COP21

Pakistan Civilian and Military establishment together condemn Pathankot Attack

After the NSA level talks between India and Pakistan were called off earlier in 2015, India-Pakistan relations have been on a roller coaster ride. Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Mr. Nawaz Sharif, and Indian Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi, have met twice since that cancellation. They met at the sidelines of COP21 in Paris and shook hands on what was a closed and “casual” meeting. The NSAs of India and Pakistan, Mr. Ajit Doval and Gen. Naseer Janjua respectively, met in Bangkok early in December of 2015, to discuss issues of terrorism and ceasefire violations, which was followed by the surprise visit by Mr. Modi to Pakistan on Mr. Sharif’s birthday later that same month. However, the terror attack on the Pathankot Air Force Base in India “threatened to destabilize” the follow-up talks. Mr. Sharif immediately called his Indian counterpart and shared his grief and condemned the Pathankot attacks. All these developments, over the course of a month-and-a-half, are not unprecedented. However, what is new and changed is the rhetoric that the Pakistani military establishment is pursuing this time around.

Since their inception, India and Pakistan have sought to resolve issues between them. Indian and Pakistani leaders have met multiple times on sidelines of UN meetings, SAARC summits and even funerals of world leaders. Dr. Aparna Pande, Research fellow at the Hudson Institute, in an interview on CNN, mentioned that Mr. Modi’s impromptu visit was a continuation of an old policy. “Every Indian Prime Minister, for the past six decaded has sought to make peace with Pakistan their legacy,” she said. Even in 2008, the Mumbai attacks became the reason why “the progress of the Composite Dialogue was derailed.” Owing to the “oscillatory nature of the India-Pakistan relationship,” even Mr. Sharif’s statement of his phone call with Mr. Modi post the Pathankot attack read-

“The Prime Minister also stated that the Pakistani government would investigate this matter. Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif pointed out to the Indian Prime Minister that whenever a serious effort for bringing peace between the two countries was underway, terrorists try to derail the process.”

So not much seems to have changed in the layout of the talks and reconciliation process between India and Pakistan. Although, the new development is that the Pakistani military may have a vested interest in improved relations with India. It is improbable that the Pakistani military was not involved in the visit orchestrated by Mr. Modi given its power and influence in the affairs of the country. Secondly, Times of India reported that “Pakistan PM, Army & ISI chief all condemn Pathankot terror attack.” In an effort to continue the dialogue between the two countries, the military and intelligence establishment in Pakistan have taken this new measure to condemn the attacks on the Indian air base. This is a first, for Pakistan and India. Pakistan’s security establishment seems to be upholding the legitimacy of the Sharif-led civilian government by simply aligning itself with it and not acting separately. The civilian government had also condemned the 2008 Mumbai attacks but the military leaders had fluctuated between being on the defensive and offensive but never condemning the attacks. General Pasha, former ISI Chief, was disappointed that India had not shared enough evidence for Pakistan to do anything about investigating the 2008 attacks and in the same statement said “the Indians, after the attacks, were deeply offended and furious, but they are also clever. We may be crazy in Pakistan, but not completely out of our minds. We know fully well that terror is our enemy, not India." But, that trend seems to be altering, while most things have remained unchanged. This time over, the security establishment has promised “full cooperation with New Delhi in eradicating the menace of terrorism from the region.” This change to a common rhetoric from the civilian and military leaders is good news. This interesting turn to collaboration between these two institutions, could be attributed to the recent appointment of General Janjua as Pakistan’s National Security Adviser. Looking at the future, Michael Kugelman, Senior Associate at the Woodrow Wilson Center, mentioned to Ankit Panda from The Diplomat that it may be advisable for NSAs to meet again, instead of the anticipated Foreign Secretary meeting scheduled for mid-January. As a former Lt. General, Janjua might be able to better share the interests of the army as his appointment itself came with consultations between Mr. Sharif, and current Army Chief, General Raheel Sharif.

For India, this is completely new diplomatic territory as well, and while only time will tell how these recent development will affect the talks and relations between the two countries, this change is welcome and quite optimistic.

India-US Relationship: A help or a hinderance to COP21?

The Paris Climate Change summit (COP21) is being hailed as a significant milestone, in a concerted journey to unify over a single cause - to mitigate the challenges that have arisen due to climate change. It is also a milestone to explore new goals, limits and agreements; not only for developing but also developed countries. Only two weeks since the terror attacks in Paris, “leaders of 150 leaders, along with 40,000 delegates from 195 countries” are in Paris for the 21st annual meeting-- Conference of Parties-- of nations under the United Nations Framework for Climate Change. While there have been annual meetings since 1995, UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon deems COP21 as a “great opportunity” with conviction that “a political moment like this may not come again.”

The objective of COP21 is to hopefully “agree on legally binding reductions in greenhouse gas emissions meant to hold global average temperatures short of a 2 degree Celsius increase over preindustrial global temperature.” This two-week long summit, from November 30 to December 11, is expected to be a testament to a political collaboration of nearly 200 countries. The need for this is urgent as the previous commitment on greenhouse gas emissions expires in 2020. The anticipated challenges to the success of these talks can be boxed in four packages. One, the simple logistics of an agreement that is unanimously agreed upon by all the parties is, in fact, quite complex. Second, for any legally binding agreement, domestic pressures might play a significant role in the implementation of the goals of the agreement. This would in fact question the legitimacy of any agreed upon terms. Third, an ideational challenge that is likely to occur could be in terms of limitations imposed on developing countries that lack the resources or funds to invest in cleaner energy for growth and development. And lastly, the implementation structure and the consequences of not adhering to the agreement is always difficult as is evidenced by the fact that “none of the countries that failed to meet their commitments under Kyoto have been sanctioned.

The United States, being the world’s largest economy and the second-largest emitter, intends to play a big role in helping this agreement come through. President of the US, Mr. Obama, quite candidly accepted America’s responsibility in “creating the problem” of climate change, which is quite typical of Mr. Obama. His opening remarks at the First Session of COP21 at Le Bourget were a combination of a rhetoric in favor of an agreement, America’s on-going and future commitments and a promise that growth and clean environment can go hand in hand. However, his urgency in combating climate change has met a lot of criticism, most recently, by Presidential Candidate Ms. Carly Fiorina. During a segment on Fox News, Ms. Fiorina claimed that Mr. Obama’s declaration and emphasis on the issue-- climate change “poses a greater threat to future generations” than any other-- is “delusional.” While Forbes deemed Mr. Obama’s proposed Climate Action Plan “uninspiring,” there are harsher criticisms to his climate policy. Climate Researcher and Expert, James Hanson considers his policy “practically worthless.” In the same article by MSNBC that covered Mr. Hanson’s critique, Mr. Obama’s outlook towards mitigating climate change was summarized as “meek and dangerously self-congratulatory, sapping the movement of urgency while doing almost nothing to maintain the future habitability of the earth.” A final issue that Mr. Obama might face in terms of an overarching agreement is it not being ratified by Congress as exemplified in the absence of ratification of the Kyoto Protocol of 1997. Fellow and Climate Policy Expert at the Hudson Institute, Mr. Lee Lane, has also been known to criticize Mr. Obama’s leftist and extremely expensive climate policy. In an article in the New Atlantis, Mr Lane proposes a conservative viewpoint in establishing a more sustainable, long-term and effective climate change policy for the United States. While these criticisms emerge, Mr. Obama is still committed to bringing home a deal of cooperation.

While these criticisms are directed at Mr. Obama, there are rallies and protests around the world, and in Paris, criticizing that not enough is being done and urging world leaders to make bolder decisions. At one of the protests in Paris, there are lines of pairs of shoes on the streets with messages like “taking action against climate change and stopping pollution.” This was a unique, and creatively silent protest as mass demonstration are not allowed in the city in light of the November 13 terror Attacks. However, there have been demonstrations where the police has had to use force-- water cannons, batons, and shields -- to disperse the protesters.

In a New York Times article, another problem to COP21 was identified that converges the ideational and structural challenges mentioned earlier--

“The greatest threat to reaching a binding climate accord may be a loose coalition of developing nations, led by India, who argue that they should not be asked to limit their economic growth as a way of fixing a problem that was largely created by the others.”

While this may turn in to a significant problem in finalizing a larger agreement, India certainly intends to play a pivotal role in the Climate Talks. Right at the beginning of the Paris Summit, Indian Prime Minister, Mr. Modi and French President, Mr. Francois Hollande launched the ‘International Agency for Solar Technologies & Applications (INSTA)’ or as it is being popularly called the “solar alliance.” India played a key role in bringing together over 120 solar-rich countries in order to “create collaborative platforms for increased deployment of solar technologies to improve access to energy and create opportunities for better livelihoods, especially in rural and remote areas.” India has already promised a commitment of $90 million dollars to house the headquarters in India and is building a network of investments in order to push the project off the ground. Mr. Modi has taken a more direct narrative to establish that “advanced nations” must take the lead. His words while strict were not new that “the prosperous still have a strong carbon footprint. And, the world's billions at the bottom of the development ladder are seeking space to grow.” This remains another possible point of contention or cooperation between Mr. Obama and Mr. Modi who have shown the possibility of an actual relationship between the United States and India. While the opposition party to Mr. Modi’s BJP in India seems to be reluctant in recognizing the “warm rapport” that Mr. Obama and Mr. Modi share, the White House continues to support India’s role in helping achieve an agreement, that does not curb the growth of countries like India. However, there continues to be a lot of back and forth on what role India is likely to play during the process of the Paris agreement. While a New York Times article said that “Narendra Modi could make or break Obama’s Climate Legacy,” only time will tell whether the relationship between Mr. Modi and Mr. Obama can help create a global political collaboration to mitigate the effects of climate change, that scientists have warned, if not taken care of, will be “catastrophic and irreversible.”