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Showing posts for "Alyssa Ayres"

Pakistan: You Have One Job

by Alyssa Ayres
Hafiz Saeed (C), head of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa organisation and founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba, waves to his supporters as he leads the rally to mark Pakistan Day (Resolution Day) in Islamabad March 23, 2014. (Mohsin Raza/Courtesy Reuters) Hafiz Saeed (C), head of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa organisation and founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba, waves to his supporters as he leads the rally to mark Pakistan Day (Resolution Day) in Islamabad March 23, 2014. (Mohsin Raza/Courtesy Reuters)

Over the weekend, Pakistan’s national security advisor, Sartaj Aziz, called off planned talks with India’s national security advisor after a series of public disagreements escalated to the point of no return. Islamabad and New Delhi failed to agree on the scope of the agenda, despite a clear joint statement issued by Prime Ministers Nawaz Sharif and Narendra Modi during their meeting last month in Ufa, Russia, which had set the parameters for India-Pakistan dialogue in coming months. Most press accounts indicate that Pakistan sought to expand the NSAs’ agenda from the single subject of “terrorism” agreed upon at Ufa to include discussion of Kashmir. Compounding things, India reiterated its redline, developed by the Modi government last summer, against Pakistani officials meeting with separatists from Jammu and Kashmir on the margins of Indo-Pak talks. The Pakistani High Commission in New Delhi invited Kashmiri separatists to a reception, so between the redline and the soiree invite grew an impasse. Read more »

Economic Growth and India’s Global Rise

by Alyssa Ayres
Australia's batsman Aaron Finch plays a shot as India's captain and wicketkeeper MS Dhoni watches on during their Cricket World Cup semi-final match in Sydney, March 26, 2015 (David Gray/Reuters). Australia's batsman Aaron Finch plays a shot as India's captain and wicketkeeper MS Dhoni watches on during their Cricket World Cup semi-final match in Sydney, March 26, 2015 (David Gray/Reuters).

Indians just celebrated their sixty-eighth year of independence, but the mood has dampened since last August 15. Last year, the excitement of a newly-elected government, one with a single-party majority, created a sense of opportunity ahead for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his soaring ambitions for the nation. This year’s speech, in contrast, more resembled the report cards of previous prime ministerial addresses, with an accounting for the nation of what the government had accomplished in its new agenda over the past year. On the heels of a parliamentary session in which opposition parties stymied the government’s reform agenda through ongoing disruptions—the upper house had a woeful 9 percent productivity rate—the overall mood has become one of right-sizing reform expectations due to the rough-and-tumble of Indian politics. Read more »

With Little Fanfare, India Makes Big Security Advances Toward the East

by Alyssa Ayres
U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter (R) and Indian Minister of Defense Manohar Parrikar shake hands after the signing of agreements ceremony in New Delhi on June 3, 2015 (Adnan Abidi/Reuters). U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter (R) and Indian Minister of Defense Manohar Parrikar shake hands after the signing of agreements ceremony in New Delhi on June 3, 2015 (Adnan Abidi/Reuters).

It’s been a stellar week for Indian security. First, U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter visited India, and formally renewed the bilateral framework for defense cooperation with his counterpart Minister of Defense Manohar Parrikar. This entire trip resulted in a brief, eight-point joint press release, which has garnered little attention, but cements forward progress in deepening security ties between New Delhi and Washington. But second, no less importantly, Prime Minister Modi set off for Dhaka on a visit slated to at last resolve one of the world’s most complex borders, and reset India’s ties with the world’s eighth-largest country. The two developments this week mark an intensification of India’s focus on its Asia-Pacific future, and U.S. support for an India with stronger links to its east. Read more »

Modi, Turnaround Artist: U.S.-India Ties Revived After Slump

by Alyssa Ayres
U.S. President Barack Obama and India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi (R) wave during a photo opportunity ahead of their meeting at Hyderabad House in New Delhi January 25, 2015 (Adnan Abidi/Courtesy: Reuters). U.S. President Barack Obama and India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi (R) wave during a photo opportunity ahead of their meeting at Hyderabad House in New Delhi January 25, 2015 (Adnan Abidi/Courtesy: Reuters).

May 26 marks the completion of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first full year in office. Indian and international media have used the anniversary to take stock. In India, Modi has generally gotten high marks for foreign policy but some notches below that for slower than expected economic reform. The Economist devoted its cover this week to Modi (“India’s One-Man Band”) and urged more dramatic action to transform India lest the window of opportunity close. Read more »

Nepal Quake: Governance Matters

by Alyssa Ayres
People work to rescue trapped people inside a temple in Bashantapur Durbar Square after an earthquake hit, in Kathmandu, Nepal on April 25, 2015 (Navresh Chitrakar/Courtesy: Reuters). People work to rescue trapped people inside a temple in Bashantapur Durbar Square after an earthquake hit, in Kathmandu, Nepal on April 25, 2015 (Navresh Chitrakar/Courtesy: Reuters).

Several years ago, I went on an “Earthquake Walk” in downtown Kathmandu, a walk designed to raise awareness about the city’s vulnerability to a major earthquake. As we ducked into a traditional courtyard, winding our way through a low narrow corridor before emerging into an open square surrounded by high traditional homes, we saw a big stick propping one edge of a building up against another. I’ve thought a lot about that stick today—its inadequacy, its fragility—as news of Nepal’s quake poured in. Read more »

The U.S. Presidential Race: Marco Rubio’s Surprising Interest in India

by Alyssa Ayres
Republican presidential candidate U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) speaks at the First in the Nation Republican Leadership Conference in Nashua, New Hampshire on April 17, 2015 (Brian Snyder/Courtesy: Reuters). Republican presidential candidate U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) speaks at the First in the Nation Republican Leadership Conference in Nashua, New Hampshire on April 17, 2015 (Brian Snyder/Courtesy: Reuters).

This post is part of a series looking at how India and South Asia will feature in the American presidential election of 2016.

Among the Republican field, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) has a well-known interest in foreign policy. Since his election to the U.S. Senate in 2010, he has served on the Foreign Affairs Committee, the Select Committee on Intelligence, and the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. He has made his voice heard especially in the debate over policy toward Cuba, from where his parents fled. What’s lesser known, and a bit more surprising, is this: the junior senator from Florida also has a declared interest in India. Read more »

The U.S. Presidential Race: Hillary and India

by Alyssa Ayres
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton embraces a member of "Sewa," a women's self-employment voluntary organisation during her visit to their office in Mumbai on July 18, 2009 (Arko Datta/Courtesy: Reuters). U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton embraces a member of "Sewa," a women's self-employment voluntary organisation during her visit to their office in Mumbai on July 18, 2009 (Arko Datta/Courtesy: Reuters).

This post is the first of a series looking at how India and South Asia will feature in the American presidential election of 2016.

Hillary Clinton’s April 12, 2015 presidential campaign launch kicked the U.S. presidential race for 2016 into higher gear. It’s also the first American campaign announcement to garner significant media attention in India. Due to her long history with India—as first lady, a senator, and secretary of state—Clinton is a known quantity in the region and has a clearly articulated policy record on South Asia, unlike other presidential candidates. One Indian paper covered her campaign launch with the headline, “Hillary hearts India.” That background makes it easier to assess how a possible Clinton administration might approach ties with India. Read more »

Why the United States Should Work With India to Stabilize Afghanistan

by Alyssa Ayres
"Afghan President Ashraf Ghani meets Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the 18th SAARC summit," November 2014. Photo by Narendra Modi licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons / Cropped from original. "Afghan President Ashraf Ghani meets Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the 18th SAARC summit," November 2014. Photo by Narendra Modi licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons / Cropped from original.

President Ashraf Ghani’s successful visit to Washington last month notwithstanding, the headlines out of Afghanistan since the end of international combat operations in December 2014 have mostly been grim. The Taliban have stepped up attacks since the start of 2015, and the self-declared Islamic State has spread to Afghanistan. During the March UN Security Council session held to renew the mandate of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, UN Special Representative Nicholas Haysom told the Security Council that the Islamic State banner might serve to unite disparate radical groups. Read more »

Murdering the Idea of Bangladesh

by Alyssa Ayres
People attend a mass funeral as the body of Rajib Haider, an architect and blogger who was a key figure in organizing demonstrations, arrives at Shahbagh intersection in Dhaka on February 16, 2013 (Andrew Biraj/Courtesy: Reuters). People attend a mass funeral as the body of Rajib Haider, an architect and blogger who was a key figure in organizing demonstrations, arrives at Shahbagh intersection in Dhaka on February 16, 2013 (Andrew Biraj/Courtesy: Reuters).

Earlier this week, a young blogger, Washiqur Rahman, was hacked to death outside his Dhaka home. This is the third such attack— gruesome butcherings by machete—in the past two years, and all three have targeted “atheist bloggers.” With a third murder, we can no longer see these as purely isolated incidents; rather, they now form a chilling pattern. Read more »

Kafka in Paradise: Maldives Court Sentences Former President for Terrorism

by Alyssa Ayres
March 10, 2014. Photo by Dying Regime licensed under CC BY 2.0 / Cropped from original. March 10, 2014. Photo by Dying Regime licensed under CC BY 2.0 / Cropped from original.

On March 13, a Maldivian court found Mohamed Nasheed, the first democratically elected president of the Maldives, guilty of terrorism and sentenced him to thirteen years in prison.

The specific act of which Nasheed was accused? Ordering the arrest of a criminal court judge back in 2012 when Nasheed was still president of the island nation of 400,000 people. The mismatch between accusation and conviction beggars belief. Read more »