Wildcards may trump India–China relations

A masked man is seen during a battle in Kashmir where two militants from the Lashkar-e-Taiba outfit, responsible for the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks, were killed, 13 April 2014. Kashmir and India’s strained relationship with Pakistan is one of a number of wildcards in Sino-India relations. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Sandy Gordon, ANU

Commentators have generally assumed that the Obama administration’s wrong-footedness over Modi’s US visa, along with the latter’s pragmatic approach to Chinese investment in Gujarat, has prompted a new tilt by the BJP away from the United States and toward China. Read more…

Australian help in Pakistan cannot be military

Pakistani security officials inspect the damaged vehicle of Ibrahim Jatoi, an election candidate of National Peoples Party, after a suicide bomb attack, in Shikarpur, Sindh province, Pakistan (Photo: AAP).

Author: Sandy Gordon, ANU

As Australia winds down in Afghanistan after a 12-year war, the new defence minister, David Johnson, has reportedly stated that Australia needs to keep its counter-insurgency skills honed, including for possible use in Pakistan.

It is not clear whether Mr Johnson means a limited role in advising Pakistan on counter-insurgency or envisions a more robust involvement in maintaining stability. Read more…

Pakistan’s new government: a harbinger of hope?

Former two-times Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who heads the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) political party that has won a majority in the parliament, talks with journalists after his meeting with Imran Khan, the head of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, at a hospital in Lahore, Pakistan, 14 May 2013. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Sandy Gordon, ANU

Pakistan has just experienced the first democratic change of government in its history.

It did so despite a violent campaign by religious extremists to derail the election, and targeted at secular-oriented parties such as the ousted Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).  Read more…

India–China border tensions and nuclear posturing

In this Sunday, 5 May 2013 photo, Chinese troops hold a banner which reads: ‘You have crossed the border, please go back,’ in Ladakh, India. While the recent troop standoff in a remote Himalayan desert spotlights a long-running border dispute between China and India, the two emerging giants are engaged in a rivalry for global influence that spreads much farther afield. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Sandy Gordon, ANU

The standoff between China and India in Ladakh has been resolved, at least for now.

After China set up five tents for 40 personnel 19 kilometres inside what India regards as the line of control, India set up similar tents facing them. Both lots of tents are now to be removed, but it is still unclear whether India is to remove any of the structures at Fukche and Chumar, as demanded by the Chinese. Read more…

Human rights and democracy in Sri Lanka: the West’s deepening dilemma

Tamil activists in India shout slogans after being detained during a protest against Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajakapaksa as he visited the country (Photo: AAP).

Author: Sandy Gordon, ANU

Sri Lanka is a small country of about the population of Australia.

Its location astride the major energy sea lanes of communication of the Indian Ocean and just south of India, however, puts it in a strategic box seat for the forthcoming struggle for influence over the liquid energy requirements of the East Asian economic giants, including China. Read more…

Pivots, progress and partners in South Asia

An Indian Border Security Force soldier keeps watch at an outpost along the India-Pakistan border in Abdulian 38 kms southwest of Jammu on 9 January 2013 (Photo: AAP).

Author: Sandy Gordon, ANU

The Indian economy continued to struggle through 2012. Growth remained sluggish at about 5.3 per cent of GDP for the September quarter (year on year).

Although starting to fall, inflation — always politically sensitive in India — remains high.

Read more…

Assam: India encounters friction in a crucial corridor

Indian army personnel unload from a truck at Ambadi village Kokrajhar district, Assam, on 28 July 2012, following deadly violence in the area. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Sandy Gordon, ANU

Some 48 people were killed in the Indian state of Assam in late July following clashes between the Bodo ethnic group (a Tibetan-Burmese people who are now predominantly Christian and Hindu) and Muslim Bengali immigrants, mainly from Bangladesh and its previous incarnations.

Approximately 400,000 people have also been displaced from their villages. These are by no means the first such ethnic clashes in Assam. Read more…

India: which way will the ‘swing state’ swing?

US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton talks with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during a meeting in New Delhi, India, 2011. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Sandy Gordon, ANU

India seems to have found itself in the enviable position of being courted by both the US and China, thus confirming its status as the ‘swing state’ of Asia.

Two recent meetings highlight India’s emerging role in Asian security. Read more…

Indian Ocean: don’t militarise the ‘great connector’

Indian Navy aircraft carrier INS Viraat breaks formation in the Indian Ocean during Malabar 2007, an exercise involving the navies of the US, Australia, India, Japan, and Republic of Singapore navies. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Sandy Gordon, ANU

The Indian Ocean is Australia’s backyard — at least if you live in the west — and it plays a major role in transporting energy from the oil- and gas-rich Persian Gulf to Australia’s principal trading partners, China and Japan.

With each passing year, these and other East Asian powers become more dependent on the free passage of oil over the Indian Ocean. Read more…

Pakistan and the Afghan endgame: need for a rethink

Commuters ride past the sign post of the Pakistani Military Academy in Abbottabad on 27 January 2012. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Sandy Gordon, ANU

Washington has now moderated Secretary for Defense Leon Panetta’s statement that the US, as a fighting force, would be in the barracks by mid-2013.

US forces may now come out to fight as and when necessary until their departure at the end of 2014. Read more…

Behind Australia’s India uranium sale decision

An aerial view of the Ranger Uranium Mine 250 kilometres east of Darwin in Australia's Northern Territory. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Sandy Gordon, ANU

Australia’s Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, would have been more politically comfortable had she left the issue of uranium sales to India rusting in the ‘parking lot’.


The pressing question is therefore: why visit the issue now? Read more…

Can India and China coexist in an Asian concert of powers?

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (L) and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singhstressed the importance of a spirit of cooperation, not competition between Asia's two rising powers at the closing ceremony of the Festival of China in India and the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries on 16 December 2010. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Sandy Gordon, ANU

The CIA considers India a ‘swing state’ in Asia, meaning that the way in which it chooses to lock into existing security structures will have important implications for the Asian security order.

India’s emergence is especially important in the context of China’s rise and the apparent relative decline of the US. This confronts Australia with stark choices between its economic imperative not to alienate China and its long-standing strategic reliance on the US. Read more…