MORNING NEWS BRIEF: 19 MARCH
PICTURE OF THE DAY
A boy looks out of a shattered window in the aftermath of a bomb explosion. At least four people were killed and 11 others injured after a device targeted a minibus carrying employees of the ministry of communication and information technology.
Bangladesh emerges important in geopolitics
Fifty years ago when Bangladesh emerged as an independent state, it may not have caught the world’s attention, but today as it reaches its golden jubilee, the country’s development, democracy and geopolitical significance is undeniably a matter of discussion in some way or the other. Within a short period of its independence, Bangladesh was seen as a ‘basket case’, a lab for experiments in development. In the few decades following its independence, Bangladesh became to be known for its natural disasters, military coups, political violence, corruption and such negativities. It is not that all these issues have been resolved and removed, but today Bangladesh has gained geopolitical relevance in the international arena.
Russia hosts Afghan peace conference, hoping to boost talks
Russia hosted a peace conference for Afghanistan on March 18, bringing together government representatives, the Taliban, and international observers in a bid to help jump-start the country’s stalled peace process. The one-day gathering was the first of three planned international conferences ahead of a May 1 deadline for the final withdrawal of U.S. and NATO troops from the country, a date fixed under a year-old agreement between the Trump administration and the Taliban. Moscow’s attempt at mediation comes as talks in Qatar between the Afghan government and the Taliban, still waging an insurgency, have stalled.
Why India must avoid hitching itself to US Military’s plans for China and the Indo-Pacific
Having signed the four basic US military foundational agreements necessary for interoperability – the last of those in October 2020 – the Narendra Modi government will now be taking India’s military relationship with the United States several notches higher. If things move at the government’s pace, India will soon be a de facto US ally without any clarity on how this will enhance the country’s defence against the combined China-Pakistan threat. Or how it would help establish geopolitical equilibrium with China. When US secretary of defence Lloyd J. Austin III comes to India (March 19-21) after his visits to Japan and South Korea – both formal US allies in Asia – on the table for discussion will be the Pentagon’s multi domain operations (MDO) warfighting concept. That this is in the offing was indicated by the army chief, General M.M. Naravane during his February 24 address at a webinar organised by the Vivekanand International Foundation (VIF). According to Gen. Naravane, multi domain operations are the future of war for which the Indian Army is preparing.
Time to bury the past and move forward: Pakistan Army chief on Indo-Pak ties
Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa said on Thursday that lasting peace in the sub-continent will remain elusive until the resolution of the Kashmir issue, stressing that it was time for India and Pakistan to "bury the past and move forward". Addressing the audience on day two of the first-ever Islamabad Security Dialogue, Gen Bajwa noted that stable Indo-Pak relations were the key to unlocking the potential of South and Central Asia by ensuring connectivity between East and West Asia. But this potential has always remained hostage to the disputes and issues between the two "nuclear neighbours", he said. "The Kashmir issue is obviously at the heart of this. It is important to understand that without the resolution of Kashmir dispute through peaceful means, [the] process of sub-continental rapprochement will always remain susceptible to derailment due to politically motivated bellicosity."
US Senate committee flags deteriorating democratic situation in India
US Defence Secretary Lloyd J Austin - the first member of the newly elected Joe Biden administration who will be on a visit to India starting tomorrow -- has been asked to raise concerns about democracy in the country with Indian officials. In a letter to him, Senator Robert Menendez has pointed out that while US and India's partnership is "critical to meet the challenges of the 21st Century", the partnership "must rest on adherence to democratic values". The Indian government, he added, "has been trending away from those values".
China stages its own '2-plus-2' with US in frigid Alaska
In 2017, President Xi Jinping called Alaska a "Shangri-La" for China when he stopped there while returning home from a meeting with President Donald Trump, former Alaska Gov. Bill Walker told Chinese state TV station CGTN in a recent interview. "He said, 'You will see an uptick in tourism from China,' and boy did we," Walker said. Such was the spin in Chinese media ahead of Thursday's meeting in Anchorage, Alaska, of top diplomat Yang Jiechi and Foreign Minister Wang Yi with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and national security adviser Jake Sullivan.