On January 12-13, 2019, India and the five Central Asian countries, Kazakhstan Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, held their first ever ministerial dialogue in the beautiful and historic Uzbek city of Samarkand.
Amongst the many peace processes that Afghanistan has seen in the recent years, the one that has been making the maximum noise is led by the US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad.
The US, China, India, Iran and Russia want stability in Afghanistan. But their roles in any peace parleys will be shaped by their own national or regional interests. What are their concerns? If they could agree on a strategy, could they open the door to a stable Afghanistan?
Maldives is a mere 700 km away from India’s Lakshwadeep island chain. Located along major sea lanes in the Indian Ocean through which much of the world’s trade takes place, it has been traditionally considered to be part of India’s sphere of influence.
Despite political deadlocks and the beginning of democratic development especially in Nepal and Bhutan, the year 2018 witnessed the successful completion of general elections in five South Asian countries.
Pakistan’s influence on the Afghan Taliban is misunderstood by the US. While Pakistan retains a modicum of influence on the Taliban, it is not able to dictate terms to them. It can convince the Taliban to enter peace talks but what comes out of these talks is not in its hands.
US President Donald Trump’s announcement of the pullout of 7,000 US troops from Afghanistan took both his allies and adversaries by surprise. It will change the calculus on the ground in Afghanistan with far-reaching consequences for regional peace and security.
On my first trip to Afghanistan which I had, so far, researched from distance, both the urgency of negotiations and the deteriorating security situation were palpable. One’s stay in Kabul is enough for one to realize that peace and stability are still a far cry for this country.
Maldives’ President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih’s visit to India marks a new line of engagement in strengthening the two countries’ bilateral relations, which had fallen under the shadow of a Chinese stronghold under former President Abdulla Yameen.