Politics, World, Asia - Pacific

India pursues ‘restrained global activism’: Academician

Country's economic and political clout has risen, says Turkey-based Indian academician Omair Anas

Jeyhun Aliyev   | 19.04.2019
India pursues ‘restrained global activism’: Academician Omair Anas, assistant professor of International Relations at Ankara Yildirim Beyazit University


India has so far exercised a form of restrained global activism in its foreign policy, staying away from major global conflicts, according to a Turkey-based Indian academician.

"[Indian Prime Minister Narendra] Modi's government has, however, come to a point in time when India’s economic and political clout has risen and India’s ambitions for global leadership have been acknowledged by many," Omair Anas, assistant professor of International Relations at Ankara Yildirim Beyazit University, told Anadolu Agency in an interview.

Anas said this is leading to an end to India’s "reluctant" foreign policy with it asserting the right to “act decisively" such as in engagement with Israel, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the U.S.

India-Pakistan relations

Anas said Pakistan has "come to a realization" that it needs to "reset" its priorities for competing with India.

He said Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has won the election with a mandate to "redress Pakistan’s development deficit".

"His current gestures towards India are being closely watched by India and his credibility will be judged on the basis of how much he demonstrates his decisiveness on issues that are the cause of troubles between India and Pakistan," Anas said, referring to recent tensions between the two countries.

In February, tensions between nuclear-armed neighbors escalated after a suicide attack on an army convoy in Indian-administered Kashmir, which killed at least 40 Indian troops. India accused Pakistan of being involved in the attack, a charge Islamabad denies.

The escalations were further fueled when warplanes from both sides engaged in a dogfight along the border of disputed Kashmir on Feb. 27. India and Pakistan claimed to have downed each other's planes and an Indian pilot was captured.

The two countries have fought three wars -- in 1948, 1965 and 1971 -- since they were partitioned in 1947.

China-Pakistan cooperation a threat?

A large section of India’s policy community does not view development projects between China and Pakistan from a security perspective, Anas said, referring to the cooperation between the two countries in Pakistan’s strategic port city of Gwadar and China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) project.

Under an agreement signed between China and Pakistan in 2014, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor seeks to connect China's strategically important northwestern Xinjiang province to Pakistan’s Gwadar port through a network of roads, railways and pipelines to transport cargo, oil and gas.

The BRI aims to create trade routes from China to deep in Europe, similar to the ancient Silk Road. China has invested billions of dollars and promised to pour more into mainly infrastructure, transport and other projects to link the destination countries to its trade centers.

"The confidence between India and China comes with their close coordination in multilateral forums of the SCO [Shanghai Cooperation Organization] and BRICS [Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa] that is aimed at making a world order less controlled by Western policies," he said.

The SCO is a Eurasian political, economic and security organization established in 2001 that originally included Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. At the meeting of the Heads of State Council in Astana in 2017, India and Pakistan were granted full membership status in the organization.

BRICS is an informal group of five states which are influential members of leading international organizations and agencies, including the UN, the G20, the Non-Aligned Movement and the Group of 77.

India-Iran relations

Relations between India and Iran have “withstood pressures” from third parties such as the U.S., Saudi Arabia and Israel and have been able to balance their act with these countries, Anas said.

"However, Iran’s worrying expansion in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Yemen and elsewhere is limiting India’s Middle Eastern choices in which India sees stability more important than destabilizing confrontations," he added.

Anas also said that by voting against Iran at the 2006 meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency, India conveyed the message that it "does not want another nuclear power in its extended neighbor".

At the same time, India opposed U.S. sanctions on Iran that have been crippling the country's energy supplies to India, he said.

"India expects more flexibility from Iran in its regional interactions so that India can also exercise its strategic flexibility vis-a-vis Iran, Israel and Saudi Arabia," the assistant professor added.

In 2017, U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew his country from a landmark 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1 group of nations, or the five permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany.

The U.S. last August re-imposed one round of economic sanctions on Iran, mainly targeting the country’s banking sector, while in November, Washington imposed a second round of sanctions targeting Iran’s energy sector.

On April 10, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the U.S. would put more pressure on Tehran.

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