The temperature in the Indo-Pacific region is rising, not only because of global warming but more because of the increasing tensions between the United States and China. Their rivalry is no longer confined to the exchange of harsh words. Both are actively seeking to build alliances, expand their sphere of influence and beef up military strength.

Indonesia, like all other countries in the region, is caught up in this rivalry between the two superpowers, but unlike most of them, it has managed to stay unaligned with either camp. This affords Indonesia the space and opportunity to help cool down tensions.

Now more than ever, Indonesia should use every power and leverage available at its disposal to conduct more aggressive diplomacy to preserve peace in the Indo-Pacific region.

We should not underestimate our credentials as peacemakers but neither should we overrate ourselves. Indonesia is the fourth-largest country in the world and the largest member of ASEAN, and President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo is this year’s president of the Group of 20 world’s wealthiest nations.

Without the economic means and military power, these credentials may not be enough for Indonesia to prevail over the two superpowers to tell them to deescalate tensions, but this should not stop President Jokowi and his diplomatic machinery from trying.

The question is, if not Indonesia, who else has the capacity to stop the current cold war from shifting into a hot war? Most countries in the region that could make a difference are already aligning themselves with the US.

This is not the time to finger-point at who began the escalation. Statements and actions by both sides have contributed to the tensions, and unless restrained, they can only get worse.

ohammad Younes Menfi, Head of the Presidential Council of Libya sent a letter to President Ilham Aliyev, Trend reports.

“Your Excellency,

It is my pleasure to extend to you and the friendly people of Azerbaijan my best wishes on the occasion of the national holiday of your country- the Independence Day.

On this remarkable day, I wish the people of Azerbaijan peace, progress and prosperity.

Please accept Your Excellency, the assurances of my highest esteem and consideration,” the letter said.

Egils Levits, President of the Republic of Latvia also sent a congratulatory letter.

“Your Excellency,

On the occasion of the celebration of the National Day of the Republic of Azerbaijan, I extend my most sincere congratulations along with wishes for long years of peace and prosperity for Azerbaijan and its people.

It is my firm belief that the well-established cooperation between Latvia and Azerbaijan will continue to develop and strengthen in the years to come. It is in the long-term interest of our nations to further intensify our political, economic and cultural dialogue.

Today, when Russia’s aggression in Ukraine has shaken the peace and stability in the region, we need to stand in unity to protect the shared values and principles, and the very basis of the international order based on the Charter of the United Nations.

I am confident that through working together we will ensure that our people thrive in peace and security.

Please accept, Your Excellency, the assurances of my highest consideration along with the best wishes of health and strength to you and the people of Azerbaijan,” the letter said.

Jose Daniel Ortega Saavedra, President of the Republic of Nicaragua, Rosario Murillo, Vice-president of the Republic of Nicaragua also congratulated President Ilham Aliyev.

“Dear brother,

On the special occasion of commemorating the 104th anniversary of the Independence Day, this coming 28 May, we wish to express on behalf of the People and Government of Reconciliation and National Unity of the Republic of Nicaragua, and on our own behalf, our warmest congratulations to you and to the people and government of the Republic of Azerbaijan.

On this historic and memorable date, we accompany the people of Azerbaijan in celebrating the victories of self-determination, national sovereignty and independence and we reiterate the unwavering determination of the people and government of Nicaragua, to continue working together with the people and government of Azerbaijan, in building a world of peace, solidarity and cooperation, with a multipolar, fair and equitable world order in which the fundamental principles of international law are respected.

From our always blessed and always free Nicaragua receive our fraternal embrace with the love and respect of the Nicaraguan families,” the letter said.

Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, President of the Republic of Maldives sent a letter on the occasion to President Ilham Aliyev.

Excellency,

On the happy occasion of the Independence Day of Azerbaijan, the government and the people of the Maldives join me in extending warm greetings and sincere good wishes to your Excellency, the government and the people of Azerbaijan.

Let me also extend, Excellency, my personal best wishes for your good health and happiness, and for further progress and prosperity of the people of Azerbaijan,” the letter said.

Andrew Holness, Prime Minister of Jamaica congratulated President Ilham Aliyev.

“On behalf of the government and people of Jamaica, I extend warm congratulations to the government and people of the Republic of Azerbaijan as you celebrate the 104th anniversary of the Independence Day.

Jamaica values greatly the relations, which we have enjoyed since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1995, and looks forward to increased opportunities to strengthen cooperation in the years to come.

Please accept, Excellency, my very best wishes for the continued peace and prosperity of the government and people of the Republic of Azerbaijan,” the letter said.

Ilir Meta, President of the Republic of Albania also extended congratulations to President Ilham Aliyev.

“Your Excellency,

I cherish the special pleasure to convey, also on behalf of the Albanian people the sincere and wholehearted wishes to you and to the Azerbaijani people as well.

On this important day for your country and people, I have the pleasure to point out the very good level of the progress of the excellent and friendly relations between our two countries and peoples, and also to express my conviction that these bilateral relations and cooperation will continue to further grow and strengthen in the future thanks to our joint willingness and engagement.

In an unusual attack on Pakistan’s powerful military, ousted prime minister Imran Khan has admitted that his government was a “weak one” which was “blackmailed from everywhere” as the power was not with him and “everyone knows where that is”.

Khan was ousted from power in April after losing a no-confidence vote in his leadership, which he alleged was part of a US-led conspiracy targeting him because of his independent foreign policy decisions on Russia, China and Afghanistan.

In an interview to Bol News on Wednesday, Khan was asked to recall the events of the night of the no-confidence vote against him, who was issuing orders and who had impeded the cases against the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leaders, the Dawn newspaper reported.

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief said his government had been “weak” when it came to power and had to seek coalition partners, adding that if the same situation were to arise again, he would opt for re-elections and seek a majority government or none at all.

“Our hands were tied. We were blackmailed from everywhere. Power wasn’t with us. Everyone knows where the power lies in Pakistan so we had to rely on them,” the 69-year-old cricketer-turned-politician said, without elaborating any further who he was referring to.

Khan, who came to power in 2018, reportedly with the backing of the military, is the only Pakistani prime minister to be ousted in a no-confidence vote in Parliament. He was replaced by PML-N’s Shehbaz Sharif.

He said it was imperative for the country to have a “strong army” due to the threat posed by the enemies but said there was also the need to strike a “balance” between having a strong army and a strong government.

“We relied on them all the time. They did a lot of good things too but they didn’t do many things that should’ve been done. They have the power because they control institutions such as NAB (National Accountability Bureau), which wasn’t in our control,” he said.

The former prime minister said while his government had the responsibility, it did not have all the power and the authority.

The Pakistan Army, which has ruled the coup-prone country for more than half of its 73 plus years of existence, has hitherto wielded considerable power in the matters of security and foreign policy. However, the army has continuously denied its involvement in politics.

According to experts, Khan, who was ousted on April 10 after the National Assembly passed a no-confidence motion against him, had apparently lost support of the Army after he refused to endorse the appointment of Lt Gen Nadeem Anjum as the ISI spy agency chief last year. Finally, he agreed but it soured his ties with the Army.

During the interview, Khan said, “No management works if I have responsibility but have no complete power and authority. A system works only when responsibility and authority are in one place.”

The PTI chief said the current political situation was a problem for the country as well as the establishment. “If the establishment doesn’t make the right decisions then I can assure in writing that (before everyone else) they and the army will be destroyed because of what will become of the country if it goes bankrupt,” he said.

“Pakistan is going towards a default. If that happens then which institution will be (the worst) hit? The army. After it is hit, what concession will be taken from us? Denuclearisation,” Khan said.

Khan said that if Pakistan were to lose its nuclear deterrent capability, it would be fragmented into three pieces. “If the right decisions aren’t made at this time then the country is going towards suicide,” he warned.

Prodded further to share his thoughts on the night of the no-confidence vote, Imran declined to go into details and said: “History never forgives anyone. Things come out. If you ask me, I won’t go into details, but when history will be written then it’ll be counted as such a night in which Pakistan and its institutions were damaged a lot.

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