Courting the stans: India’s outreach to central Asia is vital to counter the China-Pakistan axis

News: Recently, a third India- Central Asia dialogue has been held. Regional Security Dialogue” with his Central Asian Republic (CAR) counterparts was also held recently to discuss Afghanistan.

What were the key highlights of the 3rd India- Central Asia dialogue?

Improving connectivity:  Discussions have been held on India’s $1 billion Line of Credit for projects in Central Asia. Further, India’s connectivity initiatives are based on principles of transparency and respect for sovereignty. The formulation is used by India to oppose China’s opaque Belt and Road projects that have already seen countries fall into debt traps and sign away strategic assets.

Read hereIndia-Central Asia Dialogue: Six nations call for ‘immediate’ aid for Afghans
How does instability in Afghanistan impacts CAR?

Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan share land borders with Afghanistan, so instability directly affects these regions. Ethnic Tajik, Turk and Uzbek are significant minorities in Afghanistan and are the first to be impacted by the Taliban’s exclusionary ideology. Also, CARs fears the increase in rising of radical Islam, terrorism and drugs into their own territories.

Read hereWhat are Central Asian initiatives to resolve the Afghan crisis?
Why does the Central Asian Republics are important for India?

CAR has massive natural resources like gas, uranium, etc. This can fuel India’s next phase of industrialization. Also, linking Iran’s Chabahar port with the International North-South Transport Corridor can give India direct access to Central Asia, bypassing Pakistan.

Read here: India quest for a road to Central Asia
What are the roadblocks in prospering India- Central Asian Republics (CAR) relations?

-Russia continues to influence the CAR region and their governments.

-China’s Belt and Road Initiative and $100 billion trade has made it a central figure in the region.

-The U.S. has also been seeking a foothold in the region, especially after exit from Afghanistan.

-India’s land connectivity to Central Asia is hampered by Pakistan. The alternative route, via Iran’s Chabahar, has also received a setback after the Taliban takeover of Kabul. The development of the Indian-managed Shahid Beheshti terminal continues to suffer due to the threat of American sanctions.

Read here: India and Central Asia
What policies should India adopt?

If India wants to counter the China-Pakistan axis and ‘Great Game’ rivalries that are playing out in the region, it should redouble its efforts towards Central Asia. It should reclaim its shared history with countries that are an important market, a source for energy, and also a bulwark against the threats of extremism and radicalization.

Source: This post is based on the following articles:

“Meeting between India and Central Asian Republics underscores shared concerns on Afghanistan” published in the Indian Express on  21st December 2021.

“Courting the stans: India’s outreach to central Asia is vital to counter the China-Pakistan axis” published in the Times of India on  21st December 2021.

“A strategic bulwark: On third India-Central Asia Dialogue” published in The Hindu on  21st December 2021.

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