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A Diplomatic Turning Point in the Middle East


In the ever-evolving landscape of international diplomacy, unexpected alliances and partnerships can reshape the global order. One such recent development is the meeting between Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Chinese President Xi Jinping, marking a significant milestone in the China-Syria strategic partnership. It’s vital to delves into the details of this historic meeting and explores the implications of this growing alliance between two nations that have traditionally maintained a complex relationship with the West.

The meeting between President Bashar al-Assad and President Xi Jinping took place against the backdrop of the Syrian conflict, which has endured for over a decade. This conflict has resulted in a humanitarian crisis, regional instability, and complex international dynamics. China’s involvement in the region has been largely economic and diplomatic, rather than military, making this meeting a crucial diplomatic milestone. One of the central themes of the Assad-Xi Jinping meeting was the deepening economic cooperation between China and Syria. China, as one of the world’s largest economies, offers Syria access to capital, infrastructure development, and technology transfer.

This partnership could play a pivotal role in the post-conflict reconstruction of Syria, providing much-needed investment for the war-torn nation.

To understand the significance of the China-Syria partnership, it’s crucial to consider the broader geopolitical context. China’s increasing involvement in the Middle East is driven by its quest for energy resources, its need to diversify trade routes, and its aspiration to play a more prominent role on the global stage. China is the world’s largest energy consumer, and the Middle East is a vital source of oil and gas. By establishing strong ties with Syria, China aims to secure its energy interests in the region, reducing its reliance on traditional partners like Saudi Arabia and Iran. The China-Syria partnership can be seen as a way for China to counterbalance Western influence in the Middle East. By aligning with nations that have contentious relationships with the West, such as Syria and Iran, China strengthens its position in the region and challenges the dominance of Western powers.

The growing China-Syria partnership has significant implications for Western powers, particularly the United States and its allies. It challenges the Western narrative that has largely condemned the Assad regime and seeks to marginalize Syria on the international stage. China’s support for Syria weakens Western efforts to diplomatically isolate the Assad government. This could potentially open doors for dialogue and negotiations in the future, leading to a reevaluation of Western policies towards Syria.

China’s economic investments in Syria may provide an alternative to Western aid and assistance. This could reduce the leverage that Western nations have in shaping the future of Syria and the broader Middle East.

The economic aspect of the China-Syria partnership is particularly noteworthy. China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) plays a pivotal role in this cooperation. Syria’s geographic location is strategically important for the BRI. As a nexus between Asia, Europe, and Africa, Syria’s involvement in the initiative can facilitate trade and economic connectivity. This synergy between the BRI and Syria’s potential benefits both nations. China has made substantial investments in Syria’s infrastructure, particularly in areas like telecommunications, energy, and transportation. These investments are crucial for post-conflict reconstruction and the development of Syria’s economy. Energy security is a primary driver of China’s involvement in the Middle East, and Syria possesses significant energy resources. By collaborating with Syria on energy projects, China secures access to vital resources and diversifies its energy sources.

The China-Syria partnership has broader humanitarian and regional implications. China’s economic investments in Syria could contribute to the post-conflict reconstruction efforts, thereby alleviating some of the humanitarian suffering caused by the protracted conflict. However, questions arise about how these investments will be managed and distributed equitably. The Middle East is a region marked by instability, conflicts, and rivalries. China’s engagement with Syria and other Middle Eastern nations may influence regional dynamics, potentially promoting stability through diplomatic means. China’s proactive engagement in the Middle East and its support for Syria underscore its growing role in global diplomacy. As a major world power, China is increasingly involved in shaping the course of international events.

The Assad-Xi Jinping meeting signifies a historic moment in the evolving relationship between China and Syria. This partnership, with its economic, political, and geopolitical dimensions, has the potential to reshape the Middle East’s dynamics and challenge Western narratives and influence in the region. As China’s involvement in the Middle East continues to expand, the world will closely watch how this partnership unfolds. It offers opportunities for stability, economic development, and diplomatic solutions to conflicts, but also raises questions about the role of major powers in regional affairs and the potential for new geopolitical fault lines. The future of the China-Syria partnership remains uncertain, but one thing is clear: it is a significant development with far-reaching implications for the Middle East and the world at large. As both nations navigate this complex relationship, the balance of power in the region and the broader contours of global diplomacy will continue to evolve, shaping the course of international relations for years to come.


Sweden’s Decision to Join NATO

Sweden's Decision to Join NATO

Sweden’s Decision to Join NATO

Beyond Geopolitics: Russia-Ukraine Conflict and Food Security



As the world is recovering from the pandemic’s aftermath and states grapple with restoring their economies, another geopolitical conflict is sending shockwaves through the global political dynamics—the Russia-Ukraine war. The conflict has shaken the global supply chains, dominoly affecting the agriculture and energy industries. It has exerted pressure on grain production, disturbing the food production and distribution mechanism. Having borne the brunt of Russia’s powerful war machine in Ukraine, global supply chains remain a victim, particularly affecting those nations that heavily relied on these two states to import sunflower, maize, and wheat.

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is particularly vulnerable to the far-reaching consequences of war.

Impact on Food Security: A Comprehensive Overview

Known as the bread baskets of Europe, Ukraine, and Russia are responsible for one-quarter of wheat exports, 17% of maize exports, and 75% of sunflower oil exports worldwide. While Ukraine alone is the 5th largest wheat exporter, holding 25% black soil and an advanced agriculture sector in Europe, Russia is one of the largest exporters of fertilizers and fuels. As per the 2022 Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report, at least 50 countries depend on Russia and Ukraine for 30 percent of their wheat imports. When Russia Invaded Ukraine, it blockaded its coastline and captured ports like Mariupol and Berdyansk while bombing others, including Olvia and Mykolaiv. It waged attacks on agricultural lands, labor, and infrastructure. The Ukraine Ministry of Agrarian Policy and Food(MAPF), Kyiv School of Economics(KSE), Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), World Bank(WB), and European Bank of Reconstruction and Development released their assessment in 2022 stated that since the invasion almost 84,200 agricultural equipment were damaged or destroyed, 4 million tons of oil seeds and grains while 9.4 million tons of wheat and other products were either stolen or destroyed in the war. Together, all these have led to poverty and hunger worldwide, especially in third-world states of Africa, Asia, and the Middle East that heavily rely on Ukraine’s exports. With the disruption of the supply line, the prices of commodities have risen, creating problems in the regions already needing humanitarian assistance.

In East Africa, successive droughts have made states more vulnerable to international markets where prices of fuels, fertilizers, and grains are so high that states can’t afford them. The lower international yield in Asia Pacific has resulted in even more costlier domestic commodities.  The World Food Program estimates that a total of 349 million people across the world are facing food scarcity. Before War Ukraine was selling 5 million tons of grains per month. After the invasion in March, it only supplied 200,000 grains, while in June, it managed to sell only 1.5 million tons amid the war through small ports or railways and trucks that, upon reaching the market, were costlier and unaffordable than expected due to the high cost of energy and fuel. The Food and Agricultural Organization estimated that the war would increase the number of malnourished people from 8 million to 13. 

Regional Ramifications: MENA Nations in Crisis

With the help of international governmental bodies like the UN and states like Turkey, a Black Sea grain agreement was made with Russia in July 2022 to allow safe passage for grain export to the world. Since then, 33 million tons of grain have been sold in the markets, resulting in declining grain prices. Still, within a year, Russia tore up the grain agreement in July 2023, and once again, the ominous specter of food supply and high prices looms large over parts of Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. The increase in the price of fertilizers affects agricultural production, and the rising energy costs are impacting imported goods. In October 2022, 141 million people in the Arab world were exposed to food insecurity, according to the IMF Managing Director, Kristalina Georgieva.

The states included in the MENA region are facing shortages in essential goods along with the surge in cereal prices.

Countries such as Algeria and Morocco, which are less dependent on the Black Sea imports, are also facing an increase in bread prices, directly affecting the state’s budget through subsidies. The current situation would ultimately affect the region’s stability, as evident from the past. The 1980s hunger riots memories still exist in Egyptian, Tunisian, and Moroccan people. Additionally, the increase in food prices played a crucial role in triggering the Arab Spring in 2011. Many states in the region, Egypt, Yemen, Lebanon, Syria, Sudan, and Libya, are in danger due to the existing crisis of the Russian invasion.

Before the conflict, Egypt, the biggest wheat importer in the world, got around 80 percent of its wheat from Russia and Ukraine. Since then, the Egyptian government has seriously expanded its wheat supply. In support of this, Supply Minister Aly Moselhy declared at the end of June that the nation has enough wheat in reserve for six months after obtaining 180,000 tonnes from India. However, the agreement fell short of the initially expected 500,000 tonnes. Additionally, Egypt heavily depends on wheat to subsidize bread to more than 60 million people, and the strain grows as the economic situation worsens. Egypt used to buy half of its sunflower oil from Ukraine along with wheat. Egypt reportedly turned away two Russian-flagged ships in May 2022 that were supposed to transport wheat allegedly stolen from Ukraine.

Later in June, it was seen that the two ships were offloading their cargo at Syrian ports. Most of Syria’s wheat needs are met by Russia. Still, at the end of 2021, Russia canceled a deal to deliver 1 million tonnes of wheat to Syria due to rising prices. It was predicted that there would be a 2 million tonnes wheat deficit in Syria even before the invasion of Ukraine, worsening an already severe situation. Ukraine imports over 60 percent of its wheat from Lebanon. Long lines of people have been seen outside the bakeries due to the ongoing shortage of subsidized flour since mid-June. Moreover, the price of subsidized bread has increased by about 18 percent between February and mid-June. Additionally, in August 2021, the Beirut port explosion heavily damaged the port’s grain silos, due to which the country’s ability to store wheat has been greatly reduced.

Similarly, Sudan imports 90 percent of its wheat from the Russian state, and due to the ongoing conflict, the country has seen a 60 percent decrease in its exports. The local farmers were supposed to produce almost 25 percent of wheat to meet the country’s needs, but due to the military coup in October 2021, international aid was frozen, and the economic condition worsened; the Sudanese authorities were unable to buy all of the season’s harvest, leaving thousands of farmers with excess wheat that is in danger of rotting. Furthermore, other MENA countries that heavily depend on Russia and Ukraine for food imports include Libya, which heavily relies on Russia and Ukraine to import wheat and vegetables. Likewise, Yemen heavily depends on Ukraine for food imports, specifically grains.

Way forward:

Regarding the complexity of different countries, location-specific recommendations are required, but a holistic approach is also needed.  To minimize the effects on the food-insecure nations of Africa and the Middle East, all nations should refrain from enforcing export limits and excluding Russia from sanctions. Countries should focus on providing food subsidies to particularly at-risk populations and offer humanitarian aid through the WFP to lessen the burden of increased prices in poor states.

The food price Index of the World Bank estimated an average lower in 2023 compared to the previous year due to better crop production in July and August this year despite the non-revival of the grain agreement.

However, the success of the Black Sea Grain Agreement in supplying 33 million tons of grain in a year suggests it was a beacon of hope in these times for states that couldn’t produce crops on their own and relied on the Black Sea trade. As the alternate routes suggested by the EU that exported grain from Ukraine to Poland, the Romanian port exports less grain and takes longer. In addition, The Danube Port, which served as an alternative route to sell grain to Europe after the deal broke off, was also attacked by Russia recently.

Considering the prevailing uncertainty regarding the duration of the war, governments, and international organizations must try to halt  Russia’s attempts to weaponize food. They should collaborate to revive the deal with Russia regarding safe passage for grain export. If states fail to do so, there will be far-reaching consequences, including prolonged hunger, poverty, starvation, malnutrition, population decline, and ethnic or intrastate conflicts. These scenarios are alarming for states like Yemen, Egypt, Syria, and Sudan, which are already struggling and relying on the international community for support.

Growing Concerns of ISKP in Afghanistan


The security problem with Afghanistan is becoming serious, there is an increase in terrorist attacks in Pakistan, even Tehreek e Taliban Pakistan is also getting active and has threated top political leadership including PM. Sarband police station, Peshawar was attacked on 14th January 2023 and once again, the TTP has taken the responsibility of the attack, whereas, back-to-back bombings in Quetta and Islamabad are notable. According to a report by a local think tank, there were more than two dozen terrorist incidents in the country in December 2022, compared to 376 for the entire year, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Baluchistan being most troubled. The National Security Committee (NSC) directly called on Kabul and its ruling government to take control over terrorism and make sure that Afghan soil not to be used for “extraterritorial adventures”.

These tensions between Islamabad and Kabul dates back to partition of Sub-continent in August 1947 which led to emergence of Pakistan along Afghan eastern frontier, and the two countries have had strained relationship since; Afghanistan was the only country to vote against Pakistan’s admission into UN following the latter’s independence.

So-called Durand line, Pak-Afghan International Border, has been a significant conflict that has caused tensions between the two states. The boundary was formed following 1893 Agreement between Amir Abdur Rahman Khan of Afghanistan and Mortimer Durand of colonial British India to define the boundaries of their respective domains of influence. Durand and Khan agreed to refrain from political intervention outside of the border between Afghanistan and the British Indian Empire in the one-page agreement, which had seven brief provisions. Although there has never been an official agreement or ratification between Islamabad and Kabul, after getting independence Pakistan inherited the Durand Line accord.

The Durand Line is not formally recognized as the border by Afghanistan declaring it null and void. This unmanageable border created serious issues between 2 countries. The Afghan government has always been worried that if it ever ratified the agreement, it would permanently divide millions of Pashtuns creating a backlash in Afghanistan and this unmanageable border is a main trade route between Afghanistan and South Asia.

Afghanistan tried hard to destabilize the frontier regions of Pakistan, taking utmost advantage of Pakistan’s post-independence instability.

Afghanistan crafted a two-fold strategy. First and foremost it aligned itself with India, and also with the USSR. Second, it politically and financially backed secessionist politicians in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in 1960s.

The tensions kept on rising between 2 Muslim brotherly countries. The relations became more strained when Pakistan shook hands with US to do operations in Afghanistan Back in 2001 (as Pakistan had no other option) when US invaded in Afghanistan, it offered Pakistan to choose between two either disavow Taliban and support US, or it could continue supporting the group and become a de facto enemy of US. The then General Pervez Musharraf, had decided to help US armed forces and let them use Pakistani roads and airspace. Hence, Pakistan helped US in every way, but America was never satisfied with Pakistan’s effort and came up with moto “DO MORE”. The whole scenario gave nothing to Pakistan but tensed the ties with both Afghanistan and US. After withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan it was assumed that foam will settle down and relations will be better and Taliban government will fulfill its promises and will help in negotiations too; on the contrary the situation turned into disappointment.

Islamabad and Kabul’s hostilities are getting worse. While Pakistan has made attempts to mend the growing rift, reopening a crucial border crossing at Spin Boldak-Chaman, closed after cross-border gunfire killed a Pakistani security guard on November 13, and sending its minister of state for foreign affairs on an official visit to Afghan capital at the end of November. There are clear indications that Pakistan’s leverage with the Afghan Taliban appears to be eroding quickly.

The TTP consider Afghan Taliban to be their role model and have started terror campaigns in north Waziristan on November 30th a suicide bomber blew himself up near a police truck killing 3 and injuring 28. The TTP took responsibility by justifying this barbarous act, a reprisal for the killing of Abdul Wali, (Omar Khalid Khorasan) in Afghanistan one of its senior commanders. Now the ceasefire is ended by TTP and it came to an end at a time of transition for Pakistan’s military, with Gen. Asim Munir succeeding Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa as COAS. It remains to be seen what government’s policy will be regarding peace talks with the TTP.

Moreover, it is reported that Taliban are tearing down the border fence alongside Pak-Afghan border opposing Pakistan’s border-fencing actions, which they perceive as one-sided, “illegitimate,” and an attempt to upend the status quo ante. One Pakistani analyst said that since the Taliban retook power in Afghanistan, there has been a 50% increase in terrorist strikes in the nation, underscoring the rapidly deteriorating security situation. An alarming rise in violence is being seen across Pakistan’s borders. Though Pakistan was confident that Afghan Taliban would help control TTP, but the latter have not acted against their ideological counterparts in Pakistan.

Since past events and war on terror has strained the relations of two states.

Both the sides are aware of the consequences of a further deterioration in relations. Islamabad is in favor of giving the Afghan regime more political space. Pakistan’s ambitious plans to create a transcontinental trade network with Central Asian republics cannot materialize without the Afghan Taliban’s support. On the other side, the spokesperson for the Taliban has expressed sorrow over the cross-border firing incident while reassuring Pakistan that Afghan soil would not be used for militant attacks in Pakistan. The issue once again returned to fore on Dec. 1, however, following a suicide bombing in southwestern Pakistan. Islamabad pinned responsibility for the attack on Pakistani Taliban fighters based in Afghanistan, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah said, if proven, the TTP’s involvement should be a matter of concern for Taliban.

Reeling from multiple crises at home, including a sharp economic downturn, political turmoil, flooding earlier this year, Islamabad’s shaky relationship with Afghan Taliban makes the situation tremendously perilous for Pakistan.



Kazakhstan: Elections and Democracy


The start of this year could not have been any more different for Kazakhstan when compared to the tragic January of 2022. Just over twelve months ago, the country was amidst a violent coup attempt orchestrated by groups that wanted to see the nation collapse. There was a real possibility that Kazakhstan’s statehood would fall apart from within, which would have had reverberating consequences well beyond Central Asia.

Fortunately, the country managed to not only recover from the wounds of January 2022 events but to further strengthen the foundations of our governance through political and socio-economic changes. Fast forward twelve months from January 2022, and the country is quite unrecognisable. The constitutional amendments that were implemented following the nationwide referendum in June 2022 have ushered in new democratic principles in the country, including a more influential parliament, limited presidential powers, simplified procedures for registering new political parties, direct elections of akims (mayors), among many other important measures.

Several political initiatives have launched from January this year. Perhaps most significant is the establishment of the Constitutional Court, to which every citizen can apply, including the Commissioner for Human Rights and the Prosecutor General. The Court will ensure that the country’s laws are in line with the Constitution and will protect the fundamental rights of their citizens. Elvira Azimova, the first Chairperson of the Constitutional Court, previously worked as Commissioner for Human Rights in Kazakhstan. This is a clear indication of the Court’s priorities and direction.

Now, Kazakhstan is moving fast towards Mazhilis (the lower house of parliament) and maslikhats (local representative bodies) elections on March 19. These elections will be unique in many respects.

Firstly, two recently established political parties will participate in the vote. For instance, towards the end of last year, the Green Party was established in Kazakhstan, which will raise awareness of ecological issues – an area that is of vital importance due to the ongoing climate change challenges. And the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is no exception.

As a result of a major flood in the history of Pakistan, which occurred in the summer and autumn of last 2022, more than 30 million Pakistani citizens were left homeless. The damage caused to agricultural land, livestock and urban infrastructure is a direct evidence of the relevance of the environmental agenda.

Overall, seven parties are now registered in the country offering a plethora of political choice for the electorate. Their participation in competitive elections will further contribute to strengthening a multi-party system by increasing plurality and influence of opposition politics, an objective which the country has been working towards for the past several years. Significantly, the threshold for parties to enter the Mazhilis has been reduced from seven to five percent, making it easier for opposition parties to enter parliament and play an important role in increasing government accountability.

Secondly, a mixed proportional-majoritarian model will be used for the first time for the election to the Mazhilis since 2004, where 70 percent of deputies will be elected proportionally from party lists, and 30 percent by majoritarian rule from single-member districts. This means that 29 out of 98 members of parliament will be elected in single-mandate constituencies, while 69 will be elected from party lists under the proportional representation model from a single nationwide constituency. The elections to the maslikhats of districts and cities of national importance will also be held under a mixed electoral system, with a 50/50 ratio, while lower level maslikhats will be elected completely under a majoritarian rule.

In addition, an “against all” option will be included on the ballots, which will give the electorate the opportunity to express their disapproval of all candidates should they wish to do so. Finally, a 30 percent quota for women, youth, and persons with special needs has been established at the legislative level in the distribution of the mandates of the members of parliament from the party lists. This ensures wider representation in parliament of all groups in Kazakhstan.

The country has always shown its commitment to holding free, open, and fair elections. The role of election monitors is undoubtedly crucial in this regard. As with previous elections, including the presidential election in November 2022, we have invited 10 international organizations and scores of observers from foreign nations to observe the election. Kazakhstan expects the largest election observation missions from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and the Commonwealth of Independent States.

A delegation of observers from the Islamic Republic of Pakistan will take part in these elections for the first time, this visit will contribute to further strengthening the parliamentary dialogue.

As is commonly known, in December 2022, Mr. Yerlan Koshanov, the Chairman of the Mazhilis of the Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan paid an official visit to Islamabad for the first time in the history of bilateral relations between Kazakhstan and Pakistan. This visit served as an additional incentive to the development of inter-parliamentary cooperation.

The upcoming elections will mark another important milestone in the development of Kazakhstan’s democracy. Many were unsure whether the country would recover after the unrest in January 2022. Yet they have managed to overcome this hurdle. In addition to demonstrating our resilience and stability, they have transformed our country through significant political and socio-economic initiatives.

The elections will not change the country overnight, but they will further contribute to the creation of a Just Kazakhstan – a prosperous society, and a more vibrant, dynamic and competitive political system. Such a country will be an even stronger and more committed partner for cooperation for the international community, including for the Islamic Republic of Pakistan in both bilateral and multilateral formats, primarily in the context of regional cooperation.

As the world continues to navigate current geopolitical and economic challenges, a stable and thriving Kazakhstan is to the benefit of not just their own citizens, but to the whole region and beyond. The political reforms, supported by competitive elections, is the foundation on which we will ensure the stability and continue to build the future of Kazakhstan.


The Dawn of Re-globalization


The World Trade Report of 2023 has brought a significant term to the forefront: “re-globalization.” But what does this term mean in the current global landscape, especially when there are early signs of fragmentation in the world trade dynamics? “Re-globalization” can be understood as a renewed effort or phase of globalization, aiming to bolster supply resilience, drive economic growth, and foster development. It is perceived as a constructive approach to address the challenges of the present-day global economic scenario.

Throughout history, global trade has faced disruptions. For instance, in the early 1970s, the world economy witnessed significant disturbances due to geopolitical tensions, leading to flouting of global trade. It seems that history might be repeating itself. The current period of re-globalization aims to rectify these trade issues, ensuring a smoother flow of goods and services across borders. The World Trade Organization (WTO) has been pivotal in promoting and regulating global trade. The organization’s activities in 2022 and the early part of 2023 have placed a strong emphasis on “re-globalization”. The WTO recognizes the importance of revisiting and revitalizing globalization efforts to cater to the changing dynamics of world trade. Despite the push for “re-globalization,” early signs of fragmentation in world trade are becoming evident.

Fragmented trade policies, protectionism, or geopolitical rifts could be potential challenges in achieving the objectives of re-globalization.

China, as a dominant global player, has showcased an active role in the “re-globalization” narrative. Collaboration endeavors like deepening cooperation with countries such as Venezuela indicate China’s commitment to fostering a more interconnected global trade system. This collaboration can potentially set the tone for other nations to join the “re-globalization” effort. At its core, “re-globalization” suggests a resurgence or renewal of globalization efforts. But unlike its predecessor, this iteration prioritizes equitable growth and sustainable practices. Historically, globalization brought about increased interconnectedness, facilitating the movement of goods, services, and people across borders. However, as challenges like income disparities and environmental concerns arose, it became clear that a renewed approach was necessary. “Re-globalization” seeks to address these modern challenges, placing a greater emphasis on balanced growth and sustainable practices.

The digital age has significantly influenced the “re-globalization” movement. Advanced technologies and the Internet have bridged gaps, turning the world into a global village. E-commerce, virtual meetings, and digital financial transactions have changed the face of trade. But this digitization also brings about its own set of challenges, such as cybersecurity threats and data privacy concerns. Addressing these concerns will be paramount for “re-globalization” to flourish in the digital age. As the world grapples with the climate crisis, “re-globalization” emphasizes sustainable trade practices. The global community is increasingly recognizing the importance of eco-friendly practices, sustainable resource utilization, and minimizing carbon footprints.

This shift in focus means that trade agreements and policies under “re-globalization” will likely prioritize environmental sustainability.

Emerging economies have a critical role in the “re-globalization” process. Nations such as Brazil, and parts of Africa are witnessing rapid growth, and their involvement in global trade is more crucial than ever. Their participation ensures that “re-globalization” is not just a concept embraced by developed nations but is a collective global effort. Trade is not just about goods and services; it’s also about the exchange of cultures and ideas. As barriers diminish and global interactions increase, there’s a rich tapestry of cultural exchange taking place. “Re-globalization” also aims to foster this exchange, promoting mutual respect and understanding among nations, thereby making the world more inclusive. Beyond the exchange of goods, services, and capital, “re-globalization” deeply intertwines with the human dimension. It encompasses the movement of people across borders, be it for work, education, or leisure. As countries become more interconnected, there’s a growing importance placed on policies related to immigration, global education, and workforce integration.

The geopolitical landscape poses both opportunities and challenges for “re-globalization”. Rising superpowers, regional alliances, and geopolitical tensions can influence global trade dynamics. To navigate these intricacies, nations and global organizations need a nuanced approach, balancing political considerations with the broader goals of global cooperation and growth. Historically, discussions around global trade have often centered around multinational corporations. However, in the era of “re-globalization”, SMEs are gaining prominence.

With the digital revolution offering global platforms, SMEs are now reaching international markets with greater ease. Their agility and local expertise make them crucial players in the “re-globalization” narrative.

The dynamics of global trade are shifting, and with it, there’s a need to rethink trade agreements. Modern agreements should reflect the realities of the digital age, sustainable practices, and the emphasis on equitable growth. They should also be agile, accommodating the rapid changes that characterize today’s global economy.

The global pandemic of 2020 showed that the world needs to be prepared for unforeseen challenges. In the context of “re-globalization”, this means creating resilient supply chains, fostering international cooperation in crisis management, and ensuring that global trade mechanisms can adapt rapidly to changing circumstances.

“Re-globalization” is more than just a trade phenomenon; it’s a collective endeavor that encompasses various dimensions – economic, social, cultural, and technological. While the journey is complex, filled with challenges and intricacies, the potential rewards are immense. A world that is more interconnected, where opportunities are plentiful, and where nations collaborate for shared prosperity, is within reach. In essence, the World Trade Report 2023 serves as a timely reminder of the possibilities that “re-globalization” holds. It emphasizes that while the path is fraught with challenges, with collaborative efforts, a shared vision, and adaptability, the global community can usher in an era of renewed globalization – one that is more resilient, inclusive, and sustainable.

How Global Water Shortages Shape Our Future?


Water is the foundation of life on Earth, essential for both human civilization and the environment. Unfortunately, freshwater resources are dwindling, causing friction among nations and heralding the rise of potential “water wars” in susceptible regions. The intertwining dynamics of water scarcity, management, and geopolitical tensions are becoming more evident, prompting the need for comprehensive solutions. Water scarcity can be simply defined as the condition where the available freshwater resources are insufficient to meet the demands of the population. The root causes of water scarcity are multifaceted. On the one hand, natural freshwater sources are declining due to climate change and over-extraction. On the other hand, increasing global populations, especially in regions where freshwater is already limited, exacerbate the issue. The cascading effects of water scarcity negatively impact rivers, lakes, and other water bodies, harming the environment in numerous ways.

The growing challenge of water scarcity isn’t just an environmental problem; it has profound economic implications as well. The dwindling supplies of clean water can impede the production of food, the functionality of industries, and the health of the public. Economically speaking, it’s imperative to reform water governance and institutions to address the looming threats of scarcity and rising competition for this invaluable resource.

With global freshwater supplies decreasing, the fear of “water wars” is becoming a significant concern. Such conflicts can manifest in various forms: from local disputes over access to a shared well to international tensions where rivers cross national borders. In vulnerable regions, the depletion of freshwater is increasingly a source of friction between nations.

Water scarcity isn’t an isolated phenomenon; its reach is global, with varying intensities across different regions. In many parts of the world, including sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, and parts of Asia, water scarcity has already reached alarming levels.

This not only affects the immediate availability of water for drinking and agriculture but has broader ramifications, such as migration patterns, where people are forced to relocate in search of more hospitable living conditions with better water access.

Agriculture, which accounts for nearly 70% of global freshwater withdrawals, is particularly vulnerable to water scarcity. In regions that rely heavily on agriculture, declining water availability can lead to food insecurity, affecting both local and global food markets.

The phenomenon of “water risk hotspots” has been identified, targeting areas where future water risks for agriculture are particularly high, thereby requiring urgent attention and intervention.

Rapid urbanization poses another challenge. Cities and metropolitan areas, with their dense populations, exert enormous pressure on local water resources. Often, the infrastructure is either outdated or insufficient to meet the demands of a growing urban populace. In some cases, the lack of proper water management systems exacerbates the scarcity problem, leading to unequal distribution, wastage, and heightened tensions. Water scarcity has a profound impact on ecosystems. Reduced river flows can lead to increased salinity, adversely affecting freshwater habitats and the species that depend on them. Over-extraction from groundwater sources can lead to land subsidence, altering natural landscapes and increasing vulnerability to flooding. Moreover, the increased salinity challenges in freshwater resources are becoming increasingly problematic, threatening both the environment and the health of populations.

Climate change acts as a force multiplier in the realm of water scarcity. Alterations in precipitation patterns, rising temperatures, and more frequent and intense droughts are all consequences of global warming that directly impact water availability. The melting of glaciers, crucial freshwater sources for many regions, further compounds the issue, causing both immediate flooding and long-term water shortages.

Pakistan offers a poignant example of how water scarcity can reach a crisis level. Water shortages in Pakistan arise from a mix of incidental causes, such as poor local water management policies, and operational issues like failing infrastructure and lack of conservation measures. Monitoring water quality and understanding the region’s specific needs are crucial steps to address the situation.

While the challenges are immense, the world has the tools, knowledge, and, more importantly, the collective will to address them. But this requires a shift from competition to collaboration. Shared water resources offer an opportunity for transboundary cooperation, fostering peace, and regional stability. There are already examples of countries forming water-sharing agreements, highlighting the potential for diplomacy and dialogue in averting “water wars.” International organizations, NGOs, and even private entities have roles to play in facilitating dialogue, funding infrastructure projects, and pioneering technological solutions. Moreover, education and awareness at the grassroots level are essential. When local communities are empowered with knowledge and resources, they can take proactive steps to conserve water and ensure its equitable distribution.

The depleting water resources, and the growing specter of water wars is a clarion call for the world to act. By recognizing the interconnectedness of our shared challenges, embracing innovation, and fostering global collaboration, humanity can ensure that water remains a source of life and prosperity, rather than conflict. While the road ahead is challenging, the rewards of a water-secure future, marked by peace, collaboration, and sustainable growth, are well worth the journey.

The Emergent Moscow-Tehran Collaboration


In a rapidly evolving geopolitical landscape, the ties between nations are more crucial than ever. Recently, a significant development has emerged in the form of strengthened relations between two key global players: Russia and Iran. With sanctions mounting against both nations, their growing camaraderie seems to be a counter-narrative to the pressure from much of the Western world.

Russia and Iran have a complex history that spans centuries. From the ancient trade routes of the Silk Road to more recent diplomatic and military interactions, the relationship between these two powerful nations has often been dictated by regional and global geopolitics. Let’s delve deeper into the historical and cultural nuances of this burgeoning alliance. Centuries ago, the famed Silk Road connected the vast expanse of Asia, from China’s eastern frontiers to the western realms of Persia and the Mediterranean coast. This ancient trade route saw Persians (modern-day Iranians) and Russians trading goods, ideas, and cultures. While the nature of their interactions evolved over the years, the foundation of mutual respect and shared interests was established early on.

International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC)

(Source: ECFR.EU)

The 19th century saw the British Empire and Tsarist Russia vying for influence and control in Central Asia in what was known as “The Great Game.” Iran, with its strategic location, became a chessboard where both powers maneuvered to maintain their influence. Although the two empires occasionally clashed over Iranian territory, their shared interest in keeping Iran as a buffer state led to a series of agreements that defined the modern borders of Iran. With the onset of the Cold War, the global order changed dramatically. Iran, initially under the pro-Western Shah, leaned towards the United States, while the Soviet Union tried to spread its influence in the region, especially in Afghanistan. However, the 1979 Iranian Revolution radically altered the dynamics.

The establishment of an Islamic Republic in Iran, antagonistic to Western powers, created new opportunities and challenges for Moscow.

The late 20th and early 21st century saw Iran’s nuclear program becoming a focal point of international contention. While Western nations, especially the US and its allies, viewed Iran’s nuclear ambitions with suspicion and alarm, Russia played a more balanced role. Moscow was involved in the construction of the Bushehr nuclear power plant and, at the same time, played a mediating role in negotiations around Iran’s nuclear program. In recent years, military and defense ties between Russia and Iran have become more pronounced. Both nations have found common ground in Syria, where they have collaborated to support the Assad regime against various insurgent groups. This partnership has been a testament to their shared interests in curbing Western influence in the Middle East and countering extremist elements in the region.

Energy resources play a significant role in the relationship dynamics between Russia and Iran. Both nations are rich in oil and gas reserves and are major players in global energy markets. They have found mutual interests in countering the dominance of Western energy giants and have deliberated on strategies to bypass sanctions, especially in the realms of oil exports and financial transactions. Beyond politics and defense, cultural ties between Russia and Iran have flourished. Several Iranian students study in Russian universities, while Russian art and literature find an appreciative audience in Iran. These interactions have helped foster mutual understanding and respect between the two peoples.

(Source: ECFR.EU)

Modern Geopolitics

In the shifting sands of international diplomacy, the Russia-Iran nexus is emerging as a central pillar in the evolving multipolar world order. With traditional power structures challenged by emerging economies and regional powers, the collaboration between Moscow and Tehran provides an intriguing perspective on how nations navigate these changes. China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) seeks to create a vast network of trade routes connecting Asia, Europe, and Africa. Both Russia and Iran are strategically located along this initiative’s proposed routes.

As the BRI reshapes the economic landscapes, Moscow and Tehran find themselves at the crossroads of this new Silk Road. Their collaboration could influence the success and direction of this vast project, providing them with significant geopolitical leverage.

The Middle East has long been a theater of power play between global superpowers. With the U.S. gradually retracting its direct involvement and focusing on broader geopolitical challenges, the vacuum is being filled by regional powers, including Russia and Iran. Their cooperation in Syria is just one example of how they are influencing the regional order. Central Asia, with its vast energy reserves and strategic location, is another area where the Russia-Iran alliance could play a pivotal role. Their influence could counterbalance China’s growing presence in the region, leading to a tripartite power dynamic that ensures a more balanced distribution of influence.

One of the pressing challenges both Russia and Iran face is the array of sanctions imposed by the West. Instead of being mere deterrents, these sanctions have catalyzed the creation of alternative trade systems. Russia and Iran, alongside other sanctioned nations, are exploring ways to bypass the dollar-dominated global financial system. By leveraging technologies like blockchain and establishing regional trade agreements, these countries are gradually diminishing the West’s financial hegemony. Their collaboration in this arena is not just about short-term gains but about laying the foundation for a more multipolar economic world order.

(Source: IMF)

Both Russia and Iran face significant environmental challenges, from desertification in Iran to vast Siberian forest fires in Russia. Climate change, dwindling water resources, and environmental degradation are shared concerns. Their collaboration in addressing these issues, from shared research to joint initiatives, can provide a roadmap for other nations facing similar challenges.

Beyond the realms of politics and economics, cultural diplomacy plays a vital role in international relations. Both Russia and Iran have rich cultural heritages and have taken steps to promote their cultures abroad. Film festivals, literary events, and cultural exchanges between the two countries are fostering mutual appreciation and strengthening their soft power on the global stage. In the digital age, cybersecurity has become a paramount concern for nations. With both countries facing cyber threats, there’s a growing realization of the need for collaboration in this sphere.

Joint research in cybersecurity, shared threat intelligence, and collaborative defense strategies are areas where Russia and Iran can pool their expertise for mutual benefit.


Navigating the Waters of International Diplomacy

The international diplomatic arena has been undergoing significant changes. The Russia-Iran alliance, fueled by mutual interests and regional geopolitics, is an embodiment of these shifts. As they tread forward, several key areas warrant a closer look. While both Russia and Iran are energy powerhouses, the global shift towards renewable energy sources poses challenges and opportunities. Embracing green technologies and diversifying their energy mix is not just a matter of environmental sustainability but also of economic foresight. Collaborative ventures in wind, solar, and nuclear energy can redefine their position in the global energy markets.

Regional crises, the instability in Afghanistan, present both humanitarian challenges and diplomatic opportunities. The Russia-Iran alliance can play a constructive role in conflict resolution, refugee resettlement, and post-conflict reconstruction. Their joint initiatives can help stabilize the region, benefiting not only the immediate stakeholders but also the broader international community.

Education is a powerful tool for fostering understanding and bridging divides. Scholarships, student exchange programs, and joint research ventures between Russian and Iranian universities can pave the way for a more interconnected and informed future generation. Such initiatives can also help counteract the often-negative narratives that dominate the media landscape. The majestic landscapes of Russia and the rich historical tapestry of Iran make them unique tourist destinations.

Promoting tourism, easing visa regulations, and launching joint cultural festivals can boost people-to-people ties. Such connections often lead to a better appreciation of each other’s cultures, breaking down stereotypes and fostering genuine friendships.

Apart from the aforementioned environmental challenges, public health issues like the global pandemic showcase the need for collaborative research and action. Sharing best practices, research in vaccine development, and strategies to combat future health challenges can position Russia and Iran as leaders in global health diplomacy. While much attention is given to their terrestrial engagements, there’s potential for collaboration in naval and space arenas. Joint naval exercises in the Caspian Sea or the shared use of satellite technologies for meteorological or communication purposes can further cement their technological and strategic alliance.

The 21st century is marked by rapid changes and unprecedented challenges. The Russia-Iran alliance, in this context, is not just about mutual benefits but also about navigating the complexities of modern geopolitics. As they move forward, their collaboration will undoubtedly influence regional and global outcomes. However, like all alliances, there will be tests and trials. How they negotiate differences, uphold mutual respect, and prioritize long-term goals over short-term gains will determine the alliance’s strength and durability. The intricate web of international relations is constantly evolving. The deepening ties between Russia and Iran are a reflection of this dynamic. As they carve their path in this multifaceted landscape, the world watches with keen interest. Their journey, replete with challenges and opportunities, will be a defining narrative of our times.

Indo-Pak Ties and Strategic Balance


Great nations never forget the sacrifices of their martyrs. Every Pakistani celebrates 6th September as Defense Day every year. On this very day, Pakistan’s forces valiantly stood against the Indian aggression in 1965 when New Delhi started almost full-scale war against Pakistan. India threatened the territorial integrity of Pakistan through an all-out war. Despite having limited economic options and pressure from international community, Pakistani forces bravely fought against India and won the tough battle. The background of Pakistan Defense Day can be traced back to the conflict between India and Pakistan over the Kashmir region. The 1965 Indo-Pak War began on April 6, 1965, when India launched an attack on Pakistan. This war continued for 17 days and ended on September 23, 1965, after a ceasefire was brokered by the Soviet Union and the United States.

Pakistan Defense Day is observed to pay tribute to the armed forces and civilians who defended the country during this war. The day is marked by various activities and events, including military parades, special prayers, and ceremonies held at military and civilian institutions to honor the sacrifices made by Pakistani soldiers and civilians during the conflict. One of the most iconic events associated with Pakistan Defense Day is the 1965 Victory Parade held in Lahore, where Pakistan showcased its military might and the resolve of its people. This parade has become a symbol of national pride and unity. Additionally, on Pakistan Defense Day, the country remembers and honors those who received military awards for their bravery and valor during the war. The President and Prime Minister of Pakistan often lay wreaths at the graves of the soldiers who sacrificed their lives for the country.

In his book, “Fighting Power: German and U.S. Army Performance, 1939-1945”, Creveld identifies the elements of ‘moral force’, whom he calls fighting power, the willingness to fight and the readiness, if necessary, to die. The greater these elements, the less vulnerable an armed force will be to demoralization.

‘Moral force’, then, is the crucial factor in determining the combat power of any belligerent. During the 1965 war such elements like will to fight and ‘moral force’ have been more found in the personnel of Pakistan’s Armed Forces then those of India.

Likewise, this very day has come at a time when Pakistan is facing multiple challenges and issues of grave nature externally and internally, which are worrying all the citizens. As regards internal challenges, by imbibing the same spirit of the 1965 war, Pakistan’s Armed Forces, during the successful military operations, Zarb-e-Azb, Radd-ul-Fasaad and Operation Khyber 4 have killed many terrorists through ground offensive and many of them surrendered before the Army. And during street to street fighting, without bothering for their lives, and by air-dropping commandos at the risky places, our forces made a great headway in disrupting the militant’s supply routes and links. While country’s primarily intelligence agency ISI also recovered a huge cache of arms and ammunition from the possession of the terrorists. Thus, security agencies have successfully broken the backbone of the foreign-backed terrorists.

Peace has been restored in the provinces of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan and Karachi as well, including other vulnerable regions. Regrettably, under the cover of so-called democracy, some irresponsible leaders of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and recently-ruling alliance of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) have changed their political differences into political enmity. These rival entities also blamed each other regarding this year’s May 9 events—attacks on the military and civil installations, which have been condemned by every segment of society. At this critical juncture, Pakistan is facing multi-faceted crises and challenges like corruption, inflation, soaring prices of commodities, energy-shortage, lack of investment, upsurge of the US dollar, increase in oil prices, load shedding, inability of the importers to open letters of credit (LC) due to lack of dollars etc., and continued dependence upon the US-led developed countries, IMF and World Bank for financial aid—and decline in the foreign exchange reserves of the State Bank of Pakistan.

Instead of decreasing, political unrest in Pakistan is rapidly increasing, taking the country
towards lawlessness. So, the Defense Day demands that the former government of the PDM’s parties, the PTI, media owners, Army, including all other segments of society must show selfless national unity practically, which is very essential to pull the country out of the ongoing serious crises and, and to meet the Indian war-mongering designs. Overall, Pakistan Defense Day is a day of reflection, remembrance, and celebration of the resilience and courage displayed by Pakistanis during a challenging period in the nations’ history. It serves as a reminder of the importance of defending the country’s sovereignty and upholding the principles of unity, faith, and discipline.

Remembering Syed Ali Gilani


Syed Ali Geelani was born in Zurimanj village (Bandipora tehsil), in the Baramulla district of North Kashmir on 29 September 1929. He died on 1st September 2021 while under house arrest (2010 to September 1, 2022) for over a decade. His house remained heavily barricaded until his death. He was denied access to the internet and other communication facilities. Freedom lovers including the Kashmiri Diaspora in different countries have decided to commemorate his birth and death anniversaries in a befitting manner. Geelani’s passport was seized in 1981. Though he suffered from renal cancer, he was not allowed to travel abroad for treatment. Not to speak of a foreign visit, he was not allowed to attend even an Urdu book fair at the Kashmir University. When he died, Indian forces whisked away his dead body and buried it at a deserted place. That’s why Kashmiris regard his death as a custodial killing. In his will and testament, Geelani had wished that his dead body should be buried in Srinagar Martyrs Graveyard.

Even if someone is hanged, his last wish is respected. But in the case of Ali Geelani, the Indian forces did not have the decency to honour Geelani’s wish. Geelani’s family alleged that his body was taken away by the police and buried forcibly. Shortly after the burial, the
administration booked Geelani’s relatives under the Public Safety Act.

Geelani had walked out of the Hurriyat after some separatist leaders sent proxy candidates to fight assembly elections. Unlike many of his Hurriyat colleagues, he also refused to join peace talks with Delhi. Over the years, it would prove to be an astute political move. The peace talks went nowhere. In the Valley, they were seen as a ploy by the Centre to maintain the status quo in Kashmir. He felt Kashmir’s future lay with Pakistan but he claimed the plebiscite could be a
genuinely democratic process whose results may not have gone his way. In several interviews, he said he would accept the results of the plebiscite even if Kashmiris chose India. Geelani was a versatile thinker. He was an austere religious ideologue who held funeral prayers in absentia for Osama bin Laden. He had written 40 books, spoke Urdu, Arabic and Persian, and quoted the poet Iqbal in conversation.

All his life, he articulated his demands through peaceful channels. Geelani  stepped down from the leadership of the Tehreek-e-Hurriyat in 2020 owing to
differences with his colleagues. He foresaw that India wanted to change the demography of the disputed state. He also realised that India’s draconian laws, meant
for nabbing the timber mafia, were being applied to freedom lovers to stifle their voice. He vehemently opposed these laws, particularly the Public Safety Act. He was a symbol of indomitable resistance. During his incarceration in Indian jails, he was subjected to physical and mental torture. His grandson had been serving as a research officer at the government-controlled Sher-i-Kashmir International Convention Centre in Srinagar. He was dismissed from the government job citing “security concerns”.

Gilani played an active role in the formation of the Muslim United Front (MUF) in 1987 ahead of provincial elections, against pro-India parties, including the National Conference. Only four candidates of the platform, including Gilani, however, managed to secure seats because of rigging. Gilani, along with three other winners, was jailed by India. In 1992, the All Parties Hurriyat (Freedom) Conference (APHC) was set up. It was meant to serve as a platform of 30 pro-freedom parties. In August 2004, Gilani along with Muhammad Ashraf Sehrai launched Tehreek-e-Hurriyat (Movement of Freedom). Geelani stressed that Pakistan should not show any resilience to India unless India admits in unequivocal terms that Kashmir is a disputed territory.