Nepal: SAARC is dead, Greater South Asia is taking shape!


Nepal: SAARC is dead, Greater South Asia is taking shape!

NP Upadhyaya, Nepal

In the neighborhood:
Trouble begins when India enters. From installing a visibly India tilted set up in the otherwise calm and quiet nation the Maldives, the Modi regime has now been creating a constitutional crisis in the Island nation, Sri Lanka. This is what Nepal has experienced over several decades. The poll defeated President Abdulla Yameen of the Maldives is not that weak though yet.

The new Maldivian government of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, much publicized to have been installed by India has called for a review of Chinese-bankrolled projects initiated under his predecessor Yameen.

Former president Mohamed Nasheed, now President Solih’s mentor and prime advisor has accused China of a land grab in the strategically placed Indian Ocean archipelago, and called a free-trade agreement (FTA) agreed with Beijing under Yameen as one-sided.

Understandably, Mohamed Nasheed is an India man.

The new government in Maldives has taken a rough and tough steps against China immediately after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi landed in Male a few days back to bring in the new President Solih to his firm grip. But can Solih challenge mighty China?

China has already warned Maldives that while making any unilateral decision in the mutual agreements, Male has to make “correct choice”. Here lay the warning in an oblique manner from China to the archipelago nation.

Understanding the Chinese message perhaps the fresh announcement of Maldivian Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid that he will visit Beijing soon came after he held talks with the Chinese ambassador in Male, Zhang Lizhong, on Monday.

Delhi is face to face with Beijing in Male. Let’s hope they do not collide.

Meanwhile in Sri Lanka, the Chinese Ambassador in Colombo Cheng Xueyuan, November 19, 2018 said that “pragmatic cooperation between Sri Lanka and China under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has brought tangible benefits to both countries and their peoples”.

The Chinese envoy made these observations amidst the constitutional crisis that has gripped Colombo of late and India wants to fish in the troubled waters.

The Chinese envoy speaking at the International Seminar under the theme “BRI at Five Years — Regional and Global Dimensions”, jointly organized by the Chinese Embassy in Sri Lanka and the Bandaranaike Center for International Studies (BCIS) in Colombo, said that over the past five years, the BRI had developed from an initiative to a reality, from a vision to an important platform, and had become more popular around the world.

This means that Beijing is not going to lose Colombo so easily that India may have thought of.

Both Maldives and Sri Lanka are active members of the SAARC regional body. However, SAARC is talked to have accepted a premature death. Others say that India has killed SAARC in lieu of BIMSTEC.

India’s closely nurtured baby Bhutan’s silent cry is growing against India which better late than never has come to its senses as the Indian “debt trap” shall soon gulp the nation once and for all.
The Indian foreign secretary, Mr. Gokhaley, was recently in the tiny Himalayan Kingdom assuring the baby for more financial aid. This is how the baby is falling into the India manufactured debt trap. Interestingly the newly elected Prime Minister, if reports are not fake then wants to take out his country from the Indian grip. China is just watching.

Now to the main point of today’s discussion.

Greater South Asia:

Very freshly in Beijing, November 17, 2018, Chairman of the Pakistan-China Institute (PCI) and Senate Foreign Affairs Committee Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed told that there is a shift in global economic and political power from the West to the East, and China’s peaceful rise and amazing development is an important inspiration for developing Countries.
It was this Pakistani scholar who coined the term “Great Game” which he hinted to have been a match being played by Western powers to contain China.
While addressing the 4th CPEC Media Forum in Beijing, Mushahid Hussain said that the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has now spawned a Greater South Asia comprising South Asia, Central Asia, China, Iran and Afghanistan driven by economy and energy. He said that the BRI is opening the door to a new World with China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as its success story since it is the flagship & pilot project of the BRI.

What was more than important and ear pleasing is Mr. Hussain’s announcement that a “Greater South Asia” was in the making which shall include China and some very powerful Central Asian Countries. It is these countries which have pleasingly joined the Chinese initiative, the CPEC, which has taken deep roots in Pakistan through China initiated projects. Mr. Hussain prefers Iran also to be included in the Greater South Asian scheme. If so and if that materializes time permitting then that would surely cut wings of the Indian regime which has been opposing the CPEC tooth and nail. India prefers BIMSTEC over SAARC.

India if it so desires can also join this greater South Asia. But hopefully India shall not.

Observers in Nepal wish to call Greater South Asia as stated by Hussain as Greater SAARC.

The 4th CPEC Media Forum was jointly organized by the China Economic Net (CEN) and the PCI in collaboration with the Chinese Embassy in Islamabad.

Mr. Hussain, if the Pakistan Prime Minister and his cabinet members so desire, may appoint him as ambassador at large and send him to several countries wherein he can sell the idea of the Greater South Asian phenomenon. Pakistan shall benefit for sure.

Mr. Hussain is basically a media man. He worked for the Muslim daily in the early 1980s. He was with Prime Minister Imran Khan in the just concluded Malaysia visit.

The purpose of the forum was to disseminate factual information on CPEC, and also to devise a joint Pakistan-China strategy to counter negative perceptions that are generated by vested interests and detractors in the region. India is the master planner of the fake news dissemination.

India in collaboration with some sponsored media in the West disseminate bogus news about CPEC. Nepal media is not an exception. The Nepali media who are close to the Southern regime generally talk against CPEC and the Chinese debt trap.

During the 4th CPEC media forum, Pakistan’s Ambassador to China Masood Khalid while making his opening remarks centered his talks on the stance of the new government on CPEC, after the conclusion of the Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to China. During that visit both countries, said Ambassador Masood, have expressed satisfaction with progress of CPEC, both sides are committed to agree to complete the ongoing projects of CPEC, as well as create employment, enhance people’s welfare and promote industrial development. The two sides also agreed to promote the construction of CPEC in the future by taking it to the next phase which will be decided at the upcoming meeting of the Joint Coordination Committee (JCC) of CPEC in Beijing next month, and both sides also agreed to create a social economic development working group apart from a political working group through the two Foreign Ministries.” The Ambassador based in Beijing also emphasized the role of media in disseminating accurate information on CPEC and said that there should be more media interaction between the two countries. “We need to guard BRI and CPEC against the growing negativity of its detractors”, the Pak envoy concluded.

To recall as back as in 2016, Pakistan began exploring the possibility of creating a greater South Asian economic alliance to counter India’s controlling hold on the eight-member South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), diplomatic observers in Washington said. A parliamentary delegation from Pakistan, which was then in New York, gave birth to the notion of greater South Asia during its five-day visit to Washington last week.

Elaborating the benevolent idea primarily pitched by Pakistan in 2016, Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed had said then that, “A greater South Asia is already emerging,” in one of his interactions with the media held in Washington.

The Senator Mushahid could be the best messenger who could sell this idea to a larger audience from East to West and North to South.

“This greater South Asia includes China, Iran and the neighboring Central Asian republics”, Mr. Hussain had mentioned in his Washington interaction which he once again repeated in his Beijing meet this time.

The notion of greater South Asia as and when takes a formal shape for sure shall blunt the Indian hegemony in this region but for that to happen China, the number one rival of India, must take the lead or at least back those countries, for instance Pakistan for the time being, which have vowed to give the greater South Asia a shape ultimately. The task is tough but not impossible if China wishes. The CPEC could also be linked with the notion of the greater South Asia aka Greater SAARC , if member countries so wish.

Imran Khan

In the meantime the Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has asked the United States to conduct the assessment of its failure in Afghanistan instead of making Pakistan a scapegoat.

In a prompt response to the US President Donald Trump’s anti-Pakistan tough comments, Imran Khan took to the twitter on Monday and said that record needs to be put straight on Donald Trump’s continued tirade against Pakistan.

Listening to President Trump’s rough and tough remarks on Pakistan, a day after the Pentagon defended Pakistan’s vital role in maintaining peace in South Asia and said Islamabad remains a ‘critical partner’ in the region.

In an interview to a television news channel on Sunday, Trump said that Islamabad was not doing “a damn thing” for the US, a ‘false assertion’, which was strongly countered by Prime Minister Imran Khan and political leadership instantly.

“The US and Pakistan have a strong mutual interests in the region. As you know, they are critical (and) vital to the South Asia strategy and including the facilitation of a peace process that would lead to a stable and peaceful Afghanistan,” Col Rob Manning, Director of Defense Press Operations, told reporters during an off-camera news conference, reveal international media sources.

“They remain a critical partner in our South Asia strategy and there’s been no change to our military-to-military relationship with Pakistan,” Manning said, responding to question about the series of tweets by President Trump and his interview to Fox News that Pakistan has done nothing for the United States.

Pakistan PM Mr. Khan though prefers to sound this to the US-its former ally. Let’s see what he wants to say: “Imran Khan the prime minister has merely reiterated what Imran Khan the politician has said for years. That Pakistan is fighting US wars, that Pakistan must not be part of any western/US war in which the US focused on its goals of global hegemony and self-aggrandizement kills people in our region, that the toll on Pakistan of the US wars is astronomical compared to any monetary or other compensation America has given Pakistan in the guise of being its ally, and that no US war in Afghanistan should have ever been brought to Pakistan.

He further said in his fresh tweet, “Record needs to be put straight on Mr Trump’s tirade against Pakistan: 1. No Pakistani was involved in 9/11 but Pak decided to participate in US War on Terror. 2. Pakistan suffered 75,000 casualties in this war & over $123 bn was lost to economy. US “aid” was a miniscule $20 bn. Our tribal areas were devastated & millions of ppl uprooted from their homes. The war drastically impacted lives of ordinary Pakistanis. 4. Pak continues to provide free lines of ground & air communications (GLOCs/ALOCs).Can Mr. Trump name another ally that gave such sacrifices?”

“I do not have any announcement on any change to the military to military relationship we have with Pakistan,” Pentagon’s Manning said, when asked that his answers reflect that the Pentagon differs with the views of President Trump on Pakistan.

The fact is that if Pakistan enters into the Indo-Pacific net as designed by the US and the Quad, Pakistan shall begin receiving whatever it wants from the US. But it  shall not perhaps.

Notably, echoing Asean’s hostility toward the Quad arrangement, Vietnam’s new ambassador in New Delhi, Pham Sanh Chau, recently said his country opposed any “military alliances.” He added: “If any country wants to gang up, use force or trying to use force, then it goes against the position of Vietnam.”

India’s biggest fear is encirclement by China, which has been stepping up its naval presence in the Bay of Bengal and makes periodic incursions on their contested border in the Himalayas. New Delhi also says that it can see Beijing’s influence behind tensions with Pakistan on the Kashmir heights.

The Greater South Asia scheme shall cut the wings of the erratic Indian regime. Hopefully.

Although, Nepal is being currently seduced. The US advises Nepal to be an active partner in the BIMSTEC and then in lieu receive as much as Nepal can from the US. The US perhaps has begun looking Nepal through Indian Lens. This is unacceptable.

Finally, to blunt the notorious designs of the Indian regime, Nepal together with the smaller neighbors that have had their participation in the SAARC must now join the greater South Asian landmass as articulated by the Pakistan Senator.

SAARC has been killed by India already. The greater SAARC must be in the political scene. That’s all.

with telegraphnepal

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