Economic Times | 28 April 2016
By Kiran Somvanshi
If the world is indeed turning flat as Thomas Friedman has it, then are nation states the best unit of governance. Or are global cities a better option?
Cities are the islands of stability for most of the world's population that lives in very weak, fragile and often dangerous countries. Making cities better run and better governed benefit not only their own residents but the whole nation. There is no successful country without a successful city. So these are not mutually exclusive but reinforcing.
Do you see the rules of connectivity redefining borders in case of the IndiaPakistan dispute on Kashmir?
There is a gradual shift towards more connectivity between India and Pakistan in terms of transit, energy, trade, investment and tourism. I think an MFN trade agreement would be a great thing. Also the IPI (Iran-Pakistan-India) pipeline is practical and necessary. So the more we can modify the IndiaPakistan dynamic into one with real cross-border investments and connectivity, the more the relationship will be transformed in a positive direction. On Kashmir I have always felt that the LoC should be made a de jure border. That way both sides can get on with the process of building more connectivity across it to benefit their economies that have been held back by politics.
How do you view the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as a factor that will change the geopolitics of the South Asian region?
The CPEC is the next phase in the 50-year process of China building Pakistan's infrastructure such as the Karakoram network to reach the Arabian Sea. With China's massive financial muscle and new robust engineering, this corridor to Gwadar will surely become a reality. Pakistan now devotes military assets to protecting this corridor, showing how infrastructure is as strategic as borders. The CPEC effectively makes China a two-ocean power: the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean.
How do you read the Chinese strategy of building infrastructure and connectivity across its borders?
China has more neighbours than any other country and doesn't want to fight with any of them. Especially in Central Asia, it wants to build and operate cross-border infrastructure so that resources can flow in more smoothly and exports can flow out efficiently. That is the system China wants to build to dominate the region peacefully through infrastructure.
How do see the outcome of the US presidential elections impacting geopolitics?
It is likely that Hillary [Clinton] will win and there will be continuity in American foreign policy. The US should focus much more on regional capacity building so that West Asia and the Far East can develop shared security institutions and rely less on the US as a balancer. But even more fundamentally, the US energy industry is now the world's largest. So America will be a reliable supplier of oil and gas to both Europe and Asia. The US is now selling oil directly to China.
How will Brexit, if it happens, change the geopolitics of the Europe?
Brexit will not change the geopolitics of Europe because even if Britain were not in the EU, it would still consider European countries its allies in all security matters. It would be very bad for Britain economically and diplomatically though.