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Asian Cauldron Playing its Role in Global Economy

Over the period of time, center of world economics and politics has been shifting from West to East. Resurgence of China and India as economic powers and their influence in Indian Ocean and South China Sea respectably opened window of opportunity for Asian struggling economies. The South China Sea in particular is a boiling pot of potential conflict and economic activities at the same time because of its strategic location and natural resources, with oil reserves of several billion barrels, an estimated nine hundred trillion cubic feet of natural gas. China’s claims over territories in South China Sea and its military buildup in Indian Ocean means that it will likely be a pivot point for global war and peace for the foreseeable future.

Robert Kaplan a well-known journalist and political commentator, argued in his latest book “Asia’s Cauldron”, he turns to the South China Sea, a waterway that he describes as being “as central to Asia as the Mediterranean is to Europe”. If we look at the geographical significant of Asian Cauldron, it contains part of the Pacific Ocean, the South China Sea covers an area from Singapore and the Malacca Straits to Taiwan. It consists of more than 200 small islands, rocks and coral reefs, about three dozen of which are permanently above water. These are subject to overlapping claims from China, Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines. China as a big player in global economy lays claim to almost the entire South China Sea by feature of what is known as the “nine-dash line”. The sea is fast becoming “the most contested body of water in the world”, the main arena for geopolitical competition between a rising China and a US. With the rise of Dragon, the old order of American military unipolarity in the waters of the western Pacific is slowly fading. US strategic partnership with Japan, South Korea and India in Eastern hemisphere is the key to counter Chinese economic dominance. US motives to contain China is supplementary based on the security reasons rather than economic. China’s strategic aim must inevitably be to “exercise de facto hegemony over their own Asian Mediterranean”. Beijing wants to achieve its strategic goal while maintaining cordial relations with Western powers and tempering anxiety in Southeast Asia.

However, Modern China dominates world trade, following major reforms introduced in 1978 that were more focused on market-oriented economic development. The country’s economy is ranked at second position in the world after the United States, but China has been the world’s biggest exporter of goods since 2009 to up till now. China’s economy jumped 18.3% in 2021, compared to earlier years. In 2022, according to open data available on internet, China’s GDP worth is 14.236 trillion USD and it is rapidly increasing and sustains the 5.7% of economic growth bar. Moreover, China will overtake the US economy by 2028. The COVID-19 Pandemic and corresponding economic fallout have certainly tipped economic rivalry between China and West, and it ended in China’s favor. In Asian hemisphere, Japan is set to remain on 3rd position in World economic ranking with the GDP of 5.O6 trillion USD. In South Asia, India is also competing in economic race with 3.25 trillion USD worth of GDP. After overviewing the table, when Global economy is considered, Asian region is the most significant part of the world.
Apart from economic emergence, Cauldron States are perceiving the threat in South China Sea from China and its dream to be World super power. Therefore, they are pushing China, with an attempt to dominate the area even while acknowledging the presence and claims of other states in the South China Sea. China’s domination in the South China Sea would certainly clear the way for key Chinese air and naval influence throughout the Indian and Pacific Oceans. In that scenario, the US is at the center of the Asia-Pacific’s political and defense affairs which cannot be ignored. While most Southeast Asian states are cultivating their economic relations with China, they acknowledge the US’s role and in fact want the United States to remain involved in regional affairs. If only to be an effective balance to the rising economic and military power of China. The military superiority of the US is expected to offset China’s geographic, demographic and economic advantage.

On the other hand, China expanding her influence by relying on relatively weak economic states to maintain its superiority in the region. China is practicing the Anti-Area Access Denial (2A-AD) strategy in South China Sea and beyond. Over the last two decades, Russian technologies combined with China’s efforts, including industrial espionage has gradually enhanced the capabilities of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to challenge U.S. forces in the Asia-Pacific region. The Anti-Aria Access Denial (A2/AD) is the strategy, with the aim of keeping out U.S. military intervention in its immediate areas of concern, including the disputed waters in the region.
As above mentioned Pros and Cons, Asian Cauldron has its own significance in World economy and politics, alongside it would be boiling pot for potential conflict which might create uncertainty in international Affairs. US trade war with China, and US support to Taiwan as autonomic State are the circumstances of it. Thug of war between two world best economic powers might leave negative impact on the weaker states of the region in coming years.




Anticipated Outcomes of OIC meeting in Pakistan

Overview:

During the past time, Pakistan remarkably has hosted a number of major Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s (OIC) events. Last year in December 2021, Pakistan held an extraordinary 17th session of OIC exclusively on Afghanistan. This year, Pakistan will again host OIC’s 48th session of Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) on 22-23 March, in Islamabad and that is a matter of great honor. For the particular session, Pakistani officials have confirmed the participation of the 48 Muslim countries’ foreign ministers until now. The Chinese Foreign Minister, Wang Yi has been invited for the event as a “guest of honor”. Apart from that, a high-level Russian delegation would also take part in it. The meeting will be coinciding with the celebrations of Pakistan’s 75th Independence anniversary and the ministers will attend the 23rd March Pakistan Day parade.

Theme of the Meeting:

The session will be conducted under the theme of “Building partnerships for Unity, Justice and Development”. The General Secretariat will address the implementation of activities, projects and resolutions adopted on different issues in the Islamic world including Kashmir and Palestine. In addition, issues of Islamophobia, terrorism as well as developments in Afghanistan and its humanitarian consequences for the Afghan people will be the important part of meeting’s agenda. Cooperation issues with international community, specifically the United States, the Russian federation and the European Union will be discussed while considering the ongoing Russia-Ukraine crisis.

Prospects:

As the host country, Pakistan seeks to foster unity among OIC members, advance the cause of justice for Muslims, and accomplish the mutually reinforcing goals of prosperity and development for all OIC members. Right now, the majority conflicts in the world including Yemen, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, Syria, Palestine and other regions depict that Muslim communities are at high risk, which implies the urgency of OIC’s function and position more crucial than ever. Issues such as peace, security, economic development, cultural and scientific collaboration and the role of the OIC will be discussed. Over the last few years, the organization’s activities particularly in relation to Kashmir and Palestine have received notable attention. The forthcoming CFM will be a great chance for member states to establish a common ground that will help to build ‘partnership’ and work as a bridge to address the variety of challenges that Muslim Ummah is facing. In OIC, Pakistan has taken a leadership role for countering Islamophobia which resulted in a good conclusion. On March 15th, United Nations General Assembly approved a resolution that was introduced by Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. In the imminent meeting, OIC will focus on Islamophobia and associated aspects such as hate speech, discrimination, intolerance and negative stereotyping against Muslims. This time OIC would be a significant platform and a voice for Muslim countries regarding their concerns that are needed to be heard in the international arena.

Kashmir will be the part of extensive agenda, ahead of the 48th session; Pakistan has drafted a resolution seeking adoption with the goal of directing its anti-India rhetoric at Kashmir. Hurriyat Conference members are also invited at the conference that will highlight the humanitarian challenges and will remind the world to look upon the stance of Kashmiris. The last OIC’s summit which held in Pakistan, ended with the establishment of the OIC-led Humanitarian Trust Fund for Afghanistan to channel aid, as well as the designation of the OIC Secretary General’s Special Envoy to work alongside the UN in the war-torn country. Moreover, the members will review the previous decisions on Afghanistan in this session.

In the view of contemporary challenges, OIC will be a unified voice not only for member countries but for the Muslims around the world. The world is going through difficult times and experiencing a renewed cold war due to Ukraine crisis. Therefore, the upcoming meeting holds importance for Pakistan along with other members in this regard. The OIC meeting will have the opportunity to examine increasing threats and the options available for the Islamic world to deal with the ongoing issues. Also, it will provide an opportunity to build a common attitude in attaining peace and stability at regional and global level.


Pakistan is looking forward for a productive session and has become a center stage of attention. Its efforts as well as contributions are being acknowledged and appreciated by the member countries. In the following event, brotherhood and unity which are also core Islamic values will be portrayed and this will create an image of cooperation and strong bonding of Muslim states worldwide.




US, EU, Iran Nuclear Deal: The Russian Factor

In 2015, Iran signed a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) agreement, which is commonly known as “Iran Nuclear Deal”. The signatories of the deal were Islamic Republic of Iran and world powers including USA, UK, Russia, France, China and Germany ( P5+1) which refers to the five permanent members of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and Germany. The main purpose of the agreement was to control Iran’s nuclear program, nuclear non-proliferation in order to curb the spread of nuclear weapons and technology in Iran as well as to ensure that nuclear technology is used only for peaceful and civilian purposes.

Here is the timeline of Iran’s nuclear program which starts from 1950s Iran was the first beneficiary and signed an agreement in 1957 with Washington. The first nuclear reactor was built in 1967 with the help of US. During 1970s, Iran expanded its nuclear plan to a greater extent, in this time Iran’s relationship with western countries deteriorated due to which west support for the Iranian nuclear project came to an end. In 1984, US Department of State listed Iran as state sponsors of terrorism and sanctions were imposed. Throughout the 1990s, US monitored the activities of Iran to look any kind of transfer of material and technology that could help in developing any conventional weapons. In early 2000s, covert nuclear program sites in Natanz and Arak for uranium enrichment were revealed by Iran to which International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) passed a resolution against Tehran to suspend its nuclear activities. Iran’s first domestically made satellite launched in 2009, which increased the concerns of the international community over the potential growth of ballistic missiles.

Till 2014, “Two Track Diplomacy” was followed by the major powers as they encouraged Iran for diplomatic negotiations, at the same time sanctions were being imposed on Iran’s energy and finance sectors. All these events led to the nuclear deal, a landmark accord reached in 2015 which brought together the permanent members of UN Security Council and the European Union for a shared commitment. Under the deal, Iran dismantled much of its nuclear program and opened the nuclear sites for inspection, in return sanctions were lifted and Iran was allowed to make economic relations with the international community. Iran agreed to restrain nuclear activities and it was assured by US that no new sanctions will be imposed.

When Donald Trump came into power in 2018, a unilateral American withdrawal from nuclear deal was observed and again sanctions in 2020 were imposed on Iran specifically on its oil sector for not acting in accordance with deal. However, the IAEA repeatedly corroborated that Iran has complied all the nuclear deal obligations. Other signatory members of Iran Nuclear deal objected the decision taken by US and said “United States cannot unilaterally invoke “snapback” sanctions because it withdrew from the JCPOA in 2018”. These members have interests in Iran because of its significant geostrategic location, also suggested by various analysts after JCPOA that it is a “roadmap for cooperation”. The nuclear deal was of great importance for all the stakeholders including; Iran, P5+1 as well as MENA countries. The prospects of the deal were to strengthen Iran’s position in the Middle East, economy, infrastructure, and political aspects. For EU, extensive trade and investment opportunities were predicted and the issues of concern like the nuclear program, regional security will be discussed with framework and negotiations. Despite of Washington’s isolationist policy, European Union has good relations and a unique approach towards Tehran.

On the other side, Russia did not follow the move of US.  Russia was highly disappointed and slammed the decision by considering it as a blatant violation of international law and continued to maintain bilateral relations with Iran in political, economic and military areas. Since the US withdrew from the nuclear deal, Russia has become an advocate of the deal and has made active diplomatic efforts to induce its Western European signatories to resume economic relations with Iran despite US sanctions. The relationship between Russia and Iran is essentially based on geopolitical and strategic factors. The strategic relationship is mostly based on their shared objective in limiting US influence; Tehran is primarily concerned with the regional dimension while Moscow considers global perspective. The Russian leadership view Iran as a vital partner with whom it shares a number of objectives; who understands power dynamics and is ready to seek practical solutions where Moscow and Tehran’s interests diverge.

The Joe Biden administration after coming to power in 2021 pledged to revive the nuclear deal to which Iran also agreed on a condition of indirect involvement, talks resumed in November in Vienna. Last month on 23rd Feb 2022, a European Union representative to talks said “We are nearing the end” over the success or failure of renewed Iran nuclear deal. The next day Russia-Ukraine crisis erupted, for the UK, US and EU have imposed sanctions on Russia’s oil, gas and financial sector, trade and travel restrictions also made, in response to that Russia has also banned exports. According to the participants of talks, the deal was on the verge of being finalized after a year of discussions. But, last-minute demands from Russia, one of the deal’s signatories, have threatened to undermine the efforts to revive JCPOA. Russia has said it wants assurance that Western sanctions imposed on Moscow will not prohibit Russia from doing business and military cooperation with Iran. The outcome of the current intensive discussions in Vienna aimed at restoring Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers and Iran’s relationship with Russia now has to be foreseen in coming days.




Expanding US and NATO Strategic Objectives, China vs. Taiwan: Risk of Military Confrontation

The conflict between China and Taiwan dates back to the Chinese Civil War in 1949. China has territorial claims over Taiwan and considered it as a breakaway province that has to become a part of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) ultimately. However, the Taiwanese oppose the view and contemplate Taiwan as an independent state. The US have been a primary actor in the particular issue since the inception of civil war, even it was announced that no official position will be taken and two sides must resolve the issue peacefully. Initially, the US recognized Taiwan until 1978 after that “One China” policy was adopted by the US who laid the foundation of Sino-US formal diplomatic relations in 1979. But at the same time, non-diplomatic relations were maintained with Taiwan. In the same year, Taiwan Relation Act (TRA) was passed to support the island and govern policy toward Taiwan. The TRA affirmed US help for Taiwan to defend itself. For that purpose, the US deployed troops on Taiwan, kept selling arms, and also retained its nuclear weapons in Taiwan Strait. It is specified by the country that “Taiwan’s Future” is a risk to Western Pacific and is of utmost concern for the United States.

Beijing’s policy towards Taipei is of deterrence, the goal is to stop Taiwan from formal independence, western support for Taiwan, and particularly US intervention. US policy towards Taipei is of “strategic ambiguity” in case of Beijing’s attack. Taiwan, a small island, yet it is of the utmost importance for China as well as the United States. On the basis of the geostrategic location of Taiwan in the Indo-Pacific region and to restrain the rise of China in global politics, strengthened military posture and influence in East Asia has shifted strategic objectives of US. The United States has been playing the “Taiwan Card” for the strategic rivalry with China. Apart from strategic, US have expanding economic as well as ideological objectives. Taiwan is the world’s largest chip manufacturer and the 10th biggest trading partner of Washington in the high-tech industry and semi-conductor production while supporting US economy with $600 Billion. Another strategic factor is that, when Taiwan will be under the jurisdiction of China, it would extend its missile ranges eastward by around 150 nautical miles. As a result, China would become the dominating force in the East China Sea, making it easier for Beijing to attack its rivals. US-China strategic competition and cross-strait relations are resulting in strong alignments among US and Taiwan.

All the actors involved in the conflict have different perspectives over Taiwan depending upon their interests. When we look at the NATO’s objectives in China and Taiwan conflict, the European member countries of NATO have economic objectives that could be disrupted because of a military confrontation. US along with these NATO members has underscored the importance of Taiwan in terms of peace and stability in a joint statement. In opinion of China, Washington has destabilized the region with provision of weapons to Taiwan. Therefore, demands are being made by Beijing to withdraw its deployed troops in Taiwan while US has asked the former to stop proactive military activities in Taipei. This has increased the magnitude of rivalry between two states. Also, the tensions between Taiwan and China has reached the highest levels in past few years especially after 2016, when Taiwanese President held the office and rejected the Chinese territorial claim of Taiwan. Both China and America have potential to ignite military and economic war over the issue of Taiwan. For unification of Taiwan and “Greater China”, Beijing has a political strategy which involves a military component and US analysts see invasion as the only military option which pose a great risk of military confrontation. The international order will be in jeopardy after Taiwan war. If the war begins at Taiwan Strait, it is more likely that Taiwan would be a battlefront for the world’s two countries with most powerful military forces and will become Sino-America war than China vs. Taiwan. The conflict will affect the overall region that may turn into a war zone. Impacts will also be seen on global supply chains, financial and transportation links.

The current ongoing war launched between Russia and Ukraine can also have an influence on China over Taiwan. Earlier, US intelligence chief stated; ‘’China’s interpretation of western reaction is being observed by Washington’’. Some experts have suggested that Ukraine crisis might encourage China to take military action against Taiwan, if it becomes necessary. President of US, Joe Biden has sent an extraordinary delegation of officials in wake of Ukraine-Russia war to warn China and declared Washington’s strong support for Taiwan. Meanwhile, the Chinese ambassador to Washington has also alerted US of military confrontation risk over Taiwan. The increasing tensions between Sino-US relations and cross-strait relations can be a flashpoint of military confrontation.




Islamophobia Escalating

Right-wing extremism has had a long history in India with the current atmosphere heavily tilted in favor of right-wing extremists. Relying on secondary sources, it notes that the Indian caste system has played a role in bolstering the Hindu majoritarian identity that is currently dominant in India apart from various other factors, such as the incompetency of other political parties.
Right-wing extremism has been growing and has become a more mainstream phenomenon globally with various right-wing parties and, subsequently, right-wing extremists taking root and entrenching themselves in the political landscape of different countries. India has seen its own variant of right-wing politics in the form of Hindu right-wing politics. While the political ecosystem of India has been fraught with complex interactions between different actors on the ideological spectrum, it has become even more complicated with the rise of right-wing extremism. Various authors point out, Hindu nationalism is not the same as Hinduism. Hindu nationalism as a spectrum was guided by Hindutva, the political ideology that conflates geographically based cultural, national, and religious identities that focus on the manifestation of Hinduness. Like Islamism, it is not driven by religion but uses religion as a veneer to push its agenda.
Hindu extremism in India has many visible manifestations. The most prominent has been the increase in the execution of Muslims. More than 84 percent of the victims between 2010 and 2017 who died were Muslims. The main goal of Hindutva is to establish a Hindu Rashtra, that is, a Hindu state that has its version of Rama Rajya (Rule of Ram), a harkening back to the golden era of Hinduism when the god Ram ruled India, as documented in the epic Ramayana. Hindu extremism in India is ethno-nationalist rather than religious and is intertwined with the country’s political and social caste system, with some influence from its colonial past. The issue of caste is significant and is one of the pillars of the movement that policymakers should consider. During this time, right-wing extremist elements have been emboldened, spreading various narratives of hatred online that have had real-world effects too, including rioting, mob lynching, and economic sanctions against Muslims and Dalits. While it is hard to predict the future of Hindu extremism in India.
We have seen that the north Indian town of Haridwar, where the Ganges River flows out of the Himalayas onto India’s vast plains, has been for centuries a destination for pilgrims where the political leaders participated in hatred speeches against Muslims and promote the killing of Muslims. We are witnessing the global resurgence in intolerance, discrimination, racism, negative stereotyping, and violence against persons, on the basis of religion or belief especially in India.  In 2005, some UN members founded the Alliance of Civilisations to reduce tensions between the Muslim world and the West that escalated rapidly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States. If India is still committed to democracy, then it follows that minority communities must be allowed to live according to their religious and cultural norms, without being harassed

One of the core objectives of this Alliance was to advance mutual respect for all cultures, traditions and religious beliefs, and to serve as a platform to bridge divergence and friction, especially between the West and Islam. Recently A ban on religious clothing in schools in the southern Indian state of Karnataka has sparked outrage and protests across the country. There are many issues with minorities in India that need to fix.

At the United Nations, “an unequivocal show of empathy and solidarity with victims of Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hatred would help in responding to public concern in many Muslim countries.