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Indian Ambitions in Middle East and Central Asia - Rear Admiral Waseem Akram

Champion_Usmani

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Written By: Rear Admiral Waseem Akram

India is geographically an island nation surrounded by the Bay of Bengal, the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea, whereas to its north lay the majestic Himalayan Ranges. India shares its land borders with China, Nepal, Bhutan Bangladesh, Burma and Pakistan and has unsettled disputes with all its neighbours. China and India in particular have serious border disputes over 4000 km of shared borders in the Himalayas. Since the entire frontier runs through some of the highest elevations, it is impossible for either country to launch any meaningful armoured assault or sustain any major land operation against the other. In retrospect, China and India despite being neighbours are walled off from each other, with few passes available for communication linkages, hence chances of any major military encounter between them over land is minimal. The other major issue, India has, is with Pakistan, a nation located west of India, occupying a strategic position, as it blocks Indian land route access to Iran, Afghanistan and CARs to the West. Pakistan and India since inception, have unresolved ideological, political and land disputes, principal amongst them being the occupation of the state of Kashmir, occupied and oppressed by India for over 60 years, against their will for the right of self-determination.


With the disintegration of the USSR and strategic realignment with the U.S. since 1992, Indian by using money earned by its diaspora and foreign direct investment, has witnessed a phenomenal growth in its economy. Not only has the growth been in its GDP and foreign reserves, but for the first time in its history, India is poised to shift from its age old agriculture based economy to be an industrial giant. With industrial aspirations spiraling upwards, its want for raw material and energy resources requires assurances and safeguards.


India is currently the world's fourth-largest consumer of energy with a total energy consumption of 638 million tons of oil equivalent, behind Russia, China and the United States. India currently consumes 3.7 million bpd of crude oil and it is estimated that by 2040 India's daily crude usage will be to the tune of 10 million bpd. In 2014, India spent $138 billion to import 79 percent of its crude oil from abroad, out of which more than 57 percent came from the Middle East, specifically Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Kuwait and the UAE, while 85% of the country’s LNG came from Qatar and 5% from Yemen. It is estimated that by 2040, India will import 90 percent of its crude oil from abroad. Though Saudi Arabia is currently India's largest supplier, providing about 18 percent of the country's oil, however, New Delhi is actively trying to further deepen its diplomatic ties with Iran in order to diversify its foreign dependence. Concurrently, the surging domestic demand for coal will transform India, the world's second-largest coal producer, into the biggest coal importer within the next five years.


According to 2015 estimates some 7.589 million non-resident Indians are working in the Middle East and they are remitting about U.S. $ 37.2 billion (2014 estimates) back to India. Due to this large work force, India is exporting about U.S. $ 52.8 billion worth of goods to the Middle East.


Amidst this economic boom, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi undertook a series of visits in the CARs/Middle East in a bid to secure Indian aspiring interests. First on the list were five Central Asian countries – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan whom he visited from July 6-13, 2015. Apart from exploring the possibility of tapping huge hydrocarbon, mineral and uranium resources from these countries, PM Modi offered India’s expertise in improving security situation for checking the growing Islamic militancy in the region. He also discussed the possibility of lease of ex-Soviet airbase Ayni for the Indian Air Force with Tajikistan’s President Emomali Rahmon. It is believed that the key objectives behind these enhanced engagements, besides bilateral trade, was to paint Pakistan as a villain in the region and that is supporting Taliban and other extremist Islamic groups, thereby creating a pretext of increased India’s presence in the periphery of China.


Prime Minister Modi next visited the UAE for two days in August 2015 and became the first Indian Prime Minister to visit the United Arab Emirates in 34 years. During his visit to UAE he held talks with His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces and His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. During his visit, UAE and India raised their partnership to a strategic level by setting up a UAE-India Infrastructure Investment Fund with a target of $75 billion (Dh275 billion) and establishing a mechanism for regular meetings between their security agencies to improve operational cooperation. UAE also promised allocation of land for establishment of a Temple in Abu Dhabi, a religious victory for the Hindu extremist government in India. In addition, UAE also promised to support India in its bid for a permanent seat in for the United Nations Security Council; an act being regarded as a major diplomatic victory.

An economic power, with fairly strong armed forces and with a nuclear triad in place, is now set to project power far beyond its borders. The reasons for this power projection are manifold. First and the foremost is the securing of a constant source of raw material and energy for India’s rising industrial demands, with sea as its chief mode of transportation. Re-orientation of POL storage and other industrial manufacturing facilities to the East coast of India has been sparked by the India's supply-demand imbalance and its growing dependence on the Middle East and Africa.

Indian Prime Minister then visited Saudi Arabia on April 2-3, 2016 to bolster India’s engagement with the Kingdom. The two sides signed five agreements, including plans to cooperate in intelligence sharing, related to terror financing and money laundering, as well as a labour cooperation agreement, besides promoting bilateral investments in the private sector. The two sides also agreed on the need to intensify defence cooperation through mutual visits of military experts and joint military exercises. King Salman awarded Prime Minister Modi with Saudi Arabia’s highest civilian award, the King Abdul Aziz Sash.During his visit, Modi also met Crown Prince and Interior Minister Mohammed bin Nayef and held one-on-one talks with Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir and Board Chairman of Aramco, Abdul Aziz al-Faleh, who is also the Health Minister. It is important to note that bilateral trade between the two countries has reached $39 billion in 2014, which is expected to get a boost from the recent visit.


Prime Minister Modi’s next stop was Iran from May 22-23 this year. This was the first bilateral visit by an Indian Prime Minister to Iran in last 15 years. During the visit the two sides signed 12 MoUs, out of which five were regarding Chabahar Port and its associated infrastructure. India has pledged to invest $85 million in the first phase of construction of two berths in the port, one for container handling and other for multipurpose cargo.


In the second phase, India pledged to invest another $110 million to develop a 901km long railroad, linking Chabahar to the iron ore mines in Hajigak, Afghanistan. It is pertinent to mention that Iran has declared the surrounding area as a free trade industrial zone. The other MoUs covered potential Indian development of the Farzad B gas field, spelling out India’s monetary commitments, executing entities, deadlines, etc. It may be recalled that Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan-Iran railway line has already been inaugurated and India is making investments in the Iranian port of Chabahar with multiple aims in mind.


Fully backed by the Obama administration, Prime Minister Modi has cultivated a close relationship with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. On May 23, the three leaders witnessed the signing of a trilateral Chabahar Port agreement. Apart from meeting its energy needs, India intends to use Chabahar Port to expand trade with Afghanistan and Central Asia. Despite the fact that a large population of Indians is living below poverty line, India has steadily increased its presence and political influence in Afghanistan by donating development assistance of some U.S. $ 2 billion. In 2009, India completed work on 217 km highway (Route 606) that has linked Afghan city of Zaranj with border town of Delaram, which is connected through local roads network with Iranian port of Chabahar.


On June 4, PM Modi was given highest civilian award, the Amir Amanullah Khan Award by Afghan President. On the same day both the leaders also inaugurated Salma Dam in Herat province close to Iranian border, a $290 million project likely to provide electricity and irrigation water to locals. It is important to note that Herat population is predominately Shia and Iran enjoys good political influence in the area.


In another unprecedented move, PM Modi was offered the opportunity by Afghan President to address the Afghan nation through television. During his address Modi showed his deep concerns regarding insurgency gaining momentum under new Taliban leader Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada. The address was indirectly a political snub for Pakistan and a shrewd move to implicate Islamabad in the ongoing terrorist activities in Afghanistan.


In his next stop to Qatar and during a meeting on June 6 with Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, Modi signed seven MOUs on a range of subjects, including Qatar's promise to invest in India's National Infrastructure and Investment Fund (the Qatar Investment Authority already owns a $1 billion stake in Indian telecommunications firm Bharti Airtel).


For centuries, due to its peculiar geographic location, abundant agricultural and natural resources and huge human capital, India attracted invading armies from land and colonial powers through the sea. A nation that witnessed its riches exploited and transferred out, is now looking to emerge as a global power itself. India has spent nearly two decades to develop a strategic partnership with the U.S., an act amply supported by Tel Aviv. An economic power, with fairly strong armed forces and with a nuclear triad in place, is now set to project power far beyond its borders. The reasons for this power projection are manifold. First and the foremost is the securing of a constant source of raw material and energy for India’s rising industrial demands, with sea as its chief mode of transportation. Re-orientation of POL storage and other industrial manufacturing facilities to the East Coast of India has been sparked by the India's supply-demand imbalance and its growing dependence on Middle East and Africa.


Since majority of Indian energy imports and manufactured goods exports are through sea to and from the Gulf, the East Coast of India is of extreme economic significance. Therefore India’s Eastern seaboard, or in other words the North Arabian Sea (NAS) and beyond has figured out dominantly amongst Indian political, economic and military planners in recent decades. Pakistan being a major stakeholder in the NAS providing the most likely route for CARs energy highway and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) through Gwadar, therefore securing of its interests in the sea has taken a centre stage in Indian politics. India has thus embarked upon an unprecedented and aggressive expansionist and modernization regime to transform its sea power in order to have an effective influence on the NAS in particular and IO in general.


Historically Pakistan has enjoyed cordial and close diplomatic and military relations with GCC countries, including a strategic alliance with Saudi Arabia. However due to ongoing internal turmoil, fight against terrorism in the shape of Operation Zarb-e-Azb and external pressures of sorts, Pakistan was unable to provide the military support expected during the recent Yemen crisis. This created a void which was duly identified and amply exploited by India. Playing its economic card and using its present strategic leverage with the U.S., India has secured a defense cooperation pact with the Kingdom in 2016. Similarly Modi again was able to make a dent in UAE-Pakistan relations when it won the backing of Abu Dhabi for India’s bid for permanent seat in UN Security Council.


In another shrewd move India has been able to secure a pact with Iran for construction and operations of Chabahar Port emulating Sino-Pakistan model for Gwadar Port. This pact will not only allow India to expand its trade routes with Central Asia but play an instrumental role in furthering its reach and influence in Afghanistan. From military stand point this port could act as spring board for India. It is a known fact that Indo-Iran strategic relationship is carving an environment to deny a Taliban dominated government returning to Kabul after the U.S. withdrawal. It is also an established fact that India while operating from Afghanistan, is trying to destabilize Pakistan by sponsoring TTP and sub-nationalist/insurgents in Balochistan. Similarly by bribing corrupt leadership of the present Afghan government, intelligence and military officials, New Delhi is trying to create a divide in between two partner countries that have survived and thrived together for decades. This in effect is to create a two-front dilemma for Pakistan, thereby stretching the nation and its element of nation power to the extremes.


Pakistan is located at extension of the Middle East. It has religious, cultural as well as historic affinity with the Middle Eastern countries including Iran. However competing interest in Afghanistan and Islamabad’s historic close ties with Riyadh is viewed with suspicion by Iran. Apart from geo-economics these are major contributory factors in bringing New Delhi close to Tehran. Pakistan could ill afford to let Iran and Afghanistan fall into the orbit of Indo-ERF axis. Therefore it is imperative for Pakistan to highlight that the real threat to the region is from Indo-Israel nexus and not from Pakistan and this threat basically resides in ideological domain. At present India is the largest recipient of Israeli arms and ammunition. India by cementing its relations with the U.S. through Israel is vying for the same role in South Asia, what function Tel Aviv is performing that is suppression and fragmentation of Muslim world. The irony of this complex game is that India is using money basically belonging to Muslims which is earned by non-resident Indians working in Gulf States to increase its military strength. It is contemplated that in future these Israeli origin arms acquired by India would be used to shed Muslim blood in the region. Similarly large arms shopping spree by New Delhi allows Tel Aviv to increase its economic clout globally thus ensuring consistent subjugations of Palestinian Muslims. In the same context through a well thought out media campaign Pakistan must bring to the front, Prime Minister Modi’s role in slaughtering of 2000 Muslims in Gujarat riots by Hindu extremists, desecration of Babri Mosque and strangulation of innocent Muslims in various Indian states on charges of consuming cow meat in recent months. Similarly denuding the actual objectives of India and its allies to divide and then rule the Muslim world would not restore the position of Pakistan in the Middle East but would also halt Indian malicious ingress into Central Asia and Middle East.


Another interesting phenomenon is that Indian aspirations of growth and its want for energy resources leave India vulnerable. As its dependence on raw materials and energy resources from sea increases, so does the opportunity of exploitation. A strong and potent Pakistan Navy could be that vital EoNP that helps in threatening the energy corridors of India by challenging its Sea Lines of Communication. Similarly the potential ability of Pakistan Navy to target and neutralize economic and military infrastructure on the Indian East Coast in times of war could also add to defensive dilemmas of the Indian military thinkers. Similarly, the other two services, Pakistan Army and Pakistan Air Force with enhanced capabilities will be a strong check on Indian expansionist designs duly supported by few other foreign powers.

http://hilal.gov.pk/index.php/layouts/item/2348-indian-ambitions-in-middle-east-and-central-asia
 

Maler

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Since majority of Indian energy imports and manufactured goods exports are through sea to and from the Gulf, the East Coast of India is of extreme economic significance. Therefore India’s Eastern seaboard, or in other words the North Arabian Sea (NAS) and beyond has figured out dominantly amongst Indian political, economic and military planners in recent decades. Pakistan being a major stakeholder in the NAS providing the most likely route for CARs energy highway and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) through Gwadar, therefore securing of its interests in the sea has taken a centre stage in Indian politics. India has thus embarked upon an unprecedented and aggressive expansionist and modernization regime to transform its sea power in order to have an effective influence on the NAS in particular and IO in general.
Geography 101 India, NAS is India's Western seaboard not Easterner seaboard!!!
 

SrNair

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Who is he ?
Oh Rear Admiral.This guy is just unique or they have other same kinds like this.
Forget about economics .This guy even dont know geography .
When you have this kind of junk on top of Navy ,then you can understand the quality of force.
 

SQ8

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Geography 101 India is Peninsular country not Island
English literature and grammar kindergarten: using metaphors.

Who is he ?
Oh Rear Admiral.This guy is just unique or they have other same kinds like this.
Forget about economics .This guy even dont know geography .
When you have this kind of junk on top of Navy ,then you can understand the quality of force.
Yeah, all that is left is submarines that sink in the port and wife swapping orgies.. better learn this from some top notch navies in the region.

Banned from thread
 

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