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It’s Indo-Pacific in Quad, Afghanistan a priority in UNGA

By Saima Siddiqui 
Updated Date

Quad summit that is scheduled to be held on September 24 under the chairmanship of US president Joe Biden in Washington will host a number of issues among which Indo-Pacific and Climate Change and Justice will be the priority while Afghanistan and terrorism will be the flavour of the UNGA high-level segment till September 27.

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According to top diplomats in New York and Washington, the western embarrassment over Afghanistan with the Taliban throwing the entire Doha political commitments out of the window will be the main theme of speakers in the UNGA. The Taliban-US deal was negotiated between Qatar, Pakistan, UK and US Special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad.

The fact is that all Taliban leaders, who were part of the Doha process, have been side-lined by the Pakistani ISI backed Haqqani Network with all the critical positions including Interior, Intelligence, Border and Tribal Affairs given to hardcore global designated terrorists. The side-lining of Mullah Baradar, Mullah Yaqoob and Sher Mohammed Stanakzai in the Taliban regime reveals the extent of grip Pakistan has over the Sunni Pashtun terror force.

It is evident from the conversations that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar have had with their interlocutors over the phone and in New York that recognition to the Taliban regime is not coming soon as none of the conditions of UNSC resolution 2593 has been fulfilled. Despite being promoted by Pakistan, even its iron brother China and Russia are thinking twice before getting into the Afghanistan mess. With powerful Muslim block countries like Saudi Arabia and UAE looking the other war, the accountability rests on Pakistan if any terror attack emanates from Kabul under Haqqanis.

Just as the international mood over the Taliban has hardened since August 15, the Quad partners are also calling a spade a spade in the Indo-Pacific. Before leaving to attend the Quad summit, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has gone on record saying that China’s changing the status quo with its military power in the background could present a risk to Japanese peace and prosperity. The fact is all the contenders to succeed PM Suga have defined their future agenda by adopting a strident line against China.

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Australia will AUKUS Anglo-Saxon pact in its bag has taken the deterrence to China to a different level with eight US/UK built nuclear powered conventional attack submarines or SSNs expected to patrol Indo-Pacific waters by the next decade. The AUKUS pact has dove-tailed the strategic element into Quad as India believes in strategic autonomy and Japan is to still shed its pacificist doctrine. And all Quad partners and other countries are of the opinion privately that nuclear submarine is any day a better sub-surface deterrent to the ever-growing Chinese Navy. It is the AUKUS pact that has brought the challenge to Chinese military capability in the South China Sea and beyond.

Even though on the face of it, India wants to be a global factory of the world with Quad partners joining hands, it is also very clear about acquiring at least three SSNs in the coming decade. The India-China stand-off in East Ladakh is still a work in progress with PLA still to restore status quo ante in Hot Springs area, Depsang Bulge and Demchok.

It is in this backdrop that Quad leaders are meeting in the White House and a strong statement is expected by the end of day on September 24.

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