Syrian Crisis and Emerging Regional Order in the Middle East
The strategic importance of Syria in the Middle East is mainly due to its location. Syria has been a kind of resistance front of the Arabs against Israel and the significance of the Syrian question needs to be discovered in Syria's indispensible role in the regional geostrategic pattern. When Arab Spring brought political changes in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt, Syria was never thought to be immune to the tinge of those changes. The mass demonstrations in Syria, driven by the desire of change, in late 2010, turned to violent protests, leaving destruction, disorder and chaos behind them. The crisis in Syria is still continuing ferociously with abysmal repercussions for the Middle East. Today, Syrian crisis has different dimensions which are ranging from involvement of different regional and trans-regional states to various armed, religio-political and jihadists groups, turning the crisis to a serious regional conflagration.
The Assad regime is struggling for its survival against the rebels, who are struggling for regime change in Syria. The involvement of the pro and anti-regime regional states and pro and anti-regime trans-regional states is the significant point, driving the crisis on grave sectarian, ethnic and social lines. In fact, it would be safer to say that Syrian crisis has created deep political divisions not in only amongst the world community but also on regional political horizons. Syrian crisis has created far reaching social, political, strategic and economic implications in Syria and the entire Middle East. The crisis is not only claiming priceless lives of people, crippling many for life, rendering numerous homeless but also altering the traditional security dynamics, strategic calculations and above all regional order of the Middle East.
To sum up, Syrian crisis has become one of the gravest flash points in the Middle East, turning the social and political fabric of the society there. It has given birth to a regional order in Middle East where Iran is emerging as the most powerful regional reality, shaping the future political contours of the region on its own version of interests.
Sino-Russian Nexus in The Middle East Implications For Regional Security
Middle East has world's oldest civilization due to its relevance with three great Divine Abrahamic religions i.e., Judaism. Christianity and Islam. The strategic importance of the region made it center-stage for the great and regional powers to show their keen interests in the region. The region is rich in natural resources that are fulfilling more than 80% of trade and oil needs of the world. More or less the major economies of the world are dependent on the Middle East due to its oil reserves. This made the region more volatile and highly instable that creates threats to the regional as well as global security.
The Arab Spring and Syrian crisis in 2011 are new developments in the region that have changed the security environment and regional order. The imbalance in the region after Arab Spring and Syrian crisis has affected the global security equation along with regional power balance. These two recent events in the regional politics have divided the region into 'peace region'; Saudi Arabia, Iran, Israel, Turkey, Bahrain, Qatar and 'disturbed region'; Syria, Iraq, Libya, Egypt and Tunisia. A purely regional issue i.e., Syrian civil war has not only affected the regional order but also divided the world community into two major blocs having divergent objectives and policies in the region. The Arab uprisings and Syrian crisis in 2011 provided space to regional actors such as Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar to exert their influence in the region that are emerging as new regional players in the Middle East. In the contemporary Middle East, Syria became the focal point and a playground for the great powers to achieve certain objectives in the region. At the regional level, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar and Bahrain are supporting anti-Assad forces in the region whereas, Iran along with Hezbollah and Hamas are countering the militant rebels against downfall of Assad regime.
The recent Geneva talks of 2013 of P5+1 and Iran over Iranian nuclear controversy has increased the regional influence of Iran. At the global level, the US, France and Great Britain are in favor of opposition in Syria; on the other hand China and Russia are favoring the Assad regime by vetoing UN Security Council resolutions against any military action on Syria. In the present time, Sino-Russian active presence in the regional politics of Middle East is a new variable that has regional and global implications. Syria became a quagmire of contending interests among great powers of the world. Russia as former super power has long history and technological military advancement along with rising China as an economic giant to get together in the Middle East to counter the U$ and Western penetration in the region. Beijing and Moscow have maintained a regional balance in the vulnerable security environment of the region.
The world has witnessed that Sino-Russian nexus is important for Middle East that can bring peace and stability in the region. The Middle East as regional security complex has been affecting super security complex at the global front. The series of vetoes by China and Russia over Syrian conflict have marked questions on the uni-polar character of the world order.
Role of Media in Democracy: A Case Study of Pakistan.
In 2007 and 2008, Pakistan witnessed two historical events; the first lawyers' movement and the February 2008 general elections. On 9th March 2007, the then President General Pervez Musharraf, made dysfunctional the Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chuadhry. In response, lawyers' community and civil society stood behind the CJ and launched country-wide protest against the dictator. During this time, Pakistan was in turmoil situation. The CJ restoration movement overshadowed the political scenario in the country. The 2008 general elections held in conflict situation after the assassination of PPP chairperson Benazir Bhutto. The elections were postponed till 18th February 2008 due to security reasons. Despite apprehension about the pre-plan rigging, the elections were held in comparatively peaceful atmosphere in the country.
This study is carried out to evaluate the role of media, particularly the print media, played during the lawyers' movement and 2008 general elections. Content method is applied to obtain the result. From the result of the study, the print and electronic media provided tremendous coverage to lawyers' movement and 2008 general elections. The study outcome reflects that the press not only gave an enormous space to judiciary restoration and elections but did not bow to the ruler's pressure to stop the coverage of these events. The tone of the press was found mostly against the government and in favor of lawyers' movement and to hold free and fair elections. The study concludes that media played important role in the promotion of democracy in Pakistan, and free, liberal and impartial media is necessary for flourishing a healthy democracy in the country.
Water Scarcity and Conflict: A Case Study of India-Pakistan Water Dispute
This study presents the explanation of a natural phenomenon of water scarcity and its correlation with an inevitable reality called conflict. Today, the distribution of water is constantly changing with globalization, change in environment and factors such as global warming and population growth. This change and unequal distribution of water, its limited accessibility to different nations and its ever increasing demand has introduced a natural and relatively dormant crisis. Different regions of the world are facing the problem of water shortage resulting in inter and intrastate conflict.
The study argues that conflicts are essentially due to scarcity of resources. It is due to water shortage that many countries are unable to meet the increasing water demands of consistently growing population. The problem has severely affected agricultural production and respective economies of those countries which extensively rely upon agriculture. The gradual depletion of water resources has become a matter of serious apprehension especially for water stressed regions. With the passage of time the utilization of water has increased and resulted in competitive environment where states are striving to secure and enhance control over the depleting water resources. The situation is worsening and giving birth to disputes over water sharing. The region of South Asia is also facing severe water stress. The water resources of the region have been consistently depleting. South Asia is an agricultural region; the states of this region largely rely upon rivers for irrigation of lands. Considering this fact that many rivers are transboundary, the sharing of rivers has lead to several disputes among states. At the same time hydro politics and exploitation of water has become a prevalent reality. India is determining to gradually enhance control over the water resources of the region to maintain its hydro hegemony.
The country has been involved in prolonged water disputes with its neighboring countries. However, this study specifically highlights India's prolonged water conflict with Pakistan which remains unresolved and significantly explains the likely chances of an interstate conflict between the two neighboring countries which are nuclear powers posing threat to regional stability. This study is essentially an attempt to employ the theory of environmental scarcity and conflict to understand India-Pakistan conflict.
India Pakistan Trade Relations: Challenges, Prospects And Policy Options
With the trade normalization process between India and Pakistan gathering momentum since November 2011, new vistas for enhancing bilateral trade have been opened between the two countries. This study has analyzed the trade potential between India and Pakistan, and examined how this prospective is disregarded owing to several socio-political reasons. The trade prospects between India and Pakistan is estimated to lie between US$10.9 billion and US$19.8 billion.
The study has assessed the products which are of vital importance for a massive growth in trade but unfortunately these products or items fall in the negative or sensitive lists and non-tariff barriers. In the services sector, trade possibilities have been identified in Information Technology (IT), Business Process Outsourcing (BPO), health and entertainment services. This trade potential remains unrealized largely due to impediment in transport and transit facilities, restrictive visa regime, continuation of large informal trade flows, and presence of non-tariff barriers to trade between India and Pakistan. Since the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) regime between the two countries is liberalized, the study has identified sectors which hold potential for investments, and are likely to deepen the trade linkages between India and Pakistan. Moreover, the research also highlighted traders' motivation for doing business in both markets as well as challenges and obstacles in expanding bilateral trade.
Findings of the current study reveal very crucial aspects of the bilateral trade between Pakistan and India. The first and foremost is the significance of the trade relations within the region than expanding relations with the remote partners. Interest of both the countries in expansion strategy of services sectors and the existence of favourable demand to enhance bilateral trade may create huge potential for expansion of trade relations. The study also reveals that political disputes and the non-tariff barriers have been the major problems for businessmen of both countries in doing business in each other's countries. Analyzing the geo-economic conditions of both the countries, the study urged for a strong trade relation between Pakistan and India.
Pakistan - Afghanistan Relations (2001-2003) Challenges and Options
This study is a critical analysis of the Pakistan-Afghanistan relations. A variety of problems are hindering the cordial relations of the two states. The commonalities are many but the differences are strong and rapprochement seems difficult. The study depicts that both the states are apprehensive of each other. Mainly the non acceptance of international border i.e. Durand Line, irredentist territorial claims and Pashtunistan issues by Afghanistan and the perceived so called policy of strategic depth by Pakistan are the impediment. In the last forty years Afghanistan has faced civil war and foreign intervention. Since then Pakistan finds itself at the forefront of the efforts to bring peace and stability in Afghanistan, as a "frontline state". In 1970s and 1980s it opposed the U.S.S.R. invasion and since 2001 it has supported the U.S. invasion, ditching the Taliban regime. The presence of foreign forces in Afghanistan has affected Pakistan's sovereignty due to drone and border attacks. Pakistan wants to safeguard its legitimate interests i.e. peaceful, stable and friendly Afghanistan. At the same time it wants that Afghanistan may not be used by any regional country against the interests of Pakistan.
In Afghanistan different ethnicities are apprehensive of each other and combine together against the Pashtuns dominance of the past. All the other ethnicities strived hard to find a place in the Afghan state and are adamant to preserve their restored identities. The study focuses on the effects of U.S. drawdown of forces, signing of Bilateral Security Agreement and Status Of Forces Agreement on Pakistan-Afghanistan relations. It has given new impetus to peace efforts. However, the Taliban insurgency has been deadliest in 2014 with peace nowhere. The efforts of U.S. and the regional states to ensure peace have been evaluated.
The study explains the phenomenon of mistrust and hostile relations of the two states in realist perspective. Geostrategic and geo-economics reasons make it necessary for both states to have cordial relations. A peaceful settlement is interest of people of Pakistan and Afghanistan and the region, the alternative is a scary civil war.
Pak-Russia Rapprochement: Challenges And Prospects
Pakistan and Russia acted hostile damaging interests of each other during the Cold War and relations suffered from trust deficit afterwards. Interests of Pakistan and Russia start converging after 9/11, when both remained on the same page with regards to the international campaign against Al-Qaeda as they not only expressed strong commitment to root out the terrorism in the region but also provided full support to the U.S. led forces in Afghanistan. Since then both have entered into institutional relationship, formed several bilateral and became part of regional forums to discuss global, regional and bilateral issues. In the backdrop of emerging regional political environment because of U.S./NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan, Indian tilt towards the U.S. and West, Ukrainian crisis, bilateral and global convergence, Pakistan and Russia got the opportunity to translate high level engagements into tangible outcome in bilateral relations. Pakistan has supported Russian's observer status in the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) reciprocating the fact that Russia supported first observer status of Pakistan at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and later full membership. Pakistan's accession into important regional organization SCO as full member deemed as step forward in Pakistan's relations with Russia.
Since the rapprochement between Pakistan and Russia started a decade ago, both countries witnessed a "milestone" defense cooperation pact when a Russia Defense Minister paid an official visit to Pakistan in 45 years; important developments in Pak-Russia Intergovernmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation and Joint Working Group on Energy at Moscow in 2014 took place. Both countries have expressed their readiness to collaborate in the fields of defense, trade, economy, science, technology, agriculture, education and culture to gain new impetus due to continuous high level interaction between the two countries. However, despite the political convergence, institutional and structured ties between the two countries along with some factors will continuously impede fast track implementation of agreed proposals.
Emergence of China As an Economic Power: Prospects and Challenges
Emergence of China as an economic power, has resulted not only creating problems for China, but for the other powers as well. China has been suffering many years under European, Western and Japanese control, which created severe social, political, and economic crises in the country. After the communist revolution in 1949, China emerged as an economic power. Following the Mao era, there has been an introduction of market oriented economic reforms which not only regained China to its lost political-economic activities, but also increased its power and prestige at international level. This has resulted in imposing challenge to the other economic powers.
This qualitative research will be focused on identifying the domestic and international challenges for China and to look for the prospects for dealing with these challenges. Modernization Theory of Walt Rostow and Theory of Economic Interdependence collectively constitute the theoretical framework of this study.
EU-Pakistan relations since 9/11: continuity & change
Continuity and change better characterise the patterns of EU-Pakistan relations in post-9/11 era. This study looks into the factors that account for the characteristics of continuity and change in EU-Pakistan relations since 9/11, and examines, in the light of these factors, the opportunities and challenges for change in the relations. The main research question that drives this study is: What factors do account for continuity and change in EU-Pakistan relations since 9/11? The study follows qualitative research method and inductive approach to seek answer of the research question through an in-depth understanding of the phenomenon under investigation. It draws inspiration from the theory of discursive institutionalism, which helps understand the characteristics of EU foreign policy behaviour.
This research study finds that continuity and change in EU-Pakistan relations are determined by the combination of the degree of EU’s security interests vis-à-vis Pakistan and the latter’s performance in compliance with normative principles enshrined in EU foreign policy, namely human rights, democratic principles, the rule of law and good governance. Same factors help identify the opportunities and challenges for change in EU-Pakistan relations. The study provides evidence that the normative principles weigh significantly in EU foreign policy; however, in case of conflict between interests and normative principles, the tilt is usually in favour of the former. The area of EU-Pakistan relations remains almost devoid of academic research. This study fills this gap by investigating the subject scientifically and comprehensively. The major contribution of this study is to identify the underlying factors and develop general principles that explain the patterns not only of EU-Pakistan relations but also of other similar cases.