Col Ashwani Sharma (Retd)


The world witnessed a significant and alarming transition in 2022, as Europe was gripped by a serious conflict that few had considered plausible just years before. In addition, the contention between the United States and China concerning Taiwan continues to escalate. The chances of violent outbursts in the Korean peninsula and between Iran and Israel are mounting, indicating a growing global predicament. The troubling increase of internal conflicts, fuelled by ideological divergences, religious discord, and social issues, significantly destabilizes nations worldwide. Non-state actors further complicate the landscape, employing various strategies that could potentially escalate disputes into armed confrontations, amplifying existing diplomatic or political knots. It has become increasingly crucial to identify conflict scenarios and potential hotspots early on to secure societal growth and stability.

However, modern conflict management extends beyond the simplistic task of identifying troubled areas on a map and delegating resolution to diplomats and military leaders. It requires us to delve into the intricacies of global politics. The persistence of conflicts often corresponds with the inaction of those capable of resolving them. As long as global powers and the systems they maintain contribute to or exacerbate these disputes for their strategic gains, conflicts will persist. Contemporary conflict study has also begun to shine a spotlight on aspects like resource-based conflicts and human security issues, which were often overlooked until the turn of the millennium.

In South Asia, the ongoing hostilities are embedded deeply, formed and interconnected through historical narratives, external interference, globalisation, and internal dynamics. Resolving these disputes necessitates a comprehensive understanding of their complexities, along with the readiness to address the key concerns and interests of each party involved. Superpower rivalry and its impacts on interstate hostilities can’t be ignored. The early focus was neutralising Russia (or the USSR), and currently, it’s China. Nuclear-powered neighbours India and Pakistan hold unique geostrategic significance in managing these two adversaries, with evident US tilt towards India and subtle abandonment of Pakistan. This power play contributes to the region’s enduring turmoil.

The cover story for this issue features contributions from seasoned diplomats who have thoroughly analysed the origins, considerations, and potential solutions for conflicts in their respective regions. We plan to discuss the remaining focal points in the forthcoming issue.

Lt. Gen. Ata Hasnain provides his insights on restoring peace in the distressed state of Manipur, which has been embroiled in turmoil since early May this year. Drawing from his personal experiences and global examples, he offers recommendations to cease the ethnic discord prevalent in the state.