Middle fingers painted in blue ink, millions of Afghans went to the polls, electing people to the lower house of the Parliament and the District Councils. Aside from macro implications, these elections demonstrated popular faith in the strengths of institutional democracy.
The recent by-election results in Pakistan should serve as a wake-up call for the PTI government led by Imran Khan. While renegotiation of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor with China has helped in the long run, the economy is in the doldrums and patience is clearly wearing thin.
The President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev arrived on September 30, 2018 on his first official visit to India. This visit came soon after the visit of Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to Uzbekistan, as part of her visit to the Central Asian Region.
In September and October 2018, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi held two meetings in Islamabad and Washington to renegotiate the terms of engagement.
In July 2018, Indian Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced that India was going ahead with the purchase of the S-400 Triumf missile shield from Russia. The US had on numerous occasions conveyed its discomfort with India’s decision to make this purchase.
Amidst political turmoil and deadlock, Maldives voted in its third democratic election on September 23, 2018. Opposition leader Ibrahim Solih secured 58.3 percent against President Abdul Yameen, a strongman politician who conceded defeat with 41.7 percent vote share.
The US decision to cancel USD 300 million in military aid on September 1, 2018, just four days before Pompeo’s visit, came in for heavy criticism from sections of the Pakistan media as well as the political class.
During the recent floods in Kerala, a number of countries offered assistance, but two GCC countries, the UAE and Qatar, were the fastest to react. The UAE offered aid to the tune of INR 7 billion while Qatar pledged USD 5 million.