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India's growing geopolitical and economic muscle

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    India's growing geopolitical and economic muscle

    S M H Bokhari writes about India Pakistan honeymoon and India's growing geopolitical and economic muscle.

    India's growing geopolitical and economic muscle

    S M H Bokhari

    Condoleezza Rice on her first visit to India after taking over as US Secretary of State assured New Delhi of Washington's help in making it a world power. She remarked that India was an element in China's calculation and it should be in America's too. India has already entered into the next stage of strategic partnership (NSSP) with USA and is well on its way to realising its age-old dream of becoming a world power. It has a historic relationship with Russia, a strategic partnership with Israel and has recently entered into a multifaceted relationship with China.

    Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's recent visit has opened a new chapter of economic and strategic ties with India. Japan is a close US ally and this visit, therefore, adds a new dimension to the relationship.

    Iran has also entered into a $4.5 billion pipeline deal with India. It will also make some strategic bases available to India. Why India needs these bases is not clear at this stage. India enjoys cordial relations with Afghanistan and has opened a string of consulates along the border with Pakistan.

    Washington has been historically haunted by China's growing power. It has been looking for a bulwark to contain this 'sea of humanity' (approximately 1.5 billion people) within its borders. It always had its eyes on India. But in one brilliant stroke of diplomacy, Mr Wen Jiabao has thwarted this design and has closed ranks with India. India has still kept its options open and has generated a spirit of competition between Beijing and Washington (plus Tokyo). It will extract maximum benefits from either side.

    It is not difficult to discern why the world leaders are dashing towards India? With its population of over one billion people, the largest democracy on earth presents a striking model for economic and strategic partnership to the world. Its vital geo-strategic location, fast growing economy at 7% (it will be third in year 2030 behind only USA and China}, inflation at 5.5%, foreign exchange reserves at $141 billion (on March 25, 2005), inspiring IT base, ambitious upper space agenda, ambitious nuclear programme and powerful armed forces generate an aura of immensity around it that fascinates and charms the outside world.

    India is thus exerting a "geopolitical and economic" pull on the outside world. It is not satisfied being a regional power and wants to grow out of this status to become a world power. It is "thinking big" and ultimately wants to "play big". It has frequently flexed its military muscle against its regional neighbours to achieve pre-eminence, but that has not worked. It is now engaged in growing its geopolitical and economic muscles to achieve that aim.

    UN Secretary General Mr Kofi Annan, during his recent visit to India, described India as a strong contender for a permanent UNSC seat. But before this ambition is realised, India must start respecting the UN Charter and resolve disputes with its neighbours. A beginning should be made with Kashmir. This will strengthen its claim for a permanent seat in the august body.

    Pakistan should in no way get overawed by the growing stature of India as it has its own significance. It occupies a vital geo-strategic location and influences strategic developments in South Asia, Gulf/Middle East and Central Asia. Its nuclear status, growing economy at more than 8%, population base of 150 million spirited people, efficient armed forces and indomitable faith in itself make it a power to reckon with. All that is needed is a stable and representative democratic system that should replace the present, mishmash political system.

    External power is an extension of domestic power which in turn is a function of political system and internal cohesion. Unfortunately we are weak in both these and therefore do not generate adequate domestic power. Despite this, some world leaders on their sojourn to India visit Pakistan essentially to laud our role in the war against terrorism. How long will this honeymoon with Islamabad continue is not certain?

    Washington, the ardent champion of democracy worldwide, is overlooking Pakistan's political follies only because of its vested interest in the present set-up. The moment this interest is served, its stance will change. Not for anyone else's sake, but for our own reasons, we should change this failing system. Without waiting for Year 2007, we should bring in a fully representative democratic system in which all major parties are represented. It is only then that our stature will grow and the world will start respecting us.

    Furthermore, we should stop living in a world of fantasy and move with the times to keep pace with the dynamic geopolitical and geo-strategic environment of today. There is no permanent friend or foe in international relations; it all depends on national interest. Our friends are readjusting their interstate relations in the light of their national interests. We must accept that without becoming unduly emotional.

    India's two traditional adversaries have been China and Pakistan. The main thrust, however, has always been on Pakistan. China has changed this relationship and has become India's partner leaving India with only one adversary i.e. Pakistan. Both India and Pakistan should now think seriously if this mutually destructive relationship still suits them or not?

    President Musharraf and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh jointly announced last month that the peace process that has started between India and Pakistan is irreversible. This is a good statement and must be followed up in letter and spirit. Furthermore, there is talk of soft border for Kashmir. This should also be evaluated and even extended to the international border if found feasible.

    The antagonists of this proposal may advocate that it will compromise our sovereignty and also negate the two-nation theory. This is absurd as Germany and France, the two arch rivals of World War II, are living happily as independent sovereign states next to each other with very soft borders. Same is the case with other European countries.

    Pakistan and India have fought three wars on Kashmir but have been unable to resolve the dispute. The fourth will not do that either. It will, however, cause mutually assured destruction (MAD) of both the countries if it happens. The two neighbours should disregard war as an instrument for resolving political disputes.

    Once this happens then there will be no justification for arms build-up. Both the countries should call a halt to it, freeze defence budgets and divert the money so saved towards poverty alleviation. The size of standing armies should also be gradually scaled down in accordance with a mutually agreed schedule.

    Time has now come for people of both the countries to stand up, join hands and say 'NO' to war. They should compel their leaders to abandon hostility and trade it for peace and friendship. Both the countries should thank the US government and politely decline its offer of F-16s and F18s.

    The momentum generated by the people-to-people contact should be further accelerated. A new motto: "wage war against poverty and hunger" should be adopted. Both the countries should jointly promote peace and explore the vast unexplored domains of prosperity. Let us start work today for a better tomorrow.

    The writer is former Commandant

    National Defence College and Chairman Prime Minister's Inspection Commission and Military Secretary, Pakistan Army

    Email: [email protected]

    Re: India's growing geopolitical and economic muscle

    This is surprising that a former Army guy is all for peace and "NO" to war. Pakistani army has been traditionally hawk on India relations.


      Re: India's growing geopolitical and economic muscle

      ^ it is called a reality check...
      Last edited by ravage; May 24, 2005, 01:13 PM.
      Now repeat after me...."Jeter is the prophet and Rivera is the savior"