The leaders congratulated Democrats without waiting for official results.
In the days after US media announced Joseph Biden as President-elect, leaders from all South Asian countries, except for Bhutan (which has no formal diplomatic relations with the US), have congratulated him.
The fact that all leaders ranging from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Pakistani PM Imran Khan, to Nepalese Prime Minister KP Oli, Sheikh Hasina from Bangladesh, Maldives President Ibrahim Solih and Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa tweeted to Biden without waiting for official results, indicated that they each wanted to reach out to the Democratic government early in the game, and hoped to build a relationship with the US that would build on from the past.
PM Modi tweeted old photos of himself and then Vice President Biden and his government will count on the continuation of Indo-US strategic relations, military exchanges and in building resistance to China in the Indo-Pacific region. This does not just mean support in times of conflict, such as the current standoff at the Actual Line of Control (LAC), India will seek more support from the US in presenting an alternative to the SAARC region.
Most countries in South Asia have higher bilateral trade rates with Beijing than with India or the US, and with the exception of India and Bhutan all are part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). During the COVID-19 crisis too, China has made several offers of medical assistance, vaccine promises and debt relief, and held meetings in South Asia. India will also expect Biden to continue Trump’s policy of suppressing Pakistan over terror, but there is a realistic assessment in New Delhi that Pakistan will have a close working relationship with the US when US troops withdraw from Afghanistan, and Taliban cooperation is needed.
Focus on human rights
A closer analysis of other SAARC countries shows that while they would welcome Biden’s more predictable style and promised actions on issues such as Climate Change, immigration, easing trade tariffs, immigration and visas, there will be differences in how they will do it. understand its policies of “strengthening democracy”, fighting terrorism and radicalism, caring for human rights, and dealing with China’s challenges.
In a statement, Bangladeshi Prime Minister Hasina said she hoped to cooperate with the US in “effectively countering the crimes of terrorism, violent extremism, hate, [and] forced transfer to Rohingya, ”indicating that he hopes Biden’s term will mark his exit from Mr Trump’s travel ban and other policies that appear to target Muslim countries.
In the article for Foreign affairs magazine in April 2020, Biden outlined his foreign policy priorities, which include plans for the annual global ‘Summit for Democracy’ in his first year in office, in which he marks three areas in which he will demand commitments from all countries: “fight corruption, defend authoritarianism, and advancing human rights. ”
Most of the South Asian countries that have accepted the US statement will be watching its move on human rights carefully. Sri Lankan President Rajapaksa and his brother Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa have faced US government restrictions on war crimes charges in the war against the LTTE, and hope to turn the page now.
Pakistan also wants to avoid US focus on minority rights, but hopes Biden will keep highlighting the situation in Jammu-Kashmir and India.
“There is [a] legitimate concerns that the Biden administration could mark a return to America’s liberal interventionist agenda focused on human rights, transitional justice and sanctions. Such moralist pressure could push countries like Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh and Myanmar further into Chinese hands, ”explained Constantino Xavier of the Center for Social and Economic Progress (formerly Brookings India). “On the other hand, Delhi hopes that the US under Biden will maintain Trump’s main focus on China as South Asia’s biggest strategic challenge.”
As a result, the entire region may be on edge until Biden clarifies his Chinese policy. Continuing Trump’s confrontational policies with Beijing could pose problems for India’s neighbors with close ties to China, but not checking Chinese aggression would have a deep security impact in the region.
Mr Biden himself kept guessing at his April article, when he said, “the most effective way to meet [China’s] The challenge is to build a united front of US allies and partners to confront China’s abusive behavior and human rights abuses, even as we seek to cooperate with Beijing on issues that share our interests, such as climate change, nonproliferation and global health security. “.