Will the real Quad stand up? - Hindustan Times
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Will the real Quad stand up?

ByHT Editorial
Dec 03, 2021 07:36 PM IST

Now, there are three of them. Are these Quads competing? There are no indications. Should India worry about the future of its Quad? Probably

There was a Quad meeting this Tuesday. Don’t kick yourself if you missed it. It wasn’t “the Quad” that most Indians are familiar with. Now, there are three of them.

The Quad that most Indians are somewhat proud of, and excited about, is the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, comprising Australia, India, Japan, and the United States (ANI) PREMIUM
The Quad that most Indians are somewhat proud of, and excited about, is the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, comprising Australia, India, Japan, and the United States (ANI)

The Quad that most Indians are somewhat proud of, and excited about, is the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, comprising Australia, India, Japan, and the United States (US). It was formed in the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami and was given up for dead in 2008, when Australia dropped out.

Repurposed to tackle China, it has witnessed a second coming, with two summits in 2021, one virtual and the other in-person.

The second Quad is one that Indians may not like because it does not include India. Worse, it includes Pakistan. Launched in July 2021, it is descriptively called the Quadrilateral Diplomatic Platform. Its members are Afghanistan, Pakistan, the US, and Uzbekistan, and it is dedicated to securing long-term peace and stability in Afghanistan.

The third, which Indians may be ambivalent about so far, is the Transatlantic Quad, which met this past Tuesday. Made up of the US, the United Kingdom (UK), Germany, and France, the group cooperates on a whole range of issues, from Iran to Russia. US secretary of state Anthony Blinken met his group counterparts French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, German foreign minister Heiko Maas, and UK foreign secretary Elizabeth Truss, in Riga, Latvia.

The US is common to all three Quads — in fact, it’s the only country that is a member of all of them. But it is not, to be fair, the prime mover for all of them. The thrust for the third Quad — the Transatlantic Quad — has come from UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson as part of his “Global Britain” vision.

The three Quads may arrange themselves in a pecking order, but their publicly declared activities and engagements thus far show that the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue appears to be ahead of the others, and by a wide margin. With its two summit-level meetings, it spawned a busy body of initiatives and working groups spanning everything from responses to the Covid-19 pandemic to emerging technologies, infrastructure, education, space, and cybersecurity.

The Afghanistan-centric Quad has had no meetings as per official records after its inaugural announcement in July. Representatives of the four countries agreed to “meet in the coming months to determine the modalities of this cooperation with mutual consensus”, according to a state department statement.

The Transatlantic Quad has fared better. The foreign ministers met via videoconference in February. They discussed Covid-19, Iran, Burma, Russia, China, the climate crisis, and other issues. But at the time, they had not yet named themselves as a “Quad”.

Are these Quads competing? There are no indications. Should India worry about the future of its Quad? Probably, because the US is currently driving it, and Washington can be fickle about its priorities. And, it must be said, the US appears curiously charitable in the use of the word “Quad”.

yashwant.raj@hindustantimes.com

The views expressed are personal

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