The United States is no longer interested in prolonged military engagements in foreign lands to effect regime change or in financial investment to enable nation building; the project of nation building is to be the job of the local populace and not that of the US military. Working with partners, Washington will continue to promote such democratic norms as basic human rights, humanitarian aid and regional diplomacy.
A failure to understand Afghan history, the country’s tribal culture, its unfamiliar rugged terrain and an underestimation of the Taliban’s faith, determination and fighting skills, combined with the rampant corruption of the Karzai and Ghani governments, Washington’s misreading of Afghan political reality and faulty technical intelligence, all led to the failure of US military plans.
The United States and Pakistan must achieve a strategically beneficial and sustainable relationship because, despite global strategic realignments, the international community has never been more interdependent and interactive. Ultimately, both countries need to realise that extremes can and must be avoided and the middle ground on almost all issues should be explored.
President Biden’s decision to finally withdraw US forces from Afghanistan was the correct decision and certainly overdue. The lack of preparation to do so orderly and safely, however, was yet another terrible mistake in a string of mistakes that have plagued the US from day one.
Under its “Health Silk Road” programme, Beijing is supplying COVID-19 vaccines to over 80 countries, particularly in the developing world, many of which are members and supporters of the Belt and Road Initiative. While efforts to counter the virus are welcomed, the vaccines in question are largely untried and unapproved. Furthermore, while China has indeed donated vaccines to a few countries, the majority have had to purchase their supplies, in some instances using loans offered by Beijing to do so.
Having suffered a political lockdown since August 2019, followed by a Covid-19 lockdown from March this year, in the guise of returning “normality” to the Jammu and Kashmir Union Territory, the Modi Government has launched an economic snapshot and vision statement to 2030. One indication of Kashmir’s future may be the appointment as Lieutenant-Governor of Manoj Sinha, a close acquaintance of Modi’s and a strong proponent of Hinduisation values.
The British Government recently released its long-awaited and highly-anticipated Integrated Review. The review sets out the government’s vision for a “Global Britain”, as well as the UK’s international role following its withdrawal from the European Union. Although no longer a superpower, the UK remains a significant global actor, with an internal security architecture that maintains a global reach.
The rapidly evolving geo-strategic environment of the Central Asia-South Asia and Indo-Pacific regions, global economic and military re-alignments and pressing domestic political-economic compulsions of both Pakistan and India have all contributed towards a projected Indo-Pakistani thaw. A factual appraisal of core national issues and the global, regional and domestic environments, and the selection of a favourable time and place to undertake such a resolution through far-sighted dialogue, remain undeniable imperatives.
The three countries must contend with a number of common threats in regard to their bilateral and trilateral relationships as well as finding ways to enhance those relationships. Sitting astride busy sea lines of communication, the Maldives and Sri Lanka are vulnerable to oil pollution. Through capacity building, India should equip them in managing such emergencies, while officers who have undergone military training in India and now hold senior positions in the Maldivian military and the Sri Lankan Government can further facilitate useful links with India.
India perceives the Maldives and Sri Lanka as being in its sphere of interest, which makes China’s increasing footprint in those countries a cause for concern in New Delhi. While India cannot keep China out of the Maldives and Sri Lanka, it should capitalise on its proximity, first-responder image and historical and cultural ties to safeguard its security concerns by remaining continually engaged with Malé and Colombo through high-level visits and the India-Sri Lanka-Maldives Trilateral.