Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

The scramble for Central Asia

Central Asia is much in demand these days, whether as a transit route for U.S. and NATO supplies to Afghanistan as an alternative to Pakistan or for its rich resources, including oil and gas.

So it's worth noting that India has been hosting Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev as its guest of honour at its Republic Day celebrations while signing a bunch of trade deals in the process. According to reports in the Indian media, including in the Business Standardthe Week and the Times of India,  India is seeking supplies of uranium for its nuclear plants and access to Kazakhstan's oil and gas and in return would be expected to support Kakazhstan's bid for membership of the World Trade Organisation. (India's state-run Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) said on Saturday it had signed a deal to explore for oil and gas in Kazakhstan.)

Before anyone gets too carried away about India stealing a march in Central Asia, this Indian website adds a note of realism: "India’s strategy towards Central Asian countries has been no different than its strategy towards African nations, and can be only summarized as 'playing catch-up with the Chinese',” it says. "In this new “Great Game” of the century, India is consistently assuming the role of “Johnny-come-lately” to China in Central Asia."

That said, it still struck me as an interesting signpost in the competition between Asia and the U.S-led west for resources and influence, with Central Asia likely to become increasingly important both as a source of energy and as a supply route to Afghanistan.

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