Afghanistan.
Riaz Haq said…
#Asia's quiet #superpower: #Pakistan Army’s teetering balance between #Saudi and #Iran https://shar.es/1Ufb30 via @MiddleEastEye

By Kamal Alam, Visiting Fellow at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) in London, UK

When one thinks of the Pakistan Army, one does not instinctively think of a force that is relevant to conflicts in the Middle East. Yet increasingly – and without actually being involved in any operations - it is the most influential military in the region.

Who will lead the Islamic NATO, a new Saudi-led, terrorist-fighting military alliance? None other than Pakistan’s General Raheel Sharif
It has trained more Arab armies than any other country and has been present both in a combat role in the Arab-Israeli wars in 1967 and 1973 and also provided mentorship as the Gulf countries' armies were founded.

This is mostly thanks to the legacy of the British Indian Army, which was one-third Muslim, and which the British relied on to pacify the hostility of Arab Muslims when it marched through Jerusalem, Damascus and Baghdad. After India’s partition in 1947, these troops became the founders of the Pakistan military and thus began a long relationship that exists to this day.

After the fall of Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi army, and Iran’s rising influence across the Middle East, the Gulf states, led by Saudi Arabia, have looked to Pakistan as the final guarantor.

When the current Pakistan Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Bajwa recently stated that Pakistan views Saudi Arabia’s protection as its own, it was seen as an indirect warning to Iran and the terrorist groups threatening Saudi Arabia.

And who will lead the "Islamic NATO", a new Saudi-led, terrorist-fighting military alliance? None other than Pakistan’s General Raheel Sharif.

Surprise announcements

Though it was rumoured for a good year before his retirement, when Defence Minister Khwaja Asif confirmed Sharif’s appointment to the "Muslim NATO" a few weeks ago, it came as a surprise to the Pakistani parliament in much the same way as the announcement two years ago that Pakistan was to participate in the Saudi-led war in Yemen.

There was a furore in the GCC when, after the surprise announcement, the Pakistani military eventually refused the role in Yemen in 2015. The UAE even cancelled visa waivers for Pakistani military officials, a process that had existed for decades, while leading Kuwait and Saudi state-owned media attacked Pakistan and how it had back-stabbed its "brothers" in the Gulf.

Pakistan itself was split down the middle over Yemen. The majority of the military was apparently in favour of the army’s participation. However, given Operation Zarb e Azb, in which the army was targeting cross-border violence and domestic terrorist groups on the Afghan border in North Waziristan, the military was overstretched fighting its own war on terror.

Ultimately, Pakistan did not take part in Yemen with troops on the ground, but did provide border support to guard Saudi sovereignty and offer advice during the air campaign.

However, two years down the line, with Pakistan military’s operations winding down in the northwest of its country, there is increased stability within the army and, tactically speaking, troops are now available. So the question of a more active role for Pakistan in Yemen may arise again.

One of the main reasons Saudi Arabia is going back to Pakistan for help, despite its previous refusal in Yemen, is that Pakistan and General Raheel Sharif himself warned that ground operations in Yemen were futile given the terrain, and proximity to the sea making impractical the use of the hammer and anvil tactic - and they were proven right.

While Pakistan will definitely not put troops in Yemen (Sharif has made that clear), the army can help by mediating conflict resolution mechanisms it used with success in Waziristan and Swat Valley.
Riaz Haq said…
TRUMP PREPARES TO PASS THE WORLD LEADERSHIP BATON TO CHINA
Posted by Fareed Zakaria on March 17, 2017 ·

https://fareedzakaria.com/2017/03/17/trump-prepares-to-pass-the-world-leadership-baton-to-china/


We do not yet have the official agenda for next month’s meeting in Florida between President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping. But after 75 years of U.S. leadership on the world stage, the Mar-a-Lago summit might mark the beginning of a handover of power from the United States to China. Trump has embraced a policy of retreat from the world, opening a space that will be eagerly filled by the Communist Party of China.
Trump railed against China on the campaign trail, bellowing that it was “raping” the United States. He vowed to label it a currency manipulator on his first day in office. But in his first interaction with Beijing, he caved. Weeks after his election, Trump speculated that he might upgrade relations with Taiwan. In response, Xi froze all contacts between Beijing and Washington on all issues, demanding that Trump reverse himself — which is exactly what happened. (Perhaps just coincidentally, a few weeks later, the Chinese government granted the Trump Organization dozens of trademark rights in China, with a speed and on a scale that surprised many experts.)
The Trump administration’s vision for disengagement from the world is a godsend for China. Look at Trump’s proposed budget, which would cut spending on “soft power” — diplomacy, foreign aid, international organizations — by 28 percent. Beijing, by contrast, has quadrupled the budget of its foreign ministry in the past decade. And that doesn’t include its massive spending on aid and development across Asia and Africa. Just tallying some of Beijing’s key development commitments, George Washington University’s David Shambaugh estimates the total at $1.4 trillion, compared with the Marshall Plan, which in today’s dollars would cost about $100 billion.
China’s growing diplomatic strength matters. An Asian head of government recently told me that at every regional conference, “Washington sends a couple of diplomats, whereas Beijing sends dozens. The Chinese are there at every committee meeting, and you are not.” The result, he said, is that Beijing is increasingly setting the Asian agenda.
The Trump administration wants to skimp on U.S. funding for the United Nations. This is music to Chinese ears. Beijing has been trying to gain influence in the global body for years. It has increased its funding for the U.N. across the board and would likely be delighted to pick up the slack as the United States withdraws. As Foreign Policy magazine’s Colum Lynch observes, China has already become the second-largest funder of U.N. peacekeeping and has more peacekeepers than the other four permanent Security Council members combined. Of course, in return for this, China will gain increased influence, from key appointments to shifts in policy throughout the U.N. system.
The first major act of the Trump administration was to pull the United States out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a treaty that would have opened up long-closed economies such as Japan and Vietnam, but also would have created a bloc that could stand up to China’s increasing domination of trade in Asia. The TPP was, in Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s words, “a litmus test” of U.S. credibility in Asia. With Washington’s withdrawal, even staunchly pro-American allies such as Australia are hedging their bets. Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has raised the possibility of China joining the TPP, essentially turning a group that was meant to be a deterrent against China into one more arm of Chinese influence.
Riaz Haq said…
#China’s new world order. #US #India #Pakistan #CPEC #OBOR

by Zahid Hussain

https://www.dawn.com/news/1333603

CHINA recently hosted 29 heads of state and government at the Belt and Road Forum, reinforcing the country’s claim to leadership of an emerging geopolitical and economic world order. The summit conference that also attracted representatives of more than 40 other countries and multilateral financial agencies was the clearest expression yet of China breaking out of its old foreign policy mould that had restrained it from attempting a global role.

China’s multibillion-dollar One Belt, One Road (OBOR) infrastructure development project linking the old Silk Road with Europe, is a manifestation of China’s growing geopolitical ambitions. A brainchild of President Xi Jinping, perhaps, the most powerful Chinese leader after Mao Zedong, OBOR has now been under development for four years, spanning 68 countries and accounting for up to 40 per cent of global GDP.

President Xi’s ambition of propelling China to centre stage of the global power game represents a sharp departure from the approach of previous Chinese leaders who strictly adhered to Deng Xiaoping’s tenet to “hide our capabilities and bide our time, never try to take the lead”. Thus over the past two decades, China has avoided being drawn into global conflicts and has completely focused its energies on development that helped it to become an economic superpower.

China’s push to take the world leadership has come at a time when a strong anti-globalisation wave is sweeping the Western world that is showing a growing tendency of returning to more protectionist regimes. The United States under the Trump administration with its inward-looking approach has virtually abandoned the mantle of globalisation thus ceding greater space to Beijing’s assertion.

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Although Beijing downplays geostrategic motivations, CPEC represents an international extension of China’s effort to deliver security through economic development. Notwithstanding their growing strategic cooperation, terrorist sanctuaries in Pakistan have remained a major source of worry for the Chinese government. China’s security concerns, especially those that arise from its restive region of Xinjiang, and the Islamist militancy threatening Pakistan’s stability have also been a strong factor in Beijing’s new approach to achieving security through economic development.

This growing Pakistan-China strategic alliance has also exposed the regional geopolitical fault lines. Predictably, India boycotted the Beijing forum citing serious reservations about the project, particularly regarding China-funded development in Gilgit-Baltistan that is linked to the Kashmir dispute. Yet another excuse given by the Indian authorities was that a trans-regional project of this magnitude required wider consultation.

Explore: Is India trying to convince the world China’s OBOR plan is secretly colonial?

Despite their geopolitical rivalry and long-standing border dispute, trade between India and China has grown significantly crossing $100bn. But there have been some visible signs of tension between the two most populous nations in the past few years with the strengthening of ties between Washington and New Delhi. India has openly sided with the US and Japan against China over the South China Sea issue.

Indeed, the success of the summit has provoked a strong reaction from Delhi. So much so that some leading commentators have called for tougher action to obstruct the OBOR project. “Far from this, CPEC (the life and soul of OBOR) threatens India’s territorial integrity in a manner unseen since 1962,” Samir Saran, a leading Indian commentator wrote in an op-ed piece.

Notwithstanding the scepticism, OBOR is a new geo-economic reality representing an emerging world order. The process cannot be reversed.
Riaz Haq said…
U.S. #Pentagon says #China likely to build more mil overseas bases, maybe in #Pakistan after #Djibouti http://reut.rs/2rSapDG via @Reuters

A Pentagon report released on Tuesday singled out Pakistan as a possible location for a future Chinese military base, as it forecast that Beijing would likely build more bases overseas after establishing a facility in the African nation of Djibouti.

The prediction came in a 97-page annual report to Congress that saw advances throughout the Chinese military in 2016, funded by robust defense spending that the Pentagon estimated exceeded $180 billion.

That is higher than China's official defense budget figure of 954.35 billion yuan ($140.4 billion). Chinese leaders, the U.S. report said, appeared committed to defense spending hikes for the "foreseeable future," even as economic growth slows.

The report repeatedly cited China's construction of its first overseas naval base in Djibouti, which is already home to a key U.S. military base and is strategically located at the southern entrance to the Red Sea on the route to the Suez Canal.

"China most likely will seek to establish additional military bases in countries with which it has a longstanding friendly relationship and similar strategic interests, such as Pakistan," the report said.

Djibouti's position on the northwestern edge of the Indian Ocean has fueled worries in India that it would become another of China's 'string of pearls' of military alliances and assets ringing India, including Bangladesh, Myanmar and Sri Lanka.

The report did not address India's potential reaction to a Chinese base in Pakistan.

But Pakistan, the U.S. report noted, was already the primary market in the Asian-Pacific region for Chinese arms exports. That region accounted for $9 billion of the more than $20 billion in Chinese arms exports from 2011 to 2015.

Last year, China signed an agreement with Pakistan for the sale of eight submarines.

QUANTUM SATELLITE, CYBER HACKS

The Pentagon report flagged Chinese military advances, including in space and at sea.

It cited China's 2016 launch of the first experimental quantum communications satellite, acknowledging that it represented a "notable advance in cryptography research."

As in past years, the Pentagon renewed its concerns about cyber spying, saying U.S. government-owned computers were again targeted by China-based intrusions through 2016.

"These and past intrusions focused on accessing networks and extracting information," the report said.

"China uses its cyber capabilities to support intelligence collection against U.S. diplomatic, economic, and defense industrial base sectors."

In a section discussing China's Navy, the report predicted that China's first domestically designed and produced aircraft carrier would likely reach initial operating capability in 2020.
Riaz Haq said…
#India & #Pakistan in 8-member #SCO a boon for regional stability, development. #China #Russia #SCOsummit @XHNews http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2017-06/08/c_136349784.htm …

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) will witness its first-ever expansion at the upcoming Kazakhstan summit.
The inclusion of India and Pakistan, both major countries in the region, demonstrates the organization's growing appeal.
Once New Delhi and Islamabad officially in, the eight-member bloc will then cover nearly half of the world's population and three-fifths of the Eurasian continent. Its role in promoting regional stability and prosperity would thus be greatly boosted.
Since its founding in 2001, the SCO has encountered numerous naysayers and critics who have questioned its motives, principles and development.
Yet the organization's steadfast commitments to peace and growth in some of the world's most volatile nations have remained unshaken over the years.
That's because the SCO countries have shared great needs to maintain peace and security in the region, and even greater needs to foster faster economic development. These common interests outweigh their differences in political systems, cultures, social textures and levels of economic development.
After India and Pakistan are admitted to the SCO, they will enjoy broader anti-terrorism intelligence sharing with other partners within the bloc.
A mature multilateral mechanism such as the SCO will also help the two countries strengthen their trust-building process and enable them to work together to combat their common enemy -- terrorism.
Moreover, the SCO could also serve as a platform to better promote their shared economic and trade development, especially cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative.
"The SCO has never been just a security group from the beginning. The Belt and Road Initiative offers a timely and convenient framework for the SCO members to facilitate connectivity and ultimately, achieve free flows of goods, capital, service and technology," said Sheng Shiliang, a researcher at the Xinhua Center for World Affairs Studies.
Sun Zhuangzhi, secretary-general of the SCO Research Center affiliated to the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), said "comprehensive cooperation at all levels as part of the regional integration process is unstoppable. India cannot keep itself from this general trend for too long, it will come and join in like this time, sooner or later."
The impressive performance of the SCO in the past 16 years deserves greater global confidence in its ability to dispel doubts and divergences.
As Chinese President Xi Jinping and other heads of state gather in Astana for the SCO summit on Thursday and Friday, the world can expect that the organization, by absorbing two major regional countries, can help promote regional unity in the quest for a more secure and prosperous future.
Riaz Haq said…
INTERVIEW WITH GRAHAM ALLISON INTERNATIONAL
Trump’s biggest challenge is to avoid war with China, says Graham Allison
Varghese K George

http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/interview-with-graham-allison-trumps-biggest-challenge-is-to-avoid-war-with-china/article17893640.ece

‘S. Korea or Japan, not India or Pakistan, could drag America into war with China’

Graham Allison is Director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and Douglas Dillon Professor of Government at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government. In his forthcoming book Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides’s Trap?, he argues that confrontations between the two powers are inevitable. He answered questions from The Hindu by email.

In your view, is it possible for Trump to cut a deal with China on trade and leave China's desired sphere of influence in Asia unchallenged?

I do not want to speculate about any specific details of any potential deals, but I do think that a negotiated long peace between China and the United States is one possible outcome. In my book, I note that there is ample precedent for an agreement between the US and China to take a hiatus that imposes considerable constraints in some areas of their competition. This would leave both parties free to pursue advantage elsewhere. From the Thirty Years’ Peace that Athens signed with the Spartans to the US-Soviet détente in the 1970s, rivals throughout history have found ways to accept intolerable (but temporally unchangeable) circumstances in order to focus on more urgent priorities.

In the current stage of the Chinese-American rivalry, both governments face overwhelming demands at home. Given China’s view that progress advances in decades and centuries rather than days and months, it has historically shown a capacity to set problems aside for long periods, as it did in reaching the Shanghai Communiqué in 1972, which effectively set aside the issue of Taiwan, or in 1978 when Deng Xiaoping proposed to Japan that disputes over islands in the East China Sea be shelved for a generation.

Americans tend to be less patient. Yet the menu of potential agreements is long and fruitful: a pact to freeze disputes in the South and East China Seas, to affirm freedom of navigation for all ships in all international waters, to limit cyber attacks to agreed domains and exclude others (for instance, critical infrastructure), or to forbid specific forms of interference in each other’s domestic politics.

How do you think Asian countries will try to balance the US - China rivalry?

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Besides Korea, the prime candidate for this is probably not India or Pakistan but Japan, a country with a post–World War II history of pacifism, but whose politics have become increasingly militaristic in recent years. Disputes between Japan and China over islands in the East China Sea thus present special risks. If the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe succeeds in revising Japan’s pacifist constitution and strengthening its military capabilities, including amphibious landings to seize disputed islands, China will do more than take note.
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan pivots to #China amid fresh concerns over #US ties with #India. #ModiInUS #Trump

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/pakistan-pivots-to-china-amid-fresh-concerns-over-us-ties-with-india/2017/06/29/63e377d2-5cc9-11e7-aa69-3964a7d55207_story.html?utm_term=.b453ecd1e6f9

Islamabad – The words from Pakistan’s top foreign policy adviser could not have been clearer. At a news conference welcoming China’s foreign minister to the Pakistani capital this week, Sartaj Aziz declared, “Pakistan’s relations with China are the cornerstone of our foreign policy.”

It was a blunt signal of change by a country that has long been a key ally and aid recipient of the United States, from their Cold War alliance against Soviet meddling in Afghanistan to a more recent, uneasy partnership in the fight against Islamist terrorism in the region. Today, Pakistan continues to receive hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. annual support.

But Islamabad’s political pivot from Washington to Beijing, already its dominant investor and increasingly important global interlocutor, is hardly surprising, experts said.

Pakistani officials have been worried for months that the Trump administration will put heavy pressure on their government, possibly by cutting aid or even declaring it a “state sponsor of terrorism” – a giant black mark -- due to complaints by Afghan officials, U.S. military officials and members of Congress that Pakistan continues to harbor anti-Afghan insurgents.

At the same time, Islamabad has been concerned about Washington’s emerging friendship with India, Pakistan’s much larger, nuclear-armed rival and immediate neighbor. This week’s upbeat state visit to Washington by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was received enthusiastically by President Trump, raised new alarm bells here.

On Thursday, Pakistani newspapers featured a photo of Trump and Modi hugging goodbye, along with anxious headlines and a testy statement from the Pakistan foreign ministry that called a joint statement by the two leaders “singularly unhelpful” in achieving stability and peace in South Asia, and said it “aggravates an already tense situation.” The ministry also said that China had endorsed Pakistan’s view.

Pakistan was especially upset that Modi and Trump spoke about the importance of reining in regional terrorism – referring indirectly to Pakistan’s alleged support for anti-Afghan insurgents -- but ignored Pakistan’s denunciations of human rights abuses by Indian forces against protesters in the contested border region of Kashmir, as well as its charges of Indian support for anti-Pakistan militants.

Riaz Haq said…
#US #Navy carrier group leads biggest yet drills with #India, #Japan off #Malabar #China #Pakistan http://reut.rs/2u48FYX via @Reuters

A U.S. aircraft carrier strike group began naval exercises with India and Japan on Monday that the U.S. navy said would help the three countries tackle maritime threats in the Asia-Pacific region.

The annual exercises named Malabar are being held off India. They are the largest since India and the United States launched the exercise in 1992. Japan was later included.

"Malabar 2017 is the latest in a continuing series of exercises that has grown in scope and complexity over the years to address the variety of shared threats to maritime security in the Indo-Asia Pacific," the U.S. Pacific command said.

Military officials say the drills involving the U.S. carrier USS Nimitz, India's lone carrier Vikramaditya and Japan's biggest warship, the helicopter carrier Izumo, are aimed at helping to maintain a balance of power in the Asia-Pacific against the rising weight of China.

The three countries have been concerned about China's claims to almost all of the waters of the South China Sea, and more broadly, its expanding military presence across the region.

Chinese submarines, for example, recently docked in Sri Lanka, an island just off the southern tip of India that it has long seen as squarely in its back yard.

The maritime drills are taking place as India and China are locked in a standoff on their land border in the Himalayas.

The U.S. Pacific command said in a statement the exercises would help the three countries operate together and it was learning how to integrate with the Indian navy.

India and the United States were for decades on opposite sides of a Cold War divide but have in recent years become major defense partners.

China has in the past criticized the exercises as destabilizing to the region.

India this year turned down an Australian request to join the exercises for now, for fear that would antagonize China further.

The Indian navy said the exercises would focus on aircraft carrier operations and ways to hunt submarines.

The navy has spotted more than a dozen Chinese military vessels including submarines in the Indian Ocean over the past two months, media reported days ahead of Malabar.

"Naval co-operation between India, US and Japan epitomizes the strong and resilient relationship between the three democracies," India's defense ministry said in a statement.

The border stand-off on a plateau next to the mountainous Indian state of Sikkim, which borders China, has ratcheted up tension between the neighboring giants, who share a 3,500 km (2,175 miles) frontier, large parts of which are disputed.

Riaz Haq said…
Deutsche Welle interview with US South Asia analyst Michael Kugelman:

http://www.dw.com/en/trump-administration-has-zero-patience-for-pakistans-terror-policy/a-39719898


DW: Is the US government finally taking a hard line against Pakistan?


Michael Kugelman: A tougher policy is certainly a strong possibility. If there is one US administration likely to take a hard line against Pakistan, it's the Trump administration. Trump projects himself as tough on terror and takes a very principled and strident approach to terror - it needs to be wiped out, wherever it is and in whatever form. It would seem that Trump would have zero patience for Pakistan's policy of going after some terrorists while letting others be.

There has been speculation that the US could expand the drone war and cut Pakistan funds. The harshest critics of Pakistan believe that the US government should revoke Pakistan's status as a major non-NATO ally or even declare it as a state sponsor of terror. These extremely tough policies may well be in the policy tool-kit, though my sense is that the aid cuts and drone strikes would be more likely.

Do you think the Trump administration could force Pakistan to act against the Haqqani Network and other Islamist organizations Washington considers a threat to its interests?
I'm not sure they could. In fact, the Pakistani security establishment may respond to more sticks and less carrots from the US by doubling down and tightening its embrace of militants like the Haqqani Network and Lashkar-e-Taiba.
If the US revoked Pakistan's status as a major non-NATO partner state in the war against terror, how would it affect the situation in Afghanistan?
This would actually be quite devastating for the Pakistani military, because it would probably translate into major reductions in military assistance and arms sales. Pakistan can depend on the largesse of other countries like China and Saudi Arabia, but Islamabad really values the military support it has received from Washington over the years. Revoking Pakistan's status as a non-NATO partner would put this support in doubt and worry quite a few people within the Pakistani security establishment.

The question, however, is if the US would actually go through with such a drastic policy shift. Frankly, I think it's unlikely, at least in the immediate to mid term. The US continues to have troops in Afghanistan, and in fact the Trump administration is poised to send more. So long as the US has troops in Afghanistan, it will need to depend on Pakistan to provide supply routes for US troops. Taking a harder line against Pakistan would likely prompt Islamabad to shut down these supply routes, obliging America to use more circuitous and expensive routes. This could make the US war effort in Afghanistan even more difficult than it already is.
Pakistan is important because of its geographic location and its geopolitical relationship, there's no doubt about that. There's no way that the US will consider Pakistan unimportant, given that it borders Afghanistan, where Americans are fighting their longest ever war, and given that it has deep ties to the world's next superpower (China) and growing ties with one of the world's most dangerous revisionist powers (Russia).

If cornered by the Trump administration, can Pakistan tilt more toward China and Russia?
Certainly a harder US line would send Pakistan deeper into the embrace of China and Russia. But I don't think we should overstate this risk. For one thing, Pakistan is already moving closer to Russia, and especially China. For another thing, the interests and objectives of Russia, and especially China in Afghanistan, are actually closer to those of the US than to those of Pakistan. China and Russia both want a stable Afghanistan and have no interest in Taliban rule. Pakistan, of course, has major ties to the Taliban and arguably benefits from an unstable Afghanistan in that it complicates efforts by India to have a deep presence there.
Riaz Haq said…
Why India-Japan’s Knock-Off Of Pakistan-China’s CPEC Is Doomed To Fail

https://www.valuewalk.com/2017/08/india-japan-pakistan-china-cpec-fail/

India-Japan joint efforts to copy the idea of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) can be derailed due to economic impotence.

As India and Japan join hands to develop their own vision of a connectivity initiative – the Asia-Africa Growth Corridor (AAGC), dubbed as ‘India’s New Silk Road’ – New Delhi and Tokyo look over their shoulder to copy rivals Pakistan and China’s ambitious CPEC.

The announcement of AAGC was made by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in May and came amid the active phase of CPEC implementation. While India and Japan insist their knock-off of CPEC is designed to integrate the economies of South, Southeast, and East Asia with Oceania and Africa, experts says the intentions behind the AAGC are to counter China and serve as a counterbalance to its ambitious joint project with Pakistan.

India-Japan Making Their Own, Cheaper Version of CPEC

The development of AAGC comes amid a series of seemingly anti-China deals by Japan and India, the most prominent enemies of Beijing looking to counter its growing expansionism in the region. In late July, The Economic Times reported that India-Japan would sign a landmark maritime security pact during Japanese PM Shinzo Abe’s visit in September, something that will allow the two nations to contain China’s alleged expansionism appetites.

A few weeks ago, The Economic Times reported that a historic Indo-Japanese civil nuclear deal – signed in November last year – came into force, enabling Japan to export nuclear power plant technology from India as well as sponsor nuclear power plants in the nuclear-armed nation. The two nuclear-equipped countries signing the landmark deal prompted a furious response from Beijing.

The news comes as Indian and Chinese troops remain locked in the Sino-Indian standoff at the disputed Doklam plateau. With many experts warning that the standoff could spiral into a military confrontation between the two historic rivals, the growing India-Japan strategic partnership comes amid their shared fears of Beijing attempting to change the status quo along the Indo-Bhutan-China trijunction and maritime boundary in East China Sea in Japan’s territory.

But could the development of India-Japan strategic projects under the banner of AAGC help New Delhi and Tokyo counter China’s steadily expanding economic and political outreach in the region?

Why India and Japan’s AAGC Is Doomed to Fail

While India and Japan insist that the idea of AAGC is to create “a free and open Indo-Pacific region” by rediscovering older sea-routes and creating new sea corridors, China is concerned that the initiative is nothing but a cheap knock-off project designed to counterbalance or even disrupt its game-changer Belt and Road initiative.

True, India-Japan’s AAGC is a cheaper alternative to China’s Belt and Road initiative or even CPEC, but experts still doubt whether New Delhi and Tokyo could pull if off.

India and Japan’s ambitions to become the world’s prominent epicenters of economic growth could be derailed and doomed to fail due to India’s chronic economic slowdown, with “the makers of India’s monetary policy cutting interest rates” recently and “rates of job shedding,” according to The Economic Times.

Japan – the seeming driving force behind the AAGC initiative due to being the world’s third-largest economy – could expect a substantial slowdown in economic momentum due to the mounting political crisis in the nation. CNBC reported late last month that anti-government protests are on the rise in Japan, with PM Abe – who drowns in school scandals – having his lowest approval rating ever, under 30%.
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan: A slice of #China in #Islamabad. Growing Chinese footprint. #CPEC @AJEnglish

Restaurants, guesthouses and supermarkets are opening to cater for the influx of Chinese fuelled by the CPEC.

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2017/08/pakistan-slice-china-islamabad-170830081303813.html

"This year is, as we call it, the year of early harvest," says Lijian Zhao, China's deputy ambassador to Pakistan. "The ultimate goal is to help Pakistan to develop the economy … to help to accelerate the industrialisation process."

The 43 projects that directly fall under the CPEC banner have seen a tripling of the number of Chinese nationals resident in Pakistan to more than 30,000, according to the Chinese embassy in Islamabad. In addition, Reuters reported, that more than 71,000 Chinese nationals visited on short-term visas last year.

As more Chinese engineers, managers and workers flood into the country, Pakistan has seen a mushrooming of supermarkets, guesthouses and other businesses catering specifically to Chinese needs.

Zhao, the Chinese deputy ambassador, says he's a regular visitor to the new Chinese grocery stores, stocking up on traditional ingredients that are just not available anywhere else in the South Asian country.

"I go for those markets. [Even the embassy] cannot bring everything from China," he says.

The aptly named Firstop (a portmanteau of 'First Stop') is one of the largest such stores in Islamabad. The supermarket's shelves are lined with products manufactured in China: everything from noodles to hardhat construction helmets, sea kelp to stationery, spice mixes to industrial meat grinders.

As a Chinese migrant moving to Islamabad, whether you are looking for a quick meal or to procure the equipment and supplies to set up your own restaurant, it looks like Firstop has got you covered. Most of the demand, though, seems to be for food - both ready-made and ingredients - that are not available in typical Pakistani grocery stores, says Zhang Song, a store manager.

"Mostly the food and other seasonings are imported from China," says Song, in broken English. "Only [the cooking] oil is from Pakistan. Others all from China."

Song, a 29-year-old originally from He Bei province in China, says he moved to Pakistan two years ago to take advantage of the boom in businesses aimed at Chinese citizens.

"Most customers are Chinese people," he says.

Pakistanis, he says, seem to be fond of making Chinese food, but the South Asian version of Chinese food - heavy on garlic, ginger and tomatoes - does not necessarily fit the bill of actual Chinese fare.

"[Traditional] Chinese food is too much different from Pakistani food," he says, smiling.

At the Ni Hao Cash & Carry, a few kilometres away, the scene is much the same. The small store is crammed with row upon row of products labelled in Chinese, with an array of spices arranged in open containers near the back wall.

"A lot of [Pakistanis] walk in and are shocked … they see everything in Chinese here, and wonder perhaps if they've arrived in Beijing," says Rizwan Hassan, a manager at the store.

Hassan and business partner Eraj Raza have been working with Chinese nationals on infrastructure projects for the last seven years, and set up this store about six months ago.

"We built the store because we saw CPEC, and all the companies coming in," says Raza. "Lots of investors are coming in. People are opening restaurants, guesthouses, or other services."

About 90 percent of their customers, says Raza, are Chinese, with the rest made up mostly of Koreans, Thais and other East Asian visitors. Ni Hao also operates another store in Karachi, Pakistan's largest city and commercial capital, as well as smaller outlets at more than half a dozen CPEC project sites.

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