‘India, Central Asian States Share Security Concerns, Debate Poor Connectivity’
NEW DELHI: The first dialogue of the national security advisers of India and the five Central Asian states last week covered some familiar ground. They have met before in larger formats involving Russia and China, which has its limitations. So a smaller format has enabled a more frank exchange of views. In this conversation on The Gist, Pankaj Saran, former deputy national security adviser, acknowledged that Afghanistan is a major concern in Central Asia, the Taliban presence and its support for other armed Islamic groups seen as a threat to the stability of the five ‘stans. Nevertheless, he says, they are willing to give the Taliban some latitude and wait to see how things develop there. The political leadership in each of the ‘stans are apprehensive of the radicalisation underway in their own societies; they do not want to be dependent on China even as Russia’s influence slowly wanes; they distrust Pakistan but are seeking land routes to India through that country, unsuccessfully so far. Iran is an option but instability there is a concern. So connectivity is a major problem. Tune in for more in this conversation with Pankaj Saran.