Force Magazine

The Russian Hand

Moscow’s prodding led to the Modi-Sharif meeting at Ufa, says Prof Abdul Ghani Bhat

By Pravin Sawhney and Ghazala Wahab

Srinagar: It is safe to say that Professor Abdul Ghani Bhat, who juggles several hats at the same time, has busted all the stereotypes associated with old age. Easily a septuagenarian (or more), Bhat continues to think, imagine, analyse and articulate his views no matter how much they differ from conventional wisdom. Most importantly, inflexibility of ideas, the bane of old age, has simply passed him by. Bhat not only has been able to intellectually keep pace with changing circumstances, often he manages to jump ahead of foreseeable events.

The Russian Hand

While most analysts saw a thaw in Ufa, Russia, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi spent some quality time with his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif on the side-lines of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) summits and delivered a joint statement, Bhat sees a new Asian security framework midwifed by Russia and China.

“The Russia-China-India-Pakistan-axis is very significant,” he says. “Overtime, Iran will also become part of this. And gradually, the US will be elbowed out from this region.” Bhat loves drama and the flamboyant flourishes that follow his sentences. So, having said this, he pauses to see the impact of his words.

“Kashmir is the only issue that defines India-Pakistan relationship. If this is resolved to both parties’ satisfaction, then everything else will follow: trade, Sir Creek, Siachen, even terrorism. Everything is peripheral to the Kashmir issue,” he says, building-up on his theory.

“Imagine the economic opportunities that peace between India and Pakistan will open up for this entire region. From Iran to China, and may be beyond, encompassing Afghanistan, the Central Asian Republics and Russia. The China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) can only realise its full potential if the Kashmir issue is resolved,” he pauses again, either to collect his thoughts or to give the listeners a moment to absorb what has been said so far.

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