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    India, Pakistan go in search of new neighbors

    Pakistan looks west and India looks east. But no one is looking at each other and in one's own backyard. Are the days of SAARC and South Asian co-operation coming to an end?

    Are all the hopes of genuine economic and political reconciliation between Pakistan and India being sidelined while we look for new friends in greener pastures?


    =============================================

    India, Pakistan go in search of new neighbors


    By Sultan Shahin


    NEW DELHI - It may be a coincidence, but it is still very meaningful. The heads of government of both India and Pakistan are traveling, but in opposite directions, one toward the east and the other toward the west. In a bid to tackle each other, these two nuclear-armed South Asian rivals have hit upon the same idea - run away from South Asia to regions where you don't have to interact as neighbors. In short, they are out to disprove the age-old wisdom that you can't choose your neighbors, you just have to live with them.

    In their bids to free themselves from the "sub-continental straitjacket", to borrow a phrase from an Indian analyst influential in the ruling right-wing alliance, Pakistan has been consistently following a "Look West" policy since the mid-1970s and India has been "Looking East" rather sporadically since the onset of Pakistan-supported militancy in Kashmir in 1989. Pakistan's chief executive, General Pervez Musharraf is now visiting Syria, Jordan and other West Asian countries for the umpteenth time, while India's Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee is now in Indonesia, having just left Vietnam. Malaysia is next on his itinerary.

    India is expected to sign several protocols with Indonesia, as it has with Vietnam, to mark Vajpayee's visit. Calling Vietnam "our bridge to Southeast Asia", India has signed three protocols. The first is on cooperation in the peaceful uses of atomic energy, the second is on promoting cultural exchanges and the third is on promoting tourism. The two countries have also discussed in detail the issue of cross-border terrorism that India faces on its border with Pakistan.

    Analysts are looking from different angles at Indian enthusiasm for Southeast Asia, including the prime minister's absence from the country when the highest ranking Chinese leader to visit India since the 1998 Pokhran nuclear tests, the politburo's No 2, Li Peng, is already in Mumbai (they will meet later in Delhi on Vajpayee's return). According to the widely circulated newspaper The Times of India, and though India will not acknowledge it, the subtext of the Vajpayee visit is to shore up what is considered to be the informal club of Asian countries that are wary of China. Both India and Vietnam have faced Chinese invasions; Indonesia has concerns arising from its influential Chinese community. In Hanoi, Vajpayee scotched a question on Vietnam providing jungle warfare training to India by acknowledging the proposal and declaring that there was no other program in the military field.

    The Times of India quoted an official of the Indian Prime Minister's Office as saying that while there was nothing dramatic about Indo-Vietnamese security cooperation, it was quite substantial though neither country wanted to talk about it. During former prime minister Narasimha Rao's visit to Vietnam in 1994, the two countries signed an MoU on defense cooperation through which India has supplied ammunition, propellants for surface-to-air missiles, MiG-21 tires and other spares, and silver oxide batteries. They have also provided some seats for Vietnamese officers in Indian military schools.

    The Vietnamese have in principle offered to train Indian Army personnel in jungle warfare and there have been a number of undisclosed contacts between the two militaries at the highest level, in the main to exchange information on ways of tackling Chinese military tactics. Last March, during his visit there, Indian Defense Minister George Fernandes was given a demonstration by the instructors of the Vietnam Army's jungle warfare school.

    While Vajpayee's "Look East" policy appears to be gaining momentum, the same cannot be said about General Musharraf's "Look West" policy. But there is great expectation in Islamabad from the impending visit of the new chief of the US Central Command (Centcom), General Tommy Franks, on January 21, a day after President-elect George W Bush assumes his duties. Centcom has valued Pakistan's location close to the Arab Gulf. Pakistan also enjoys close military ties with allies of Centcom - mainly Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. Centcom maintains military bases in Misandam and Masirah in Oman, and in Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain.

    General Franks will be meeting high military officials in Islamabad to renew the US military engagement with Pakistan. Centcom publications describe Pakistan as "one of the strongest allies of the United States". Therefore, Islamabad expects that, under the new Republican regime in Washington and as in the days of presidents Reagan and Bush, Centcom will be doing business as usual with Pakistan and recognize its potential as a country situated in or close to the Middle East, thus freeing it from the South Asian sub-continental straitjacket.

    India and Pakistan's interest in their own South Asian region and their fervor for other parts of the world need not be mutually exclusive. But before embarking on their "Look East" and "Look West" policies with renewed vigor, India and Pakistan have managed to all but obliterate the prospects of a meaningful South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC). Summit meetings of SAARC have not taken place for the last two years because India does not want to deal with the military ruler of Pakistan, though it has no objection to maintaining a cordial relationship with a ruthless military dictatorship in another neighboring country, Myanmar.

    Pakistan, too, is determined not to allow SAARC to emerge as a South Asian common market and then as a South Asian economic community, though technical-level discussions have been completed and consensus has been developed for the creation of a South Asia Preferential Trade Area, which should have led to such an outcome. Islamabad keeps reiterating that it cannot develop trade relations with India on a significant scale until what it calls its "core dispute" over Kashmir is resolved to its satisfaction. The official-level meetings of SAARC representatives in Colombo in November 2000 came to the conclusion that, given the current political atmosphere, foreign minister-level meetings of the SAARC, as well as the SAARC summit, may not be held in the year 2001 either.

    Commenting on South Asia's deep freeze in a recent newspaper article, India's former foreign secretary J N Dixit asks: Is SAARC still breathing? Obviously the answer is no. So he goes on to explain: "The difficulties, then, that have affected SAARC cooperation include the asymmetry between India on the one hand and its other neighbors on the other, in terms of demography, economic and technological capacity and military strength ... The situation is compounded by the bilateral disputes characterizing relations between Nepal and Bhutan, Pakistan and Bangladesh, India and Pakistan, India and Bangladesh, and India and Sri Lanka.

    "At a deeper level, India's neighbors are subjected to political, socio-cultural apprehensions about their own national identities and security, because of the overlapping phenomena of ethnicity, language and religion. These apprehensions have led countries of the region to search for links with other powers to counterbalance the overarching influence of India. Therefore, we find that Pakistan is keen on assuming an Islamic identity rooted in relations with countries of the Gulf and West Asia. Bangladesh has similar aspirations in its relationship with Malaysia and Indonesia. Sri Lanka, at one point in time, was more keen to be part of Asean than SAARC. Indian strategic thinkers are similarly inclined towards having closer ties with Asean."

    Pakistan has indeed pondered its very raison d'etre for decades. For all that it's people hold dear - all the symbols of past Muslim rule in the sub-continent with which they identify, including the Taj Mahal, the Jama Masjid (mosque), the Red Fort - remain elsewhere, in a country which is not even easy to visit as a tourist. The ancient ruins of Mohenjodaro and Harappa remain, but they speak of a past that is anathema to a Pakistani ideologue. For the religious fanatic, it is as if nothing existed in the sub-continent before the advent of Islam with Arab conqueror Mohammad bin Qasim in the 7th century. But an ordinary Pakistani remains a fanatical follower of Indian movies and music, just as an Indian is an avid follower of Pakistani plays and ghazals (poems written in a format somewhat similar to Japanese haiku). Successive governments and sections of the religious right have propagated the country's identity as a Middle Eastern, West Asian or Central Asian country. But for most Pakistanis this has remained a highly questionable proposition.

    No corresponding effort has been made in India to proclaim that it is a Southeast Asian country. Perhaps India is too deeply rooted in its past for its ruling class to try to do so. But an attempt is certainly being contemplated now along these lines. The Hindu nationalist organization Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh, whose political arm, the Bhartiya Janata Party, now leads the ruling alliance in Delhi, recently asked Indian Muslims to desist from looking west to Pakistan or the Arab world as the fount of their religion and culture but instead to look east toward Indonesia and Malaysia as the largest and most modern Muslim countries, and learn from them to respect the ancient Hindu gods like Ram and Krishna that are revered in there.

    Whether either of these efforts by India or Pakistan to chose their neighbors will succeed remains to be seen and will be watched with great interest.

    =============================================
    http://www.atimes.com/ind-pak/CA12Df02.html



    #2
    Interesting article, but what i think the author does not discuss is the fact that SAARC is not working and has not been working becuase the political climate is not stable.
    As fro his Centrom prediction, i wouldn't expect much right now.
    Yes the 21st is a strange date and may place emphasis on pakistan.
    But US FP is bi partsian and we will have to wait and see.

    As for the looking west policy, we have had it since 1947 and not 1970.
    Also the reason for Indians looking east policy is because i think India is cornered.
    It can't look west into the Middle East as Pakistan has more solid and strong allies there than India and the muslim countries seem more ready to back Pakistan.
    The North is dominated by China which is creating a niche in the CIS countries.
    Indo and Malay have long been Pak friends and allies at points.
    Vietnam is the gate way for India as it is having a problem with china.
    It is the age old policy of the enemy of my enemy is my friend.
    And thus India is coming to the aid of Vietnam and trying to get China out before china does the same to india.
    I predict China to be the victor in this battle for friends.
    Indonesia has alot of chinese businessmen, like vietnam and most ASEAN countries, they control the economy and make it work.
    These countries are in a bad state after 1997 and they need chinese help in FDI.
    India does not have the money, man power or political muscle to do what China can do for the ASEAN countries.


    And:
    recently asked Indian Muslims to desist from looking west to Pakistan or the Arab world as the fount of their religion and culture but instead to look east toward Indonesia and Malaysia as the largest and most modern Muslim countries, and learn from them to respect the ancient Hindu gods like Ram and Krishna that are revered in there.

    This is utter bull****.
    The only place where there are hindus is on the Island of Bali.
    And Ram and Krishna are not revered as Gods, but rather as mythical creations part of the rich culture of the Indonesians and Malay.
    And the RSS certainly did not say it to the Muslims in India like that.

    ------------------
    CROIRE A L'INCROYABLE
    You can't fix stupid. So might as well troll them!

    Comment


      #3
      I have some Indonesian and Malaysian friends who told me about Hindus who are about 7% in Indonesia and about 11% Hindus and 4% sikhs in Malaysia. Lots of peoples even muslims have their names like Hindus. Hinduism is respected equally just like Buddhism and Islam there.

      Comment


        #4
        Hmmm...interesting article. Even though the writer tries to play down Pakistan's west Asia links he does acknowledge that these links are going to grow especially with the CENTCOM factor.

        Unlike India in the east we share cultural, historical and more importantly strong religious ties with all the countries of west Asia.. And Pakistan has existing economic and military ties with all the major countries of west Asia. India, on the other hand is only now trying to build such ties in the east but is coming up against the immense power of China..


        Centcom has valued Pakistan's location close to the Arab Gulf. Pakistan also enjoys close military ties with allies of Centcom - mainly Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. Centcom maintains military bases in Misandam and Masirah in Oman, and in Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain.


        Exactly, what we may lack elsewhere we make up with the strategic position of our country. In fact we are one of the most strategically placed countries in the world and the major powers cannot ignore for their own national and strategic interest. We are not just a South Asian country, we are Middle Eastern and Central Asian which makes us unique among all our neighbours.

        As for SAARC it is not necessarily Pakistan which has made this organisation moribund, its India and the writer clearly points to this fact when he says:-

        Summit meetings of SAARC have not taken place for the last two years because India does not want to deal with the military ruler of Pakistan, though it has no objection to maintaining a cordial relationship with a ruthless military dictatorship in another neighbouring country, Myanmar.

        And as we found out in the recent events in HINDU Nepal, India has major problems with ALL its neighbours not just Pakistan. And it is not just Pakistan that is looking away from India and South Asia but all the other countries are looking towards China and Asean.


        Hey CM I wonder if there is a CENTCOM website?

        Comment


          #5
          COMBINE INDIA AND PAKISTAN TOGETHER INTO ONE COUNTRY WHICH WILL SOLVE ALL THE DISPUTES. THEY COULD MAKE HAVE THEIR OWN IODO(INDIAN OCEAN DEFENCE ORGANISATION) AND HAVE TREATIES WITH THE COUNTRIES FROM MIDDLE EAST UPTO COUNTRIES CLOSE TO INDONESIA AND MALAYSIA. THERE WILL BE NO FIGHTING THEN, PROGRESS PROGRESS EVERYWHERE. PEOPLES HAVE TO IGNORE MULLAHS AND BJP & RSS TYPE OF LEADERS WHO BLIND FOLD THEIR VISION TO LOOK INTO PROSPER FUTURE. NEHRU AND JINNAH ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR TODAY'S CATASTROPHIC AND DISASTROUS SITUATIONS OF BOTH COUNTRIES. DON'T CALL THEM NATIONAL LEADER BUT CALL THEM TRAITORS WHO WEAKENED OUR NATION.

          Comment


            #6
            Mulla Butt sahib you are welcome to contribute your rather alternative views on this topic, but please could you go easy on the CAPS?

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by Mulla Butt:
              I have some Indonesian and Malaysian friends who told me about Hindus who are about 7% in Indonesia and about 11% Hindus and 4% sikhs in Malaysia. Lots of peoples even muslims have their names like Hindus. Hinduism is respected equally just like Buddhism and Islam there.
              True Mullah, but note that the Malay and indonesian have hindu names, but they mean very different things in their language.
              It is just like the Chinese have names which translate into romanic english.
              Like Jiang changes into James.
              Yes the society is very tolerant, but the Hindu populations affect on the society at large is mininmal.
              Like i stated before the 7% are all in Bali, which is a naturally a beautiful place.
              In Malay these 11% are in the urban centers.
              A majority in KL, in the indian village, which has almost everything written in urdu, hindi and tamil.
              Including the prices at shops.
              Not in the villages and on the Island divided between Indo and Malay, Kalimantan and Borneo respectively.


              Malik my dear friend, just for you the centcom website:
              http://www.centcom.mil/

              ------------------
              CROIRE A L'INCROYABLE
              You can't fix stupid. So might as well troll them!

              Comment


                #8
                Hey thansk for the site CM. Had a look at the site and indeed it is true CENTCOM does talk about:-


                "USCENTCOM will work closely with Pakistan, one of our strongest supporters in the region, to reduce tensions between Pakistan and India, combat terrorism, and to deter drug trafficking. Halting and rolling back the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and increased engagement are key elements of our strategy.


                So away from the political lobby talk in Washington it is clear that the US military see Pakistan as their most valued ally in the South Asia region.

                Comment


                  #9
                  'look east' policy will work only if reforms gain momentum. it should be profitable to do business in india. indian beurocracy treats making money as some kind of crime. for exapmple, if laws in india are as flexible and as encouraging to minvestors as china, taiwanese will definitely consider this alternative investment since investing in china is politically risky. but babu-raj spoils it all.

                  vietnam etc. have a good impression of india. when i was in italy, my vietnamese officemate showed me a newspaper which had a poem prasing india. on top of poem, there were photographs of tagore, mithun and dimple. apparently tagore sometime wrote a poem on vietnam. hindi movies contiunue to be very popular there. in fact, a malasian girl here knows more about latest hindi movies than i do. she has an indian boyfriend. but even before that she had seen hell lot of indian movies. unfortunately, it is all pirated copies that go there so india does not really earn foreign exchange.

                  the policy has come late. these connections should have started long ago.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    ZZ the fact that some Vietnamese may watch Indian movies does not mean India is about to conquer east Asia. It takes economic clout, which India is lacking especially when compared to China. As Vajpayee trots all over South East Asia he is finding out that all these countries are less wary of China than India has dreamed about. And more importantly that China or ethnic Chinese control the economies of these countries.

                    While in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and now even Turkey, Pakistan has not faced China-like opposition/rivalry. So General Musharraf has found it quite easy going, and signed a raft of agreements especially on defence with Turkey. Plus these countries are Muslim and have links with Pakistan going back more than 30 years. The nations of East Asia are not Hindu (though the BJP may harp on about Bali or whatever) and neither does India have any long historical links with these countries.

                    In South Asia it is India's double-standards and bully boy tactics that will see the end of the likes of SAARC. While you will sup tea with the brutal generals of Burma, you refuse to deal with the good general of Pakistan (though that seems to be changing). Plus, the other members of SARRC - Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka etc are wary or outright hostile to India. They are keen to break out of India's shadow and join other regional blocs (ASEAN, China etc).

                    That would be the death-blow to any future moves for South Asian integration. And whatever agreement is reached on Kashmir, it would still mean India and Pakistan are looking in opposite directions.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by Malik73:
                      ZZ the fact that some Vietnamese may watch Indian movies does not mean India is about to conquer east Asia. It takes economic clout, which India is lacking especially when compared to China. As Vajpayee trots all over South East Asia he is finding out that all these countries are less wary of China than India has dreamed about. And more importantly that China or ethnic Chinese control the economies of these countries.

                      While in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and now even Turkey, Pakistan has not faced China-like opposition/rivalry. So General Musharraf has found it quite easy going, and signed a raft of agreements especially on defence with Turkey. Plus these countries are Muslim and have links with Pakistan going back more than 30 years. The nations of East Asia are not Hindu (though the BJP may harp on about Bali or whatever) and neither does India have any long historical links with these countries.

                      In South Asia it is India's double-standards and bully boy tactics that will see the end of the likes of SAARC. While you will sup tea with the brutal generals of Burma, you refuse to deal with the good general of Pakistan (though that seems to be changing). Plus, the other members of SARRC - Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka etc are wary or outright hostile to India. They are keen to break out of India's shadow and join other regional blocs (ASEAN, China etc).

                      That would be the death-blow to any future moves for South Asian integration. And whatever agreement is reached on Kashmir, it would still mean India and Pakistan are looking in opposite directions.
                      malik.. i am little interested in what pakistan is doing. it is irrelevent as far as improving trade relations of india with east. there is a lot of investment that india can attract. it can attract labor, education (all said and done who can offer better education tha india does at low prices today.) and many other factors.

                      pakistan may prosper. let it prosper. that is not my concern. my concern is why india is doing way less than its potential and that is why i said reforms is the key.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Yes education, will get a lot of people coming into india, as things are in taught in english.
                        But since most of the people who have the money are chinese and/or chinese descent, then they would rather go to china.
                        And ZZ all malik was trying to say is that China has competition in its bid to go east, and Pakistan does not.
                        China will be the major factor affecting your relations in the ASEAN countries, and since your already bad relations could go much worse.
                        Also countries like Thailand and Laos have strong ties to china.
                        Indonesia did before the who break down.
                        Malaysia has always been independent, it does need a big brother, like pakistan or india - the US for india.
                        You guys are going to have problems in South East Asia, which China sees it as its own backyard.

                        ------------------
                        CROIRE A L'INCROYABLE
                        You can't fix stupid. So might as well troll them!

                        Comment


                          #13
                          ZZ Pakistan is forging ahead with its economic and military links with the Islamic nations of west Asia. One example is the proposed gas pipeline from Iran to India via Pakistan. Iran has sided with Pakistan and agreed to an overland pipeline, while India wanted an underwater pipeline to avoid going through Pakistan.

                          The new pipeline will be an economic gold mine for Pakistan bringing in some $500 million dollars of transit revenue for Pakistan annually. Plus some $200 million dollars of discounted gas from Iran.


                          --------------
                          http://www.asiagateway.com/Comtex/?id=48136


                          PAKISTAN, IRAN, INDIA TO FORM CONSORTIUM FOR GAS PIPELINE


                          ISLAMABAD, Dec 13, 2000 -- Pakistan, Iran and India have agreed to form a consortium for the gas pipeline from Iran to India via Pakistan, sources said.
                          Because of security concerns of India, the Iranian government has suggested setting up a consortium comprising multi-national companies so that they can make the agreement for the pipeline.

                          Secretary of Petroleum Abdullah Yousaf confirmed this suggestion and said that Pakistan has agreed to set-up the consortium for the gas pipeline. India is just working on only delaying tactics because on this project, Pakistan could earn financial benefit in form of cash and gas also, he said.

                          The secretary of Petroleum said that this project is pretty good and it must be implemented, as it is the requirement of both India and Iran.

                          Pakistan would get US$500 million a year as transit fee for passage of gas pipeline from Iran to India through Pakistan. While Iran would provide gas worth $200 million for our needs on a special discount, the secretary Petroleum added

                          ---------------


                          A second example for you is the unprecedented political and defence cooperation that is about to be announced by Pakistan and Turkey.

                          http://www.dawn.com/2001/01/15/


                          Pakistan-Turkey decide to institutionalize consultation process, says Sattar:

                          ISLAMABAD, Jan 15: Pakistan and Turkey have agreed to firm up continuous and regular contact and have inked an agreement to institutionalize their consultation process for promotion of political and economic cooperation between the two countries. The agreement lays a framework for further closeness of cordial relations between the two countries. "It will give a big boost to further cement these already existing ties," Foreign minister Sattar told newsmen

                          ---------------

                          Take these two major deals along with the deals that Musharraf signed in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan, and you have Pakistan emerging as a true West Asian power!

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Excellent news malik.
                            Heck the way we are going, we could provide the ME with all the arms it wants esp. against Israel.

                            ------------------
                            CROIRE A L'INCROYABLE
                            You can't fix stupid. So might as well troll them!

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Together we will be a force to reckon with.But `Big brother`and other friends, will not allow that.Who will buy their arms then?They wont close their Arms industry.No way.
                              So,we must keep on fighting for some reasosn or the other.

                              Comment

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