Did Pakistan facilitate the May 21, 2016 killing of Mullah Muhammad Mansour because the Taliban chief refused to join peace talks with Kabul? Mansour’s obstinacy was, after all, preventing Islamabad from delivering on its promise to the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) to bring the Taliban to the dialog table. Was the drone strike that killed Mansour a wasted effort, given that his successor, Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada, is equally disinclined to barter away battlefield gains in a political settlement that would leave most power with the “puppet regime” in Kabul?
Foreign Policy & Security
In December 2015, the Indian government made public its new model bilateral investment treaty (BIT), a template for individually negotiated agreements that govern private investments from a firm in one country into another. Countries use BITs to market themselves as stable and transparent investment destinations, providing a certain level of protection for foreign investments such as promising fair and equitable treatment, non-discrimination, and protection from expropriation.
Indian national security policymaking has traditionally suffered from a lack of central strategic planning: an organized process, fully integrating civilian and military defense institutions, that sets long-term defense objectives, then ensures these are met through procurement and posturing fulfilments. Instead, defense policy development largely consists of a combination of procurement wish lists submitted separately by the three military services, alongside intermittent initiatives principally formulated by the Prime Minister.
India’s Afghanistan policy seems to be witnessing a shift as Kabul seeks rapprochement with Rawalpindi. Despite multiple requests from Afghan officials, Delhi refused to hold a bilateral Strategic Partnership Council meeting to discuss and review the much-hyped Strategic Partnership Agreement that the two countries signed in October 2011. Adding insult to injury, Indian foreign minister, Sushma Swaraj, did not attend the Sixth Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan, held in Kabul on September 2-3, 2015.
The ambush of Indian Army forces in Manipur, signing of a peace accord with the NSCN-IM in Nagaland, and Gurdaspur attacks have put internal security at the center of Narendra Modi’s agenda. India has a long history of dealing with armed groups, whether Naxalites, tribal separatists, or Kashmiri militants. Yet many of the lessons of India’s experience are consistently ignored in the popular and policy discourses on how to respond to armed groups. This history reveals important insights that have received insufficient attention.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to France in April 2015 – his first visit to a European country – highlighted New Delhi’s burgeoning ties with Paris, underlined India’s attempts to diversify its defense purchases, and re-emphasized the congruence that has existed between the two countries during most of the Cold War. France has gradually emerged as a formidable technology supplier to India in all three strategic realms: defense, space, and nuclear energy.
Over the past decade, Special Operations Forces (SOF) have emerged as an increasingly critical component of modern military power. For western democracies, in particular, the frequent use of small, elite, units of clandestine operators has come to be seen as a more effective, discreet, and surgical means of projecting power within deeply contested regions. Provided they are well trained, equipped, and enabled, SOF possess the ability to act as true force multipliers, conducting key missions with small logistical footprints in austere forward environments.
Singapore’s defense minister Ng Eng Hen stated last month that his country wanted India to play a bigger role in the South China Sea. The leaders of Vietnam and the Philippines have also made similar statements in recent years. This “invitation” extended to India by the leaders of Southeast Asia to participate in that region’s security affairs is tantamount to India’s emergence as a great power in Southeast Asia, and by extension, in Asia itself.
On May 26, 2014, Narendra Modi invited the heads of all the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) member countries to his swearing-in ceremony. While this important gesture could have marked a new beginning for regional cooperation, such cooperation in South Asia still takes place mainly in the bilateral sphere. Since 1985, India has been a key founding member of four regional initiatives, none of which have achieved any tangible results.
Russia’s interests in India have been growing since Stalin’s death in 1953. Khrushchev and Bulganin inaugurated a Third World policy that brought the leaders to India and took Nehru to Moscow, all in 1955. In the same year, when Asian and African nations met at the Bandung Conference in Indonesia, Russian newspapers celebrated the event as a “sign of our age.” The Indian establishment was enthusiastic that Stalin’s successors had discarded his “dim view of India.” During the Cold War, the relationship had more flow than ebb.