New Strategic Alignments Imply New Trade Routes – Jammu Kashmir Latest News | Tourism
The partition of India in 1947 and the emergence of a hostile state endemic to our West has hampered the full growth of our strategic, commercial and cultural relations with our neighbors in West Asia. Nevertheless, the imperative of expanding trade relations and realigning security strategies has compelled India to find an alternative route – cum – sea link to Afghanistan, Central Asian countries and further north to the Russian Federation and finally the countries of Eastern Europe.
Recognizing the need for viable connectivity, India has taken an initiative in this direction. Some of the countries in the region considering stakes in the new connectivity have also considered sharing India’s initiative. Afghanistan, Iran, the Central Asian states and the Soviet Federation are likely partners in this great enterprise.
For a long time, Afghanistan has struggled for independent and self-governing rule in Kabul. Its inhabitants had to go through fire and brimstone while realizing their dream and getting rid of outside interference. Now that the Taliban have achieved the goal, by a strange quirk of fate, they must face a cunning adversary who embraces the extremist ideology that poses a grave threat to the Taliban regime. It is called ISIS-K and K stands for the provinces of Khorasan.
ISIS-K is the Afghan affiliate of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). It emerged in 2015. The group’s objectives and stated geography of operations were very broad. Advocating for massive attacks on civilians and states, “the group intended to overthrow the Pakistani government, punish the Iranian government for being a ‘vanguard’ of the Shiites and ‘purify’ Afghanistan – both by dislodging the Afghan Taliban as the main jihadist movement in Afghanistan and punishing minority groups, like the Hazaras,” Asfandyar Mir of the Wilson Center wrote in Insight and Analysis on October 8, 2021.
The main cause remains their sectarian difference. ISIS-K subscribes to the jihadist-Salafist ideology and highlights the “purity” of its anti-idolatry credentials. The Taliban, on the other hand, subscribe to an alternative Sunni Islamic sectarian school, the Hanafi Madhhab, which the Islamic State considers deficient. The two groups also differ on the role of nationalism. ISIS staunchly rejects him, which goes against the Afghan Taliban’s goals of ruling Afghanistan.
With the political stability of Afghanistan largely precarious, the overall parameter of the overland route from India to the Eastern European region needed careful and serious consideration. The result was the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) aimed at increasing trade between India and Russia. This trade route is 7,200 km long and the transport of goods takes place via a multimodal network of roads, ships and railways. This route connects India and Russia via Iran and Azerbaijan.
The first trade route linking India and Russia was through the Suez Canal. It’s a long journey. Therefore, the main objective of the INSTC Corridor was to reduce the time required, the costs incurred and to increase the connectivity between major cities like Mumbai, Moscow, Astrakhan (located in Russia), Baku (Azerbaijan), Tehran, Bandar Abbas and Bandar Anzali (all located in Iran). Here are the main considerations that led to the approval of the project by the concerned countries named above.
* The corridor aims to reduce the cost of transport between India and Russia by around 30% and cut the 40-day transit time by more than half.
* It could be considered a very important corridor for the development of freight traffic in the region.
* This corridor is capable of boosting the Indian economy. Indian exports are expected to increase significantly in the next calendar year.
* This corridor is expected to increase market access for member countries who can also benefit from various backward and forward linkages.
Trial of transporting Russian cargo from Astrakhan to a port in southern Iran to its destination at Mumbai’s Jawaharlal Nehru Port Authority (JNPA) under the INSTC corridor, marks the first steps towards membership from India to an emerging commercial and security axis between Russia, Iran and India.
On June 8, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian was in New Delhi on an official visit to discuss various issues of common concern. It was also during this time that the unfortunate incident in India occurred in which two BJP members had to be expelled from the party for alleged indiscreet remarks that had offended a large number of Islamic states, including Iran. . We expected the incident to throw cold water on the agenda for which the Iranian delegation had arrived in India. But giving enviable proof of his political maturity and the sincerity of his intentions, the Iranian foreign minister clarified his position by saying that the GoI’s official declaration that it respects all religions was enough to reassure everyone on the fact that India was a secular democratic state. and should therefore be respected.
As the trial for the smooth transport of Russian timber was launched and Iranian FM eased the tense situation, a simultaneous call between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi took place the same day.
Part of the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) to link the Russian, Iranian and Asian markets, can be seen in the broader context of shifting alliances and pragmatic normalizations – forced mainly by the economic vagaries of an economy Covid and Anti-Russian Sanctions.
It is in this context that India is showing keen interest in the development of the seaport of Chahbahar in the Persian Gulf. The Indo-Iranian Chahbahar deal fell into the shadows due to the Trump administration’s sanctions on Iran in 2020. The project appeared to be sinking into the doldrums. Iran has threatened to invite China to take control of Shahbahar’s development. Iran even withdrew its consent to Indian Railways working on rail connectivity to Afghanistan and then to Central Asia.
However, with the regime change in the United States, the conciliatory role of European countries towards Iran and the resumption of the Iranian nuclear talks all contributed to rethinking the Indo-Iranian relations and then to revising the Iranian policy of Shahbahar .
India has refused to endorse the UN’s anti-Russian resolution on Ukraine. Since then, US-Indo relations have turned partly sour. Although India refused to sign for its own reasons, it was not an act of vendetta against Ukraine, which has generally served as a proxy for the United States and the Western bloc to twist the arms of India at the United Nations. India’s refusal to tow the US line is essentially a signal to the US and EU countries to change their minds. This is what the Indian Foreign Minister told his British counterpart in no uncertain terms that the world had changed and that India was the India that the colonialists had projected into the world. There was talk at one point of the United States imposing sanctions on India for not signing the anti-Russian resolution and for signing an oil deal with Moscow. It turned out a wet firecracker.
India treats the Afghan Taliban regime with pragmatism. The Taliban have asked Indi to reopen its embassy and promised to protect Indian staff and citizens. Iran has shown renewed interest in the Indo-Iranian Chahbahar project and related rail connectivity. India has established very cordial relations with Tajikistan, the so-called underbelly of the former Soviet Union but of immense strategic importance in the region. The only Central Asian republic that has declared it will resist any northward movement by the Afghan Taliban in their crucial fight with the Americans in Afghanistan. The five Central Asian republics are on board. As such, high hopes rest on strong land-based commercial and security interests for all stakeholders in the region.
Some commentators speak of the India-Iran-Moscow axis. Others include China in the axis. The reality is that India does not frame its foreign policy of forming blocs, groups, axes, etc. The whole story is about the awakening of developing countries and its fallout. The Western world will have to take note of this and modify its policy towards the Third World accordingly.