|#1893||1127||April 11, 2018||By Nagapushpa Devendra|
JordanianKing Abdullah II, accompanied by a business delegation, arrived in India on February 27 for a three-day visit on the invitation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his recent visit to West Asia. This wasKing Abdullah II's second visit to India after his visit along with Queen Rania in 2006. The purpose of King Abdullah’s visit is to provide the two countries with an opportunity to explore ways and means to further strengthen bilateral ties in diverse areas, particularly the expansion of existing trade and investment of $1.35 billion in 2016-2017, according to figures asMinistry of External Affairs (MEA).
The two leaders held a meeting during which the entire gamut of bilateral relations, as well as other regional and international issues of mutual interest, with particular focus on Islamic extremism and the consequences of recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel by Washington, were discussed.
Both India and Jordan renewed and expressed unequivocal support for the Palestinian cause and reiterated the US President Trump’s decision as null and void, notwithstanding their close ties with Israel. King Abdullah, who serves as the custodian of Islamic Holy sites in Israeli annexed East Jerusalem, believes that a negotiated two-State solution is the only realistic way to resolve the Israel-Palestine conflict. Whereas, despite the major shift in Modi’s foreign policy towards Israel, India’s stand on the Palestinian cause and the two state solution has been consistent and independent of any third party. In fact, in December 2017, along with Jordan, India voted with the rest of the world in the UN General Assembly against US Presidential Donald Trump’s unilateral announcement of recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
From an Indian point of view, King Abdullah’s visit is very significant in terms of its Kashmir conflict with Pakistan. During the visit, King Abdullah reiterated Jordan’s neutral position on India’s Kashmir conflict, despite its deep political, cultural and historical links with Pakistan. Prior to his trip to India, King Abdullah visited Pakistan where, President Mamnoon Hussain highlighted the long-standing issues of Kashmir, saying that they were imperative for international peace and stability. Whereas, King Abdullah highlighted the importance of reaching a political solution to the Kashmir issue with India, in accordance with International law and relevant UN resolutions.
This shows that the Jordanians foreign policy is also rooted in the diplomacy of pragmatism, the delicate balancing act between India-Pakistan. This puts Jordan in a better position to play a third-party role in facilitating a resolution to Kashmir conflict than any other country.
Although India refuses third-party role in its domestic affairs, they must understand that its unilateral approaches of negotiating a settlement with Pakistan have led to a futile political posturing rather than effective discussion. In addition, the current government’s policy towards Pakistan is loud-mouthed and belligerent. This has provided space for Iran and China to emerge as a Pakistan supporter, who are attempting to internationalize the Kashmir conflict. However, Jordan is not only close to Pakistan compared with any other countries but also has the experience of negotiation peace settlement.
The Kingdom has been involved as a third party mediator in the Israel-Palestine conflict settlement. King Abdullah mostly took on a mediator role between Israeli and Palestinian leaders, various Palestinian factions and occasionally between the Palestinian Authority and the US. India could rely on Jordan when it comes to dragging Pakistan to the negotiation table.
While discussing bilateral relations, both the countries sought to diversify and broaden their cooperation to bind India-Jordan economies and bring both the countries closer in other major sectors as well. As a result, both the countries inked 12 Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) in the field of Defense, Security, and Investment Cooperation.
The Kashmir issue, Maoist insurgency, online-radicalization of Indian youth by Islamic State (ISIS) are challenges that confront the security of the country. Thus, keeping in mind the tremendous de-radicalization experience which Jordan has in the region, India emphasized on closer security cooperation. Both the sides explored the possibility of initiating provisions for the implementation of cooperation in the areas like defence training, counter-terrorism, and cybersecurity
For India, engaging with one of the key Islamic countries against Islamic extremism in recognized fields of defence and security sector could be of great importance in curbing counter-terrorism operation and cybersecurity threat. In fact, with Jordan’s support, India has the potential to become one of the important game changers by becoming a proactive nation in the area of de-radicalization and cybersecurity.
Lastly, in economic front, India is Jordan’s 4th largest trade partner after Iraq, Saudi Arabia and China. The main commodities India imports fertilizers, phosphates and phosphoric acid, and exports machinery, cereals, frozen meat, organic and inorganic chemical, fodder and automotive parts to kingdom. Under this pretext, both the countries agreed to further explore the possibilities of cooperating in assisting Africa. King Abdullah also met a selected group of Indian CEO’s followed by India-Jordan Business Forum jointly organised by Industry bodies FICCI, CII and Assocham. They discussed further potentialitiesin enhancing India-Jordan bilateral trade and investment relations with the excellent political ties existing between the two countries. King Abdullah also visited IIT Delhi to explore collaboration with Jordanian technical institutes. Both the sides inked a number of agreements to further develop their cooperation in the field of IT; Health & Medical Science; Manpower; Customs Matters; mining and beneficiation of Rock Phosphate &Muriate of Phosphate.
Jordan must also attempt to engage with India in its other advanced sectors like aerospace, biotechnology or Make in India initiatives. This is because India is in a better position when it comes to investment as compared with developed and developing countries. In addition, India is more liberal and has transparent policies among the emerging and developing countries. On the other hand, India must also try to explore the potentialities of Jordanian market. Jordan is also the home to more than 10,000 Indians, who are employed in various sectors like textile, construction, IT companies etc. Thus, the potential for a greater opportunity and cooperation on the basis of mutual understanding between India and Jordan is brighter than ever before.