ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — The leaders of Pakistan and Indian recently agreed to restart the stalled “peace” process between the two countries. Known as the “Composite Dialogue,” the talks were suspended after the Mumbai terrorist attacks in November 2008, which India blamed on Pakistan-based militant outfits, primarily Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT). India, however, has limited the focus of any future talks between foreign secretaries to the issue of cross-border terrorism, thereby limiting optimism about their chances of success as well. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari agreed to resume the Composite Dialogue during a meeting on the sidelines […]

NEW DELHI — Most of the attention given to India’s big defense modernization program, valued at more than $50 billion, has focused on the $11-billion fighter jet contract that New Delhi is looking to sign. However, concerned by the threat from the seas, especially in the wake of the Mumbai terror attacks in November, India has been looking to build its naval strength as well. In a recent move, the federal government has also designated the Indian navy as the nodal authority responsible for overall maritime security, which includes coastal and offshore security. Last week, India approved its biggest-ever domestic […]

Zardari and Singh Smile for the Cameras

This NY Times report on the makings of a “thaw” in Pakistan-India relations is certainly the storyline Washington is hoping for. The problem is that India feels like Pakistan isn’t doing enough to fight terrorism, Pakistan feels that no one is doing more to fight terrorism, and both sides are to a large degree right. President Barack Obama’s initial hopes to play the peacemaker between the two was a non-starter with India. And as Siddarth Srivastava points out in his WPR Briefing, the subsequent pivot to bring Pakistan more explicitly on board with the U.S. counterterrorism approach is increasingly perceived […]

It has been a rough go for the dollar of late. The global financial crisis coupled with concerns about soaring U.S. deficits have caused several of the world’s major holders of American debt to question the greenback’s continued role as the leading international reserve currency. Roughly one-third of the U.S. Treasury debt held by foreign countries lies in the BRIC economies — Brazil, Russia, India, and China — who met in Yekaterinburg, Russia, on Tuesday for the group’s first full-format summit. Ultimately, the meeting did not result in what some had speculated: a specific call for a shift away from […]

NEW DELHI — U.S.-India relations have experienced a period of strain under the presidency of Barack Obama, with India increasingly unhappy about how the new administration is shaping its policy in the South Asian region. It is not just one or two matters that have raised concerns for New Delhi, but rather the gathering impression over the last few months that some of the closeness in relations enjoyed under the Bush administration, exemplified by the U.S.-India civilian nuclear deal, is dissipating under Obama. Some observers say that under Bush, Washington was more concerned about propping up India as a counterweight […]

The Kashmir conflict is a legacy of the post-colonial partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947 into the Hindu-majority country of India and the Muslim state of Pakistan. From its genesis, the conflict has been defined by competition between India and Pakistan over the national identity of Kashmir’s population. But the elites of both countries have also made the territory central to their respective principles of nation-statehood. In Pakistan’s official ideology, Pakistan as a nation-state has been considered incomplete without Kashmir, a Muslim-majority territory contiguous to the Pakistani provinces of Punjab and the North-West Frontier Province. In the Indian counter-claim, […]

Sri Lanka’s Stubborn War

Velupillai Prabhakaran, the deceased leader of the Tamil Tigers, once likened himself to a spider in the center of a web, comfortably in control of a sprawling network. But over the past two years, the Sri Lankan military methodically, unflinchingly pulled his web apart, ultimately dismantling one of the most sophisticated insurgencies in the world. On May 19, the government claimed victory in a 30-year-old campaign, one that had cost tens of thousands of lives and seen the unraveling of much of Sri Lankan society. Though the guns have fallen silent, a state of emergency continues. Checkpoints are manned by […]

India and the Obama Nonproliferation Team

According to the Times of India, President Barack Obama’s nonproliferation team — and especially Robert Einhorn, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s just-announced special adviser on nonproliferation — is “considered hardcore nonproliferationsist in the old Democratic mold.” In particular, Einhorn, Ellen Tauscher (under sec. of state for arms control) and Timothy Roemer (U.S. ambassador to India) are all seen as hostile to the U.S.-India nuclear deal. But one Indian analyst dismissed fears that they might throw a wrench in the works, saying: There is nothing to be alarmed about. We havegot most of what we wanted in terms of global sanctions […]

Pakistan’s Priority Problem

U.S. coverage of Pakistan’s spotty effort to battle extremists is understandably U.S.-centric. So we hear a lot about what Islamabad should do to contain the FATA-based Taliban who are also feeding the Afghan insurgency. Since last November’s Mumbai attacks and the subsequent unveiling of the Obama administration’s regional strategy, there’s been a bit more attention paid to India’s concerns. But what doesn’t get as much attention as it deserves is China’s concerns about Uighur separatist terrorist groups, and Iran’s concerns about Baloch separatist terrorist groups, both also using Pakistani territory as a safe haven (both via John McCreary). In other […]

Pakistan’s Independent Judiciary

India’s disappointment with a Pakistani court decision freeing one of the Pakistan-based suspects behind the Mumbai attacks is understandable. But it’s also a case where the external demands on the Pakistani judiciary (i.e., to serve as a hanging judge) are flying in the face of Pakistan’s internal needs. The independence of Pakistan’s judiciary played a central role in the crisis thatbrought democratic rule back to the country, and the stand off betweenthe executive and the judiciary has continued under the civilian ruleof President Asif Ali Zardari. In a WPR op-ed last March, Arif Rafiq argued that strengthening the judiciary and […]

Projecting Intentions in International Relations

As an addendum to last week’s post on the difficulties in gauging the intentions of other states, I found myself thinking over the weekend that President Barack Obama’s public diplomacy campaign towards the Muslim world is an illustration of how it is sometimes just as difficult to project one’s own intentions to other states. That difficulty obviously grows out of — and subsequently feeds off of — any divergence between strategic communcation on the one hand, and the reality of national policy as experienced by policy actors and citizens abroad on the other. Not only that, though, some of the […]