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Author Topic: India/Indian Ocean (and India-afpakia and India-China)  (Read 53889 times)
Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #200 on: August 28, 2017, 05:58:07 PM »

Strat's take on it:
=====================

It can be difficult to separate the important from unimportant on any given day. Reflections mean to do exactly that — by thinking about what happened today, we can consider what might happen tomorrow.

A months long standoff on top of the world is finally drawing to a close. On Aug. 28, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs released a statement saying that a "disengagement" of troops has begun on the Doklam Plateau. Doklam — a disputed territory between China and Bhutan — was the site of the confrontation between Indian and Chinese troops as India intervened there in June to halt a Chinese road construction project. India feared the road would have eased China's ability to bring troops closer to the neighboring state of Sikkim and to India's Siliguri corridor, which links the Indian mainland with its northeastern wing. The drawdown highlights how the costs of war outweighed the benefits of aggression for both sides, for now.

Still, the timing of the draw down is conspicuous. China will host the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) summit on Sept. 3. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi — who was already a no-show during China's Belt and Road Initiative summit — has not confirmed attendance. This is problematic since China would prefer to use BRICS to showcase its harmonious ties with member nations — something which Modi's absence would almost certainly undercut. So it's possible Modi used the threat of his absence as a bargaining chip to goad China into an agreement in which Indian troops backed off in exchange for China's promise to stop building its road. China confirmed neither, but India's decision to back down suggests the affirmative.

In any case, Doklam is a small part of a much bigger story. India and China share a 4,057-kilometer (2,521-mile) border known as the Line of Actual Control, and nearly all of it is in dispute. For instance, in the northwest lies Aksai Chin, a territory in Kashmir that India claims but China has administered ever since capturing it from India in 1962, when the two countries fought a short, sharp border war in which China emerged the victor. Then to the northeast is Arunachal Pradesh. China captured much of the area in 1962 but subsequently withdrew. China, however, still claims Arunachal Pradesh as "South Tibet," and Chinese troop incursions along the poorly demarcated border are not uncommon.

For India, these vulnerabilities compelled a shift in strategy. Initially, India had intentionally built few roads in the border region to blunt the movement of Chinese troops during another potential invasion. But in 1997, India instituted the China Study Group to propose the construction of border roads, partially in response to China's own infrastructure activities along the border. Many of these roads are incomplete, and Doklam has only drawn attention to their importance. Prior to the standoff, in fact, Modi had prioritized the construction of these 73 strategic roads.

India's desire to bolster infrastructure along a contested border suggests border confrontations with China will continue. This is part of the natural friction that arises when two large countries share a boundary that unfolds across the indomitable chain of the world's tallest mountains. But how that tension manifests is important to watch. A standoff is one possibility. But so are less drawn out measures such as the recent scuffle that took place near Pangong Lake in Aksai Chin. These will also continue.

The more interesting question is whether India and China can continue preventing their disputes (of which Doklam is only one part) from spilling over into other aspects of their overall relationship. So far, this compartmentalization has broadly held. For instance, the two countries issued a joint proposal calling for the World Trade Organization to banish $160 billion in farm subsidies in the United States, European Union, Canada, Japan and Switzerland. And on June 20 — after the standoff began — China's East Hope Group signed a $300 million deal to set up a solar power manufacturing plant in Gujarat, India. Finally, the navies of both countries will participate in the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium in November.

But will this compartmentalization continue to hold? China's cooperation with Pakistan, in particular, has placed unique stresses on China-India relations. The advent of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, China's refusal to sanction the Pakistan-based militant Masood Azhar and China's refusal to approve India's membership to the Nuclear Suppliers Group are all irritants that are compelling India to strengthen its ties with the United States and Japan, and to undermine China by promoting freedom of navigation in the South China Sea. It remains to be seen whether contentions can be contained within the security sphere, or if they will work to sabotage the countries' broader relationship. So even as the Doklam standoff winds down, India and China's strategic rivalry will only ramp up.
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ya
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« Reply #201 on: August 30, 2017, 05:42:15 PM »

Nice article, with lessons for future conflicts...YA

https://warontherocks.com/2017/08/countering-chinese-coercion-the-case-of-doklam/

China’s Coercion Playbook

China used the same playbook in Doklam as it has in other territorial disputes, especially Vietnam and the Philippines. This playbook usually involves four elements. The first step is to develop a larger or more permanent physical presence in areas where China has already has a degree of de facto control — whether that means new islands in the South China Sea or roads in the Himalayas. Using its military to build infrastructure in the Doklam area was likely an attempt to consolidate China’s control along its southwestern border, including this disputed area where it has patrolled for some time.

This consolidation usually goes hand-in-hand with the second element, coercive diplomacy. Here, China couples its threats or limited military action with diplomatic efforts designed to persuade the target state to change its policies or behavior. The strategy is to put the onus on the other side, often in a weaker position militarily, to risk confrontation over these gradual changes to the status quo. The goal is to ensure the target country does not counter China’s consolidation attempts, and ideally to compel them to engage in bilateral negotiations. It is in such talks that China can then leverage its stronger physical position to secure a favorable settlement.

China has used this model of coercive diplomacy not only against weaker claimants in the South China Sea, but also against the United States. In the 2009 U.S. Naval Ship Impeccable incident, for example, it used coercive diplomacy and other elements of its playbook against U.S. maritime surveillance operations. The Doklam case carried the added enticing prospect of opening new channels of diplomatic communication — and influence — with Bhutan, with which China currently lacks formal diplomatic relations.

Third, China uses legal rhetoric and principles to present its position as legitimate and lawful, thereby staking a claim to a broader legitimizing principle in territorial disputes. In the case of Doklam, China portrayed the Indian response as a violation of Chinese sovereignty — it claimed Indian troops entered Chinese territory through the Sikkim sector of the Sino-Indian border and had been “obstructing Chinese border troop activities.” China declared its road construction was entirely lawful, designed to improve infrastructure for the local people and border patrols. China’s policy position was that the border was delimited in 1890, formally reaffirmed several times since, and reinforced by the routine presence of Chinese troops and herders. Its legal argument thus rested in part on the first element of the playbook: the physical presence that it sought to make permanent with the road at Doklam.

Lastly, China leverages its government-controlled media to highlight its narrative and issue threats. These tend to involve warnings about not underestimating Chinese resolve and the Chinese people’s determination to protect their sovereignty just because China has restrained itself so far. The Chinese media was replete with such articles, warning India, for example, not to “play with fire” lest it “get burned.” They cautioned the Indian government not to be driven by nationalism and arrogance, to avoid miscalculation and repeating the mistakes of the 1962 war. This is not just a war of words; research shows that escalating threats in the media can be a precursor to China’s use of force.

While other countries may also seek to impose a territorial fait accompli — such as Russia in Ukraine — China always follows its multi-pronged playbook. It consistently demonstrates a preference for ambiguity, risk manipulation and controlling the narrative to win without fighting. Any use of coercion — which involves threats and use of force — carries the risk of escalation to conflict, even if China has previously managed to resolve most of its disputes without war. How China advances its claims in South and East Asia will determine whether those regions remain peaceful and stable.

Thwarting Coercion With Denial

China’s playbook, however, did not go according to plan this time, because it did not account for India’s unexpectedly swift and assertive response to its road-building. India did not simply voice displeasure or threaten to punish China if it continued to pursue its territorial claims as the United States and Southeast Asian countries have done in the South China Sea. In those cases, China used its coercive playbook effectively, forcing its adversaries to either back down or raise the ante. And as China’s uncontested gains have shown, its adversaries have generally lacked the capabilities, and especially the political resolve, to escalate crises.

But in this situation, India thwarted China’s coercion through denial — blocking China’s attempt to seize physical control of the disputed territory. By physically denying China’s bid to change the status quo, India created a stalemate, which suited its strategic policy. It did not acquiesce to a Chinese fait accompli, and it did not have to summon the capabilities or resolve to reverse China’s position, which would have risked a general war. India was able to do this because of a local military advantage and its broader policy of standing up to China. As a result, China did not have the option of proceeding under the guise of peaceful legitimate development, per its playbook; pressing its claims on Doklam would have required it to ratchet up military pressure. The stalemate thwarted Chinese coercion — but as long as it lasted, it was pregnant with risks of escalation and conflict.

Disengagement, But Dangers Persist

The immediate risks of conflict have receded, but the border dispute remains unresolved, and the broader Sino-Indian relationship remains fraught. First, on Doklam, while China has backed down for now, its statement that “China will continue fulfilling its sovereign rights to safeguard territorial sovereignty in compliance with the stipulations of the border-related historical treaty” suggests it has not changed its position on the border tri-junction. Indeed, during the standoff, China reportedly offered financial inducements to cleave Bhutan away from its traditional relationship with India — it has other ways, and continued ambitions, to press its claims.

Second, the India-China relationship remains tense, and prone to military risk, especially if China seeks to reassert itself after a perceived slight at Doklam. This could include an incursion somewhere along the India-China Line of Actual Control — indeed, such actions have already been reported. Or China might pursue a “cross-domain” response, for example with punitive cyber attacks or threatening activity in the Indian Ocean.

Third, over the longer term, India should be wary of learning the wrong lessons from the crisis. As one of us has recently written, India has long been preoccupied with the threat of Chinese (and Pakistani) aggression on their common land border. The Doklam standoff may be remembered as even more reason for India to pour more resources into defending its land borders, at the expense of building capabilities and influence in the wider Indian Ocean region. That would only play into China’s hands. Renewed Indian concerns about its land borders will only retard its emergence as an assertive and influential regional power.

The Lessons of Doklam

With the crisis only just being de-escalated, it is too early to derive definitive lessons from Doklam. However, a few policy implications are already apparent. First, Chinese behavior in territorial disputes is more likely to be deterred by denial than by threats of punishment. China will continue the combination of consolidating its physical presence and engaging in coercive diplomacy, lawfare, and media campaigns unless it is stopped directly. This is what India did at Doklam — it directly blocked Chinese efforts to change the status quo. Denial in other areas would require different military tasks — for example, in the Indian Ocean, it may involve anti-submarine warfare and maritime domain awareness.

Second, denial strategies may be effective, but they have their limitations. Denial is inherently risky. Countering China’s playbook involves risks of escalation — which most smaller adversaries, and at times even the United States, are unwilling to accept. Moreover, denial strategies can only serve to halt adversary action, not to reverse what the adversary has already done. As Doklam shows, India could convince China not to proceed with its road-building — but China did not relinquish its claims or its established pattern of presence in the area. Denial by itself offers no pathway to politically resolving the crisis.

Third, the agreement to disengage suggests that Beijing’s position in crises can be flexible, and perhaps responsive to assertive counter-coercion. Domestic audiences, even those in autocracies, often prefer sound judgment to recklessly staying the course. If the Doklam standoff had escalated to a shooting war, anything short of a decisive victory might have put Xi Jinping in an unfavorable position at the 19th Party Congress and hurt the PLA’s image with the Chinese people. But short of that, the Chinese government was always in the position to sell Doklam as a non-event, something the decreasing domestic media coverage suggests it was preparing to do. Beijing will frame the disengagement agreement as further proof of Chinese strength, especially relative to India. As the stronger power, China could magnanimously agree to a mutual disengagement for now while reserving the right to move forward when it sees fit.

Finally, the Doklam agreement, even if it is temporary, tells us that when China confronts a significantly weaker target, such as Bhutan, it will only be deterred by the actions of a stronger third party — in this case, India. Had India not acted, China would likely have been successful in consolidating its control and extracting territorial concessions from Bhutan. Third-party involvement may not be as easy in other cases — India had a privileged position in Bhutan. Such a strategy may also have significant second-order effects. In the near term, it is potentially escalatory — China argued that India has no basis for interfering in this bilateral dispute, and had many options for escalating the crisis at a time and place of its choosing. More broadly, such third-party involvement could intensify geopolitical competition between China and other powers such as the U.S. or India, if they intercede in other countries’ disputes with China. The lesson of Doklam for the United States is that arming small states and imposing incremental costs may not be enough. Washington may have to accept the greater risks associated with intervening more directly if it hopes to counter Chinese expansion in East Asia.

 

Oriana Skylar Mastro is an assistant professor of security studies at Georgetown University. She can be contacted through her website: www.orianaskylarmastro.com. Arzan Tarapore is an adjunct researcher at the nonprofit, nonpartisan RAND Corporation, and a PhD candidate at King’s College London.
« Last Edit: August 30, 2017, 11:34:03 PM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
G M
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Posts: 15284


« Reply #202 on: August 30, 2017, 06:18:31 PM »

Wait? You mean strongly worded letters aren't enough? Unpossible!



Nice article, with lessons for future conflicts...YA

https://warontherocks.com/2017/08/countering-chinese-coercion-the-case-of-doklam/

China’s Coercion Playbook

China used the same playbook in Doklam as it has in other territorial disputes, especially Vietnam and the Philippines. This playbook usually involves four elements. The first step is to develop a larger or more permanent physical presence in areas where China has already has a degree of de facto control — whether that means new islands in the South China Sea or roads in the Himalayas. Using its military to build infrastructure in the Doklam area was likely an attempt to consolidate China’s control along its southwestern border, including this disputed area where it has patrolled for some time.

This consolidation usually goes hand-in-hand with the second element, coercive diplomacy. Here, China couples its threats or limited military action with diplomatic efforts designed to persuade the target state to change its policies or behavior. The strategy is to put the onus on the other side, often in a weaker position militarily, to risk confrontation over these gradual changes to the status quo. The goal is to ensure the target country does not counter China’s consolidation attempts, and ideally to compel them to engage in bilateral negotiations. It is in such talks that China can then leverage its stronger physical position to secure a favorable settlement.

China has used this model of coercive diplomacy not only against weaker claimants in the South China Sea, but also against the United States. In the 2009 U.S. Naval Ship Impeccable incident, for example, it used coercive diplomacy and other elements of its playbook against U.S. maritime surveillance operations. The Doklam case carried the added enticing prospect of opening new channels of diplomatic communication — and influence — with Bhutan, with which China currently lacks formal diplomatic relations.

Third, China uses legal rhetoric and principles to present its position as legitimate and lawful, thereby staking a claim to a broader legitimizing principle in territorial disputes. In the case of Doklam, China portrayed the Indian response as a violation of Chinese sovereignty — it claimed Indian troops entered Chinese territory through the Sikkim sector of the Sino-Indian border and had been “obstructing Chinese border troop activities.” China declared its road construction was entirely lawful, designed to improve infrastructure for the local people and border patrols. China’s policy position was that the border was delimited in 1890, formally reaffirmed several times since, and reinforced by the routine presence of Chinese troops and herders. Its legal argument thus rested in part on the first element of the playbook: the physical presence that it sought to make permanent with the road at Doklam.

Lastly, China leverages its government-controlled media to highlight its narrative and issue threats. These tend to involve warnings about not underestimating Chinese resolve and the Chinese people’s determination to protect their sovereignty just because China has restrained itself so far. The Chinese media was replete with such articles, warning India, for example, not to “play with fire” lest it “get burned.” They cautioned the Indian government not to be driven by nationalism and arrogance, to avoid miscalculation and repeating the mistakes of the 1962 war. This is not just a war of words; research shows that escalating threats in the media can be a precursor to China’s use of force.

While other countries may also seek to impose a territorial fait accompli — such as Russia in Ukraine — China always follows its multi-pronged playbook. It consistently demonstrates a preference for ambiguity, risk manipulation and controlling the narrative to win without fighting. Any use of coercion — which involves threats and use of force — carries the risk of escalation to conflict, even if China has previously managed to resolve most of its disputes without war. How China advances its claims in South and East Asia will determine whether those regions remain peaceful and stable.

Thwarting Coercion With Denial

China’s playbook, however, did not go according to plan this time, because it did not account for India’s unexpectedly swift and assertive response to its road-building. India did not simply voice displeasure or threaten to punish China if it continued to pursue its territorial claims as the United States and Southeast Asian countries have done in the South China Sea. In those cases, China used its coercive playbook effectively, forcing its adversaries to either back down or raise the ante. And as China’s uncontested gains have shown, its adversaries have generally lacked the capabilities, and especially the political resolve, to escalate crises.

But in this situation, India thwarted China’s coercion through denial — blocking China’s attempt to seize physical control of the disputed territory. By physically denying China’s bid to change the status quo, India created a stalemate, which suited its strategic policy. It did not acquiesce to a Chinese fait accompli, and it did not have to summon the capabilities or resolve to reverse China’s position, which would have risked a general war. India was able to do this because of a local military advantage and its broader policy of standing up to China. As a result, China did not have the option of proceeding under the guise of peaceful legitimate development, per its playbook; pressing its claims on Doklam would have required it to ratchet up military pressure. The stalemate thwarted Chinese coercion — but as long as it lasted, it was pregnant with risks of escalation and conflict.

Disengagement, But Dangers Persist

The immediate risks of conflict have receded, but the border dispute remains unresolved, and the broader Sino-Indian relationship remains fraught. First, on Doklam, while China has backed down for now, its statement that “China will continue fulfilling its sovereign rights to safeguard territorial sovereignty in compliance with the stipulations of the border-related historical treaty” suggests it has not changed its position on the border tri-junction. Indeed, during the standoff, China reportedly offered financial inducements to cleave Bhutan away from its traditional relationship with India — it has other ways, and continued ambitions, to press its claims.

Second, the India-China relationship remains tense, and prone to military risk, especially if China seeks to reassert itself after a perceived slight at Doklam. This could include an incursion somewhere along the India-China Line of Actual Control — indeed, such actions have already been reported. Or China might pursue a “cross-domain” response, for example with punitive cyber attacks or threatening activity in the Indian Ocean.

Third, over the longer term, India should be wary of learning the wrong lessons from the crisis. As one of us has recently written, India has long been preoccupied with the threat of Chinese (and Pakistani) aggression on their common land border. The Doklam standoff may be remembered as even more reason for India to pour more resources into defending its land borders, at the expense of building capabilities and influence in the wider Indian Ocean region. That would only play into China’s hands. Renewed Indian concerns about its land borders will only retard its emergence as an assertive and influential regional power.

The Lessons of Doklam

With the crisis only just being de-escalated, it is too early to derive definitive lessons from Doklam. However, a few policy implications are already apparent. First, Chinese behavior in territorial disputes is more likely to be deterred by denial than by threats of punishment. China will continue the combination of consolidating its physical presence and engaging in coercive diplomacy, lawfare, and media campaigns unless it is stopped directly. This is what India did at Doklam — it directly blocked Chinese efforts to change the status quo. Denial in other areas would require different military tasks — for example, in the Indian Ocean, it may involve anti-submarine warfare and maritime domain awareness.

Second, denial strategies may be effective, but they have their limitations. Denial is inherently risky. Countering China’s playbook involves risks of escalation — which most smaller adversaries, and at times even the United States, are unwilling to accept. Moreover, denial strategies can only serve to halt adversary action, not to reverse what the adversary has already done. As Doklam shows, India could convince China not to proceed with its road-building — but China did not relinquish its claims or its established pattern of presence in the area. Denial by itself offers no pathway to politically resolving the crisis.

Third, the agreement to disengage suggests that Beijing’s position in crises can be flexible, and perhaps responsive to assertive counter-coercion. Domestic audiences, even those in autocracies, often prefer sound judgment to recklessly staying the course. If the Doklam standoff had escalated to a shooting war, anything short of a decisive victory might have put Xi Jinping in an unfavorable position at the 19th Party Congress and hurt the PLA’s image with the Chinese people. But short of that, the Chinese government was always in the position to sell Doklam as a non-event, something the decreasing domestic media coverage suggests it was preparing to do. Beijing will frame the disengagement agreement as further proof of Chinese strength, especially relative to India. As the stronger power, China could magnanimously agree to a mutual disengagement for now while reserving the right to move forward when it sees fit.

Finally, the Doklam agreement, even if it is temporary, tells us that when China confronts a significantly weaker target, such as Bhutan, it will only be deterred by the actions of a stronger third party — in this case, India. Had India not acted, China would likely have been successful in consolidating its control and extracting territorial concessions from Bhutan. Third-party involvement may not be as easy in other cases — India had a privileged position in Bhutan. Such a strategy may also have significant second-order effects. In the near term, it is potentially escalatory — China argued that India has no basis for interfering in this bilateral dispute, and had many options for escalating the crisis at a time and place of its choosing. More broadly, such third-party involvement could intensify geopolitical competition between China and other powers such as the U.S. or India, if they intercede in other countries’ disputes with China. The lesson of Doklam for the United States is that arming small states and imposing incremental costs may not be enough. Washington may have to accept the greater risks associated with intervening more directly if it hopes to counter Chinese expansion in East Asia.

 

Oriana Skylar Mastro is an assistant professor of security studies at Georgetown University. She can be contacted through her website: www.orianaskylarmastro.com. Arzan Tarapore is an adjunct researcher at the nonprofit, nonpartisan RAND Corporation, and a PhD candidate at King’s College London.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #203 on: August 31, 2017, 12:16:12 AM »

stratfor


U.S. President Donald Trump's new plan for the war in Afghanistan is huge, at least for Pakistan. So huge that on Aug. 30, for the second time in a week, Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi chaired a meeting of the National Security Committee, arguably the highest point of coordination between civilian and military leadership in the country. The purpose of both meetings: crafting a policy response to Trump, who in his speech announcing a new Afghan strategy Aug. 21 publicly accused Pakistan of harboring terrorists. But what's almost more threatening to Pakistan is Trump's request for Pakistani archrival India to play a greater role in the war in Afghanistan.

Pakistan is not without friends. China, the country's strongest ally, has responded positively to Islamabad's overtures by highlighting Pakistan's sacrifices in the war against terrorism. On Aug. 28, China's special envoy to Afghanistan met with Pakistan's foreign secretary in Islamabad, where the pair emphasized the futility of seeking a military solution to Afghanistan in lieu of a diplomatic one. Meanwhile, Pakistan's foreign minister is delaying a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson as he prepares a tour through China, Russia and Turkey to court more support.

Pakistani ties to the Taliban serve a strategic interest for the country by denying India a foothold in post-war Afghanistan and by countering Indian encirclement. Now, Pakistan's ties to the Taliban can also be used as a bargaining chip. Statements from Pakistan's foreign minister suggest the country may be willing to coordinate negotiations with the terrorist organization, provided the outcome is in Pakistan's interests. By dangling the carrot of negotiations, Pakistan could be able to push the United States into condemning alleged Indian human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir. However, the more India's presence in Afghanistan grows, the more Pakistan will resist pushing the Taliban toward the negotiating table. Without such negotiations, Trump may lose his chance to cut a deal and find a diplomatic solution to the United States' longest war.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #204 on: September 01, 2017, 12:00:02 PM »

India: Falling Short of Great Power
Aug 31, 2017

Summary

India dominates much of the subcontinent it occupies. In terms of land mass, population, economic activity and military capabilities, no other country in the region comes close. And yet, as much as India towers over the region by metrics, it cannot project power in the region proportionate to its size. In this Deep Dive, we’ll explain why this is the case and what would be required for India to reach its potential.

A Corridor to the Core

A country’s core is the area that is critical for geopolitical survival, where the key components necessary to sustain life intersect. India’s core lies within the Indo-Gangetic Plain, where the Ganges River meets the southern foothills of the Himalayas. Before independence, when colonial India included present-day Pakistan, the core extended westward to include both sides of the Indus River. The flat terrain is hospitable to settlement and agriculture, and its proximity to the Ganges ensures a freshwater supply. The humid, subtropical climate is much more hospitable than other climates found outside the plain: deserts, mountains, tropics, monsoons and arid steppes.

Strong geographic barriers fortify nearly all the boundaries of India’s core, making it difficult to attack. The Himalaya Mountains in the north and Arakan Mountains in the east clearly demarcate the region from the rest of the Asian continent. They are also difficult to traverse. Though they do not completely eliminate the possibility of attack, they make logistics and sustained fighting difficult, costly and often short-lived. To the west, the smaller Aravalli Mountains and Thar Desert protect the core by cutting off a large portion of the Indo-Gangetic Plain. To the south, the Vindhya Mountains extend up to the Chota Nagpur Plateau, creating a light land barrier. The remaining landmass below this southern line is surrounded by the Indian Ocean. Nearly every major empire to rule present-day India set up its base of power in this core area because of its hospitable climate and high degree of protection from foreign land invasion.
 
(click to enlarge)

But there is one place where the core is highly vulnerable to land invasion: the flat corridor between the Thar Desert and Himalayas in Punjab. As far back as Alexander the Great’s India campaign, foreign powers have exploited this land passage to invade India. The Ghaznavids, a Turkic people from Central Asia, passed through valleys in modern-day Afghanistan in the 11th and 12th centuries and invaded India through this corridor. Other great empires that ruled over India after invading through this point include the Mughals (1526-1857) and Sultanate of Delhi (1206-1526). Lesser-known Persian and Afghan dynasties like the Ghorids, Lodhis and Durranis did the same.
Looking at the rise and fall of empires in India, it becomes clear that whoever wants to command the country must first cut off this point of entry through the Thar-Himalaya corridor. Failure to do so leaves the core vulnerable to foreign threats. Present-day India had this imperative fulfilled upon gaining independence in 1947. The national borders New Delhi inherited from independence and partition cut off passage through the corridor – as much as a national border can. Though an international border is not the same as a geographic barrier, India has a means of restricting entry into the country in this area through traditional border controls. In areas where India lacks a universally recognized international boundary, fighting continues. A case in point is Kashmir, which was not included in the legally established boundaries after British rule.

Managing Diversity

Throughout its history, Indian governance was characterized by foreign rule over hundreds of small states or principalities. Muslims ruled over the Hindu majorities during the Delhi Sultanate and the Mughal Empire, and the British ended up ruling over both. Even before the sultanate, ruling Turkic peoples mixed in with the local population. Unlike the previous empires, independent India is now fully governed by its own people, and the territorial integrity of the country is largely solidified.

India’s long history as a subject of foreign empires created the government’s main domestic challenge: effectively managing the country’s extreme diversity. India has never been a truly unified country or empire. It existed as a hodgepodge of kingdoms, clans and local rulers, each with their own unique identity. During the periods of great empires, the ruling powers consolidated control over the territory by arranging some type of allegiance from each group. Past empires used extensive military force to establish, maintain and grow their presence on the subcontinent. They followed a basic framework in which the ruling power acted as an overlord of the larger territory while local monarchs, clans or community leaders had a high degree of autonomy in running daily life and state affairs.

The current shape of the Indian administration has its roots in the way the British Empire built its control over the subcontinent. When India achieved national independence, the new country needed to shore up its political identity. As a British colony, the subcontinent existed as a series of administrative provinces and princely states. The provinces had fallen under direct British rule, while the princely states were semi-sovereign territories that allied with the British government. Each of the 565 princely states that existed at the time of independence could opt in to the new nation-state if it so chose. The states formed after independence corresponded to the British administrative divisions of the territory. The partition of India and Pakistan into two separate nation-states uprooted millions of people, leading to large-scale and at times fatal communal violence. The trauma that resulted from this still lives on today and is evident in the two countries’ tense relationship. What emerged was a country whose national borders were not created by natural geographic or demographic divisions. Instead, it was a conglomeration of eclectic identities and territories accustomed to having a large degree of autonomy under one national, administrative rule.
 
(click to enlarge)

Much like its historic empires, modern-day India consists of many states acting autonomously, with minimal control given to the central government. India remains an unwieldy collection of semi-autonomous states and union territories. As a result, the country has maintained a diverse population over centuries. Indian states are allowed to choose their own official language, which has resulted in 22 official languages throughout the country, with many more unofficial languages widely spoken. Hindi is the predominant language group, with roughly 422 million native speakers, but outside of the Hindi core, linguistic minorities have majority status within many states. For example, Bengali is spoken natively by 83 million people and is the official language of West Bengal, Tripura, and the Andaman and Nicobar islands. Telugu, with 74 million native speakers, is the official language of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Many Indians are unable to effectively communicate in a shared language, which creates problems for national cohesion.

Another diversity problem for India lies in religion. Hindus are the most populous religious group in 27 states, but some provinces have majority or sizable non-Hindu populations. Islam makes up a majority in Lakshadweep and Jammu and Kashmir; it is a sizable minority in Assam (30.9%), West Bengal (25.2%), Kerala (24.7%), Uttar Pradesh (18.5%) and Bihar (16.5%). Communal violence is common. The biggest conflict was in 1947 during partition, but since then, there have been smaller-scale communal riots, such as the 1984 massacre of Sikhs. Prior to British rule, communal riots were scarce. The Muslim minority ruled over a Hindu majority almost uninterrupted from the 10th century to the 19th.

Regionalism is compounded by disparities in economic development. Wealth is far from equally distributed. According to India’s Ministry of Statistics, rich states like Maharashtra and New Delhi boast per capita net state domestic products of $2,094 and $4,376, respectively. Meanwhile, a poor state like Uttar Pradesh registers just $757 as its per capita NSDP.

Economic activity is also not equally represented throughout the country. Some regions of India have a developed services-oriented economy like Mumbai or Hyderabad, which is a major IT hub. Others have limited and unreliable access to basic infrastructure such as electricity and water. The country’s industrial sector also reflects the wide range of wealth generation in the country. There is basic textile manufacturing in Tamil Nadu state and high-value defense industry production in Karnataka state.

This divergence in economic activity and standards of living creates multiple population groups with very different needs and demands from the same government. All compete for the government’s attention and resources. Historically complicating these competing interests for the Indian government has been its limited ability to exercise control at the national level, as local government initiatives can easily usurp or bypass national ones.
 
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Prime Minister Narendra Modi is attempting to kill two birds with one stone by using economic reforms to centralize power and win public favor through economic growth. In an effort to crack down on black market cash and formalize the economy, the government has linked the ability to exchange cash for good currency with formally registering with the government for income taxes. The new Goods and Services Tax streamlines the tax process such that the final prices of goods are cheaper and more tax revenue ends up funneling into national accounts rather than state or local accounts. Reforms underway regarding real estate ownership and the gold market also will simultaneously formalize the economy while targeting potential business power centers or groups that could pose a challenge to the central government.

Be the Regional Hegemon

In the event that India consistently manages its unity and diversity for an extended period of time, it can begin to project outward and will set its sights on becoming the regional hegemon. This matters to India because of the country’s strategic need to secure resources and better protect its territorial integrity. But for India, hegemony demands that it be able to project influence over each of the four nation-states bordering it within the subcontinent – Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh.

India’s main strategic concern is its ability to maintain access to its northeastern states. These states are separated from the mainland by the Siliguri Corridor, a strip of land that at its narrowest measures just 17 miles (27 kilometers) wide and, due to its positioning with respect to the Dolam Plateau, makes it vulnerable to attack from the north. A small part of Chinese territory dips down between Nepal and Bhutan close to this corridor. Nepal and Bhutan are critical buffer states between India and China, so New Delhi and Beijing compete for influence in these countries. In the past, Indian-Chinese competition for these two territories has resulted in war. These conflicts are usually short-lived, since the mountainous terrain makes it logistically costly and difficult to sustain warfare over an extended period of time. Instead, India’s leading strategies to maintain influence in these buffer states revolve around building strong political and economic relationships.
 
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Control of Pakistan would help India meet two strategic objectives. The first is access to water resources from the Indus River Valley. The Indus River Valley lies in Chinese, Indian and Pakistani territory. From India’s point of view, control over Pakistan is necessary to ensure water and hydroelectricity to its northern cities.

As a question of national security, India has a strategic objective to control, or at the very least definitively subordinate, Pakistan. Since partition, relations between India and Pakistan have been antagonistic. The arrangement accentuated the Muslim-Hindu divide between the two countries. This has manifested in the form of military skirmishes and terrorist attacks against India.
 
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India’s relationship with Bangladesh is the most stable compared to the others. Unlike Nepal and Bhutan, Bangladesh does not directly border China. Nor does it have a neighboring power it can use to play off India. Instead, India almost entirely surrounds Bangladesh, aside from a short 169-mile border with Myanmar, of which about 130 miles are on land rather than at sea. Additionally, India controls the upper portion of the Brahmaputra River, which provides Bangladesh with a significant source of freshwater. This gives New Delhi even greater leverage over Dhaka. The relationship helps mitigate the risk to the Siliguri Corridor and provides India strategic depth. If infrastructure were better, India’s northeastern states would benefit from sea access via the Brahmaputra River through Bangladesh. Such access would also help support further economic development in these states, which are among India’s poorest. Additionally, controlling Bangladesh helps shore up India’s border with Southeast Asia. This border area is not often as dynamic or noted as India’s other borders, but the China-Burma-India theater of World War II illustrates its strategic value to India. The theater was established to prevent and push back the Japanese advancement in Asia, which at one point reached modern-day Myanmar and directly bordered British India.

Control the Indian Ocean

India also has its sights set on becoming the predominant military power in the Indian Ocean. The country has an extensive coastline stretching 4,671 miles, making it impossible to ignore surrounding waters. The Indian Ocean region, including the Bay of Bengal, Arabian Sea and Laccadive Sea, remains a strategic interest for India. New Delhi also pays close attention to areas from the Andaman Sea to the Strait of Malacca, the Gulf of Aden to the Suez Canal, and the Strait of Hormuz to the Persian Gulf. This latter group of maritime bodies represents major entry or exit points into the Indian Ocean region and coastal waters of India, and given the natural geographic defenses surrounding most of India, the coast is one of the only areas vulnerable to attack and possible invasion. British colonization of the subcontinent did begin, after all, with coastal entry into the country.

The Indian Ocean region plays a vital role in India’s economy and national security. India has a difficult time engaging in land-based trade. Generally, land-based trade has higher transportation costs than maritime trade, and this is even more true for terrain as challenging as India’s mountain ranges. Even the ancient Silk Road’s main trajectory skirted north of the Himalayas; any access points to India were secondary or tertiary branches of the main route. Because of this, India will always need to use maritime routes for trade.

It sits in the advantageous position of having access to energy imports from the Middle East and access to Asian markets for selling goods. Even Europe is a market India can tap at its convenience, thanks to the Suez Canal. Approximately 95 percent of India’s trade by volume and 70 percent by value is carried out via maritime transportation, according to India’s Ministry of Shipping.

India’s navy is in the early stages of modernization and still needs to grow and increase its capabilities before it could come close to fulfilling this imperative. India’s military has only recently become capable of providing baseline security to immediate coastal waters. But although New Delhi lacks the ability to project power into the oceans, its strategic interests mean it must monitor the ocean, even if there is little it can do to affect it. In the meantime, the country’s strategy to ensure that its security interests are being met in the region is to ally itself with strong navies from sympathetic countries like the United States, Japan and, to a lesser degree, Australia.

Conclusion

There’s no denying India’s potential to dominate and project power across the subcontinent it occupies. Reaching that potential, however, depends on the country’s ability to overcome the constraints that keep it from fulfilling its imperatives. Maintaining and managing the country’s unity in the face of so much diversity has been a challenge for all Indian governments. The current strategy to achieve this revolves around economic reforms and efforts to build nationalism, particularly among the Hindu population. The problems, tensions and national interests in the border states will persist as India tries to manage its imperatives. But the better India can manage domestic diversity, the more resources it will have at its disposal to deal with international issues. India must achieve its imperatives in succession. First, it needs to create a sense of nationhood among the people and develop a coherent economic system. Once the core of India is under a centralized authority, it can pursue its security imperatives at land and at sea.

The post India: Falling Short of Great Power appeared first on Geopolitics | Geopolitical Futures.
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ya
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« Reply #205 on: September 01, 2017, 10:04:37 PM »

I used to subscribe to Stratfor and was generally impressed with it, perhaps because I had no first hand knowledge of the topics they wrote about. Wrt India, since I know the subject matter somewhat, I find there writing quite superficial and also inaccurate. Not sure they have reporting strength on India. As an example:
"Control of Pakistan would help India meet two strategic objectives. The first is access to water resources from the Indus River Valley. The Indus River Valley lies in Chinese, Indian and Pakistani territory. From India’s point of view, control over Pakistan is necessary to ensure water and hydroelectricity to its northern cities." This is quite a misleading statement, infact India controls most of the river waters already and has been quite generous with giving Pak water as a lower riparian thro the Indus water treaty. Current thinking is that India should abrogate the treaty if Pak does not behave.




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« Reply #206 on: September 01, 2017, 10:21:29 PM »

I used to subscribe to Stratfor and was generally impressed with it, perhaps because I had no first hand knowledge of the topics they wrote about. Wrt India, since I know the subject matter somewhat, I find there writing quite superficial and also inaccurate. Not sure they have reporting strength on India. As an example:
"Control of Pakistan would help India meet two strategic objectives. The first is access to water resources from the Indus River Valley. The Indus River Valley lies in Chinese, Indian and Pakistani territory. From India’s point of view, control over Pakistan is necessary to ensure water and hydroelectricity to its northern cities." This is quite a misleading statement, infact India controls most of the river waters already and has been quite generous with giving Pak water as a lower riparian thro the Indus water treaty. Current thinking is that India should abrogate the treaty if Pak does not behave.


Your ground truth knowledge is very useful. Thanks.





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ya
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« Reply #207 on: September 02, 2017, 09:32:57 PM »

All 6 Indus valley system rivers originate or pass through Indian Kashmir before they enter Pak, 1-2 of them originate close to the border with Tibet (China). Ironically, the map is courtesy of Strat...dark green is India. If India wants they could block waters to Pak, though the flows are such that is difficult to do so without diverting the rivers. The situation is exactly reverse of what the author says, Pak is paranoid that India is choking them. Looks like the author got a bit confused with the labeling perhaps from this Strat map, (It shows the poorly placed label: Pak administered Kashmir, over Indian Kashmir)

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« Reply #208 on: September 03, 2017, 10:52:37 AM »

With the BRICS conference next week,  something to lighten the atmosphere. This from the South China Post...

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« Reply #209 on: September 20, 2017, 08:43:48 PM »

9/12/17

Crossing the Line of Actual Control
A woman works in the fields of Arunachal Pradesh, a territory India controls but China claims as part of Tibet.
(SABIRMALLICK/iStock)



    Pakistan's involvement in Kashmir will make it harder for India and China to resolve their disagreement over the strategically significant territories of Aksai Chin and Arunachal Pradesh.
    The enduring border dispute will further strain security ties between China and India and could spill over into other parts of their relationship.
    Confrontations between the two nuclear powers will become more frequent along the Line of Actual Control as China asserts its claim to disputed territories more aggressively, and as nationalism gains traction on both sides of the border.

The Line of Actual Control (LAC), the 4,057-kilometer boundary that runs between China and India along the arc of the world's highest mountains, has caused its share of strife. Over the years, the LAC has sparked standoffs, skirmishes and war between the two expanding nuclear powers. To try to keep the peace, Beijing and New Delhi began a dialogue in 2003 called the Special Representatives Meeting on the India-China Boundary Question. Yet 19 rounds of talks later, China and India still disagree on the location of the border between them — and over which side rightfully controls the territories of Aksai Chin and Arunachal Pradesh.

Despite their enduring differences, India and China largely have managed to keep their border disputes from spilling over into other aspects of their relationship, such as trade. But that may start to change. As China forges deeper ties with India's nuclear archrival, Pakistan, and as each side of the LAC tries to emphasize its sovereignty along the contested border, New Delhi and Beijing could have a harder time avoiding conflict.

A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing?

For Beijing, control of Arunachal Pradesh boils down to a matter of national security. One of China's main geopolitical imperatives is to secure a buffer on its western flank that, along with the Pacific Ocean on the east, would protect its densely populated core territory. Annexing the Kingdom of Tibet in 1950 enabled Beijing to realize that goal, so long as it could maintain control over its western buffer by thwarting challenges to its sovereignty. The Dalai Lama presented one such challenge. The prominent monk participated in a failed uprising against Beijing in March 1959. (His role in the revolt doubtless is one of the reasons the Chinese government views the Dalai Lama not as a spiritual figure but as a separatist whom it often describes as a "wolf in sheep's clothing.") After that, he fled to India — the birthplace of Buddhism, no less — where he received a warm welcome.

The Dalai Lama's presence was a boon for India. Hosting the exiled religious leader, for example, enabled New Delhi to draw international attention to the issue of Tibetan sovereignty, a tactic it still uses today. But India's support for the Dalai Lama vexed China, all the more so because New Delhi has long held control of Arunachal Pradesh and, with it, the strategic town of Tawang. As an important site in Tibetan Buddhism, Tawang represents an essential piece of China's strategy to assert its sovereignty over Tibet. Beijing often cites the town's significance in Tibetan Buddhism to support its claim to Tawang, and it probably won't give up its quest for control of the town anytime soon. China, in fact, may be disputing India's claim to Arunachal Pradesh, a territory Beijing would likely struggle to control, as a bargaining tactic to secure Tawang. Yet considering that relinquishing the town would give China greater access to India's vulnerable Siliguri corridor, New Delhi would hardly entertain the idea.

Kashmir: The Crown of India

Along the Western reaches of the LAC, India has its own bone to pick with China in the 38,000-square kilometer territory of Aksai Chin. New Delhi claims the area as part of Kashmir, a region whose control it has contested with Pakistan, as well, ever since the Partition of 1947. Today, India's authority in Kashmir extends to the regions of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh, collectively known as Jammu and Kashmir, while Pakistan administers two other constituent territories, Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan. (New Delhi also claims another territory, the Trans-Karakoram Tract, which Islamabad ceded to Beijing in 1963.) Recognizing China's authority over Aksai Chin is a dangerous prospect for the Indian government, since doing so could signal to Pakistan that New Delhi's claims to its portion of Kashmir were similarly negotiable. In response, Islamabad could increase the military pressure on New Delhi along the Line of Control, where India and Pakistan have been fighting intermittently for decades.

A Tale of Two Disputes

And Pakistan isn't the only factor preventing New Delhi from making a compromise in Aksai Chin. Renouncing India's claims to the region could come at a prohibitive cost for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's political career. Members of the opposition and of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party alike would condemn the action as appeasement, a sign of weakness when India is trying to establish itself as a rising global power. The country, after all, is trying to exercise greater sovereignty in its border regions by building 73 new strategic roads to serve them. At the same time, China probably won't yield to India's demands over Aksai Chin, since it knows Pakistan would oppose the gesture and since a vital road, the G219 highway, runs through the region. Beijing would give New Delhi a portion of Aksai Chin at most as part of a border negotiation.

Succession, Not Secession

Because each side administers a territory that the other claims, compromise is the only solution to the dispute along the LAC. But neither Beijing nor New Delhi has much leeway to meet the other's demands. The situation likely will become even more tense as succession looms for the 81-year-old Dalai Lama. China has promised to observe the Tibetan Buddhist traditions to find a successor, which dictate that the reincarnated Dalai Lama must be born in Tibetan territory and approved by the central government. The process could come back to haunt Beijing if the 15th Dalai Lama is born in Tawang, thereby further shifting the spiritual center of gravity in Tibetan Buddhism to India. To try to weaken Beijing's power over his successor, meanwhile, the Dalai Lama has hinted that he may opt for emanation — that is, choosing the next Dalai Lama himself — rather than reincarnation.

In the meantime, relations between India and China seem to be entering a more contentious phase. Beijing continues to test its neighbors' limits and military responsiveness by asserting control over disputed territories, including those in the South China Sea and the Doklam Plateau, more and more brazenly. As China looks to hone its own military response, it may temporarily suspend its infrastructure projects as it has in the past. But once it resumes construction on these ventures — such as the road it was trying to extend through Doklam when its latest standoff with India began — China will provoke another confrontation. And the growing nationalist movements in both countries suggest that the next border dispute is not a question of if but of when.
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« Reply #210 on: September 22, 2017, 07:14:04 AM »

Earlier this year, the leaders of Germany and India announced that they had taken their countries' relationship "to a new level." And to be sure, over the past few decades collaboration between the two has deepened on many different fronts. But Germany's interest in India isn't merely a byproduct of the Asian century, as the 21st century is now so frequently called. Rather, it has been building gradually over time, laying a sturdy foundation for the partnership that both countries are beginning to take more and more seriously.

The Trade Ties That Bind

For the most part, Indo-German relations have centered on trade and development since World War II. In 1956, the two states created the Indo-German Chamber of Commerce (IGCC), marking an important step in solidifying the links between their economies. Boasting several offices across India, the IGCC now offers a range of services including counseling on investments and market entries, courses on industrial training and the recognition of professional degrees and qualifications. It is also the largest German chamber of commerce in the world, spurring deeper cooperation between India and Germany ever forward.

A few decades after the IGCC's founding, the partners became even more closely intertwined with the establishment of the Indo-German Economic Commission in the 1980s. Created in part to lend support to Indian economic reforms, the new commission came not a moment too soon: The Soviet Union, then India's primary ally, collapsed in 1991, opening the door to the liberalization of the Indian economy. In light of these events, it is hardly surprising that Indian Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao chose Germany for his first trip abroad that year in order to promote his nation's value as a trade partner and destination for foreign investment.

Despite his efforts, Germany was more interested in focusing its attention on China and its Southeast Asian neighbors, which had opened up their economies more quickly than India and were thus better integrated into the global market. That is, at least, until a financial crisis swept across Asia in 1997. Compared with many of its eastern peers, India escaped the downturn relatively unscathed, and Germany's interest in the subcontinent began to grow. Berlin's instincts proved to be good when India, like China, became one of the fastest-growing economies in the world in the 2000s. According to the World Bank, India's gross domestic product climbed even quicker than China's in 2015-16.

This isn't to say, of course, that the relationship between the Indian and German economies is balanced. Germany is a nation based on exports that caters to the needs of an import-reliant India. As a result, it is one of New Delhi's most important trade partners. India, on the other hand, ranks only 25th among German export destinations.

But there is much room for growth on both sides. Over the past decade, India has diversified away from the onetime mainstay of its exports — natural resources — and has begun offering products that German consumers demand, particularly in the areas of engineering, chemistry and textiles. At the same time, Indian investments in Germany have jumped remarkably in recent years. Indian corporations have channeled several billion dollars into the German IT, automotive, pharmaceuticals and biotech industries, and as of last year, over 200 Indian firms — many in the software sector — had set up shop in Germany.

Creating Fertile Ground for Growth

This prospering partnership will doubtless pay off for both parties in the long run. Backed by the wealth of the German economy, India can now provide for many of the reform schemes Prime Minister Narendra Modi's administration has advocated, including the Digital India, Make in India and Skill India programs. For instance, the Make in India Mittelstand project got its start in September 2015 to encourage German Mittelstand (or small to medium-sized enterprises) to do business in India; 80 of these firms are now making their way into the Indian market.

At the same time, Indian companies' need for technology, training and know-how has risen as the country's economy has grown. Vocational education is now a top priority for the Indian government as it seeks to bridge the gap between industry and academia in order to provide various industries with more skilled labor. New Delhi has worked closely with the private sector in this regard, and India's higher education system hopes to use Germany's dual education system — a combination of theory and practice made possible by collaboration between schools and businesses — as a model for its own institutions. India's first University of Applied Sciences, designed with the German system in mind and with the help of German partners, opened in 2016, and similar projects are in the making.

Germany, for its part, has just as much to gain in exchange for its knowledge and resources. The country not only has the opportunity to invest in and profit from India's rapidly growing market, but it also gets greater access to an increasingly well-qualified workforce — something its own aging labor pool desperately needs. Conveniently, the majority of Indian students tend to pursue fields that play to Germany's strengths in manufacturing and exports, such as science, technology, engineering and mathematics. These fields are also weaknesses in the German education system, which does not produce enough qualified workers within them to meet the demands of the German economy.

Considering this rather perfect match, it's no wonder that Indian exchange students and researchers have traveled to Germany in droves over the past few years. Since 2006, the number of Indian students enrolled in German universities has nearly quadrupled to reach 13,537, nudging India up to second place on the list of countries with the most students in Germany by 2016. The two nations recently signed a partnership deal in higher education that will strengthen these ties even further by supporting joint research and collaboration between students and doctoral candidates.

By all accounts, science and technology will become a central focus of this cooperation in the years ahead. A number of Indo-German tech institutes have already sprung up since the Indo-German Committee of Science and Technology was founded in 2003, providing a space for joint research in water and waste management, land use, energy, scientific applications and innovation. Many of these institutions also coordinate with businesses and promote networking between Indian and German scientists.

New Delhi and Berlin have complemented these academic initiatives with several high-level committees, projects and working groups intended to explore issues related to science and technology. Chief among them are the biannual Indo-German Government Consultations, which began in 2011 and have since spawned 26 bilateral deals in energy, industry, vocational training, security, agriculture, science and culture. These meetings, which bring the countries' heads of state together with high-level delegations of ministers and representatives from an array of sectors, are unique: Neither India nor Germany has such prominent panels in science and technology on such a regular basis with other countries, signaling just how important they believe their budding partnership to be.
Partners of a Different Kind

Germany has even more to gain from the relationship than a boost in business. India's politics and culture more closely align with Europe's values than China's do, spurring the perception on the Continent that New Delhi may be a more reliable partner than Beijing. And with the exception of Japan, no other country on the Asian landmass more closely shares Germany's understanding of international relations and foreign policy than India. Both states value human rights, believe in international institutions and hope for a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council someday — a goal on which they have worked together to craft a joint strategy. And in a world that seems to be reorienting itself toward nationalism and bilateral deals, these kinds of political affiliations will play a bigger role in shaping the decisions of nations.

India, too, has political motives for building an enduring relationship with Germany. New Delhi considers the European leader to be a source of constant stability, even when political and financial crises strike. And if India is to achieve its ambition of becoming an economic and political power capable of joining other mighty nations on the global stage, it will need partners like Germany on its side.

When India and Germany officially signed onto a strategic partnership in May 2000, it wasn't clear how strong the relationship would become. But over the past 17 years, the rather vague promise to work together more often has become a flourishing relationship that encompasses nearly every aspect of international cooperation. If the past decade is any indication of those still to come, the Indo-German partnership will be a force to be reckoned with in the not-so-distant future.
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« Reply #211 on: October 04, 2017, 10:52:11 PM »

Highlights

    If India increases its involvement in Afghanistan, Pakistan will strengthen its opposition to pushing the Taliban into negotiations.
    Pakistan will continue supporting the Taliban to prevent an alliance between Afghanistan and India.
    Islamabad and Washington's threats against one another will limit the punitive measures both sides impose.

In the war in Afghanistan, Pakistan plays both sides. On the one hand, the country aids the United States in its fight against the Taliban. Pakistan offers NATO forces access to the port of Karachi to transit supplies to their bases in landlocked Afghanistan and tacitly allows the CIA to conduct drone strikes against militant hideouts in the semi-autonomous Federally Administered Tribal Areas. Yet on the other hand, Pakistan has nurtured the Taliban for more than 20 years. Pakistan's government in Islamabad supports the group as a means to many ends, including stabilizing Afghanistan, opening trade and energy routes to Central Asia, formalizing the Durand Line, and establishing a government in Kabul hostile to archrival India. By assisting both the United States and the Taliban throughout their nearly 16-year conflict, Pakistan has managed to benefit from an alliance with Washington, collecting over $33 billion in aid since 2002, while also pursuing its security objectives.

But the new U.S. plan for the war in Afghanistan has cast doubt on Islamabad's strategy. President Donald Trump's administration not only has threatened to crack down on Pakistan for supporting militant organizations, but it also has called on India to assume a larger role in rehabilitating Afghanistan's economy. The revised policy probably will spur Islamabad to change its approach in Afghanistan, though likely not in the way Washington intended. Instead, it will harden Pakistan's resolve against the United States and the effort to negotiate an end to the enduring war.
From Militancy to Politics

Despite the U.S. administration's admonishments, Pakistani militancy is as much a problem for Islamabad as it is for Washington. Pakistan has been working to circumscribe the militant groups operating within its borders since long before Trump rebuked the country in an address Aug. 21. In April 2016, for example, Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency proposed plans to deradicalize scores of militants and bring them more under the control of the country's security apparatus. As part of that campaign, Islamabad allowed the Jamaat-ud-Dawa — a charity organization under U.N. sanctions for its links to the militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba — to form a new political party, the Milli Muslim League (MML).

Combating militancy with politics is easier said than done, though. The process has been rife with controversy, exposing the historical divide between Pakistan's military and civilian leaders. Pakistan's Interior Ministry asked the country's electoral commission to block the MML's registration over concerns that the party's ties to and ideological affinities with Lashkar-e-Taiba, the group blamed for the deadly attacks in Mumbai in 2008, would invite criticism from foreign governments. But though the MML's registration is still pending, it hasn't let administrative matters get in its way. The party's candidate, officially running as an independent, placed third in the recent special elections in Lahore, and the MML plans to participate in Pakistan's general elections next year as well.
Pakistan Picks Its Battles

The MML's emergence demonstrates the Pakistani army's commitment to addressing militancy in the country. Its priorities in this endeavor differ from those of the United States, however, and as it tackles the problem, Islamabad will continue to resist pressure to attack the militant groups Washington has targeted. In Pakistan's view, after all, all militant groups are not created equal. Groups such as the Afghan Taliban and its ally the Haqqani network help Pakistan's army advance its objectives in Afghanistan. They are assets to Islamabad's foreign policy, and the Pakistani government treats them as such. Islamabad's accommodations, moreover, discourage these groups from attacking Pakistan, enabling the country to focus its scarce resources on the organizations that pose a more serious threat to its security, including the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan and the Islamic State's Khorasan chapter.

Beyond these considerations, Islamabad's stance on militants also figures into its strategy toward India. Pakistan has relied on militant groups to compensate for its smaller military relative to that of its eastern rival since the partition in 1947, employing them as proxies against India while maintaining plausible deniability in the event of an attack. The policy has endured even after both countries became nuclear powers.

Considering its aims in Afghanistan, Islamabad will push back against Washington's new strategy in the war against the Taliban. Pakistan's recently appointed prime minister already has rejected Trump's suggestion that India take on a greater political or military role in Afghanistan, and pressing the idea will only strengthen Islamabad's resistance to it. At the same time, pushing the proposal will make Pakistan less likely to heed Washington's calls to try to encourage the Taliban into negotiations. (That some members of the Taliban have urged the organization to distance itself from Pakistan raises questions about how much sway Islamabad has with the militant group regardless.) The United States, of course, has various tools at its disposal to ramp up the pressure on Pakistan, including revoking the country's non-NATO major ally status, further cutting its aid package or sanctioning Islamabad. But Pakistan has its own options to make Washington think twice about taking punitive action.
U.S. Aid to Afghanistan

The Costs of War

In fact, Pakistan already has started employing some of these deterrents since Trump made his address on Afghanistan in late August. Islamabad turned down a visit from the U.S. acting assistant secretary of state for Central and South Asia, who was leading a delegation of officials eager to hash out U.S.-Pakistan coordination in Afghanistan. Pakistan's foreign minister instead embarked on a three-nation tour to China, Turkey and Iran in hopes of increasing their diplomatic support for his country. He later delayed a meeting originally scheduled for August with his U.S. counterpart, Rex Tillerson, until the week of Oct. 2. More recently, Pakistan announced that it would adopt stricter protocols on U.S. diplomats to require a mutual agreement before American officials could visit the country and to prohibit lower-ranking U.S. functionaries from meeting with high-level Pakistani officials, such as the prime minister. The country also has floated the possibility of shutting down NATO supply routes, though it probably won't follow through on the threat unless Washington first makes good on one of its own.

Since the United States began its war in Afghanistan a decade and a half ago, the conflict has defined the U.S. relationship with Pakistan. Washington has encouraged Islamabad to focus on anti-militancy operations in Balochistan and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, two hotbeds of unrest in Pakistan, in support of the war effort. But the U.S. outreach — which includes a sizable military aid package — has given Pakistan's powerful armed forces even more influence in the country's domestic politics, yielding unintended consequences. The Pakistani military will use its sway over the country's foreign policy to keep India and Afghanistan from forging an alliance that could encircle Pakistan and threaten national security. And in the process, it will scuttle U.S. plans for drawing down its longest-running war.
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