Pakistan

Police stand guard near the parliament building in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on 17 May 2022. (Ishara S. Kodikara/AFP)

Families that rule: Thoughts about Asia's political landscape

The political environment in Asia has been marked with upheavals and instability. While each country has their own system of democratic elections in the modern sense, they appear to share a number of common themes that resembles the backward political practices of 19th century Europe. Academic Chen Liujun assesses the regional developments.
Traffic moves past apartment buildings in the Clifton area of Karachi, Pakistan, on 5 March 2022. (Asim Hafeez/Bloomberg)

Pakistan, Russia and China: A new tripartite geopolitical centre of gravity in South Asia?

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s recent visit to Moscow during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Pakistan’s abstention in the UN General Assembly vote denouncing the Russian war could be an indication of a policy shift towards a more independent Pakistani foreign policy. Such a development could mean closer Pakistani ties with both China and Russia and the forming of a new geopolitical nexus in South Asia.
In this photo taken on 18 February 2022, a Taliban fighter stands guard at the entrance gate of the Afghan-Iran border crossing bridge in Zaranj, Afghanistan. (Wakil Kohsar/AFP)

Afghanistan's role in changing the power balance in Eurasia

Afghanistan has proved to be a quagmire, whether for the British, Russians or Americans. While it seems that the US exit leaves a power vacuum eagerly filled by regional challengers, Afghanistan’s unique set of attributes seems to be running strategic stakeholders ragged. In the event, the Afghan exception could offer lessons for constraining rivals in other spheres such as the Taiwan Strait.
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi (right) greets Russian President Vladimir Putin before a meeting at Hyderabad House in New Delhi, India, on 6 December 2021. (Money Sharma/AFP)

India and Russia remain on opposite sides of the Indo-Pacific’s balance of power

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent visit to New Delhi should be seen as one of correcting the downward slide in India-Russia relations rather than a celebration of an age-old strategic partnership, says Yogesh Joshi. Against the backdrop of a rising China, India feels the threat of strengthening Russia-China relations and the latter’s engagement of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Meanwhile, India-US relations have taken on greater strategic significance, and Russia may be wary of India’s involvement in the Quad. With divergent national interests and threat perceptions likely to continue, will it be harder for both powers to find themselves on the same side?
Indian Army soldiers stand next to a M777 Ultra Lightweight Howitzer positioned at Penga Teng Tso ahead of Tawang, near the Line of Actual Control (LAC), neighbouring China, in India's Arunachal Pradesh state on 20 October 2021. (Money Sharma/AFP)

Overcoming power imbalances and policy clashes: The quest for a peaceful China-India future

Mind games among the US, China, Russia and India may influence Sino-Indian engagement in the new year and beyond. China could move even closer to Russia in dealing with India, and the US could further call on India as a “major defence partner” in its intense competition with China. External factors aside, a peaceful and cooperative China-India future requires synchronised political will in their bilateral and global diplomacy. Key is unequal power and core interests as China and India each employ the diplomacy of smart power. Will an uneasy status quo be maintained in their long-unresolved boundary dispute, and will they find the impetus for collaboration in a post-Covid-19 order?
Caution tape is seen near the Chinese embassy as activists hold a demonstration calling on Chinese President Xi Jinping to "allow safe passage to North Koreans detained in China" in Washington, DC on 24 September 2021. (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP)

The war on terrorism has ended. Can the US win the next battle of great power competition?

Twenty years after the historic 9/11 attacks on the US, the threat of terrorism has largely been contained and a new era of great power competition has returned. ISEAS researcher Daljit Singh notes that in the past century, the US has been adamant about not letting any single power dominate East Asia, and will most probably continue to do so. What will this new era be like when the US's competitor is a rising China? And what can Southeast Asian states do about it?
A boy stands with a wheelbarrow at the demolished former compound of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan, 10 September 2021. (Akhtar Soomro/Reuters)

Pakistan stands to gain from Afghanistan turmoil?

The recent takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban has strong implications for Pakistan which faces various new challenges such as the influx of Afghan refugees, terror threats from Afghan-based militants and an increased insurgency by Balochistan rebels. China is also getting impatient with the Pakistan security situation as China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects have come under threat. But Pakistan also has the opportunity to use its leverage with the Taliban to play a more significant role in regional diplomacy and decision-making, thereby advancing its regional standing.
Afghans walk along fences as they arrive in Pakistan through the Pakistan-Afghanistan border crossing point in Chaman on 24 August 2021 following Taliban's military takeover of Afghanistan. (AFP)

Afghanistan in the calculations of India, Pakistan and China: Is there common ground among rivals and allies?

A triumphant Taliban presents unique and unprecedented challenges for Afghanistan’s neighbours. As the international spotlight continues to shine on the Taliban, it remains difficult to discern between reality and ruse in the Taliban’s rhetoric. The future of Afghanistan appears uncertain, and most countries remain watchful. India has refrained from advancing a clear diplomatic position while China and Pakistan have shown a cautious willingness to engage with the Taliban. While all three countries view Afghanistan with diverging agendas, a stable, inclusive Afghanistan remains in their mutual interest.
Rescue workers and onlookers gather around a wreck after a bus plunged into a ravine following a bomb explosion, which killed 13 people including nine Chinese workers, in the Kohistan district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, Pakistan on 14 July 2021. (STR/AFP)

Chinese researcher: How to protect the BRI and keep Chinese enterprises overseas safe

As an increasing number of Chinese enterprises venture overseas and the BRI project continues its expansion, Peng Nian notes the rise in attacks targeted against these projects. He says much can be done to strengthen the safety awareness of Chinese enterprises, especially as many of them operate in unfamiliar or far-flung locations.