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May 29, 2024
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Pakistan’s Nuclear Weapons: The Dangers in the Indian Sub-Continent

By: Aasi Ansari, Research Analyst, GSDN

Pakistan’s nuclear plant: source Internet

Introduction

South Asia is considered one of the nuclear flashpoint due to the three nuclear armed bordering countries, i.e., India, China, and Pakistan. Among these countries, only China has signed the ‘Non-Proliferation Treaty’, ‘Credible Minimum Deterrence’ and ‘No First Use Policy’. However, China is not the part of Indian Sub-Continent. Indian Sub-Continent includes India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives. India only has ‘Credible Minimum Deterrence’ and ‘No First Use Policy’. Pakistan on the other hand has not signed any of these treaties. As the matter of fact, Pakistan have ‘First Use Policy’ to deter from India and China and also uses their nuclear power to threaten nuclear and non-nuclear states, increasing the danger in the Indian Sub-Continent.

Pakistan’s position on nuclear disarmament is that it will only give up nuclear weapons if India gives up its own nuclear arsenal. All the other states in the Indian Sub-Continent are Non-Nuclear States. Pakistan don’t  have any official nuclear doctrine. Even if there exists one, it has not been made public. This ambiguity has increased the concerns in the Indian Sub-Continent, since South-Asia is a home to three nuclear armed states.

Pakistan’s Nuclear Capabilities

Pakistan tries to keep just a little more than India, i.e. nearly 170 warheads and have enough material to make up to 200 warheads by 2025. Right now Pakistan is the 6th largest nuclear power in the World, if they decide to increase the number they are estimated to be the 5th largest by 2025. India has around 160 warheads with 7th rank in the Nuclear arsenal after Pakistan. Although, India’s has nuclear capabilities is in all three domains i.e., land based, Aircrafts, and navel missiles. On the other hand, Pakistan’s nuclear is estimated to be mainly on land based missiles. However, they are considered to be capable of expanding their domain.

Pakistan is considered to have warheads in six deferent types of land based ballistic missile capable of nuclear payload. All of them are short range ballistic missiles. Pakistan has also tried to miniaturised nuclear missiles to make Multiple Independently Targeted Re-Entry Vehicles (MIRVs). Pakistan also have naval nuclear capabilities. Babar-3, a Sea Launch Ballistic Missile (SLBM), has been tested twice under the water. However, the completion of the development of Babar-3 has not been confirmed yet. Pakistan approved the purchase of 8 submarines from China, considered to be capable of carrying Babar-3 missiles. The F-16, Mirage-3 and Mirage-5 aircrafts are considered to be capable of carrying nuclear missile. Pakistan is estimated to have nearly 12 Mirage aircrafts.

The Dangers in the Indian Sub-Continent

Pakistan has always rebel against any international sanctioned. They have built a runaway program that has benefited them to increase their own nuclear power. The US and Pakistan multiple bilateral relations right after the independence of Pakistan, which has benefited both countries on papers. However, the relation between these two countries has been proven to be one of the most ‘mutual vulnerable’, since they have both threated each other for political benefits from time to time.

After Pakistan become a nuclear state the possibility of threat of a nuclear weapon getting into the hands of terrorists has been discussed around the globe, India in particular. Pakistan has used its nuclear capabilities to threaten other countries, every time the leading global nuclear power had to intervene to handle the conflict for establishing peace. Launch ability of nuclear weapon from Pakistan the biggest hindrance. To perform a launch of a missile with a nuclear payload needs a proper sophisticated technology to do the precis attack on a specific area or it needs to be carried on the aircraft to be dropped, or a submarine to launch.

This precision technology is only available with the military. In it highly believed that terrorist might not have this sophisticated technology and even with nuclear missile in the hands of terrorist, they might use the nuclear weapon to only threated any state rather than actually using it. However, nothing can be said for sure, and the concern remains the same. Therefore, without a precision technology launch platform readiness or availability can only be accomplished if the state supports it, in that case, it would no longer be an act of terror. It would be an act of aggression by the state of Pakistan.

America has tried to impose sanctions on Pakistan multiple times. However, American sanctions have failed to prevent Pakistan from building a nuclear program. After 9/11, United States gave Pakistan an ultimatum that Pakistan should allow U.S. to take full control on their nuclear facilities or American authorities will try to take control by force with the help of India. However, after that Bush administration had also spent around $100 million to help Pakistan safeguard its nuclear arsenal, but not able to establish control over Pakistani nuclear weapon. General Pervez Musharraf appreciated and suggested continued Western support will help to keep the nuclear arsenal away from the extremist hand.

In 2011, America had ‘Snatch and Grab’ contingency plan for Pakistan’s nuclear weapons, in case if they ever become a threat to United States or its interest. General Pervez Musharraf said Snatch-and-grab might lead to all-out-war by stating that “total confrontation by the whole nation against whoever comes in.” South-Asia plays a big role in global nuclear security, if they ever succumb to conflict, it could have a major impact on not only India-Pakistan but in all regions in Indian sub-continent. As the arsenal in South-Asia continues to grow, the risk of nuclear escalations also grows in the future conflicts.

America’s support for any country may fluctuate according to their interest and America has been seen to be bias in some conflicts. Just like America supporting Israel right now have raised concern of possible support to Pakistan against China or even India. America supported Pakistan during the Russian occupation of Afghanistan with the military aid. Although, America was not actually supporting Pakistan, they were just fighting against Russia. These crises have highlighted the third party influence to the nuclear escalation in the border of India and Pakistan. It is less likely to happen but not impossible.

The politics between India and Pakistan has also played a big role in escalation nuclear threat in the region. For instance, Prime Minister Narendra Modi for past decade has also used religion as key point to manipulate the civilians of India and win the election. Some researchers also believe that the Pulwama attacks was staged by the Indian government. Similarly, Pakistan has also used religion to use politics. All this religious politics form both the side has shown that the risk of nuclear threats is more under the leadership Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP).

It is considered that Pakistan has the nuclear power to use its own nuclear weapon in its own country in case of an invasion to kill the enemy force in the state along with killing of their own force. If Pakistan ever choses to use Weapon of Mass Destruction (WMD)  they are most likely to use a small scale nuclear warhead with minimum destruction. But both the bordering states have to deal with the fallout and radiation contamination, if it is used on the borders. Furthermore, even if the small scale low yield nuclear weapon is used, it could wipe out approximately 20 million people, depending on the population of the destroyed area and nearly 2 billion people will die, if the nuclear winter is triggered.

India don’t only have to deter from Pakistan but from China as well. India’s nuclear arsenal is lower than the Pakistan’s and China’s nuclear arsenal. India having nearly 165 nuclear warheads and have 700 Kg of weapon grad plutonium to make up to 213 warheads by 2033. Much more than India and Pakistan, China has about 500 nuclear warheads and they are developing the nuclear program much faster and it is estimated to be up to 1000 warheads by 2035. New Delhi worries about the continuing deep links between China and Pakistan. The links between Pakistan and China for the developments if the nuclear weapon has been found multiple times. For instance, in February 2020, India caught items being shipped by China to Pakistan. According to the DRDO, this item can be used for the manufacturing of rocket motors for ballistic missiles. This has further deteriorated the bilateral relationship between India with China and Pakistan.

Conclusion

Pakistan is a nation that has both nuclear weapons and a dangers of terrorism. Pakistani leaders have often been working surreptitiously with the terrorists to achieve common goals. Taliban secretly received political and military support from Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency. That fear now includes the possibility that Jihadis in Pakistan, freshly inspired by the Taliban victory in Afghanistan, might try to seize power at home. Pakistan claims to have nuclear weapon to deter from India and India have nuclear weapon to deter from China that increases the concern in entire Indian Sub-Continent.

However, in all the military conflicts at Sino-Indian and Indo-Pakistani border, Nuclear missile have never been used but only conventional arms were used. All these possible scenarios have the potential to lead to nuclear flashpoint and start the nuclear war in the world or at least between the nuclear armed states. Until-unless, Pakistan gives control of its nuclear arsenal to America or at least confirms that they are not helping the Terrorist organisations and anyway, the threat of nuclear conflict cannot be fully avoided.

75 Years of NATO: Relevance and Future

By: Darshan Gajjar, Research Analyst, GSDN

NATO at 75 years: source Internet

“There’s also hatred here… They’d be the first to be dreadfully unhappy if Russia should somehow rebuild itself, even the way they want it, and should somehow become boundlessly rich and happy. Then there would be no one for them to hate, no one to spit on, nothing to make fun of! What we have here is nothing but a boundless animal hatred for Russia which has eaten into their organism,” were the words of not Vladimir Putin in 2022 but that of Russian author Fyodor Dostoevsky in his novel Demons published in 1871–72. Though a work of fiction, Dostoevsky’s lines signal the persisting antagonism towards Russia in the European psyche, which has been enduring for many centuries.

Initially for cultural, later for religious, and now for ideological and geopolitical reasons, there exists this acrimony between Europe (including the West in general) and Russia. The existing conflict in eastern Europe can be attributed to this acrimony and antagonism. When Russia attacked Ukraine on February 24, 2024 one of the reasons it gave for invading Ukraine was the integration of Ukraine, which historically and politically was under Russian sphere of influence, into European and western security apparatus, most notably (potentially) in NATO.

April 4, 2024 marked 75 years since the Washington Treaty was signed in 1949 that conceptualised the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). This article aims to dissect the popular myths and opinions about the role of NATO and its relevance post-dissolution of the USSR. It further makes the case for NATO to pivot into the Indo-Pacific in order to counter the growing Chinese threat.

Genesis of NATO

The end of World War II resulted in the crumbling of the then-established international order, with new potential hegemons and ideological rivals reshaping the balance of power considerations in the world. The world was subsequently divided into two economic and ideological blocks, with the West led by America promoting capitalism and the Soviet Union and allied countries spreading communism. Apprehensive about the rise of the USSR and its implications, Winston Churchill famously remarked, “From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the continent,” further highlighting the need to protect western values. Amid such developments, on April 4, 1949 the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) came into being with the aim of providing “collective security against the Soviet Union.”

During the Cold War, NATO and its rival Warsaw Pact, which was established in 1955, indulged in multiple covert and overt operations in order to damage each other’s security framework. At the same time, with the advancements in precision technologies, the role of deterrence was redefined. The threat from the Soviet Union was at its zenith in the 1960s, when it actively made breakthroughs in intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). Eventually, NATO countries, along with their unabated nuclear posture, decided to strategically upgrade their conventional defence posture as well. One of the reasons why the Soviet Union collapsed was because of the leverage that NATO had in military and technological terms. The USSR’s pursuit of the same leverage led to its exhaustion of resources and its ultimate dissolution.

End of the Cold War and NATO Expansion

December 26, 1991 marked the official disintegration of the mighty USSR and the birth of fifteen sovereign republics. From the era of bipolarity during the Cold War, the world was suddenly ushered into an age of unipolarity, and the US dominance of the international system with all the major competing ideologies losing legitimacy and support. American political scientist and International Relations scholar Francis Fukuyama called this a moment of “the end of history,” where human civilization had reached its ideological pinnacle.

Amid all the changes in the international system, the question of the continuation of NATO was of utmost importance. Few of the leaders and scholars believed that NATO had achieved its raison d’être with the culmination of the Cold War and should be dissolved, contrary to those who necessitated its existence in order to counter any future threats. Eventually expansionists prevailed over the realists, and not only would NATO continue to exist, but it would also be expanded despite its rival Warsaw Pact having been dissolved. George Kennan, one of the key architects of the USA’s containment policy during the Cold War, warned in 1998 against NATO expansion. “I think it is the beginning of a new cold war… I think the Russians will gradually react quite adversely, and it will affect their policies. I think it is a tragic mistake. There was no reason for this whatsoever. No one was threatening anybody else,” he said.

Political Scientist Ted Galen Carpenter writes in his book titled Beyond NATO: Staying Out of Europe’s Wars which was published in 1994, “It would be extraordinarily difficult to expand NATO eastward without that action’s being viewed by Russia as unfriendly. Even the most modest schemes would bring the alliance to the borders of the old Soviet Union. Some of the more ambitious versions would have the alliance virtually surround the Russian Federation itself.” Even President Putin rattled during the 2007 Munich Security Conference, “It [the NATO expansion] represents a serious provocation that reduces the level of mutual trust. And we have the right to ask: Against whom is this expansion intended?”

John Mearsheimer, a prominent political scientist who forwarded the theory of offensive realism, argued in March 2022 (one month after Russia’s attack on Ukraine) that the West, and especially America, was principally responsible for the crisis in Ukraine. He further warned that the conflict has “now turned into a war that not only threatens to destroy Ukraine but also has the potential to escalate into a nuclear war between Russia and NATO.”

On the other hand, leaders including Bill Clinton, Madeleine Albright, and George H.W. Bush, inter alia, actively advocated NATO expansion in order to promote democratic freedom around the world and strengthen liberal international order. Further, leaders in the west today believe that it was the expansionist goals of Russia and President Putin that led to the catastrophe in Ukraine and not the security dilemmas associated with the apprehensions of Ukraine joining NATO.

Can NATO Pivot to Asia?

Whatever the arguments, the existence and expansion of NATO are realities, and one must accept that beyond strategic considerations. With eastern Europe and the Middle East being entangled in conflict, it gives Xi Jinping an opportunity to leverage the situation and achieve what it calls reunification of Taiwan with mainland China. Recently, Admiral John Aquilino, outgoing US Indo-Pacific commander, warned of the of the assertiveness of China in the region, citing examples of Chinese overreaction to Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan in 2022 and, most recently, Chinese aggressiveness against the Philippines, where China violated international and maritime law. “It’s getting more aggressive, they’re getting more bold, and it’s getting more dangerous,” he said further.

It is high time for NATO leaders to pivot to Asia with the aim of curbing the rising hegemon—China—that aims to destroy the very foundations of liberty, freedom, and human rights on which the West-led rule-based order is grounded. In 2022, after the NATO summit in Madrid, the final communiqué, officially known as the ‘NATO 2022 STRATEGIC CONCEPT,’ for the first time mentioned China as one of NATO’s strategic priorities, citing how China’s coercive policies challenge NATO’s interests, security, and values. It says, “The PRC’s malicious hybrid and cyber operations and its confrontational rhetoric and disinformation target Allies and harm Alliance security.”

Though NATO officially does not consider China an adversary, it has increased its engagement with allies and like-minded countries in the region, such as South Korea and Japan. Additionally, NATO Strategic Foresight Analysis (SFA) 2023 also talks about strengthening the organisation’s capabilities in space, information, and cyber domains, in which China vigorously pursues building military capabilities. This is evident with recent PLA reorganisation reforms, under which the PLA has established three independent branches: the Information Support Force (ISF), the Cyberspace Force, and the Aerospace Force, carved out of the erstwhile Strategic Support Force (SSF).

Rise of China, economically and militarily, requires all the security mechanisms and organisations to recalibrate their operational approaches to counter novel threats. The evolution of warfare and its transcendence to public life by means of grey zone warfare tactics, which are being employed by countries like China, predominantly require like-minded countries to collaborate on security matters, especially in the Indo-Pacific.

Conclusion

In the nineteenth century, Dostoevsky warned us about the inherent nature of antagonism between Russia and Europe. Under the current circumstances, in Ukraine, finding mutual conditions under which both countries—Russia and Ukraine—can agree for a permanent ceasefire and the secession of hostilities is paramount. If increasing collaboration between Russia and China is a cause of concern for NATO and the West, the overdependence of Russia on China is becoming worrisome for Russia as well due to fear of it becoming a vassal state of China. Changing conditions of the balance of power amid major geopolitical developments demand allies consolidate their power to deter rising adversaries in the Indo-Pacific.

The May 9, 2023 Incident: A Manifestation of Pakistan’s Struggle Against Authoritarianism

By: Lt Col JS Sodhi (Retd), Editor, GSDN

Imran Khan in prison: source Internet

In the annals of Pakistan’s tumultuous political history, May 9, 2023 stands out as a day of reckoning—a moment when the simmering discontent of the people erupted into a powerful wave of resistance against authoritarianism and injustice. The events of that fateful day, marked by the overturning of the PTI government and the imposition of false charges on its politicians, serve as a stark reminder of the entrenched power dynamics plaguing the country’s governance.

At the heart of the May 9 incident lies the Pakistan Army’s tightening grip on the levers of power, overshadowing democratic principles and stifling dissent. The army’s intervention in civilian affairs, culminating in the dismissal of the PTI government and the arbitrary arrest of its leaders, underscores the pervasive influence of the military establishment in shaping Pakistan’s political landscape.

The pretext for the army’s actions was ostensibly rooted in concerns over governance and stability. However, a closer examination reveals a deeper truth—the PTI government’s efforts to challenge the status quo threatened the entrenched interests of the military elite. Prime Minister Imran Khan’s crusade against corruption and injustice struck at the very core of the system perpetuated by the Pakistan Army—a system built on patronage, cronyism, and impunity.

Imran Khan’s pledge to clean the system of corruption and hold the powerful to account posed a direct challenge to the entrenched interests of the military establishment. As the PTI government sought to dismantle the structures of privilege and impunity, it incurred the wrath of those who benefit from the status quo. The events of May 9, therefore, must be understood within the broader context of a struggle for power and accountability—a struggle between the forces of democracy and those of authoritarianism.

The people’s anger on May 9 was not merely a reaction to the overturning of a government, but a manifestation of years of frustration and disillusionment with a system that prioritizes the interests of the few over the needs of the many. The imposition of false charges on PTI politicians served as a chilling reminder of the lengths to which the powerful will go to maintain their grip on power and privilege.

In the aftermath of the May 9 incident, Pakistan stands at a crossroads. The choice before its people is clear—whether to succumb to the forces of authoritarianism and oppression or to stand up and demand a return to democratic principles and the rule of law. The events of May 9 serve as a wake-up call—a call to action for all those who believe in the principles of justice, accountability, and freedom.

It is incumbent upon the people of Pakistan to hold their leaders accountable, to demand transparency and fairness in governance, and to resist attempts to undermine the foundations of democracy. The struggle against authoritarianism is not an easy one, but it is a fight worth waging—for the sake of future generations and the promise of a better, more just Pakistan. As long as there are those willing to speak out and stand up for what is right, there remains hope for a brighter tomorrow, free from the shadows of authoritarian rule.

The Dragon Stretching its Wings – Chinese Overseas Military Bases

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By: Mahima Sharma, Research Analyst, GSDN

A Chinese military base: source Internet

In recent years, China has been rapidly expanding its military power and influence, with significant implications for global security. One of the most notable developments in this regard is China’s establishment of overseas military bases, which has raised concerns among policymakers and analysts around the world. This article will examine the implications of China’s overseas military bases, with a focus on their geopolitical significance, the challenges they pose to regional and global stability, and the potential for conflict.

China’s growing military power is well-documented, with the country investing heavily in modernizing its armed forces and expanding its military capabilities. This includes the development of advanced weapon systems, the expansion of its navy, and the establishment of overseas military bases. These bases, which are located in strategic regions around the world, are intended to support China’s military operations and enhance its ability to project power globally.

The significance of China’s overseas military bases cannot be overstated. These bases are not just military outposts, but also symbols of China’s growing influence and power. They represent a new phase in China’s military diplomacy, as the country seeks to establish itself as a global military power. Moreover, these bases are part of China’s broader strategy of expanding its economic and political influence around the world, particularly in regions where it has significant economic interests.

China’s quest for overseas military bases is a significant development in the country’s military diplomacy and strategic posture. Historically, China has been cautious about establishing military bases abroad, preferring instead to maintain a low military profile and avoid entangling alliances. However, in recent years, China has been more assertive in its pursuit of overseas military presence, driven by its growing economic and strategic interests around the world.

The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a massive infrastructure development project spanning several continents, has played a significant role in China’s quest for overseas military bases. Through the BRI, China has established partnerships with countries along the proposed routes, providing them with infrastructure development and investment in exchange for access to their markets and resources. These partnerships have also provided China with opportunities to establish military bases and access agreements, allowing it to protect its interests and project power in key regions.

China’s strategic infrastructure projects, such as ports, railways, and highways, have also played a crucial role in its quest for overseas military bases. These projects have provided China with access to strategic locations and resources, allowing it to project power and protect its interests in key regions. For example, China’s establishment of its first official overseas military base in Djibouti in 2017 has set the precedent for PLA units to be permanently stationed abroad, providing China with a strategic foothold in the Horn of Africa and the Indian Ocean.

China’s quest for overseas military bases has significant implications for global security and stability. The potential for conflict and military escalation is a significant concern, particularly in regions where China’s interests intersect with those of other powers. The establishment of military bases and access agreements also has implications for regional security dynamics, potentially altering the balance of power and creating new security challenges.

China’s military posture has been evolving in recent years, with a growing focus on expeditionary operations and the protection of its expanding interests overseas. While China has not yet established formal military alliances or full-fledged bases, it has been developing partnerships that allow it access to strategic locations and resources. These partnerships, often established under the Belt and Road Initiative, have provided China with opportunities to establish military bases and access agreements, allowing it to protect its interests and project power in key regions.

China’s continental geography has a significant impact on its military posture, as it shares long land boundaries with many powerful neighbours and must prioritize its periphery as a first-order national security theatre. This means that China’s military resources and strategic attention are primarily focused on its immediate surroundings, rather than on distant regions. However, China has been expanding its military presence overseas, particularly in regions where it has significant economic and strategic interests.

China’s “encirclement” by the U.S. and its allies across Asia, Oceania, and Europe also poses a challenge to its military posture. This is especially acute in maritime East Asia, where China has strategic threat perceptions and must prioritize its immediate littoral areas. The utility of bases far out of the likely theatre of operations is much diminished for China, as it faces a permanent reality of encirclement by the U.S. and its allies.

Technology also plays a significant role in shaping China’s approach to overseas military bases. The widespread diffusion of precision strike technologies makes all prospective Chinese bases soft targets, rendering the traditional method of foreign basing less strategically viable for China in the 21st century. Building dedicated basing infrastructure may yield greater liabilities than assets in high-end conflict, a problem that the U.S. joint force is also contending with as it seeks to blunt China’s threat to its many fixed positions across the Indo-Pacific.

China’s military diplomacy and overseas security activities are a significant aspect of the country’s foreign policy, aimed at furthering its national and military strategic objectives and goals. China’s military diplomacy includes high-level visits and professional military exchanges with counterparts overseas, participation in bilateral and multilateral exercises with partners outside the Indo-Pacific region, maritime patrols and port visits around the world, and provision of nontraditional security services. China’s military diplomacy is also used to signal displeasure with a country’s policies or actions toward China, through cancelling high-level engagements, dialogues, and exercises.

Chinese forces may utilize commercial port terminals leased to Chinese firms in a conflict scenario, as prescribed in China’s domestic law and policy. However, politically, host governments will generally have discretion to determine the type and degree of PLA use of any facility on its territory. The potential for Chinese forces to utilize commercial port terminals in a conflict scenario raises important questions about PRC external strategy, and requires that we take stock of China’s historically low levels of interest in engaging directly in militarized conflicts.

The political considerations for China’s military presence abroad include the need to safeguard the PRC’s sovereignty, security, and development interests; strengthen the military; and redefine the global community. China’s military diplomacy and overseas security activities are aimed at making the world safe for autocracy and shaping the perception of the Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) abroad. The CCP takes a much more expansive view of security, particularly from the information standpoint, than does the United States.

China’s overseas military bases have significant implications for global security and stability. The establishment of these bases represents a shift in China’s military posture, signalling its growing influence and power projection capabilities on a global scale. This expansion raises concerns about the potential for conflict and the need for diplomacy to manage tensions effectively.

The impact on global security and stability stems from the potential for increased military presence in strategic regions, which could alter the balance of power and create new security challenges. The presence of Chinese military forces in key locations around the world raises questions about how this will influence regional dynamics and the response of other major powers.

The potential for conflict is a significant concern, particularly in regions where China’s interests intersect with those of other countries. The establishment of overseas military bases can heighten tensions and increase the risk of miscalculations or misunderstandings that could lead to conflict. Diplomacy plays a crucial role in mitigating these risks and ensuring that disputes are resolved peacefully.

The role of the international community in addressing the implications of China’s overseas military bases is essential. Close monitoring, dialogue, and cooperation among nations are crucial to prevent misunderstandings and promote stability. Multilateral efforts to engage with China on military transparency, confidence-building measures, and conflict prevention can help manage potential conflicts and maintain global security.

In conclusion, the impact of China’s overseas military bases on global security and stability is significant, with the potential for conflict and the need for diplomacy to manage tensions effectively. The potential for Chinese forces to utilize commercial port terminals in a conflict scenario raises important questions about PRC external strategy, requiring careful management and diplomacy to prevent misunderstandings and miscalculations that could lead to conflict. Through vigilance, dialogue, and cooperation, we can ensure that China’s expanding military footprint contributes positively to global security and stability, promoting peace and prosperity for all.

The Mayhem of Minorities in Pakistan

By: Lt Col JS Sodhi (Retd), Editor, GSDN

Minorities in Pakistan: source Internet

Pakistan has a diverse population with numerous minority groups, including Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Hindus, and other religious and ethnic minorities. These communities face challenges, including discrimination, marginalization, and violence. The government has taken measures to promote social cohesion and address the concerns of minority groups, but there is still much work to be done. It’s important to note that minority communities in Pakistan are not homogeneous and have their unique cultural and linguistic identities. In Pakistan, the plight of minorities is a pressing concern that manifests through various forms of discrimination and mistreatment. This article delves into the multifaceted challenges faced by these communities, who are marginalized not only because of their religious and ethnic identities but also due to the systemic biases entrenched within the society. From the violent repercussions of blasphemy laws to the subtle yet pervasive socio-economic barriers, minorities in Pakistan navigate a landscape riddled with inequality. The article aims to shed light on the harsh realities of minorities in Pakistan, exploring the legal, social, and economic dimensions of discrimination that collectively undermine their fundamental rights and freedoms. As we examine the issues, we also consider the broader implications for Pakistan’s commitment to diversity and inclusion and the urgent need for reforms that ensure equal treatment for all citizens.

Profile of Minorities in Pakistan

In Pakistan, the mosaic of religious diversity tells a tale of struggles and challenges faced by minority communities. Despite comprising only a small fraction of the population, Christians, Hindus, Ahmadis, and other minorities endure significant hurdles in various facets of life. Statistics reveal a stark reality: Muslims dominate, constituting over 96% of the populace, while Christians and Hindus stand at 1.59% and 1.60%, respectively. These figures become even more poignant when we examine rural and urban divides. In rural areas, minority representation dwindles further, with Christians and Hindus making up a mere fraction of the population. The situation in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa reflects a particularly dire picture, where Muslims overwhelmingly dominate, leaving scant space for religious diversity. Despite these statistics, the contributions and voices of minorities are often marginalized, highlighting the urgent need for inclusive policies and societal attitudes that uphold the rights and dignity of all Pakistanis, regardless of faith.

Evolving threat scenario in Pakistan against minorities

The evolving threat scenario in Pakistan, particularly regarding blasphemy laws, continues to cast a shadow over the nation’s socio-political landscape. The tragic assassinations of Salman Taseer, the liberal Punjab governor, and Shahbaz Bhatti, a courageous Christian critic of these laws, underscore the perilous climate for those advocating for reform and tolerance. Taseer’s and Bhatti’s murders, just months apart in 2011, sent shockwaves through the country, revealing the deep-seated tensions between progressive voices and conservative elements. Even officials like Assistant Commissioner Jannat Hussain Nekokara faced backlash for supporting minority rights in 2019, highlighting the pervasive intolerance that extends to all levels of society. These incidents not only demonstrate the dangers faced by those challenging the status quo but also the broader implications for Pakistan’s minority communities. As blasphemy laws remain a contentious issue, the evolving threats against advocates for reform perpetuate an environment of fear and division, leaving little room for progress or safety for minority individuals.

Types of discrimination faced by Minorities

Mob violence   In Pakistan, blasphemy laws continue to affect numerous individuals, with 329 persons accused across 180 reported cases. Among them, 247 were Muslims, 65 Ahmadis, 11 Christians, and one Hindu, while the religious affiliation of five accused remained unknown.  Punjab saw the highest number of abuses in 2023, with 179 accused, followed by Sindh with 79, Azad Jammu and Kashmir with 37, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with 32, and single cases in Balochistan & Gilgit-Baltistan.

Forced Conversion/Abduction   The incidence of alleged abductions and forced conversions has surged to 136 cases, marking a new peak. Within this alarming figure, 110 Hindu girls were reportedly abducted in Sindh, while 26 Christian girls faced similar fates in Punjab. The majority of these distressing incidents unfolded in Sindh, with a staggering 77% of the victims being minors, under the age of 18. Amarnath Motual, former vice-chair of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, has highlighted a troubling trend, citing that at least 20 Hindu girls are abducted monthly in Pakistan. According to the CSJ report ‘Silence of the Lamb III’, which meticulously documented cases from 2013 to 2020, Hindu girls accounted for 88 (54%) of victims, Christians 72 (44%), Sikhs 1 (0.62%), and Kalash 1 (0.62%). The provincial breakdown reveals that Punjab witnessed 84 (51.85%) cases, Sindh 71 (43.83%), with Federal and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa each reporting 2 (1.23%) incidents, and Balochistan 1 (0.62%). Additionally, the CSJ data underscores that nearly half of the converted victims were minors. The CSJ, through meticulous examination of mainstream and social media, court orders, and police reports, verified 162 such incidents, uncovering a troubling trend: only 16.67% of victims were above 18, with nearly half being minors. Furthermore, the true ratio of underage victims may be higher, as the exact age of 37% of victims remained undisclosed in the report.

Hate Campaign   The hate campaign against minorities in Pakistan is a pressing issue that has led to violence, discrimination, and fear, impacting the lives of religious minority communities. Despite constitutional provisions allowing the practice of religion, the influence of Islamic doctrines has led to discrimination against religious minorities. The Pakistani state’s struggle to uphold international commitments further exacerbates this situation. Hate speech is prevalent in textbooks, mainstream media, and even within mosque sermons, contributing to a culture of animosity and inciting violent actions against minority groups. Instances of church burnings, the loss of lives, and brutal attacks against religious minorities have shocked the world, showcasing the dangerous effects of hate speech and incitement to violence. In daily life, individuals from religious minority backgrounds may experience heightened anxiety and insecurity due to the pervasive nature of hate speech. The use of derogatory slurs and labels like “kafir” and “wajib-ul-qatal” can lead to feelings of alienation and fear for their safety. Moreover, the distortion of historical facts and events in educational materials can perpetuate stereotypes and discriminatory attitudes against minorities, impacting their sense of identity and belonging in society. An analysis of responses to tweets concerning religious minorities in Pakistan revealed a significant surge in hate speech following Prime Minister Imran Khan’s supportive tweet in February 2020. Approximately 15,000 hate-filled responses were recorded in the week following the tweet.

Multidimensional Prosecution of minorities

Legal Discrimination           Blasphemy laws in Pakistan, despite their intended purpose of protecting religious sentiments, have disproportionately targeted minority communities, exacerbating religious discrimination and persecution. Minority groups, including Christians, Hindus, Ahmadi Muslims, and others, have been particularly vulnerable to false accusations of blasphemy, leading to arrests, violence, and even extrajudicial killings. Moreover, the mere accusation of blasphemy can result in societal ostracization, making minorities vulnerable to mob violence and vigilantism. The enforcement of blasphemy laws has created a climate of fear and insecurity among minority communities, impeding their ability to fully participate in society and enjoy their basic rights. Therefore, these laws not only violate principles of equality and justice but also perpetuate systemic discrimination against minorities in Pakistan. Shockingly, a significant portion of the victims were Muslims, with approximately 50% of them belonging to the Shia minority sect. Despite this, the socio-economic impact on religious minorities, especially Christians and Ahmadis, has been substantial, resulting in their social ostracization as highlighted in a report by HRCP.

Social-Economic Discrimination The socio-economic discrimination against minorities in Pakistan remains glaringly evident, perpetuating a cycle of marginalization and inequality. The disparity in literacy rates, as revealed by the 1998 census and further confirmed by the Punjab Commission on the Status of Women in 2017, highlights the systemic obstacles faced by minority communities, with Christians and Hindus lagging significantly behind the national average. The higher infant and child mortality rates among minorities underscore their economic marginalization, exacerbated by limited access to education due to exclusionary curriculum choices and religious discrimination in educational policies. Despite efforts such as the 2% quota for minority admissions at the university level, implementation remains inadequate, particularly due to the absence of affirmative measures at the school level. Furthermore, the failure of federal and provincial governments to approve syllabi for religious education in prisons denies minority prisoners their right to remission, perpetuating discriminatory practices. Additionally, the underrepresentation of minorities in government jobs, coupled with unequal pay and discriminatory hiring practices, further deepens their socio-economic disenfranchisement. Urgent action is needed to address these entrenched inequalities and ensure equal opportunities for all citizens, regardless of religious affiliation.

Political Discrimination   The discrimination against minorities in Pakistan is deeply ingrained within the political structure of the country, perpetuated by various mechanisms and institutions. The Constitution of Pakistan, while ostensibly guaranteeing freedom of religion, also enshrines Islam as the state religion, setting a framework that often marginalizes minority communities. Notably, key political positions such as the President and Prime Minister require adherence to Islam, effectively excluding non-Muslims from the highest offices of the state. This exclusionary policy reinforces a system where minority voices are sidelined in the political sphere, further exacerbated by the implementation of separate electorates. Introduced during General Zia-ul-Haq’s regime, this system diminishes the voting power of minorities, rendering their voices negligible in the political landscape. The resistance against such discriminatory practices, exemplified by figures like Sudham Chand, has often met with violence and suppression, sending a chilling message to those advocating for minority rights. Additionally, the Council of Islamic Ideology, established by Ayub Khan, serves as a barrier to progressive legislation by wielding its influence to block bills deemed ‘unIslamic,’ further consolidating religious authority over state affairs. This intersection of religion and politics not only undermines the democratic principles espoused by Pakistan’s constitution but also perpetuates systemic discrimination against minorities, denying them their rightful representation and amplifying their vulnerability within society.

Perpetrators of Discrimination       The perpetrators of minority discrimination in Pakistan stem from a complex interplay of societal, cultural, political and judicial factors. At the forefront are extremist groups and individuals who propagate intolerant ideologies, often under the guise of religious or nationalist fervour. These groups, such as the Taliban, Al-Qaida, and other militant factions, target minorities through violence, intimidation, and coercion, seeking to enforce their narrow interpretation of Islam and maintain power and control.  

Beyond extremist organizations, elements within the political establishment and bureaucracy have also been complicit in perpetuating discrimination against minorities. Politicians and officials who espouse divisive rhetoric or fail to address systemic inequalities contribute to an environment where minority rights are routinely disregarded.

Societal prejudices and biases against minorities are deeply entrenched, perpetuating discrimination in everyday interactions and opportunities. Discriminatory practices in education, employment, and housing further marginalize minority groups, limiting their access to socio-economic advancement and perpetuating cycles of inequality.

In Pakistan, the judiciary has played a significant role in perpetuating discrimination against minority communities, particularly through the enforcement of blasphemy laws and other discriminatory statutes. Despite the principles of justice and equality enshrined in the constitution, the judiciary has often failed to protect the rights of religious minorities, instead succumbing to pressure from extremist groups and conservative elements within society. Minority individuals often face bias and prejudice in both civil and criminal proceedings, with their testimonies and rights afforded lesser weight compared to those of the majority population. This systemic discrimination perpetuates a cycle of marginalization and oppression, further entrenching the unequal treatment of minorities within society. While there have been some efforts to address these issues, such as calls for judicial reforms and greater protection of minority rights, progress has been slow and often met with resistance from conservative quarters.

Does USA’s Foreign Policy Needs a Reset?

By: Muktha Prasannan, Research Analyst, GSDN

USA flag and World map: source Internet

The United States’ foreign policy governs its relations with other countries and establishes guidelines for its institutions, businesses, and individual residents. To build and sustain a democratic, secure, and prosperous world in the interest of the American citizens and the international community is the official stated mission of the U.S. foreign policy, as well as the missions of all U.S. Department of State bureaus and offices. The three main objectives of US foreign policy are security, economic growth, and establishing a better global environment. Encouraging liberty and democracy while safeguarding human rights globally is fundamental to American foreign policy. The principles upon which the United States was established centuries ago are congruent with those included in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, along with other international and regional agreements.

 The United States’ foreign policy in the post-Cold War period has undergone significant shifts and adaptations in response to the changing global landscape. The collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War marked a new era in international relations, characterized by the emergence of new challenges and opportunities. With the demise of the Soviet Union, the United States emerged as the sole remaining superpower, leading to a period often referred to as the “unipolar moment.” During this time, the United States sought to shape the international order and advance its interests through economic, military, and diplomatic power. The United States emphasized promoting democratic values, free markets, and human rights as crucial components of its foreign policy. It aimed to spread liberal democracy globally, encouraging countries to embrace democratic governance and market-oriented economies.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) expanded its membership to include former Soviet-bloc countries in Central and Eastern Europe. This move aimed to consolidate democratic values and enhance regional security while extending the influence of the United States and its Western allies. The September 11, 2001, attack shifted the focus of U.S. foreign policy toward counterterrorism efforts. The U.S. launched military interventions in Afghanistan (2001) and Iraq (2003) as part of its broader strategy to combat terrorism, dismantle extremist networks, and promote stability in the Middle East. The U.S. adopted a counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan and Iraq, seeking to build stable and democratic institutions while simultaneously combating insurgency and terrorism. This approach emphasized a combination of military force, nation-building efforts, and engagement with local populations. The United States has generally pursued policies that promote economic liberalism and free trade, advocating for open markets and trade agreements. However, there have been instances of protectionist measures, such as the imposition of tariffs, particularly under the Trump administration.

The Constitution allows the President and Congress to participate in foreign policy. Each has been granted specific powers and has acquired more authority through precedent or by depending on other constitutional duties. As commander in chief of the armed forces, the President negotiates treaties and selects ambassadors to represent the country abroad. Presidents have circumvented constitutionally imposed restrictions on their authority to determine the course of American foreign policy by using their authority as commander in chief of the armed forces to engage the country in multiple foreign conflicts without Congress’s formal declaration of war throughout American history. Executive agreements negotiated with a head of state are not subject to Senate approval, even if they are only in effect for the period of president who made them.

The range of possible policy alternatives is limited by geopolitical competition and globalization; therefore, the decisions made by the US president have a significant impact on worldwide events. The executive’s influence has continued to rise, making these decisions more unrestricted. The President will shape the US-China relationship and the global economy, significantly impacting America’s allies. Policymakers in Europe are aware that the president significantly impacts the US’s dedication to its transatlantic allies. It’s possible that Donald Trump might try to pull the US out of NATO during his second term in office. The best course for maintaining regional peace in the Middle East and Eurasia will be dramatically different under a Trump or Biden presidency, will influence US policy in the areas of technology, global health, arms control, and climate change. will go into effect. The US has retreated from its position as the world’s leading liberal nation under Trump. By doing this, the US has frequently provoked its closest allies, particularly in Europe, while granting strongmen like the Philippines, North Korea, and Russia impunity about human rights violations. In particular, the administration has fulfilled President Trump’s pre-election pledge to cut back on US international commitments by pulling out the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the UN Human Rights Council, and the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). It has officially announced its intention to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, which had been affected the day after the 2020 election.

The United States must envision a more fundamental reinvention of America’s place in the world to manage the unfolding complex shift. The devastation by the pandemic is all around us, with over half a million people lost their lives worldwide, the number of malnourished populations doubling, and the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression raging. US President Joe Biden spoke in his first foreign policy speech since assuming office, He presented it as a change of direction following four years of Donald Trump’s America First policy, promising to reinvest in diplomacy and partnerships while highlighting democratic principles.

Despite their differences in the role of the United States in the globe, Biden nevertheless prioritizes the interests of his fellow citizens. His representatives and he discuss a foreign policy that safeguards US workers’ earnings and jobs. According to Biden, there is no longer a clear distinction between domestic and foreign affairs. We must keep American working families in mind with every move we make when conducting ourselves overseas. It will have an impact on his trade strategies. As a result of Trump’s trade battle with China and his tense relations with America’s allies in Europe and Asia, as well as his increased hostilities with opponents like Iran and Venezuela, bilateral relations are at their lowest point in decades.

The multilateral order had to be restored, and Biden’s program was essentially based on rejecting Trump’s “America First” legacy. It was evident in his early actions to restore American climate diplomacy leadership and rejoin the World Health Organisation and the Paris Climate Accords. Additionally, Biden saw a chance to restore US leadership in the world and mend ties that had started to deteriorate under Trump in the wake of the COVID-19 epidemic. However, Biden’s goals and Trump’s agenda have much in common. A more refined form of Trump’s emphasis on prioritizing American interests over its international obligations, his “foreign policy for the middle class” links American diplomacy to domestic peace, security, and prosperity. The disintegration of the Afghan government and the ensuing chaotic withdrawal came at a political cost for Biden, who also carried out Trump’s promise to leave Afghanistan without first discussing or coordinating with Washington’s NATO partners. On other matters, such as his stance on immigration and border security, Biden first showed no signs of adjusting anything immediately.

Beginning in 2024, US President Joe Biden will find himself in circumstances that any incumbent would envy. The economy is expanding steadily, the stock market is closing the year at all-time highs, unemployment is at a half-century low, inflation has decreased, and the president’s most likely opponent has charged with 91 felonies in four indictments. After taking office, the Biden administration promised to prioritize diplomacy in US foreign policy, but it has not accomplished much after more than two years in power. The “democracy vs. autocracy” narrative Biden and company have adopted is partially to blame. It does not help the US collaborate more successfully with the autocratic regimes that outnumber democracies worldwide and whose support could become increasingly valuable as rivalry between great powers grows. It exposes the US to hypocrisy charges and does not inspire Washington’s democratic friends significantly.

In stark contrast to the democracy vs. autocracy framework, European leaders travel to Beijing to protect their economic interests with the (autocratic) People’s Republic of China. Likewise, conversations wereheld between one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s top national security advisors and Narendra Modi, the president of largely democratic India. There are still unresolved matters on the administration’s agenda in the interim.

When Biden assumed office, he declared he would carry out his predecessor’s decision to leave the nuclear agreement with Iran.Iran is becoming closer than it has ever been to having nuclear weapons, which increases the likelihood of a Middle East conflict that the world and the US administration do not need at this time.

Taiwan, where presidential elections are scheduled for mid-January could impact whether Biden has to deal with another significant crisis. One of the main objectives of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s term is the reunification of China and Taiwan. Although he acknowledged to Biden at their November meeting that there is no set timeframe for achieving this goal, he also stated that China reserves the right to use force if Taiwan opposes or delays unification. Beijing is unlikely to invade Lai in retaliation for her victory, but it might still cause significant hardship for the island nation. It might disrupt supply routes vital to Taiwan’s economy, meddle in military operations that violate Taiwan’s maritime and aerial sovereignty, and obstruct commercial vessels. Moreover, if any of these actions were taken, Washington would have to decide how to react.

Election politics and results in the United States are typically unaffected by foreign policy. Nevertheless, Biden’s electoral chances would be seriously hampered by just one of these crises, much less all three. Foreign policy is complex and constantly evolving in response to global events and challenges. Therefore, periodic reassessments and adjustments are a normal part of the process.

Re-evaluating India’s Second-Strike Capability: Rethinking India’s Nuclear Doctrine

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By: Sourishree Ghosh, Research Analyst, GSDN

Nuclear submarine: source Internet

Strategic Importance of India’s Second-Strike Capability

The sea-based nuclear weapons in South Asia have received less priority than their land-based counterparts. But, of late, there has been increased proliferation of nuclear submarines which might potentially increase the accidental nuclear escalation and instability in the South Asian region. And for maintaining credible nuclear deterrence, a country needs to have an invulnerable second-strike capability.  The success of a sea-based deterrent also depends on the assurance of an invulnerable second-strike capability. The South Asian nuclear competition for India is characterised by Pakistan on one side and China on the other side. (As popularly called the two-front war of India) India’s national security concerns lay in the strategic (im)balance with China in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) and Pakistan’s stability vis-a-vis India as the former maintains Full Spectrum Deterrence (FSD). The submarine-launched ballistic missiles have been considered as the most suitable and survival delivery system as the ocean depths are largely opaque in nature. The possession of the nuclear-powered submarines not only have enhanced endurance but also enhanced India’s tactical and strategic capabilities. One of the conclusions that can be drawn from these concerns is the strategic importance of the nuclear deterrence and how it plays an important role in stabilising the relations between the two countries. One of the reasons for India going nuclear is to maintain a strategic balance of power in South Asia. 

In India’s neighbourhood, only China has SSBNs which had been deployed for “counter-piracy patrols” off the east coast of Africa. In November 2017, India launched the second of four Arihant class submarines and it notably came in a few months post the Doklam standoff. Post the absence of the INS Arihant from its operations, it also became clear that the India-China relations would be less cooperative in nature. This has also pushed India to heavily invest in the nuclear submarines for ensuring the survivability of its deterrent.

The submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) have been the Achilles Heel for India’s nuclear deterrence. Major powers of the world have nuclear powered submarines which are capable of deploying SLBMs well over the range of 5000 kilometres. India has been pursuing K4 missiles with a strike range of 3.500 kilometres. The launch of the submarine nuclear weapons has great strategic significance in the context of achieving a nuclear triad. There is no doubt that these sea-bird underwater nuclear capable assets have also validated India’s nuclear deterrence.  The Agni-5 MIRV (Multiple Independently-Targetable Re-entry Vehicles) missile test also underlines India’s second-strike capability, which has improved India’s nuclear deterrence. The test happened on Abdul Kalam Island in the Bay of Bengal Region, off India’s northeast coast. This is also a step towards self-reliant Bharat. This milestone development has propelled India into the elite group of nuclear powers with MIRV technology.

The timing of these tests is significant given the ongoing border tensions with China and India’s strategic rivalry and tensions with Pakistan. A credible and sustainable second-strike capability also underscores the crucial role of the missiles in India’s national security. The integration of MIRVs into India’s missile arsenal will also significantly alter the region’s strategic balance and increase the complexity of calculations of the adversary’s missile defence. India’s MIRV program will ensure its national security against China’s improved military capabilities. Some analysts point out that this would escalate the risks which would negatively impact the crisis stability in this region. Many also point out that the technological advancements also sometimes supersede strategic doctrinal clarity. Another argument of peace and stability under the Atom can be analysed as the absence of symmetries of power in case of possession of nuclear weapons, which would bring more stabilisation in the region. Moreover, China’s evolving missile defences and Pakistan’s pursuit of MIRV Technology has made it urgent for India to expedite its MIRV missile program. The MIRV missiles can significantly destroy the adversary nation’s second-strike capability. The domestic drivers include India’s MIRV program includes the interplay between civilian oversight of India’s nuclear weapons program and against a minimalist nuclear deterrence posture.

Current Status of India’s Second-Strike Capabilities

Technology gave India an advantage of more flexible deterrence vis-a-vis its two aggressive nuclear powered neighbours – China and Pakistan. India currently has two nuclear powered ballistic submarines (SSBNs), dubbed Advanced Technology Vessels (ATV), namely INS Arihant completed its first deterrence patrol in November 2019. The Indian Government also announced the establishment of the country’s “survivable nuclear triad” which is referred to as the capability of launching nuclear strikes from land, air and sea platforms. The first successful deterrence patrol by INS Arihant also places the country among a league of a few countries that can design, construct and operate Strategic Strike Nuclear Submarines. Moreover, INS Arihant has been the outcome of India’s successful indigenization efforts in the defence sector. There is also a major Research & Development programme in place since 2005. The K15 missiles fitted on INS Arihant have a range of 750 km which is woefully short of hitting China in any significant manner.  The SSBNs provide us with the effective and invulnerable second-strike capability. The range of its nuclear tipped K-15 missiles was just 750 kilometres which was woefully inadequate and only has southern Pakistan regions in its target range. Moreover, the lack of at least three operational submarines does not maintain India’s nuclear deterrence. In case of a nuclear conflict, the highest chances of survivability lie with equipping nuclear-powered submarines with ballistic missiles with provision of sufficient ranges.

India began working on its nuclear submarine program during the 1970s, the development of India’s Advanced Technology Vessel (ATV) submarine program began in 1984. The ATV Program aims to achieve quick deep diving, nuclear powered attack submarines. Additionally, the Arihant class submarines are able to remain under water for at least 50 days, thereby decreasing their chances of detection and increasing survivability. Indi’s renewed attention to the submarines can also be attributed to frequent sightings of Chinese submarines that escorted Chinese anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden, however India has dismissed these claims arguing that nuclear submarines are not required for tackling pirate skiffs. The Chinese submarine movements in the IOR have also reduced significantly since October 2017. China’s ‘submarine diplomacy’ including the docking of a SSBN in Sri Lanka and supplying two diesel electric attack submarines to Bangladesh show the increased Chinese influence in the region.

India is currently overhauling its Strategic Forces Command (SFC) known as the Strategic Nuclear Command. In the latest test, its new generation Agni-Prime ballistic Missile has a 2,000-kilometre range which would counter threats from Pakistan. India also tested the canister technology for the first time on Agni-V in 2015 which gives the SFC its required flexibility for swiftly transporting and firing the ballistic missiles from preferable locations. The first two launches of the Agni-V were done using a rail launcher. Since 2015, all the launches have launched from a road-mobile launcher. It has a very short reaction and is highly survivable which gives full teeth to our policy of deterrence, in terms of an assured retaliatory strike capability. The Agni-V was touted as the most formidable missile in India’s arsenal which brought the whole of China into its strike envelope. Another successful development is the Canister Launch technology which will be operationalised across its suite of land-based nuclear delivery systems which encompasses both shorter- and longer-range missiles. This sums up the present status of India’s Second-Strike Capability

Revisiting India’s Nuclear Doctrine with Regard to Second Strike Capability

India’s nuclear policy has evolved over a period of nearly three decades and this was mainly driven by changing external security environments. The testing of the nuclear weapon by China in 1964 was one of the major drivers of India’s nuclear programme. This pursuit of strategic capability was intrinsically linked to India’s security. The Non-Proliferation Treaty (1968) and the unwelcoming Sino-Pakistan axis which targeted India during the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971. Moreover, Pakistan is the only nuclear-armed state where the military is in effective control over its nuclear arsenals. If India had not acquired the nuclear weapons, it would have been in the state of strategic vulnerability to nuclear state (nuclear blackmail). So, as some analysts point out that India lacks a strategic culture in its foreign policy, one also needs to consider India’s pressing situation in the past. Since January 2003, India adopts its nuclear doctrine formally at a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) has put in place a triad of land-based, air-delivered and submarine-based nuclear forces and delivery assets to conform to its declared doctrine of ‘No First Use’. India built a command-and-control infrastructure which could survive the first strike and a fully secure and reliable communication system which is hardened against electronic interference. India’s acquisition of nuclear weapons capability also points to the fact that India’s ambition of being an important player in world affairs as well as in achieving self-reliance in the defence sector.

The National Command Authority is in charge and in command of India’s nuclear deterrent. The alternative National Command Authority has access to the radiation hardened and fully secured communication systems including the backup facilities. The very nature of nuclear deterrence as practised by an Indian civilian democracy dictates that the crucial decisions regarding nuclear weapons are taken by the civil leadership, anchoring it in the larger architecture of democratic governance. There are democratic restrains which deter the nation from pursuing an aggressive nuclear buildup. This also, however, established India as a responsible nuclear power in the first place.

India’s effort to build a credible nuclear deterrence has been a secret state affair of the Indian government. In 1999, India’s Draft Nuclear Doctrine underscored the ability to field a credible second-strike capability by providing impetus for India’s quest for acquiring a sea-based deterrent. Therefore, the submarines became an integral component of India’s nuclear policy as well as guarantors of a second-strike. Based on the threat assessments, India is focused on developing its nuclear deterrence. India’s current nuclear policy is based upon the ‘credible minimum deterrence’ which means that India would only develop the nuclear weapons for deterring adversaries. India has no first use policy with regard to the usage of nuclear weapons.

China’s 2019 Defense White Paper also aims at keeping its nuclear capabilities at a minimum level which is required for national security, but this “minimum level” is completely based on China’s threat perception. Moreover, its expansion of nuclear capabilities to match its deterrence capabilities with the United States (popularly called Cold War 2.0) has also increased threat perception of New Delhi. The disparity between China’s successful thermonuclear explosion in 1967 and India’s reported thermonuclear fizzle in 1998 also marks an arena of weakness.

Meanwhile, Pakistan maintains a first use policy of nuclear weapons. The AGNI-V with Multiple Independently Targetable Re-entry Vehicle (MIRV)  technology and the capability to strike targets at a 5,000 kilometre range has been developed with China. Pakistan maintains a multidimensional security risk to India as the former currently possesses more plutonium production reactors and a larger nuclear arsenal and a more developed nuclear weapons production complex. Another source of limitation on India’s rapid nuclear arsenal expansion is the US-India Civil Nuclear Agreement. India’s missile development also indicates its willingness to expand its deterrent capabilities.

The threats at present include China’s expanding nuclear arsenal and uncertainty of India’s thermonuclear capacity which has put India at a strategic disadvantage with regard to missile count and warhead reliability. This unequal relationship has offset the Sino-Indian power symmetry. The scrapping of India’s nuclear doctrine in favour of strategic ambiguity poses serious risks for strategic stability in South Asia and should be the last resort only when India’s own threshold for acceptable risks is crossed. Moreover, there is an asymmetrical balance of the arms race between India and China which has implications for the whole of Southern Asia. Under the current circumstances, New Delhi should not limit efforts for enhancing its deterrent credibility by accelerating warhead acquisition.

Conclusion

One of the complex challenges of achieving Second Strike Capability is the sea leg of nuclear deterrence as an underwater vertical launch system is the most sophisticated and complex weapon as it demands sophistication, speed and accuracy in a twin medium (water as well as atmosphere).

Manpreet Sethi, a nuclear expert for the Centre for Air Power Studies adds that unless the SLBMs (Submarine Launched Ballistic Missiles) have a range that can help in the deployment of the submarine out of harm’s way, the vessel would be constrained for deployment. This would make the system a liability more than an asset. Secondly, India faces strategic constraints in strengthening its nuclear deterrent posture vis-a-vis China. These include the economic interdependence on China and China’s relative political and economic advantage.  There are restraints on India’s flexibility and nuclear posturing. In November, 2023, Pakistan also conducted its second test launch of the Ababeel MRBM like the Agni-5 is designed to carry MIRVs with the aim of penetrating India’s new missile defence system.

Secondly, India’s Agni-5 may still have to overcome significant reliability concerns and also raises questions about the effectiveness of India’s nuclear warheads and the country’s capabilities for producing enough fissile material for a MIRV nuclear arsenal. Ashely Tellis in his book “Striking Asymmetries: Nuclear Transitions in South Asia” points out that India’s nuclear warheads small yields are the most significant constraints as the Indian Navy Officers point out that for achieving nuclear deterrence, at least three to four SSBNs are required so that the patrolling continues throughout the year.

One must also remember that sustenance is one of the crucial points of effective deterrence. The UK has the longest sustained military operations ever referred to as the 52 years of Continuous Sea Deterrent (CASD). A total of six SSBNs have been planned for the future as a part of India’s survivable second-strike capability. India is yet to develop those missiles with adequate ranges. Efforts are underway for the development of K4 submarine launched ballistic missiles with a 3500-kilometre range. The need for the long-range submarine launched missiles are also due to the rising tensions in the Indo-Pacific region, wherein India has its high stakes. So, there are major national security reasons for India to have an effective second-strike capability in case of a potential nuclear strife in the region.

To conclude, India should not abandon its current nuclear doctrine. The international community views India as a responsible nuclear power given its moderation in its nuclear build up and NFU (No-First Use). There should be a balancing act between acquisition of nuclear warhead acquisitions in balance with international thresholds will be India’s response given China’s aggressive nuclear build up and border incursions. So, the nuclear threat cannot be ignored at any cost.  Moreover, there should be more focus on improving the civil-military relations in order to build an effective deterrence through credible second-strike capabilities.   

Kaladan Multimodal Transport Project: A Comprehensive Analysis

By: Harshit Tokas, Research Analyst, GSDN

Kaladan Project: source The Print

The Government of India’s strategic engagement with its neighboring countries, particularly those in the eastern region, reflects a proactive approach towards fostering both economic and political ties. At the center of this approach is the “Act East Policy,” aimed at establishing robust trade links with nations in the Far East. The Kaladan Multimodal Transport Project, a pivotal component of this policy, seeks to leverage the Kaladan River as a trade route, connecting Mizoram in India to the port city of Sittwe in Myanmar.

Economically, Mizoram, a state of India, has embarked on a transformative journey propelled by initiatives such as the New Land Use Policy (NLUP), strategically crafted to foster inclusive growth and alleviate poverty. The NLUP, gaining momentum with time, stands as a testament to the government’s commitment to strengthening monitoring systems, enhancing stakeholder training, and ensuring the efficient supply of inputs. Recognizing the pivotal role played by farmers and agricultural workers, the government has implemented various measures for their welfare, including the provision of agricultural machinery at subsidized rates. These efforts underscore Mizoram’s proactive stance in empowering its workforce and fostering sustainable economic development.

The Kaladan River, traversing along the Indo-Myanmar border in the northeastern region of India, presents a promising avenue for inland waterway transportation. Under this project, goods can be transported via inland waterway up to navigable points, with road transport filling in where navigation is impractical. This multimodal approach, integrating sea, inland water, road, and rail transport, is envisioned to facilitate efficient trade with eastern countries, particularly by easing the movement of goods to and from Mizoram and other northeastern states.

Recognizing the inadequacies in the transportation infrastructure and its crucial role in driving economic growth, the Government of India has accorded high priority to the development of the transportation sector. An agreement between the Governments of India and Myanmar underscores their commitment to developing a multimodal trade route, combining inland waterways and road transport, to enhance bilateral trade and regional connectivity.

The Kaladan Multimodal Transport Project encompasses two main segments: the inland waterway route from Sittwe to Kaletwa in Myanmar and the road link from Kaletwa to Lawngtlai town on NH-54 in Mizoram, India. The road segment within Mizoram, spanning approximately 99.830 kilometers, forms an integral part of this trade route. Notably, this project builds upon existing border trading points between India and Myanmar, facilitating the exchange of various commodities and contributing to the substantial growth in bilateral trade volumes.

Human resource development remains a key focus area for the government, as evidenced by initiatives such as the establishment of polytechnic institutes across various districts. By nurturing skilled talent and fostering a conducive learning environment, Mizoram is poised to harness its human capital effectively. Moreover, the Autonomous District Councils in Mizoram have played a pivotal role in resource mobilization and addressing the unique needs of their respective areas. The government’s sensitivity to these requirements underscores its commitment to inclusive development and decentralized governance.

Furthermore, India’s commitment to bolstering border trade with Myanmar is evidenced by its support for infrastructure development projects in Myanmar, including road communication, hydroelectric power, and hydrocarbon sector initiatives. These efforts underscore India’s broader objective of enhancing regional connectivity and fostering mutually beneficial cooperation with its neighbors.

The feasibility study conducted by RITES Ltd. highlights the navigability of the Kaladan River up to Kaletwa in Myanmar, beyond which road transport becomes imperative due to shallow waters and frequent rapids. The proposed road link from Kaletwa to Lawngtlai in Mizoram is integral to the development of this multimodal trade route, serving as a vital artery for economic integration and regional trade facilitation.

Governor Purushothaman’s expression of gratitude to stakeholders for their contributions to peace, harmony, and development encapsulates Mizoram’s collective ethos. As the state marches forward, it remains cognizant of the need to integrate with the national mainstream while safeguarding its distinct identity and interests. The Kaladan Multi Modal Transit Transport Project, in particular, holds the promise of not only enhancing connectivity within Mizoram but also fostering regional integration and economic growth.

In conclusion, the Kaladan Multimodal Transport Project represents a significant milestone in India’s efforts to deepen its engagement with neighboring countries and tap into the economic potential of the region. By leveraging multimodal transportation infrastructure, India aims to enhance trade flows, promote socio-economic development, and strengthen regional cooperation, thereby contributing to overall peace and prosperity in the region.

Munich Security Conference- An Iniquity to World Security Discourse

By: Seetal Patra, Research Analyst, GSDN

Munich Security Conference 2024: source Internet

The Munich Security Conference (MSC) saw its inception in the fall of 1963, then called, Internationale Wehrkunde-Begegnung. The MSC boasts Munich to be an independent venue for the purposes of policy makers and the experts to have a platform and discuss on important, pressing, and constructive decisions affecting the security diaspora of the world. The year of its inception, that is the era of the 1960s, saw a lot many world events apart from the ones that hampered and devastated the Western nations, or the Western driven narrative, perspective, and probably propaganda. But a basic google search about the world events in 1960s gives us the list of happenings including, JFK assassination, civil rights legislation, Vietnam War, construction of Berlin wall, and the moon landing. The era when the Western led discourse was busy latching onto the events of the Cold war era, numerous events did happen in other parts of the world too.

West Asia, has remained on fire since early 1900s, and continues till date too. India saw three major wars in 1947, 1962, and again in 1965. The 1965 war was playing out in our backyard, with massive humanitarian crisis, but the Westerners led MSC has dampened the discussion as a not so worthwhile security issue. While in Africa, the cold war had successfully knocked the doors of African continent, which has suffered in the hands of colonizers far more disproportionately and ruthlessly. Its famously, referred to as Cordier and the 1960 Congo crisis. But these issues have often remained a mere footnote in the research discourse of the Munich Conference. The Global South in the most millennial terms can be termed as a victim of nepotism. The global nepotism of well settled colonizers, who looted us, and then fended off their capitalistic goals via the tinted glass of rapid development.

In the first decades of the conference, the audience was relatively small, and this was on purpose and by design, not exceeding a few dozen people. It had started off as the venue where the German participants used to meet their counterparts, along with their allies including the USA, and the NATO member states. With this, the gathering has accorded itself the tag of “transatlantic family meeting.” As the dubbed name goes, the debates also concentrated on Western policy within the overarching framework of Cold War confrontations.

The Munich Security Conference is considered as one of the elite security gatherings, often referred to as the Davos of Security Discourse. In the recent decades, the discussions are no more huss about whether the world can still be boxed out into rigid cabinets of east and west. The world has transitioned from G2 to G7 to G20 (21). When the world had precarious terms to itself, and we were having conversations about the potential of a World War III can only be because of dearth of water, we have already seen and still toiling to the harsh realities of Russia-Ukraine war, and the Isarel-Palestine conflict. These are the security conflicts, but the UN seems to be in its waning potential to handle the world security and rules-based order getting slowly ripped apart, while MSC is proving to be nothing more than a mere sequela to the UN.

But the fact of the matter is, do we really have a rigid definition of rules-based world order to be followed anymore?

The MSC is a method of power getting represented by the way of a selected discourse. These power relations are maintained by the means of ideologies. And it is believed that, these are often one-sided perspectives or worldviews that are related to mental representations, convictions, opinions, attitudes, and evaluations. To put into perspective, Chilton has somewhere convincingly pointed out the three strategic functions of the political language. They are, coercion, legitimization or delegitimization and finally representation or misrepresentation. The levers of legitimization and delegitimization bring to the fore the discussions on positive and negative self-representation. While the nuances of representation and misrepresentation thrust upon the necessities of controlling the information and hence the control on the discourse.

One of the massive flaws of this MSC led discourse, is that the speakers choose on the speeches with a very thinly crafted agenda to be represented. It would not be wrong to compare the MSC with that of the obsolete campaigning that of the UNSC, which is barely successful in bringing any disruptive solutions to today’s turmoil laden world order. The approach of social constructivism, clearly posits that the social reality is partly what we try and make out of it. MSC being the partner of the NATO has mostly concentrated on the transatlantic security policy and European defence. To bring certain factors to the board showcasing certain world events which has changed the course of the world. And in all these NATO has been the frontrunner. Some of the most prominent events include the bombing of Yugoslavia, the invasion of Iraq, the ruined statehood of Libya, the unlawful military interference in Syria, and not forgetting the debacle in Afghanistan.

India has been able to push forward its agenda only now, with one of the most vociferous External Affairs Minister on duty. It has been decades that India has been reclaiming and making its voice heard as the nation is confidently grappling onto the most rapidly growing economy. Today India is denying to be bogged down by the West led narrative. But this does not signify that India is anti/non-West. We are the smart nationalists denying to be sitting on the fence. Our decision of buying oil from Russia, halting the exports of wheat, continuing to go with the decision of MSP for the crops, despite the pendency of disputes regarding the allegation of MSP being a trade distortive support (Amber Box Subsidy). It is always advised to make either or choices. It is always wise to not fall onto the trap of a third while standing imbedded to your stance. We choose to make choices that are in our self-interest. The frequent questioning of our stances in the forums like MSC, NATO, BBC, etc. is nothing, but the virtual bullying by these world forums to carry on with their age-old power discourses, balancing and rebalancing. Might as well I state, the bold decision of India purchasing Russian oil despite the sanctions has only helped keep the world trade in equilibrium and the Westerners definitely thankful, although within closed doors. So, the discourses like that of MSC are to be nothing but appreciative of India. It is India which is the pivot in balancing the world discourse. It is time for the redundant discussion panels to tilt a bit in all the four directions and figure out the realpolitik. How about MSC endorsing the values of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam.” A food for thought for a renewed security discourse embracing the apathies of every stakeholder irrespective of Global South or North.

Analysis of Change in Argentinian Leadership

By: Aidamol Joseph, Research Analyst, GSDN

Argentina: source mapsofindia.com

Argentina is a South American country located in the southern part of the continent. It is a federal republic with a presidential system of government. Argentina, officially the Argentine Republic, is one of Latin America’s largest economies and most stable democracies, but the country has struggled with political dysfunction and financial crisis in recent times. Far-right libertarian outsider Javier Milei has won presidential election on December 10, 2023. The presidential elections were deemed free and fair by domestic and international observers. Milei’s proposals, which included “blowing up” the central bank, won support with voters desperate for change amid an economy in crisis.

Riding the wave of voter anger with the political mainstream, Milei won by a larger margin than expected. He received approximately 44% for his rival, Peronist Economy Minister Sergio Masta. Mr. Milei’s victory is being seen as a victory for the far-right beyond Argentina. Significant political and economic changes is anticipated, and President Javier Milei has promised to refocus the nation’s foreign policy to prioritize closer ties with the West and the United States. This might also include Argentina cutting ties with China, it’s second largest trading partner, and downgrading the Mercosur trade union.

Argentina spent more than a century alternating between military and democratic administration following its independence from Spain in 1816. After a coup in 1943, army officer Juan Peron governed Argentina intermittently for the following thirty years. Since then, the nation’s politics have been controlled by his populist political theory, sometimes known as Peronism. Peron adopted a number of left-leaning measures while in government, nationalizing the central bank and a number of big businesses, increasing health and welfare benefits, and forging a partnership with organised labor unions. The military persisted in its intrusions despite Peron’s popularity, forcing him into exile in 1955 and outlawing the Peronist party for almost 20 years.

In an effort to rid the nation of potential left-wing dissidents, a new military junta known as the National Reorganization process came to power in 1976. Argentina’s political instability persisted into the 1990s, even after military control came to an end in 1983 with the election of president Raul Ricardo Alfonsin. Today the nation has achieved relative democratic stability. Argentina’s major political parties such as Justicialist party commonly known as Peronist’s founded in 1945 by Juan Domingo Peron, The Union Civica Radical (UCR) or Radical Civic Union, founded in 1891. New emerging political forces, like the Civic Coalition (CC) and the National Proposal (PRO) parties, are concentrated in the urban centers and are working to build national party structures.

Amid persistent economic and political instability, Argentina has sought to play a greater role on the international sphere, including in its relations with China, United states and Europe. Over the past 20 years, Beijing and Buenos Aires have greatly strengthened their trade relations; as a result, China is currently Argentina’s second-largest trading partner, behind Brazil. Argentina formally joined the Belt and Road Initiative in 2022, a significant international infrastructure undertaking spearheaded by China. Chinese state-owned businesses have focused their foreign investment in Argentina’s infrastructure, telecoms and agriculture sectors in recent years. The state of domestic politics in Argentina has affected relations with the United States. Because of Peron’s socialist ideas and cold war neutrality, American authorities were frequently dissatisfied with him during the 20th century and finally stopped providing help to Argentina. Additionally, Milei has made a point of being a staunch supporter of the United States and the West. As President, he turned down Fernandez’s request to join BRICS, the economic alliance that consists of China, South Africa, India, Brazil and Russia before it grew in early 2024. In terms of commerce, Argentina’s exports to the EU continue to be significant, with over $22.6 billion in goods exchanged in 2022. Additionally, European businesses make significant investments; as of 2022, they owned 44% of Argentina’s foreign investment stock.

When Javier Milei’s administration assumed power, the goal was to create a more market oriented, less government-controlled economy where economic growth would primarily come from private sector. His main goals for macroeconomic policy are to terminate monetary issuance to fund public spending by 2024 attain fiscal equilibrium. Milei has also called climate change a “socialist hoax”. Short term pain long term gain that was Milei’s motto that’s what he said he described himself as an anarcho-capitalist. Milei was upfront in his inaugural address on December 10, 2023, “Our country demands action-and immediate action” he said, saying that Argentina was at “the brink of its biggest crisis in history”.

At that time, annual inflation stood at 161 percent with 45 percent of the population living in poverty. Milei’s initial actions fulfilled his pledge to reduce the states size by implementing internal changes inside the executive branch. He reduced the number of ministers from eighteen to nine by executive order and decided not to extend the contracts of thousand public servants. In addition, Milei declared that by the end of 2023, public sector spending would have decreased by 5% GDP. He started implementing this target by reducing state fuel and transportation subsidies, postponing public work contracts, and doing away with regulations.

Luis Caputo, the minister of economy, declared that the Argentine currency would similarly devalue by 50%. On December 20, 2023, Milei declared an economic emergency. December also saw mass protests against the Milei’s government’s sprawling reforms, which included new restrictions on protests. Never before in modern Argentinian history has a mass strike been called less than seven weeks into a new presidency. The mass Confederation of Labor demanded a mass strike 45 days after the new government took office, against his “shock therapy”. Protestors held signs with the message “La patria no se vende” (the homeland is not for sale).

Argentina had already been suffering from record triple-digit-inflation when Milei took office on December 10. According to National Institute for Statistics and Censuses (INDEC), Argentina ended 2023 with annual inflation of 211.4 percent, the steepest rate in Latin America, surpassing even Venezuela. And Milei could face further challenges to his reforms. However, despite the heavy presence of security forces, the demonstrations which the Milei’s administration claimed were intended to “destabilize” the government generally proceeded peacefully. Milei has sacked thousands of public sector employees as part of his aggressive campaign to slash state spending.

The government on April 3, 2024, announced that it had cut 15,000 jobs, triggering massive protests in the capital Buenos Aires and nearby cities. The terminated workers say their dismissal from public institutions is “unfair”. Milei had previously slashed energy and transportation subsidies, announced tax hikes. The state new agency was shut so was the country’s anti-discrimination and funding for scientific research was cut down. 

As per the reports in Argentina, Javier Milei has completed more than 100 days of his presidency. He came with a promise to fix the economy with what he called a shock therapy and he faced a lot of backlashes for it as lot of protests. Argentina’s monthly inflation has cooled off in December, it was 25% in January 20.6% in February it was 13.2%. Trend looks positive cooling Argentina’s monthly inflation that is Milei calls it is the result of strong fiscal discipline.

The government also boosted of a budget surplus it’s the first in decade. Even the IMF approves so some success for President Milei there but it’s not all good, Milei has other problems like annual inflation looks like it is at the record 276 percent the highest in more than three decades. 57% of the country is living under poverty there are strikes people are protesting against the austerity.  Argentina’s international bonds railed by 7% that’s a reflection of investor confidence. So, it started off on a positive note. Milei achieved some success but he also faced political hurdles. Last week the senate rejected a proposal a decree to change 300 existing standards like rent caps regulations on Health care, labor laws, privatizing state-owned enterprises, reducing maternity leave pay. So, this was a radical austerity plan and it met with opposition people took to the streets in protest. The courts called it unconstitutional; lawmakers did not support it and Argentina senate then struck it down. It’s s setback for the President and he said to be working on another strategy firming up his numbers waiting for the mid term elections will be held next year in 2025. If he does, his party does well in in those elections, he may get the bill through. And while his policies are delivering for now, they do have their own set of problems.

More than half of the Argentina’s population living in poverty, food prices are soaring people cannot afford so when the government cuts food aid these people suffer, some of them are scavenging to survive. Critics believe Milei’s policies could lead to mass unemployment something that would wreck the economy. But Milei is convinced about his plan, he says it will get way worse before it gets better. Anyway, Argentina is looking up for a better future.

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