The author is a former secretary in the external affairs ministry

Unsettled at home

The talks between the defence secretaries of India and Pakistan were held on June 11-12 in Islamabad sans the usual hoopla.

India and the war within

In any nation’s history, there are periods when external challenges and domestic compulsions converge to test the ruling elite.

The world after Osama

May 1, Labour Day, marked the first annive-rsary of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden’s killing. The same evening as strategic thinkers in Delhi sat for a round table discussion with Zalmai Rassoul, the visiting foreign minister of Afghanistan, the news broke of US President Barack Obama’s Kabul visit. The secrecy was underscored by Mr Rassoul missing the event. The White House continued to deny it until after Mr Obama left Kabul, having signed a 10-year Strategic Partnership Agreement between the US and Afghanistan and after an address to the troops at the Bagram airbase.

Room to play

The shadow of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks in 2008 continues to loom over India-Pakistan parleys. At Sharm el-Sheikh in 2009, on the sidelines of the Non-Aligned Summit, both the countries tried to delink through ingenious drafting Pakistani action on terror networks and 26/11 perpetrators from resumption of composite dialogue.

Nuclear riddles

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh set forth over the weekend to attend the Second Nuclear Security Summit at Seoul, the first was in Washington in 2010.

In a policy slipstream

From end-January, when the five-state Assembly elections commenced, till the counting day on March 6, while the nation waited and guessed, the external environment mutated.

A diplomatic enclave

On February 21, seven months after US ambassador to India Timothy Roemer left, his successor Nancy J. Powell omitted India-Iran relations in her opening statement at her Senate confirmation hearing, but a barrage of questions still followed. Earlier, Nicholas Burns (US undersecretary of state, 2005-2008) lamented in the New York Times that India was “bitterly disappointing” its US friends in ignoring US calls to isolate Iran by reducing its oil purchases, or showing leadership to facilitate the smooth functioning of the international system.

Syria stuck between 3 minutes & 40 years

Syria has been simmering since 2011, when the Arab Spring wafted over it from the heartland of the Arab world — Egypt. Meanwhile, the Western nations were preoccupied with Libya, having obtained UN Security Council Resolution 1973 enabling use of force to protect civilians.

Iranian paranoia

Like time and tide national security/foreign policy issues await none, not even a government in Delhi distracted by the Foreign Direct Investment Bill, five state elections, the Uttar Pradesh one critical to the demise or consolidation of UPA-2, or flip-flops over religion-based quotas etc.

An anxious 2012

As 2011 ends, to vary George Orwell’s quip in Animal Farm, while all years are equal this one was more equal than others. Many Indian and international icons passed away, tyrants perished and a fourth wave of democratisation commenced.

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