The strength of India-Afghanistan relations was on full display at the 6th Heart of Asia Conference held in Amritsar on December 4, 2016. Criticizing Pakistan for providing a “safe haven” to “terrorists” associated with the Afghan centric Haqqani Network and the India centric Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad, New Delhi and Kabul successfully used the platform to isolate and humiliate Islamabad. The two countries also discussed the possibility of an air cargo corridor bypassing Pakistan, which has consistently denied Afghanistan access to Indian markets and vice versa.
Foreign Policy & Security
American small businesses—over twenty-eight million, of which eight million are minority owned—accounted for 64 percent of net new jobs created between 1993 and 2011, and employ nearly half of the U.S. workforce. Small business performance is therefore expected to be critical for the success of the Donald Trump presidency. It can be safely construed that the supplier diversity ecosystem fostered for decades will not suffer cuts and lashes given its unique status. Minority-owned firms generate $1.4 trillion annual gross receipts and employ 7.2 million people.
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?
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.