The drawdown of the American-led NATO forces from Afghanistan in December 2014 has resulted in the stepping-up of Chinese interest and investment. This time, the investment and interest are more diplomatic, political, and geared toward restoring peace in Afghanistan.
A major concern for India is Pakistan’s involvement in the Saudi-led Islamic military coalition. After all, India had expended considerable political and diplomatic capital to isolate Pakistan for terror attacks emanating from its territory which target India and Indian interests.
In a surprising move on May 12, 2017, just a day before the opening of the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, Nepal signed the framework agreement in Kathmandu. However, this has raised strategic apprehensions in India.
During the recent visit of US National Security Advisor Herbert McMaster to South Asia, he had stated that “the best way to pursue Pakistan’s interests in Afghanistan and elsewhere is through the use of diplomacy, and not through the use of proxies that engage in violence.”
India’s relationship with Iran is important for a myriad of economic and strategic reasons. Firstly, India is amongst the largest importers of oil, second after China, from Iran. Secondly, India is helping Iran in the development of Chabahar Port.
Although India and Turkey have enjoyed civilizational and geo-cultural relations since recorded history, the relations between both countries have been paralyzed due to the Pakistan factor in the post-colonial era.
With the completion of the power transition in Washington DC, the Trump administration is adopting a more assertive and muscular regional policy to fill the diplomatic void and power vacuum created in South Asia during the 2016 US presidential election.
Recently, there have been three significant state visits to India by Malaysian PM Najib Razak, Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina, and Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull. All three countries are vital players in what the Modi Government has dubbed as India’s “Act East Policy.”
The recent lynching of a university student in Pakistan who had been falsely accused of blasphemy highlights the fact that terrorist and separatist violence are not the sole security threats facing the successful completion of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.