Having stated that after the virtual Meeting of China with the leaders of Central Asian countries, India also joined the initiative and for the first time held a Summit Meeting with the heads of states of five Central Asian countries, Behrouz Ayaz in an interview with the site of Strategic Council on Foreign Relations noted then:” the main topics raised in the virtual meeting were trade cooperation, post-Taliban takeover in Afghanistan, fighting terrorism as well as extremism in the region”.
He added:” in the Meeting, India emphasized on development of Chabahar Port for deepening of its economic relations with five Central Asian countries, which by itself can indirectly be considered as a reaction to China’s investment in Gwadar Port of Pakistan. Yet, with a more profound study of reasons and consequences of the Meeting, one can say geopolitical factors as well as strategic motivations of hegemon powers of the region were among the main impetuses of the Meeting”.
Having reminded that the virtual meeting underscored the economics as an important factor, in a way that they agreed to set up Trade Council of India and Central Asia, the expert of Asian affairs said:” during 2020 until 2021 the total export of India to Central Asia amounted to $ 658 million, while its imports from the same region during the same period stood at $ 826 million. In this connection, New Delhi provided an agreement amounted to $ 1 billion to the five Central Asian countries to cover different projects on information technology, agriculture, health and education”.
In the meantime, Ayaz emphasized:” Having looked at the issue from a different angle, it can be said that the Meeting had a political and security nature. The recent developments that caused Taliban takeover, made New Delhi as a loser and Islamabad as a winner of a political game in Afghanistan. In the past few years, India was not only trying to expand its investments in Afghanistan but also considered the country as a linking bridge to connect to the Central Asian markets”.
He continued:” Taliban’s repeated domination over the country and concerns about the new wave of extremism in the Central Asia made Central Asian countries and India to take more serious steps to strengthen their relations. Three countries of Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan have common borders with Afghanistan which has exposed them to the security concerns about the other side of the border. Thus, the security related border cooperation may drive them to conclude defense agreements with India”.
The expert of Asian affairs spelled out:” with an overwhelming look at the developments of Asia continent, it should be said that the recent Meeting has been taken place in line with New Big Game of hegemon powers of the region”.
He explained:” China is an emerging power at global level that dreams of becoming a global hegemon. This has been encountered with the U.S. preventive measures at global level, and with Indian and even Russian deterrent measures at regional level. In view of the declared strategies of the past, Indo – Pacific strategy raised by Shinzo Abe, the then Japan’s Prime Minister, and Open and Free Indo – Pacific strategy that was raised by Trump Administration can be considered to control China at regional and global levels”.
According to Ayaz; Indian measures in geopolitical region of Indo – Pacific as well as geographical region of Central Asian can be analyzed in competition with China”.
Having stated that the Central Asia has sensitive strategic position and high economic importance that drew the attention of two powerful players of Asia, i.e. China and Russia for years, the analyst of Asian affairs said:” with a historic impression to the region as the legacy of Cold War era, Moscow casts a security look at its back yard. While, Beijing casts an economic look in line with One Belt, One Road plan and pays attention to the importation of energy to the region”.
He added:” within the past several years, and in order to promote economic relations, and in fact for its strategic relations, India has also pinned its eyes to this region. The U.S. departure from the region last year from one hand, and competition between Beijing and Moscow from the other hand made Russia to once again tries to expand its relations with India. The recent visit of Mr. Putin, the Russian President to New Delhi on December 5, 2021 can be assessed in line with this goal and to create a balance versus the expansion of China’s influence in Eurasia”.
Ayaz continued:” it seems that new relations between Russia and India is a kind of a deal for broad presence of New Delhi in the Heartland region or the Heartland of Asia to create balance versus China; therefore, competition between China and India in Shanghai Cooperation Organization for regional superiority has shown itself this time on the global chess board. Beijing is after ambitious strategy of Silk Road and New Delhi is after Extended Neighborhood strategy to be linked with Central Asia and to compete with China”.
He stressed:” holding the New Delhi virtual Meeting at Summit level with Central Asian countries only two days after China Summit Meeting with these countries and the proposal of $ 1 billion aid to these countries versus the $ 500 million of Chinese aid extended to them can be assessed in line with this; therefore, India as a new player has joined the New Big Game on Global Chess Board”.
Ayaz referred to the competitions and challenges between India and Pakistan, particularly with respect to Afghanistan and said:” In order to prevent the repeated influence of India in Kabul, Pakistan hinders the arrival of humanitarian aids to Afghanistan. Expansion of New Delhi relations with Muslim countries of Central Asia and its preparedness to develop and invest in Chabahar Port that in a way is considered as a competitor to Gwadar Port of Pakistan will lead to negative reaction of Islamabad”.
The analyst of Asian issues said:” Although the hostile relations of the country with Islamabad continues to overshadow between them, but in the meantime it is not a decisive factor in the present strategies of New Delhi; because New Delhi has recently set the pawns of its chess board against China not Pakistan”.