Geopolitics of South Asia

Topics: Pakistan, Partition of India, United States Pages: 10 (3766 words) Published: January 16, 2012
The Geopolitics of South Asia
From Early Empires to the Nuclear Age
Graham P. Chapman
Centre for Advanced Study, Oslo, Norway
Professor Emeritus of Geography, Lancaster University, UK

From Chapter 14 The Greater Game

The New Security Agenda
The United Nations Development Programme in 1997 outlined the seven areas of new security; economic, nutritional, health, environmental, personal, community and political. Since then the more crystallised term ‘New Security Agenda’ has been pushing its way into debates in international relations. It challenges the comprehensiveness and utility of the ‘Old security Agenda.’ Whether there ever was quite such a simple animal as ‘old security’ is uncertain; but for the purposes of this chapter we can agree that the theorists of the New Security see the Old Security as essentially the preservation of any given Westphalian State by conventional military and diplomatic means. India and Pakistan and the other states have defined territories to defend, by the providing and equipping adequate military forces to deter or defeat perceived military threats. Their governments are the dominant actors in forging supporting alliances. By contrast, in the post-Cold War world, the new agenda is growing in prominence because international relations theorists, diplomats, many governments, and agencies of the United nations are increasingly aware of the extent to which the internationalisation of crime, terrorism, the trade in narcotics, and environmental issues, all impinge, sometimes collectively, on the security of both states and their constituenTpublics. More recently the most basic of all securities – access to food – has again become an international security issue. The issues, then, may involve linkages which cut across states or which crystallise below the level of states. Essentially, New Security relates to people rather than to nations. Duffield (2005) proposes the idea of biopolitical security, in which the principal concern is not securing states but lives. ‘Geopolitics, the security of states, and biopolitics, the security of population, are not mutually exclusive; they are complementary, interdependent and work together to a lesser or greater degree.’ In July 2004 the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the UK sponsored a conference to discuss the new security agenda in South Asia (Jacques, 2004). Delegates were initially presented with the following questions as jumping off points: • Is competition over water a potential source for conflict? • Can environmental cooperation reduce tensions?

• What role is there for regional cooperation in the management of natural or man-made disasters? • How can South Asia’s energy demands be met?
• The regulation of South Asian trans-border migration • Can trans-border drug trafficking and crime be tackled through a regional response? • The challenges of HIV/AIDS to security.

Terrorism was not included because within seconds of opening such a debate there was a danger that the dispute over Kashmir and ‘freedom fighters’ (aka ‘terrorists’) and ‘occupying forces’ (aka ‘liberators’) would stymie any discussion on any other issues. In the best traditions of peace negotiation, confidence has to be built by dealing first with tractable rather than intractable issues. Many of these issues have cropped up in the preceding chapters. The partition of Punjab and its impact on water management was dealt with in Chapter 13, in which we also discussed the issue of the Farakka barrage, on the Ganges just upstream of Bangladesh, and the embryonic plans for the massive River Linkage Programme of India – which would redefine sub-continental hydrology to fit an arbitrary Westphalian sovereignty. In Chapter 12, on India’s Northeast, I commented on the level of illegal migration continuing from Bangladesh to India, and its destabilising effects (see Hazarika, 2000, for extensive field-research on this topic)....
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