The end of cold war in 1989 has brought about significant changes in the international scene and hence new policy problems for the various states in the developing world including India.
The new situation is made of greater uncertainty and complexity. For India, the disintegration of the Soviet Union has meant uncertainty on several aspects viz. supply of weapons system, the supply of spare parts, diplomatic support on Kashmir and other politico-strategic issues in and outside the United Nations and as a counterweight to the US in South Asia.
During the last decade and a half international politics has undergone major changes.
The cold war has ended, the world has become unipolar, a number of states have disintegrated, cold war military blocs have lost their significance, some such blocs have dissolved and new regional economic blocs are shaping up. Globalisation has given rise to a new set of problems such as terrorism, money laundering, the proliferation of weapons, global warming etc.
These problems are not endemic to any region but affect all the countries to some extent or the other. This has forced many nation-states which were hitherto enemies to cooperate with each other to solve problems which are universal in nature.
In this changed international scenario it has become imperative for the UN to restructure and reform itself if it is to effectively respond to emerging challenges. Militancy in Kashmir has emerged as the foremost challenge to our foreign policy.
Pakistan and the Western countries blamed India for violating human rights and denial of rights to self-determination. Gradually, India brought the situation under control.
Because of the Kashmir dispute, India’s relations with Pakistan sharply deteriorated. India accused Pakistan of fanning trouble through cross border terrorism in Kashmir and other parts of our country.
India conducted nuclear weapon tests in 1998, followed by Pakistan’s tests. Pakistan resorted to further mischief by secretly sending its soldiers into Kargil in India and the World order to cut off the Kashmir valley from the rest of India.
India handled the challenge firmly and effectively. Now engaging Pakistan in a constructive and composite dialogue process remains a challenge to India’s foreign policy, because there is a great deal of push from the United States.
Spread of terrorism to corners beyond Kashmir is a challenge as well as the opportunity for our foreign policy nowadays. India is interested in forging an anti-terrorism coalition with as many countries as possible.
Keeping old friends and looking for new friendships is another challenge for our foreign policy after the cold war has ended. For example, India is interested in strengthening its relations without damaging its relations with Arab countries.
Similarly, India’s foreign policy is tackling new tasks like deepening economic and security cooperation with the United States, while at the same time opposing unilateral actions against Iraq and Yugoslavia.
Finally, India is realizing the growing importance of economic aspects of foreign policy. Hence, it is trying to establish a new basis for its relations with neighbouring countries in South Asia, China and the South East Asian counties.
Also read: Panchsheel Foreign Policy