INTERNATIONAL CURRENT AFFAIRS SEPTEMBER 2016

Terror-sponsor Pakistan backs LeT, JeM: U.S. Bill

  • A new bill has been moved in the U.S House of Representatives in the wake of the terrorist attack on an Army base in Uri in Jammu and Kashmir.

Highlights:

  • The ‘‘Pakistan State Sponsor of Terrorism Designation Act of 2016” designates Pakistan as a state sponsor of terrorism. It calls on the U.S. administration to provide a report on whether or not Pakistan qualifies as such under various U.S. laws.
  • The bill underlines multiple facts that the members think make Pakistan a state sponsor of terrorism.
  • The bill lists Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) involvement in supporting terrorism in Afghanistan and quotes the Department of State’s 2016 Country Reports on Terrorism that “Pakistan has not taken sufficient action against groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), which continued to cooperate, train, organise, and fundraise in Pakistan.”
  • The bill says the Government of Pakistan, and the ISI in particular, provides support and a safe haven to groups designated as foreign terrorist organizations by the U.S.
  • The bill also cites a 2012 NATO report that indicated that the Afghan Taliban is directly assisted by the Pakistani security services and noted that ‘‘Pakistan’s manipulation of the Taliban senior leadership continues [unabated]’’.

Way ahead:

  • The bill envisages a two-step process towards designating Pakistan a state sponsor of terrorism. If enacted into law, it will require the administration to submit to Congress a report within 90 days, determining whether Government of Pakistan, including any agents or instrumentalities “committed, conspired to commit, attempted, aided, or abetted any such act” referred in the bill.
  • Within 30 days after the first report, the Secretary of State will be required to submit another report explaining whether any of these acts constitutes support for international terrorism and “a determination that the Government of Pakistan is a state sponsor of terrorism.”
  • If the administration decides not to designate Pakistan as state sponsor of terrorism, it will have to give “a detailed justification.”

India in Rio Pralympics

Why in News: The Rio Paralympics saw Indian athletes bringing a lot of cheer after a less than expected performance by our regular 119 strong Olympic contingent.

  • Indian contingent gave its best ever performance by bagging two gold, one silver and a bronze medal at the Rio Paralympics. The stars of the Paralympics 2016 include:
  • Mariyappan Thangavelu, who hails from Tamil Nadu, was the first to win gold medal for India in the men’s high jump event. He made a leap of 1.89m.
  • Mariyappan’s right leg was damaged in a bus accident when he was five year old.
  • Devendra Jhajharia, from the northern state of Rajasthan, won India its second gold medal with his record breaking throw of 63.97 metres at the men’s javelin throw event. He bettered his own previous record of 62.15 metres.
  • Jhajharia had lost part of his left arm after accidentally receiving an electric shock as a child.
  • Deepa Malik, became the first women ever to win a medal in Paralympics. She hails from a defence background and her husband Col BS Malik is an ex-armoured corps officer.
  • Deepa won Silver medal in the women’s shot-put F53 event, with a personal best throw of 4.61m.deepa-malik-267x280
  • Varun Singh Bhati, who comes from Uttar Pradesh, won a bronze in the same event as Mariyappan. Bhati jumped his personal best of 1.86m to finish third. Bhati was diagnosed with polio which led to a deformity in his left leg. Both Mariyappan and Bhati participated in the T-42 disability classification.

About Paralympics Games:

  • The Paralympics Games is a multi-sport international event, conducted for disabled athletes and is conventionally held immediately after the conclusion of the Olympic Games.
  • The governing body of the Paralympics is the International Paralympics Committee (IPC).
  • The advent of the present day Paralympics dates back to the post World War II era, when a few British veterans in 1948 gathered to participate and promote the sporting event.
  • The 1988 Summer Paralympics were the first Paralympics in 24 years that took place in the same city as the Olympic Games, i.e. Seoul, South Korea. This was the first time the term Paralympics Games came into official use.
  • The fifteenth Summer Paralympics being held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from 07 September to 18 September 2016 have a total of 159 countries participating, with a total of 4342 athletes.
  • The categories are impaired muscle power, impaired passive range of movement, limb deficiency, leg length difference, short stature, hypertonia, ataxia, athetosis, vision impairment and intellectual impairment.
  • India has sent its largest ever contingent comprising of 19 athletes to participate in five sports, namely, Archery, Athletics, Power-lifting, Swimming and Shooting.
  • India sent its first ever Paralympics team in 1968. It participated again in 1972, but then stayed away from the Games till 1984, where, it finished 37th out of the 54 participating nations.
  • India continued to participate in each Paralympics Games thereafter, but failed to make a mark till the 2004 Summer Paralympics in Athens, Rome.
  • The first ever gold medal won by any Indian in Paralympics was by Murlikant Petkar, in the event of Swimming, at Heidelberg in1972.

17th Non Alignment Movement

Why in News: The  17th Summit of the Heads of State and Government of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) was held on 17 and 18 September in Margarita Island, northeast of Venezuela, in presence of leaders and representatives of 120 Member States.

Non Alignment Movement

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  • Following World War II active military conflict was replaced by the wars of Ideology, which was termed as “Cold War”
  • Newly Independent countries like India had an option to join the two blocks (U.S & erstwhile U.S.S.R)
  • The interest of the world peace & the national interest of the newly independent countries inspired them to come together on common platform and to preserve a policy of Non Alignment Policy (NAM)

The Origin:

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  • It was first coined by V.K Krishna Menon during his address in U.N in 1953
  • In 1954, Indian PM Jawaharlal Nehru, used the term Non Alignment during Africa Asian Nation conference at Colombia. In this speech put forward the panchsheel principles as the basis of Non Alignment movement.
  • In 1955, at the conference of Afro-Asian Nation which was held in Bandara Indonesia, President Sukano of Indonesia addressed the conference & asked all the member nations not to be part of any bloc of cold war.
  • In September, 1961, the conference which was held in Belgrade (Yugoslavia) the Afro-Asian conference came to be known as “Conference of State” or “Government of Non Aligned Countries.”
  • The term NAM was first used in 1976 at Colombo Conference

Aims & Objective of NAM

  • Promotion of world peace
  • Peaceful resolution of disputes
  • Abstention from Big power military alliance
  • Opposition to military bases in foreign countries
  • Anti-Racism
  • Promotion of close economic, cultural cooperation among all its member nations.

Binding Principles of NAM

  • Respect for fundamental human right
  • Respect for sovereignty & territorial integrity of all nations
  • Recognition of the movement of all nations
  • Equality-Racer & equality of all Nations
  • Abstain from intervention in the internal affairs of the countries
  • Respect the right of each nation to defend itself.
  • Settlement of international dispute through peaceful means
  • Promotion of mutual interest & cooperation
  • Respect for justice & international obligations

Relevance of NAM

  • There are 120 active members & 15 observers
  • In 2012 summit, inspite of allied west nations pressurising & isolating Iran, it did not work & Iran participated with the rest of the NAM nations.
  • It stands for independence/independent Foreign policy as such right of the nation & its approach is always relevant to the present world.
  • Its aim is to have close economic & cultured cooperation; many of the nations are still developing & need to continue work together.
  • NAM promotes internationalism & believes in the philosophy of peaceful co-existence. Such principles are more relevant today where the world is facing a number of crisis caused by unilateralism
  • Belief in equality of nations & equality of mankind. This signifies that when the big powers of the world are busy in creating a new world order to satisfy their national interest.
  • At present there is an increase number of conflicts among the countries which can be tackled by promoting the philosophy of NAM

Achievements of NAM

  1. Strengthened world peace & cooperation among nations
  2. Voiced against colonialism & promoted self made & self determination
  3. Condemned Racism: Condemned S. Africa for implementing apartheid
  4. Economic & cultural cooperation: Condemned the U.S policy of unilateralism in Arab
  5. NAM has raised the demand of UN reform to make this world body truly  representative of new world order
  6. Continuously promoted South-South cooperation
  7.  NAM has promoted universal human rights & always condemned cultural attacks on other nations
  8. In 2012 NAM summit, when west trued to isolate Iran, NAM ensured their ideas were failed (The summit unanimously supported Iran’s right to develop nuclear program for peaceful purpose

Why NAM plays a huge role:

  • NAM must be strengthen to ensure the rights of weaker nation remain protected in mutilated international institutions & platform such as UN,WTO
  • Number of trans-national challenges faced by world at present from terrorism, smuggling & other non-state actors. This can be countered through close cooperation through NAM because they are the most affected from it.
  • Environmental challenges/climate changes/Global warning: Poor nations are getting affected the most. NAM can act as a platform to negotiate climate changes & voice the needs of poor nations.
  • Economic Recession: Due to mismanagement & manipulation of financial institution by developed nations. NAM must be strengthen to guide especially when the global power is gradually shifting away from Europe & N. America
  • NAM favours anti imperialism: In today’s world it is more relevant as the technology advances sovereignty of all the countries have become more risky. Individual nations can be tampered economically & politically. Thus NAM is very valuable today.
  • UN which is the biggest organisation is dominated by powerful countries (P5) to bring leverage in UN, NAM can play an important role.
  • NAM for India: It will help to maintain its strategic autonomy & to preserve our strategic space.

NAM 2.0

  • Given by Centre for policy research
  • Emphasis of sustaining domestic Economic growth, social-inclusion & democracy for Indians strategic & foreign policy.
  • Approach of NAM should be used to secure maximum space possible for growth of India’s economic.
  • NAM 2.0 calls for re-orientation of NAM
  • Emphasis on sustaining domestic economic growth, social inclusions & democracy for Indians strategic & foreign policy.
  • Approach of NAM should be used to secure maximum space for India’s economic growth which would lead to India becoming prosperous & equitable
  • It must pursue Non Alignment vis-a-vis Sino-American conflict & should ensure they do not support either of the countries (super power)
  • It stresses on cooperation & isolation.
  • It is different because world is no longer divided by two dominant power. Non Alignment today will require managing complicated coalition & opportunities in an environment that is not structurally settled

Why is NAM falling apart?

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  • Non Aligned Movement which was held between 13th Sep – 17th Sep in Margarita, Venezuela. Heads of the governments from various countries attended this summit. Vice President of India represented our country instead of the Prime Minister. Prior to this only once the Indian Prime Minister not been to the NAM Summit, and that was in 1979 when caretaker Prime Minister Charan Singh did not go to Havana.
  • Past 60 years, the NAM has seen an erosion of its authority. The Third World debt crisis of the 1980s crushed the economic ambitions of these NAM states. By the time NAM gathered in Delhi in 1983, it was a shadow of its origins. In NAM they had wished the centuries away, but now, awash in debt, they had to settle for the present. The Soviet Union collapsed, the U.S. bombed Panama and Iraq, and history seemed to end with American ascendency. Proud nations queued up to curry favour with Washington, settle accounts at the International Monetary Fund and begin to sniff their noses at platforms such as NAM.
  • Argentina left NAM by 1991 & India, having a good relationship with U.S has indicated that they are not active participants of NAM. The next president for NAM will be Azerbaijan, who is a newcomer to NAM and one that does not have a presence on the world stage. NAM needs an excellent leader with active participants from various countries if they want to make their presence in the world.

Highlights of 2016 NAM Summit

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  • The Non-Aligned Movement wrapped up a summit on 19th Sep in Venezuela with an expression of support for its embattled host, President Nicolas Maduro, and scathing attacks on US “interventionism” around the world.
  • The 120-member group issued a statement at the end of the two-day meeting calling for peace, urging world powers not to meddle in other countries’ affairs and voicing concern over violence in Syria, Iraq and the Palestinian Territories.
  • Just a handful of heads of state or government attended the summit on the Caribbean island of Margarita, though organisers did not say exactly how many.
  • Ansari was the leading Indian delegation for the Summit in the absence of Modi, who was only the second Indian Premier to not go for the conference after Charan Singh in 1979.
  • India made a strong anti-terror pitch at the Summit, asserting that “concrete action” was needed in the fight against terrorism and asked the 120-nation group to set up a mechanism to ensure effective cooperation in combating the menace.
  • Ansari’s remarks came against the backdrop of India raising its concerns at various international forums over Pakistan’s support to cross-border terrorism.
  • PM Modi had made clear references to Pakistan’s support to terrorism without naming it at the G20 Summit in Hangzhou, at a BRICS meeting in Hangzhou and at the Asean and East Asia summits in Lao PDR.
  • Mr. Sartaj Aziz also met Iranian Foreign Minister Mr. Jawad Zareef, , on sidelines of the 17 NAM Summit. The two sides discussed bilateral relations and regional developments with particular focus on Afghanistan.
  • Mr. Aziz briefed his Iranian counterpart on the situation in Indian Occupied Kashmir and Pakistan-India relations. He also appreciated Iran’s role as the President of NAM. Iran is the outgoing President, having led the NAM process since 2012.
  • World leaders at their Summit at the UN in 2005 had called for urgent reform of the Security Council as part of the effort to make the United Nations fit for the 21st century.
  • The Inter-governmental Negotiations process currently underway in the UN General Assembly seeks to fulfil that mandate.
  • Noting that the global landscape has changed since 1961, when NAM was formed, Ansari stressed that the values and principles on which the foundations of the movement, namely “respect for sovereignty”, “peaceful settlement of disputes” and “international cooperation” — are as relevant today as they were at the time of the first summit.
  • Sartaj Aziz, in his address as the Pakistan delegation head, said peace in South Asia cannot be achieved without the settlement of the issue of Jammu and Kashmir in accordance with the resolutions of the UN Security Council.

International Seabed Authority

  • The Union Cabinet has approved the extension of contract between Ministry of Earth Sciences, Government of India and the International Seabed Authority (ISA) for exploration of Polymetallic Nodules for a further period of 5 years (2017-22).
  • By extending the contract, India’s exclusive rights for exploration of Polymetallic Nodules in the allotted Area in the Central Indian Ocean Basin will continue.
  • It would open up new opportunities for resources of commercial and strategic value in area beyond national jurisdiction.
  • It would also provide strategic importance for India in terms of enhanced presence in Indian Ocean where other international: players are also active.

About ISA:

  • The International Seabed Authority (ISA) is an intergovernmental body based in Kingston, Jamaica, that was established to organize, regulate and control all mineral-related activities in the international seabed area beyond the limits of national jurisdiction, an area underlying most of the world’s oceans.
  • It is an organization established by the 1982 United Nations Law of the Sea Convention. It was established in 1994.
  • ISA governs non-living resources of seabed lying in international waters.

Bilateral Technical Arrangement between India and Switzerland

  • The Union Cabinet has given its approval for signing of the Technical Arrangement between India and Switzerland on the identification and return of Swiss and Indian Nationals and its implementation.
  • Conclusion of the Bilateral Technical Arrangement (BTA) has been linked to the Visa Free Agreement for holders of Diplomatic passports as a package deal.
  • The BTA essentially aims to formalise the existing procedure for cooperation on the return of irregular migrants between the two countries without introducing any additional obligations or exacting timeframes.

Significance of this BTA:

If the BTA with Switzerland is approved as proposed, it would offer an opportunity to use the same as a model template for negotiations on the subject with other EU countries, which have been raising the issue regularly with us.

It would also help to leverage the Readmission Agreement to liberalise visa and work permit regimes for legitimate Indian travellers. This has been envisaged as a key goal in the recently concluded India-EU Common Agenda on Migration and Mobility (CAMM).

Indo-US joint military exercise Yudh Abhyas 2016

  • The opening ceremony for Exercise Yudh Abhyas 2016 – the joint military training exercise of the Indian and US Armies was held at Chaubattia in Uttarakhand.
  • The US contingent was represented by a company of 5th Infantry Battalion, 20 Infantry Regiment, 2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team, and 7 Infantry Division of the US army, while the Indian side was represented by an Infantry Battalion.
  • Army personnel from the US and an equal number of Indian soldiers are taking part in the two week-long joint training exercise that will see them hone their tactical and technical skills in countering insurgency and terrorism in a UN peace keeping scenario involving a combined deployment at a brigade level.
  • State of the art equipment for surveillance and tracking, specialist weapons for close quarter battle with terrorists, explosive and lED detectors, as well as the latest communication equipment are being fielded by both sides.
  • Both sides will jointly train, plan and execute a series of tactical drills for neutralisation of likely threats that may be encountered in UN peace keeping operations. Experts from both sides will also hold discussions to share each other’s experiences in varied topics for mutual benefit.

Lemelson-MIT prize

  • India-born innovator and scientist Ramesh Raskar has been awarded a $500,000 prize, one of the world’s largest single Ramesh Raskarcash awards that recognizes invention.
  • He is known for his trailblazing work which includes the co-invention of an ultra-fast imaging camera that can see around corners, low-cost eye-care solutions and a camera that enables users to read the first few pages of a book without opening the cover.
  • The annual Lemelson-MIT prize, administered by the School of Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, honors U.S. inventors who are mid-career and trying to improve the world through science and technology.

Tiangong 2

  • It is a space station launched by China recently.
  • It is part of China’s plan to establish a manned space station around 2022.
  • It is placed at 380 kilometres above Earth.
  • There are two astronauts on board
  • Tiangong 2 will be used to test space technology and conduct medical and space experiments.

India moves to bring back illegal migrants from Europe

  • India has made the first move to put in place a legal framework to bring back its citizens, who illegally migrated to the western countries.
  • A meeting of the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved a pact to set up a “bilateral technical arrangement” between India and Switzerland for identification of illegal Indian and Swiss immigrants in each other’s countries and their repatriation.
  • The proposed pact between the two countries is likely to be the precursor to a series of similar agreements New Delhi is contemplating to ink with other countries, particularly the ones in Europe.
  • The “bilateral technical arrangement” between India and Switzerland is essentially aimed at formalising the existing procedure for cooperation on the return of irregular migrants between the two countries “without introducing any additional obligations or exacting time frames”
  • If India-Switzerland arrangement works well, New Delhi would use it as a template for negotiating similar pacts with other nations in Europe
  • Not only the EU but also some of the 28 nations, which are members of the bloc, have been nudging New Delhi to have an arrangement in place to bring back the Indians, who had illegally migrated to Europe.
  • The number of illegal immigrants from India to EU member countries was estimated to be close to 12,000 in 2012.
  • The EU already has similar arrangements with China and Russia and is keen to have one with India.
  • The issue of illegal migration from India to Europe prominently figured in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s discussions with president of the European Council Donald Tusk and president of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, in Brussels on March 31.
  • The India-EU Common Agenda on Migration and Mobility, adopted during the summit, provided for “cooperation on facilitation of return of illegal migrants, including on the establishment of the nationality by the competent authority and timely issuance of travel documents required for return, while seeking to make the process swifter and more efficient”.

Rafale contract on verge of finalisation

  • The contract for 36 Rafales is in the last stages of finalisation and the multi-billion euro deal with France could be announced soon.
  • Finer points of the contract are being worked out
  • Last month, a report submitted by a team negotiating the much-anticipated Rafale deal with France was cleared by the defence ministry. The file was then sent to the Prime Minister’s office for review and clearance.
  • During his visit to France in April last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced that India would purchase 36 Rafale jets in a government-to-government contract.
  • Soon after the announcement, the defence ministry scrapped a separate process that was on to purchase 126 Rafale fighter planes, built by French defence giant Dassault Aviation.
  • The deal is expected to be worth around 7.89 billion euros for the 36 fighter jets in fly away conditions.
  • The weapon systems, part of the deal, will also include the new-age, beyond visual range missile, Meteor, and Israeli helmet mounted display.
  • The price of the deal was brought down from nearly 10 billion euros, as sought initially, due to various reasons including tough negotiation by India, the discount offered by the French government and reworking of some of the criteria.

India, US ban use of Galaxy Note 7 on board flights

  • Aviation regulators in India and the US asked fliers not to use Samsung Galaxy Note 7 phones on board a flight amid fears that the battery could explode or catch fire
  • Fliers have also been told to carry these phones in their hand baggage and to ensure that the phone is switched off at all times.
  • The near identical warnings from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) of India and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) of the US came within days of the mobile manufacturer recalling the device after users complained about the battery exploding or catching fire.

The 14th Indo-Asean summit and the East Asia forum.

Why in News: Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Vientiane, Laos on Wednesday to attend two important meetings – the 14th Indo-Asean summit and the East Asia forum.

Here are four things you need to know about the visit:

India-Asean summit

  • This is the third summit between India and the 10-nation grouping that Modi will be attending.
  • The Asean countries— Myanmar, Singapore, Malaysia, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Brunei, the Philippines and Thailand—remain central to India’s Act East policy.
  • The Asean has a combined GDP of $2.5 trillion and an annual economic growth rate of 4.6%

What kind of cooperation India has with Asean countries?

  • The cooperation between India and Asean bloc can be broadly classified into political, economic, security and cultural.
  • The ties became a strategic partnership in 2012. At present, there are 30 official and seven ministerial meetings between India and the Asean.
  • The total India- Asean trade is $6,404 billion
  • The security ties encompass maritime security, counter terrorism and cyber security.
  • Many Asean countries have territorial disputes with China over South China Sea and they don’t see the rise of Beijing as benign.

India East Asia summit

  • East Asia summit consist leaders of ten Asean countries plus China, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Australia, India, Russia and the US.
  • As a bloc, the East Asia summit forum accounts for 55% of the global population and 55% of the global GDP
  • India is closely associated with the grouping in various fields of cooperation and it includes the setting up of Nalanda University.

Highlights of 14th ASEAN-India Summit and 11th East Asia Summit

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi represented India at the 14th ASEAN-India Summit and 11th East Asia Summit in Vientiane, the capital of Laos, on 08 September 2016.0-33638100_1473406249_1155-548-6-pm-modi-attends-14th-asean-india-summit-at-vientiane-lao-pdr-8
  • The two most significant issues highlighted by PM Modi during his address at EAS were: Recommending strongest action against those states that use terrorism as an instrument of state policy and outlining India’s principled stand on the South China Sea issue.
  • PM Modi commented that most countries in the South Asian region were pursuing a peaceful path to economic prosperity and without naming Pakistan remarked that, “But, there is one country in India’s neighbourhood whose competitive advantage rests solely in producing and exporting terrorism.”
  • Prime Minister said that India remained committed, including through membership of export control regimes, to pursuing total and verifiable elimination of weapons of mass destruction.
  • Elaborating on India’s principled stand on the South China Sea issue, he said that the lanes of communication passing through the sea were “main arteries of global merchandise trade”.
  • “India supports freedom of navigation, over flight, and unimpeded commerce, based on the principles of international law, as noted in the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS),” the Prime Minister said.
  • He said India would organise the second East Asia Conference on maritime security and cooperation later this year.
  • He then braced upon another important issue of disaster management, he said that India would host an East Asia conference on disaster management and emergency response and the Asian ministerial meeting on disaster risk response later this year and has established an East Asia virtual knowledge portal on disaster management.
  • PM Modi highlighted the need for enhancing connectivity with ASEAN, which he said was central to India’s partnership with ASEAN nations.
  • In this connection, he proposed a joint task force on connectivity to work on extension of the India-Myanmar-Thailand trilateral highway to Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.
  • Another area that he felt deserved focussed attention to promote India-ASEAN developmental engagement was cooperation in the field of science and technology. He proposed to enhance the ASEAN-India Fund with an additional grant of $50 million.
  • He also invited ASEAN to be the guest of honour at the International Buddhist Conclave to be held in India in October.

On the sidelines of the two summits, PM Modi also held bilateral meetings with US President Barack Obama, South Korean President Park Geun-hye, State Counsellor and Foreign Minister of Myanmar Aung San Suu Kyi and Laos Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith.

Highlights of the ASEAN Summit – 2016

  • ASEAN leaders discussed the implementation of the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 for sustainable development, which emphasises inclusive and people-centered community growth, as also, looked at convergence of ideas to enhance cooperation with ASEAN’s external partners.
  • The ASEAN leaders endorsed the ASEAN Declaration on One ASEAN, One Response: ASEAN Responding to Disasters as One in the Region and Outside the Region. Certain other outcome documents to operationalise the implementation of the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 were also signed.
  • They agreed to intensify ASEAN’s cooperation with dialogue partners and external parties through ASEAN-led mechanisms namely ASEAN Plus One, ASEAN Plus Three, ASEAN Regional Forum, ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus, and East Asia Summit.
  • ASEAN and its dialogue partners emphasised on enhanced cooperation between them in all areas to ensure more efficiency and effectiveness, particularly in cooperation in trade, investment, connectivity, tourism, people-to-people exchange and others, based on mutual benefit.
  • The other areas of concern that were discussed, included traditional and non-traditional security challenges, such as terrorism and extremism, natural disasters, climate change, irregular migration, human trafficking, etc.

ASEAN

  • The organisation came into existence on 08 August 1967. Initial members included Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand, and later, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam were also included into the organisation.
  • ASEAN covers a land area of 4.4 million square kilometres, i.e. 3% of the total land area of the Earth and its territorial waters cover an area about three times larger than its land counterpart.
  • The member countries have a combined population of approximately 625 million people, i.e. 8.8% of the world’s population.
  • ASEAN as an entity ranks as the seventh largest economy in the world, behind the US, China, Japan, Germany, France and the United Kingdom.
  • ASEAN Summit is held twice a year to discuss and resolve political, economic and regional issues. Meetings with other countries, outside of the bloc are also held during the ASEAN Summit to promote external relations.
  • Bilaterally, ASEAN maintains strategic relations with Australia, Canada, and the People’s Republic of China, the European Union, India, Japan, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand, the Russian Federation, and the USA.

Scope of ASEAN

  • Scope of ASEAN, as highlighted in the ASEAN Declaration is to:
  • Accelerate economic growth, social progress, and cultural development in the region.
  • Promote regional peace and stability.
  • Promote collaboration and mutual assistance on matters of common interest.
  • Provide assistance to each other in the form of training and research facilities.
  • Collaborate for the better utilisation of agriculture and industry to raise the living standards of the people.
  • Promote Southeast Asian studies.
  • Maintain close, beneficial co-operation with existing international organisations with similar aims and purposes.

The eleventh annual meeting of the G20 heads of governments

Why in News: The eleventh annual meeting of the G20 heads of governments was held at the Chinese city of Hangzhou, Zhejiang province on 04-05 September 2016.gso-leaders

  • China hosted the G20 Summit for the first time and is the second country from Asia after South Korea to host it. The previous G20 Summit was held at Antalya, Turkey on 15-16 November 2015.
  • The major focus during this Summit was implementation of the previous commitments, boosting investments to drive growth, and committing to remove trade barriers to stimulate global economy.

Highlights of the G-20 Summit – 2016

  • The leaders renewed their pledge to ensure that growth “serves the needs of everyone and benefits all countries and all people” and that it should generate “more quality jobs” address inequalities and eradicate poverty “so that no one is left behind”.
  • In their communiqué they promised to “reject protectionism” and “promote global trade”.
  • G20 leaders adopted a statement highlighting the need to address:
  • Tax evasion through a concerted effort by all G20 nations. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has been asked to share the black list of tax heavens that can be targeted to prevent tax evasion.
  • The heads of states of G20 braced themselves to walk the tight rope balancing, anti-globalisation/ protectionism and liberalisation/ removing trade barriers to stimulate global trade.
  • Innovative methods were sought to trigger fiscal stimulus and boost economic growth. They agreed that the same cannot be achieved without combating populist attacks on globalisation.
  • Lastly, they affirmed better support for refugees through a coordinated and comprehensive response to tackle both this crisis, as well as its long term consequences.

India’s Major Take-aways from the G20 Summit

  • PM Modi met with several world leaders on the sidelines of the G20 Summit and discussed many key issues with him. Some of the major takeaways by India from the G20 Summit-2016 are enumerated below:
  • The most hard-hitting statement made by PM Modi was against Pakistan, and he said that “Indeed, one single nation in South Asia is spreading these agents of terror in countries of our region.”
  • PM Modi had a 35 minute long bilateral with President Xi, which happens to be their eighth meeting. The issues that were discussed included:
  • India’s concerns with China over the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which runs through Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) and he put across to President Xi Jinping that the two countries need to be “sensitive” to each other’s strategic interests.
  • Maintenance of peace and tranquillity on the border, especially LAC was also mentioned during their parley.
  • PM Modi, while condemning the recent suicide bomb attack on the Chinese Embassy in Bishkek, capital of Kyrgyzstan, said that it was yet another proof of the continuing scourge of terrorism in the region and obliquely hinted at Pakistan, by saying, that our response to terror must not be motivated by political considerations.
  • PM Modi reiterated in his speech that, efforts must be made to provide a level playing field to the developing countries and import surges from the developed countries must be checked, especially in the Agriculture sector.
  • PM Modi Pitched for Early Implementation of International Monetary Fund (IMF) Quota Reforms
  • Secret data pertaining to the operational capabilities of six highly-advanced submarines being built for the Indian Navy in Mumbai in collaboration with French defence company DCNS was leaked overseas.
  • This important issue was also raised by PM Modi with the French President on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Hangzhou.
  • Issue of India’s NSG Membership Discussed with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
  • PM Modi underlined that even after the Brexit, the UK remained as important to India as before and discussed areas of congruence for further enhancement of bilateral defence partnership and trade & investment opportunities.
  • The Prime Minister invited British firms to ‘Make in India’ as both leaders also looked forward to an early visit by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar to the UK. Prime Minister also touched upon UK’s visa policy and said that the new UK regulations could have a negative impact on Indian working professionals wishing to visit UK for short term business visits. Finally, PM Modi also invited his British counterpart to visit India in her new capacity.

About G20

  • G20 is a forum for international economic cooperation amongst 20 major developed and developing economies of the world.
  • It was founded in 1999, as a forum for finance ministers and central bank governors who met once a year, to discuss international economic issues.
  • The global economic crisis in 2008 evolved the G20 into the premier Leaders’ Forum for international economic cooperation. Hence, the G20 was formally launched in 2008 in the USA.
  • The G20 includes 19 individual countries, i.e. Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the UK and the USA and the European Union (EU).
  • Collectively, the G20 economies account for around 85 per cent of the GDP, 80 per cent of world trade and two-thirds of the world population
  • The G20 has no permanent secretariat, and much of the preparation for the summit is completed by G20 leader’s personal representatives, known as “Sherpa’s”.
  • Sherpa’s maintain contact with each other over the course of the year to discuss agenda items for the summit and coordinate the work of the G20.
  • Annual meetings of finance ministers and central bank governors continue to take place, advancing the work of the G20 and contributing to the discussions at leaders’ summits.
  • Summit hosts are responsible for preparing leaders summits and for organizing the series of preparatory meetings that advance G20 work throughout the year.
  • At each meeting, the host country may also invite non-member guest countries to attend.

 Indo-Vietnam relationship

Why in News: Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a stopover visit to Vietnam on his way to Hangzhou, China for the G-20 Summit, on 02-03 September 2016. This is the first visit by PM Modi to Vietnam and the fourth by any Indian PM.

  • India is pushing to secure a broad based relationship with Vietnam as it has strategic interests in the region. During this visit of the PM, the Indo-Vietnam relationship has been upgraded to ‘Comprehensive Strategic Partnership’.
  • India’s interests in Vietnam include exploration of oil and natural gas, training and modernisation of Vietnam armed forces by supply of arms and weapon systems, capacity building by release of ‘line of credit’ loans to Vietnam (which is a loan given exclusively to be used for deployment of Indian enterprises in Vietnam, that will generate employment and revenue for India), development of North East states of India through investments after connectivity with ASEAN is improved, cultural and economic exchanges and most importantly, containing the Chinese expansionism.
  • PM Modi held bilateral talks with his counterpart Nguyen Xuan Phuc, on a host of issues like, counter terrorism and security concerns, investment opportunities in India, especially, NE India, avenues for capacity building of Vietnam, etc.
  • During the course of the delegation level talks, 12 MoUs covering areas like health, cyber security, ship building, defence and space with Vietnam were signed.
  • A new line of credit of $500 million for Vietnam to facilitate deeper defence cooperation was announced by PM Modi.
  • PM Modi also sought facilitation of the ongoing Indian projects and investments in Vietnam like previously granted line of credit worth $5 million to set up a software park, etc.
  • PM Modi paid homage to national heroes and martyrs at their monuments along with laying wreath at the war memorial located across the Ba Dinh Square.

US, Russia reach ceasefire agreement on Syria

Why in News: After weeks of negotiations, the US and Russia finally reached an agreement on ceasefire in Syria which could possibly bring the two countries together in the fight against Islamic State.

  • The agreement was announced by the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Geneva
  • The deal would include steps that would stop the Syrian regime from flying combat missions where opposition forces are operating
  • This preliminary understanding now requires the Russians and the regime to carry out a number of very specific steps, including, importantly, a sustained cessation of hostilities for at least seven days

Global Alliance for Literacy (GAL)

  • Global Alliance for Literacy (GAL)has been launched as part of International Literacy Day.
  • This is a new and ambitious initiative to make all major stakeholders pull together to promote literacy as a foundation for lifelong learning.
  • It aims to mobilize investment and promote innovative initiatives, with a focus on gender and new information and communication technologies.
  • International Literacy day:Celebrated on September 8. This year marks the 50th anniversary of International Literacy Day and UNESCO is celebrating it under the banner “Reading the Past, Writing the Future”.

India signs open skies pact with Greece

  • India has signed an open skies agreement with Greece, the first after the finalisation of the civil aviation policy in June.
  • The open skies agreement will allow airlines from India to operate unlimited number of flights to Greece while Greek carriers have been granted unlimited traffic rights to six Indian metro cities.
  • Prior to this, India had entered into an open skies agreement with the US and Britain.
  • According to the civil aviation policy, the government can enter into an ‘open sky’ air services agreement on a reciprocal basis with SAARC nations as well as countries with territory located entirely beyond a 5,000 kilometre radius from New Delhi.

PRABAL DOSTYK – 16

  • It is a joint exercise between Indian & Kazakhstan Army.
  • ‘Prabal Dostyk’ meaning ‘Robust Friendship’ will be a significant step towards fostering military as well as diplomatic ties between both countries.
  • The Kazakhstan Army contingent comprise of platoon from Special Operating Force’s Unit.
  • The exercise is being conducted in Karaganda region of Kazakhstan.
  • Aim of the exercise- to enhance interoperability while undertaking Counter Terrorism & Counter Insurgency Operations in rural & semi-urban environment under the umbrella of United Nations.
  • Combat battle drills and physical fitness will be the focal point of the exercise.

Sri Lanka is malaria free:

  • The World Health Organisation has certified that Sri Lanka is a malaria-free nation. Sri Lanka had been among the most malaria-affected countries in the mid-20th century.
  • But, the country had begun an anti-malaria campaign that successfully targeted the mosquito-borne parasite that causes the disease, not just mosquitoes.
  • Health education and effective surveillance also helped the campaign. To prevent parasites re-entering the country, the anti-malaria campaign is working with local and international partners to maintain surveillance and screening.

Expansion of India – Chile Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA)

  • India and Chile have signed a pact on the expansion of the India–Chile Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA), which is expected to considerably strengthen the commercial relations between both the countries.
  • Chile has offered concessions to India on 1798 tariff lines with margin of preference ranging from 30% to100%.
  • India’s offer to Chile is on 1,031 products with a margin of preference between 10% and 100%.

Background:

  • India and Chile first signed a PTA in March 2006 but it was limited in scope.
  • India’s offer list to Chile in the initial PTA consisted of 178 tariff lines with a margin of preference ranging from 10% to 50%.
  • Chile’s offer list to India comprised 296 tariff lines with margin of preference ranging from 10% to 100%.

G20 nations for global forum to address excess steel capacity

  • Major steel producers China, India and Japan along with other G20 nations have called for increased sharing of information as well as more cooperation by forming a global forum to address the issue of excess steel capacity.
  • The development assumes significance in the backdrop of the problem caused in international markets due to excess steel capacity amidst softening of prices, which eroded sales and profits of firms across countries, especially at a time when the global economy recovery is weak.
  • This move also assumes significance as it comes in the backdrop of nations such as the U.S. imposing heavy duties on imports of cheap steel from countries such as China.
  • The decision was announced by G20 leaders recently. G20 leaders recognised the “structural problems, including excess capacity” in some industries, exacerbated by a weak global economic recovery and depressed market demand that have caused a negative impact on trade and workers.
  • The leaders also recognised that “subsidies and other types of support from government or government-sponsored institutions” can cause market distortions and contribute to global excess capacity and therefore require attention.

Why is it important for India?

  • India, the world’s third largest steel producer, too is facing a spate of cheap imports from China, Japan and Korea.
  • This has hit the sales and profits of domestic steel producers and also impacted their liquidity, which in turn has affected their capacity to repay loans and meet interest payment deadlines having a cascading effect on the number of non performing assets (NPAs) with the banks. Steel sector in India accounts for the highest number of NPAs with the banks.

European Union and neighbouring states join global aviation emissions pact

  • The European Union and 16 surrounding countries including Turkey, Ukraine and Georgia, are planning to join the first phase of a UN-brokered deal- GMBM (global market-based measure) scheme.
  • It aims to limit carbon emissions from international flights.
  • The United Nations’ International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) will shortly meet to finalise the deal.
  • Aviation was excluded from last December’s climate accord in Paris when countries agreed to limit the global average rise in in temperatures to ‘well below’ 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels.

Details:

  • The proposed new deal on aviation will be voluntary between 2021 and 2026 and then mandatory from 2027 for the world’s largest emitters.
  • The deal aims to cap the carbon pollution of all international flights at 2020 levels.
  • Airlines in participating countries would need to limit their emissions or offset them by buying carbon credits from designated environmental projects around the world.

First cargo truck under BBIN pact reaches Delhi

  • The first cargo truck under the Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN) Motor Vehicle Agreement for cross border movement reached Delhi recently.
  • The cargo truck was dispatched from Dhaka on August 27 as part of a trial run and arrived at the Inland Customs Depot (ICD). The trial was organised to develop the protocols for implementing the agreement. In India the truck travelled for more than 1,850 km through the states of West Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Delhi to reach the customs depot at Patparganj.
  • The trial run has demonstrated that time and cost can be saved through facilitation of seamless transport through the sub-region.
    • Cargo trucks often had to be off-loaded at the border and also go through customs clearance. This led to delays and often also caused damage to the goods.
    • The steps being taken to facilitate seamless movement of cargo vehicles will give a major boost to trade and business in the sub-region.
  • The BBIN agreement was signed on June 15 last year in Thimphu, Bhutan to facilitate cross border movement of both passengers and cargo vehicles.
  • Protocols to implement the agreement are being negotiated by the four countries for passengers and cargo vehicles separately.

 

G20 countries score poorly in climate goals report

  • A report from Climate Transparency, an open global consortium, has shown that Global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of G20 countries are continuing to increase.
  • The study analysed key indicators, including carbon intensity and share of coal in total electricity produced, to assess the performance of these countries

Highlights of the study:

  • Between 1990 and 2013, the absolute carbon dioxide emissions of G20 countries, which account for three-fourths of global CO2 emissions, went up by 56%.
  • The study found that half of G20 countries are inadequate as regards actions taken to curb climate change. This is despite energy intensity and the carbon intensity of the G20 economies decreasing as overall economic activity increased.
  • The study also found that the carbon intensity of the energy sector was found increasing, due to the strong and continuing role that coal plays. The G20 countries rely heavily on coal in their primary energy supply.
  • G20 countries are planning a large number of new coal-fired power plants, which if realised, would almost double coal capacity, making it virtually impossible to keep the temperature increase to below 2°C, let alone 1.5˚C as mandated by the 2015 Paris climate agreement.

Individual country wise performance:

  • India received a ‘medium’ rating with good scores for emissions, share of renewables in total primary energy supply (TPES) and climate policy, but poor scores in carbon intensity, share of coal in TPES and electricity emissions.
  • The worst overall performers were Australia, Argentina, Japan, Russia, Saudi Arabia and South Africa.
  • Of all the G20 member-states, Australia, Canada, Saudi Arabia and the United States stand out with by far the highest per capita energy-related CO2 emissions.
  • Saudi Arabia, South Korea and Japan still show an increase over the five-year period 2008-2013. Argentina and South Africa have declining per capita emissions, as with the EU and its big member-states Germany, France, Italy and the U.K.
  • China’s per capita emissions were found to be above the G20 average: at 38%, with China having the highest economic growth rate between 2008 and 2013.
  • The coal share of China, India, South Africa and Turkey will remain clearly above the maximum 2˚C benchmark in the time period until 2030.

Investment gap:

  • According to the study, to be in line with a 2°C-compatible trajectory by 2035, G20 countries face an investment gap of almost $ 340 billion/year in the power sector.
  • Though plugging the gap requires an increase in green investments, G20 governments provided, on average, almost $ 70 billion in subsidies for fossil fuel production between 2013 and 2014. This was despite G20 leaders pledging to phase out ‘inefficient’ fossil fuel subsidies in 2009.
  • The report also points out that reducing fossil fuel subsidies could theoretically create fiscal space for more international climate finance.

BRICS convention on tourism:

  • The two-day long BRICS Convention on Tourism was recently inaugurated in Khajuraho Madhya Pradesh. Representatives from South Africa, Russia and China are taking part in the convention. During the meeting, BRICS leaders proposed to constitute a permanent BRICS Working Stream on Tourism comprising of the stakeholders of the Government and private sector. The leaders also emphasized greater cooperation among the member countries for the mutual benefit for the growth of tourism and looked at the convention as a platform to interact with the travel industry partners.

Project Development Fund for CMLV

  • The Union Cabinet has given its approval to create a Project Development Fund (PDF) for catalysing Indian economic presence in the Cambodia, Laos Myanmar and Vietnam.
  • Details:
  • The fund will be established with a corpus of Rs 500 Crore.
  • It shall be housed in Department of Commerce and operated through the EXIM Bank.
  • It shall be governed by an Inter-Ministerial Committee under the chairpersonship of the Commerce Secretary.

Significance of this fund:

  • CLMV countries namely Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam have a unique position in the regional value chains and offer a gateway for market access to China/EU and other markets due to various trade agreements.
  • The key advantage of positioning India on the regional value chains is securing on a long term basis, a dedicated market for Indian raw materials and intermediate goods besides a dedicated source for inputs and raw materials for Indian industry.
  • While opportunities are a plenty in CLMV region, Indian entrepreneurs’ endeavors in these countries have, thus far, been limited due to limited information, infrastructure and other contingent risks. The PDF shall benefit India’s industrial community for business expansion, and to maintain cost competitive supply chains, besides integrating with global production networks.

Cabinet apprised of MoU between CERT-In India and CERT-UK

  • The Union Cabinet was recently apprised of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed in May, 2016 between Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) and Ministry of Cabinet Office, UK.

Details:

  • The MoU intends to promote closer cooperation between India and the United Kingdom for exchange of knowledge and experience in detection, resolution and prevention of security-related incidents.
  • With this MoU, participating countries can exchange technical information on Cyber attacks, response to cyber security incidents and find solutions to counter the cyber attacks.
  • They can also exchange information on prevalent cyber security policies and best practices.
  • This MoU helps to strengthen cyber space of both countries, capacity building and improving relationship between them.

Background:

  • CERT-In has signed MoUs with counterpart/similar organizations in about seven countries – Korea, Canada, Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, Japan and Uzbekistan. Ministry of External Affairs has also signed MoU with Cyber Security as one of the areas of cooperation with Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

About CERT-In:

  • CERT-In (the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team) is a government-mandated information technology (IT) security organization. CERT-In was created by the Indian Department of Information Technology in 2004 and operates under the auspices of that department.
  • The purpose of CERT-In is to respond to computer security incidents, report on vulnerabilities and promote effective IT security practices throughout the country.
  • According to the provisions of the Information Technology Amendment Act 2008, CERT-In is responsible for overseeing administration of the Act.
  • CERT organizations throughout the world are independent entities, although there may be coordinated activites among groups. The first CERT group was formed in the United States at Carnegie Mellon University.

India jumps 19 places in Logistics Performance Index

  • The World Bank has recently released a Logistics Performance Index (LPI) 2016 report titled “Connecting to Complete 2016“.

Key facts:

  • The Logistics Performance Index Report is published by World Bank every two years.
  • The Logistics Performance Index (LPI) is an interactive benchmarking tool created to help countries identify the challenges and opportunities they face in their performance on trade logistics and what they can do to improve their performance.
  • The LPI is based on a worldwide survey of stakeholders on the ground providing feedback on the logistics “friendliness” of the countries in which they operate and those with which they trade.
  • They combine in-depth knowledge of the countries in which they operate with informed qualitative assessments of other countries where they trade and have experience of global logistics environment.

Highlights of the report:

  • India has now been ranked 35 amongst 160 countries.
  • In terms of the six-components of the LPI i.e. Customs, Infrastructure, International Shipments, Logistics Quality and Competence, Tracking and Tracing, and Timeliness, India’s ranking is 38, 36, 39, 32, 33 and 42 respectively.
  • Improvement in India’s rank in Logistics Performance Index adequately establishes steady performance in India’s competitiveness in manufacturing and trade that also acts as one of the growth driver of Make in India Programme.

Canada to apply to join China-backed AIIB

  • Canada is all set to join the China-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. In this regard, Canada will submit its application by the end of September 2016.

About AIIB

  • The AIIB was established as a new multilateral financial institution aimed at providing “financial support for infrastructure development and regional connectivity in Asia.”
  • It was founded in October, 2014, and will have its headquarters in Beijing.
  • Its goals are also to boost economic development in the region, create wealth, prove infrastructure, and promote regional cooperation and partnership.
  • The value of AIIB’s authorized capital amounts to $100 billion, with almost $30 billion invested by China.
  • The bank expects to lend $10 billion to $15 billion a year for the first five years of its operations, beginning in the second quarter of 2016.

Balochistan issue

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi raised the issue of Balochistan conflict in his recent Independence Day address. While this was appreciated and welcomed by the Baloch leaders, it was criticized by Pakistani leaders. Using the Balochistan card in the battle for Kashmir has also invited criticisms from few Indians.
  • The government of Pakistan has been dealing with animosity among the tribes of Balochistan since the time the country came into existence in 1947.
  • The causes of the conflict with Balochistan include a ripe ethnic nationalism along with feelings of economic and political exclusion.

Geography of Balochistan:balochistan

  • Balochistan is
    • located in the South West of Pakistan and constitutes half of the country’s territory.
    •  Pakistan’s largest, but least developed province,
    •  which is sharing its border with Iran and Afghanistan
  • due to which it is one of the most important states for Pakistan geo-politically.
    • In April 2015, Pakistan and China announced to develop $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which in turn forms part of China’s ambitious one belt, one road.
    • It is one of the four provinces of Pakistan and is strategically extremely important to the country because of the high concentration of natural resources including gas, oil, copper and gold.
  • Demographically though it constitutes a mere 3.6% of the total population of Pakistan. The province is home to over 13 million people, mostly Balochis.

History

  • Prior to independence from British rule, the province of Balochistan comprised of four princely states; Kalat, Lasbela, Kharan and Makran.
  • Three months before Partition, Mohammad Ali Jinnah mooted an independent state of Kalat which would consist of all four princely states. Accordingly a communique, was released on August 11, 1947, which gave an independent sovereign status to Kalat.
  • By October of 1947, however, Jinnah changed his mind regarding the status of Kalat and voiced his demand for Kalat to formally join the state of Pakistan. The Khan of Kalat refused to let go off his independent sovereign status and a standstill pursued between two leaders regarding the status of present day Balochistan.
  • On March 26, 1948, the Pakistan Army moved into Balochistan and captured Kalat on April 1, 1948
  • Following the capture of Kalat, cases of military atrocities have been a recurrent occurrence in the province. Acts of ill treatment by officials in the region included torture, arbitrary arrests, executions and acts of indiscriminate violence. Thousands of people have been reported to be missing.

Why conflict between Balochistan and Pakistan?

  • Unstable Politics: The Baluch people have never had their required representation in politics, including the military.
  • Ethnic difference: It remains the single biggest fault line in Pakistani politics. When Pakistan was formed, skewed power relations among the different Muslim ethnicities was visible. The Punjabi landlords had an almost unchallenged hold over Pakistan’s bureaucracy. The people of Balochistan also felt a sense of separate identity on account of a shared history, language and other cultural aspects. This shared culture among the Balochs led to the ripening of a strong sense of nationalism that propounded for a larger political autonomy and a separate state for Balochistan.
  • Resources and Development Issues: Unequal distribution of resource revenues remains one of the major sources of the problem. The resources in Baluchistan province consist of gas, which is used to produce energy for Pakistan.
  • Human Rights: It is reported that from 2003 to 2008 more than 8000 people were kidnapped by Pakistani security in the province. Cases of torture have also been reported.  According to the report from the Human Right Commission of Pakistan (2006), the population also lacks in the area of basic services.
  • Terrorist Organizations and Islamic Extremism: A number of extremist groups such as Al Qaeda, Quetta Shura e Taliban and Tahreek Taliban are active in Baluchistan province.
  • The government of Pakistan has accused the Indian government and occasionally the United States for supporting the Baluch movement to destabilize the country. Both countries have rejected these claims.
  • Gwadar issue: The current developmental issues are the construction of Gwadar Port as a major transportation hub with Dubai. This project was announced in 2001 and is being implemented by the Chinese. The Baluchs have been totally excluded from the construction of the project.
  •  The Baluchistan area is also the hub for the Iran- Pakistan- India gas pipeline and has been targeted several times by the Baluch’s militia to show their disagreement with the government in its exploitation of the province.

In Short there are three components to the comprehensive solution to Balochistan problem:

  • One, recognition of the legitimate demands of Baloch people and assessment of the ground reality.
  • Second developments of sound policies and plans that would address the economic deprivation and sociopolitical issues and empower people.
  • Third and final, immediate, direct, accountable and transparent delivery through provincial and local governors.

Why is India interested in this?

  • India has long maintained a political stance of not interfering in the internal matters of Pakistan or any other country. Despite Pakistan repeatedly bringing up the Kashmir issue over the years, India had maintained silence on Balochistan.
  • Recent remarks on Balochistan come in the immediate aftermath of the Independence Day celebration in Pakistan that was dedicated to the independence of Kashmir. India’s response was quick with Modi clearly putting his foot down and reminding the neighbours of the atrocities they mete out upon their own countrymen.
  • However, the Pakistani government has for years been accusing India of instigating unrest in the province of Balochistan. His speech was immediately met with a Pakistani cabinet official commenting upon it to be proof of India’s role in the region. On the other hand, Baloch nationalists welcomed Modi’s comment with full enthusiasm, saying it is the first time their cause has acquired international support.
  • Balochistan to Pakistan is much the same as what Kashmir is to India. Recent remarks by Indian PM sends out a clear signal that India will no longer be “cornered and submissive” on the Kashmir issue. This has clearly opened up a new chapter in India-Pakistan relations.

Conclusion

  • However, the conflict in Baluchistan is protracted and extremely complex. Basically, the root causes of the conflict are both historical and political. Besides the historical and political reasons, the social factors such as ethnicity and religion has also played a vital role in the continuance of the conflict. Lack of representation at the decision-making level and low quotas for political representation are the prominent factors that have added more misery to the ongoing problems, thus spiraling this conflict out of control. It is time for Pakistan to sort out the issue before any international intervention is necessitated