Ashis Ray

More diplomacy won’t stop the advance of the Taleban

On 11 August, at Russia’s initiative, an ‘extended troika’ will meet in Doha, Qatar to take stock of the Taleban’s major offensive to take over Afghanistan. The United States, scheduled to withdraw its forces by the end of this month, has been invited to this ‘Moscow format’, as have China and Pakistan. As of yesterday,

Will Afghanistan fall to the Taleban?

A last-ditch effort to broker peace in Afghanistan will be made in the Qatari capital of Doha this weekend. A senior Afghan government delegation which includes Abdullah Abdullah, chair of the country’s High Council for National Reconciliation, and former national president Hamid Karzai will engage in talks with the Taleban. Afghanistan’s unending 42-year civil war

The emptiness of the UK-India trade deal

Britain and India have been trading for over 400 years. For 190 of those, between 1757 and 1947, the subcontinent was close to being a captive market of the United Kingdom. Today commercial turnover between the two nations is a mere £23 billion — a tenth of the goods and services traffic between Britain and

Myanmar is on the brink of civil war

For more than two months now Myanmar has been convulsed by a burgeoning civil war. The confrontation between the country’s military and large parts of the country has little prospect of an early resolution unless China and Russia withdraw their support for the junta, which jettisoned a five-year power-sharing arrangement with Aung San Suu Kyi’s

Myanmar’s killing fields and the weakness of the west

The killing fields of south-east Asia are tragically alive and kicking. Pol Pot, the butcher of Cambodia, may be long cremated. But the military in Myanmar are maintaining his heinous heritage. On Saturday, they indiscriminately gunned down over 100 people, including children. It was the bloodiest sequence in two months of continuous brutality, which has led

Will Modi’s ceasefire with Pakistan last?

The perpetually fractious relationship between India and Pakistan reached a particularly low point two years ago, after dozens of Indian paramilitary personnel were killed in a suicide attack in Pulwama in the mountainous terrain of Kashmir. India blamed the attack on Pakistan and bombed what it believed was a terrorist training camp in Balakot across

Will Burma’s Buddhist monks help bring an end to the military coup?

In what could transpire to be a significant development, Buddhist monks joined tens of thousands of anti-coup protesters in the Burmese capital of Rangoon on Wednesday. This is the sixth continuous day of mass demonstrations since the military seized control. In a country where over 80 per cent of the population are Buddhists – and

Will Myanmar’s military get away with their coup?

In 1962 the Myanmar military staged a coup d’etat. Their iron-fisted rule lasted 49 years. On Monday, after a nine-year interlude when they remained covertly in control, they have officially and overtly retaken power. Min Aung Hlaing, who has been commander-in-chief of the armed forces since 2011, is now directly at the helm of a

A UK-India trade deal is needed now more than ever

Within a year of being elected leader of the Conservative party, David Cameron made clear the importance with which he viewed Anglo-Indian relations: “I attach the highest priority to Britain’s relationship with India. For too long, the politics of this country has been obsessed with Europe and America.” That he meant business was underscored by the 2010

The coalition against China

There was cautious expectation China would become a responsible member of the international community, given its 40-year surge towards free trade. This has sadly not come to pass. China’s offence-is-the-best-form-of-defence posture after the spread of the coronavirus pandemic from its soil, has confirmed the Chinese communist party’s aggressive streak. But now countries neighbouring China are building a

Could Covid give rise to a theocratic India?

The second day of October is a red-letter day in the Indian calendar. It’s the birthday of Mohandas Gandhi, better known as Mahatma or ‘great soul’. The man who with non-violence and non-cooperation brought British rule in India to its knees. The anniversary of Gandhi’s birth is a national holiday in India; a day of celebration and remembrance.

India and China are on a path to war

The foreign ministers of China and India, Wang Yi and Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, will meet today on the sidelines of a conference in Moscow. Their conversation is sure to be frosty: earlier this week, a four-month stand-off between the two countries’ armed forces escalated into warning shots being fired in the western Himalayas. This was the

India-Pakistan relations have reached rock bottom

Seventy-three years ago on 15 August, the nation of India awoke, in the immortal words of its first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, ‘to life and freedom’ after 190 years of British rule. It was a truncated triumph. Before its departure from the subcontinent, Britain conceded to demands for a separate homeland for Muslims and carved

Does Facebook hold the key to the Rohingya genocide?

Does Facebook hold the key to bringing the perpetrators of the Rohingya genocide to justice? Four in ten people in Burma use Facebook. Among them was the omnipotent commander-in-chief of the country’s armed forces Min Aung Hlaing, before he was banned from using the platform in 2018. Now Gambia, backed by the Organisation of Islamic

Xi’s bid for global domination could easily backfire

China’s multi-pronged militarism against its neighbours in recent weeks is intended as a show of strength. In fact, it reveals a weakness at the top of Xi Jinping’s Communist party which could prove to be counterproductive. Why is Xi lashing out? A detection of dissatisfaction among China’s people, mixed with a perceived opportunity for China to

Modi’s muted response to China is infuriating Indians

The mood in India simmers with retaliation following the death of at least 20 Indian soldiers in clashes with their Chinese counterparts on the decades-long unsettled border between the two countries. And there is bewilderment too at the muted reaction from India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi. When Modi first came to power, he promised a