South Asia

  • Is E-commerce the Deal Breaker for India-US Trade Talks?

    Presenting her maiden budget on July 5 India’s Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman signaled her ambition to transform India into a $5 trillion economy by 2025. No doubt India has the potential to achieve this goal but succeeding requires recognizing and addressing the challenges it faces.

    Unexpectedly, a primary obstacle to India’s ambitions is the United States itself, as evidenced by the stalled and frustrating trade talks between Delhi and Washington. Disagreements about data privacy, e-commerce, the medical device price cap, dairy, and now foreign direct investment (FDI) into the insurance sector are all contributing to the on-going trade impasse and growing tensions. Going by the US administration’s recent public statements, there is little reason to be optimistic for progress, and more reason to believe that harder times lie ahead for the bilateral trade relationship.


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  • Pakistan PM Khan Hails New Relationship After Trump Meeting

    Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said he and US President Donald J. Trump agreed to eliminate the “communication gap,” between their two countries during Khan’s visit to Washington on July 22. Speaking at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) on July 23, Khan described his meeting with Trump as “one of the most pleasant surprises.”

    The US-Pakistani relationship has been strained after the Trump administration decided to suspend $300 million in aid to Pakistan in September 2018 due to their belief that Islamabad did not do enough to combat terrorism. Trump has specifically criticized Pakistan as a “safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan.”


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  • A Passage to India: Israel’s Pivot East

    As Israel gears up for an election do-over in September, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will once again look to foreign leaders to bolster his leadership potential and diplomatic experience. In the wake of the high-profile visits to Russia and the US prior to the April 9 elections, Netanyahu is turning east this time, towards India to inch ahead of his main rival, Kohal Lavan.


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  • An Afghan Opening: Opportunities, Challenges, and Pitfalls

    A gathering of more than sixty Afghans in Qatar this week provided a rare opportunity for frank discussion on the open questions facing a society still gripped in a decades-long conflict. A group of Kabul-based political, civil society, and government-endorsed representatives sat across from more than a dozen Taliban political officers, in a wrenching exchange of grievances, hopes, and fears about a slew of long-standing and contentious issues.


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  • Women’s World Cup 2019: Where is the Middle East?

    The final match of the Women’s World Cup 2019 is a few short days away and the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) expects viewership to reach one billion. With all the excitement these past months have generated, it is hard not to notice a glaring discrepancy in representation. There is not one team from the Middle East that qualified. Is it because the sport is less popular in this region? Is it because the women don’t want to play? The answer to both questions is no. Soccer is in fact one of the most popular sports in the Middle East. According to a report on sports in the region, “Soccer is woven tightly into the lives and cultures of the peoples of the Middle East.” Anyone should be able to grab a ball, gather some neighborhood kids, and play a pickup game barefoot from Sao Paulo to Tokyo. But what about Kabul, Tehran, and Ankara? When girls or women try to enter the game, it isn’t as simple as it is for boys and men. This is especially true in the Middle East.


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  • The United States Has Few Good Options When it Comes to India’s Plans to Purchase a Russian Missile Defense System

    On a visit to New Delhi this week, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was informed by Indian Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar that India will do “what is in our national interest” when it comes to purchasing a Russian missile defense system. Despite US pressure and the threat of sanctions, the Indian government has no plans to scrap a deal to purchase the Russian S-400 air and missile defense system.

    Ahead of Pompeo’s visit to India on June 25 and 26, State Department officials had urged “allies and partners, including India, to forgo transactions with Russia that risk triggering the CAATSA sanctions.” The 2017 Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) threatens to sanction countries for buying Russian weapons.


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  • US Oil Embargo Stalls Iran-India Energy Relations

    Before the Trump administration decided to target Tehran’s oil exports, Iran and India experienced a positive trend in relations.

    India was Iran’s second largest oil customer, importing 457,000 barrels of oil a day before the US withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in May 2018. Last November, India was one of eight countries that received a six-month waiver to continue importing Iranian oil; it bought 300,000 barrels per day during this period. In April, however, the Trump administration did not renew the waivers. India announced on May 24 that it would abide by US sanctions and stop all such imports.

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  • Narendra Modi Wins Big. What’s Next for India?

    Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi led his party to a resounding electoral victory on May 23. Modi, who leads the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), defied most predictions by expanding his party’s presence in the Lok Sabha, the lower house of India’s Parliament. The BJP is projected to win 303 of the 543 seats in the Lok Sabha. The main opposition alliance, led by the Indian National Congress, has admitted defeat.


    The big question now is how Modi will use his second five-year term at the helm of the world’s largest democracy. India faces plenty of challenges: a high unemployment rate, slow economic growth, changing geopolitical relationships, border security issues, and a deepening religious divide.

    Here is a quick look at how Modi handled these issues in his first term and what he will need to focus on in the next five years.


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  • Can Pakistan Be the Friend Iran Needs?

    With pressure mounting on Iran from US sanctions, Iran is placing heavy emphasis on its neighbors for trade and political support.

    Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s recent visit to Iran has raised the question of whether Pakistan can be the friend Tehran needs to survive the Trump administration’s growing hostility.

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  • Charai in Newsmax: Turning to Democracy, Tolerance, Solidarity After Sri Lanka Attacks


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