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Key Economic Data 
 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
GDP
Millions of US $ 598,966 515,000  481,400 12
         
GNI per capita
 US $ 530 480 470 160
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

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Update No: 072 - (29/01/10)

American Defense Secretary Robert Gates Visits India and Pakistan
From January 19-22, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates was in India and Pakistan dealing with tough questions that ranged from the presence of nuclear weapons to curbing terrorism. Gates acknowledged that there was a "trust deficit" with Pakistan; an issue that would be hard to resolve. While speaking at the National Defense University, he mentioned that any conspiracy theory about American intentions of undermining Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal were at best fraudulent and the work of an "organized propaganda campaign" by insurgents to discredit the United States. "That kind of interaction is quite critical," said Shuja Nawaz, a Pakistan expert who directs the South Asia Center at the Atlantic Council in Washington, saying it would impact subsequent conversations within the Pakistani military. Gates, however refused to talk about operations when he was asked about the likelihood of CIA drone strikes against the insurgents. During his visit to both New Delhi and Islamabad, Gates reiterated the need to check the scourge of Islamic terrorism appeared to focus on the common threat of Islamic extremism that both countries share, but reporters repeatedly returned to questions about India-Pakistan tensions. Interestingly he was quick to confirm that both countries intended to resolve the issue bilaterally which would mean the complete absence of any type of third party intervention. In India, Gates tried to encourage India to develop stronger military ties with America through the purchase of American military equipment but in Pakistan, he had to alleviate any concerns about what effect this would have on Pakistan’s security. Perhaps, from the standpoint of both India’s and Pakistan’s security, Gates stressed the need to seek out extremist groups and not just terrorists who had links with Al-Qaeda. Gates was particularly careful about praising Pakistani efforts in flushing out militants. While discussing the issue of Afghanistan, Gates stated that the Obama administration’s decision to pull out troops by 2010 did not imply a large-scale pull-out but rather, a gradual withdrawal of troops based on the security context.

India – Korea Strategic Partnership
India and South Korea have embarked on a strategic partnership, with both countries trying to boost their economic and political relationship. The South Korean President, Lee Myung-bak was in India in late January and was the guest of honor at India’s 61st Republic Day parade. The South Korean leader hailed the decision to establish a strategic relationship as a “significant development,” that will greatly benefit peace and stability in the region. Much of the joint collaboration between the two countries will be centered on South Korean assistance provided for the building of nuclear power plants and the start of discussions on a civil nuclear agreement, in addition to sharing the manufacture of defense equipment. South Korea has been one of the major players that has supported the lifting of a three-decade embargo on civil nuclear trade with India.

Both countries have set a goal of doubling trade by 2014 to $30 billion. Many South Korean companies already have a significant presence in India and are increasing their investments to benefit from India’s huge domestic market. Indian Commerce Minister Anand Sharma says the growing economic ties between the two countries will help in the integration of Asia. He stated that India viewed this as an important requirement.

Pakistan Defiant on Nuclear Stance
Pakistan has cited a “clear and present danger” from India and ruled out global negotiations which seek to ban the future production of fissile material. Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Zamir Akram, has said that such a treaty would leave Pakistan -- the most recent member of the nuclear club -- at a permanent disadvantage. Pakistan’s position severely undermines the Obama administration’s goal of upholding global disarmament. It further impedes efforts at the U.N.-sponsored Conference on Disarmament, where members had proposed starting work on talks to halt production of the highly enriched uranium and plutonium used to make nuclear weapons in what would be known as a fissile material cut-off treaty (FMCT). Akram stated that “a fissile material cut-off treaty that only bans future production of fissile material is unacceptable to Pakistan.” He said this would be a serious problem for Pakistan as it would exacerbate its military inequality with India giving the latter an edge. Aram also said that Pakistan was willing to negotiate a fissile treaty that encompassed reductions of existing stocks of material. Islamabad was willing to negotiate on issues such as nuclear disarmament, limiting the militarization of outer space, and "negative security assurances" -- promises by nuclear powers not to use atomic weapons on non-nuclear states. According to Pakistani calculations, the recent India-France civilian nuclear deal would provide India with fissile material for its reactors for 60 years, allowing it to use its own stockpile for weapons. What is continually confusing to Islamabad is why the United States would want to help India build nuclear weapons. Akram finally condemned the India-US nuclear deal, calling India greedy for its argument to build nuclear weapons.

India-Afghanistan
At a multilateral conference to be held in London on the war-ravaged situation in Afghanistan, India is going to make an argument against withdrawing from the country. External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna, who will represent India at the conference, is expected to underline the criticality of developmental work and capacity building of Afghans along with the military operations against Taliban as steps to bring peace and stability. India feels Afghan forces are not yet ready to secure their nation in the face of renewed surge in Taliban activities and therefore, an exit strategy by American and allied forces would spell disaster in the region. India believes there is no option but to fight and vanquish the Taliban which continue to pose the risk and have the potential to destabilize the entire region. However, New Delhi is not completely opposed to holding talks with some elements of Taliban who want to join the mainstream. But it believes that such talks should be led by the Afghanis themselves within the rubric of an Afghan constitution. India is prepared to participate in the development of Afghanistan and currently has $1.3 billion worth of reconstruction projects underway in Afghanistan. This has earned India massive goodwill in that country as was reflected in a recent opinion poll conducted by a Kabul-based NGO and commissioned by BBC, American Broadcasting Corporation and German Broadcaster ARD. In the poll, 71 per cent of Afghans said they favored India. Germany polled 59 per cent and stood at second spot. The U.S. came third with 51 per cent polls, Iran followed with 50 per cent votes and Britain got 39 per cent. Pakistan, on the other hand, wants to prevent India from developing any kind of role in Afghanistan. It has recently opposed a gesture to include India in a Regional Contact Group proposed by the UK on Afghanistan. This is perhaps the first time that India will take a stand on Afghanistan in any international forum. The results of the meeting and the debate will say a lot about India’s role in the region.
  

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