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CFR experts give their take on the cutting-edge issues emerging in Asia today.

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India and Pakistan After Pathankot: How Washington Can Help

by Alyssa Ayres
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif (L) walks with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi after Modi's arrival in Lahore, Pakistan, on December 25, 2015 (Reuters). Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif (L) walks with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi after Modi's arrival in Lahore, Pakistan, on December 25, 2015 (Reuters).

Just eight days after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a surprise Christmas Day stop in Lahore to visit with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, terrorists attacked an Indian Air Force base in Pathankot, Punjab. The attack, only the latest strike after a thaw, follows a long-established pattern of spoilers jeopardizing positive openings between India and Pakistan. Since 1998, when both countries tested nuclear weapons, a possible conflict has become more dangerous for the region and the world. Meanwhile, Pakistan continues to harbor a plethora of terrorist groups, and the country’s pursuit of miniaturized “tactical nukes” fuels an already combustible situation. If Modi and Sharif can lead their countries to durably improve their relationship, even modestly, they will realize a goal that has eluded their predecessors. Read more »

The Top Ten Stories in South Asia, 2015

by Alyssa Ayres
Afghans listen to a radio broadcast run by the Islamic State militants, in the eastern city of Jalalabad, Afghanistan, on December 19, 2015. Islamic State militants in eastern Afghanistan have taken to the airwaves to win recruits as they try to build strength and replace the Taliban as the leading force in the Islamist insurgency. Officials have been increasingly concerned by the broadcasts, which encourage young people to find a sense of direction in the radical movement (Parwiz Parwiz/Reuters). Afghans listen to a radio broadcast run by the Islamic State militants, in the eastern city of Jalalabad, Afghanistan, on December 19, 2015. Islamic State militants in eastern Afghanistan have taken to the airwaves to win recruits as they try to build strength and replace the Taliban as the leading force in the Islamist insurgency. Officials have been increasingly concerned by the broadcasts, which encourage young people to find a sense of direction in the radical movement (Parwiz Parwiz/Reuters).

Each of the past two years, I’ve done a roundup of the developments and stories that mattered the most in South Asia. In 2014, India’s historic national election and the coming together of Afghanistan’s hard-won unity government topped my list. The year before, Indian women’s political activism, and Nawaz Sharif’s election in Pakistan’s first transfer of power from one civilian to another, were my top two picks. Looking back at those posts compared with the ten events I’ve selected for 2015, this year suggests a markedly less hopeful mood. The most chilling development has been the steady trickle of reports about the self-proclaimed Islamic State and its presence in the region, particularly in Afghanistan, border areas of Pakistan, and possibly in Bangladesh. Other developments in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Maldives present a mixed picture of both progress and setbacks. Here is my selection of 2015’s most consequential stories in South Asia: Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Five Stories From the Week of December 18, 2015

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Hyeon-Soo-Lim-gets-life-sentence-North-Korea - 12-18-15 South Korea–born Canadian pastor Hyeon Soo Lim attends his trial at a North Korean court in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang, December 16, 2015. (KCNA/Reuters)

Ashlyn Anderson, Rachel Brown, Ariella Rotenberg, Ayumi Teraoka, Gabriel Walker, and James West look at five stories from Asia this week.

1. Canadian pastor sentenced by North Korea to life in prison with hard labor. Hyeon Soo Lim, a Canadian pastor, was sentenced to a life term of hard labor by the highest court in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. After a ninety-minute trial, Lim was convicted of crimes against the state that included running a human rights campaign against North Korea in cooperation with the United States and South Korea, as well as assisting defectors who wished to leave North Korea. Read more »

India Says: Bring Us Your Sick

by Guest blogger for Alyssa Ayres
"Cathlab (Angiogram & Angioplasty)," February 25, 2013. Photo by Hmhedp licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons / Cropped from original. "Cathlab (Angiogram & Angioplasty)," February 25, 2013. Photo by Hmhedp licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons / Cropped from original.

Kermit Jones, MD, JD, is a physician and former White House Fellow based in Chicago. His research focuses on intellectual property and health information technology use in medicine; he recently returned from a medical observership at Apollo Hospital in Hyderabad, India. Follow him on Twitter: @duniyakermit Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of December 4, 2015

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
India-coal - 12-4-15 Laborers load coal on trucks at Bari Brahamina on the outskirts of Jammu, India, March 16, 2012. (Mukesh Gupta/Reuters)

Ashlyn Anderson, Rachel Brown, Sungtae “Jacky” Park, Ariella Rotenberg, Ayumi Teraoka, and Gabriel Walker look at the top stories in Asia this week.

1. India’s embrace of coal complicates ambitious renewable energy targets. India brings a unique position to the climate negotiations underway in Paris as a huge developing country with grand economic plans that is also disproportionately facing the consequences of climate change. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of November 20, 2015

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Seoul-protests - 11-20-2015 A protester reacts as water mixed with tear gas liquid is sprayed by police water canon to disperse protesters during an anti-government rally in central Seoul, South Korea, November 14, 2015. (Kim Hong-ji/Reuters)

Ashlyn Anderson, Rachel Brown, Lincoln Davidson, Ariella Rotenberg, Ayumi Teraoka, and Gabriel Walker look at the top stories in Asia this week.

1. Antigovernment protests erupt in Seoul. This week, tens of thousands of people filled City Hall plaza in downtown Seoul to protest President Park Geun-hye, demanding her resignation. The protestors wore plastic raincoats to guard against the cannons of water and liquid tear gas fired at them by the police. Read more »

Thinking About Armed Confrontation Between China and India

by Guest blogger for Alyssa Ayres
modi-xi-CPM Chinese President Xi Jinping (C) looks on as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (R) receives a golden Buddha statue from a Buddhist abbot of Dacien Buddhist Temple in Xian, Shaanxi province, China, on May 14, 2015. (China Daily/Reuters)

Daniel Markey is adjunct senior fellow for India, Pakistan, and South Asia at the Council on Foreign Relations, and Senior Research Professor and Academic Director of the Global Policy Program at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Read more »

Fresh Upheavals in the South Asian Region

by Alyssa Ayres
Birgunj, Nepal: Madhesi protesters block the highway connecting Nepal to India in a general strike against Nepal’s new constitution on November 4, 2015 (Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters). Birgunj, Nepal: Madhesi protesters block the highway connecting Nepal to India in a general strike against Nepal’s new constitution on November 4, 2015 (Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters).

From the day he assumed office, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi made clear his priority on establishing strong ties across the South Asian region. His open invitation to the leaders of all the South Asian countries to attend his inauguration set the tone for a foreign policy focused on building economic ties and regional connectivity, a pragmatic bid to overcome South Asia’s longstanding problem as one of the least economically integrated regions in the world. Initial Indian diplomacy with Bangladesh and Nepal helped deliver gains toward a more consolidated South Asian region, at peace and focused on development and economics. Political change in Sri Lanka ended the divisive Rajapaksa era, one of increased tensions with India, and Colombo’s new government immediately expanded ties—with a strong trade component—with India. The South Asian Area of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit in November 2014 resulted in region-wide agreements on transportation connectivity, an important infrastructure step to enhancing economic ties. Read more »

Friday Asia Update: Top Five Stories for the Week of October 30, 2015

by Guest Blogger for Elizabeth C. Economy
Army soldiers load sacks of food aid on a helicopter to distribute in earthquake-stricken areas in Peshawar, Pakistan, October 27, 2015. (Khuram Parvez/Reuters) Army soldiers load sacks of food aid on a helicopter to distribute in earthquake-stricken areas in Peshawar, Pakistan, October 27, 2015. (Khuram Parvez/Reuters)

Ashlyn Anderson, Rachel Brown, Lincoln Davidson, Sungtae “Jacky” Park, Ariella Rotenberg, and Gabriel Walker look at the top stories in Asia this week.

1. Earthquake survivors in Afghanistan and Pakistan appeal for shelter and supplies. Just six months after a devastating earthquake in Nepal, a 7.5-magnitude earthquake shook geographically vulnerable regions in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The epicenter was reported 196 kilometers below the Hindu Kush Mountains in Afghanistan. Although the earthquake occurred much deeper than the Nepal earthquake, close to four hundred people have been reported dead, thousands suffered injuries, and many homes were destroyed by the quake and its aftermath. Read more »

Where’s India on the Trans-Pacific Partnership?

by Alyssa Ayres
U.S. President Barack Obama shakes hands with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during their meeting at the United Nations General Assembly in New York on September 28, 2015 (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters). U.S. President Barack Obama shakes hands with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during their meeting at the United Nations General Assembly in New York on September 28, 2015 (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters).

The United States and eleven other countries have concluded negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade pact that will cover 40 percent of global trade spanning Asia and the Pacific Rim, including some Latin American countries. It represents a subset of the countries in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, and one can anticipate that other APEC members may elect to join the TPP in the future. While China, the largest economy in Asia, has not been part of the negotiations, it has “welcomed” the agreement. The Japanese prime minister has indicated that Chinese membership in TPP would aid “Asia-Pacific regional stability.” Back in June, President Barack Obama said that Chinese officials had been “putting out feelers” about joining. Read more »