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One photo, published in the Daily Sun on July 4, shows a member of the police attempting to gouge out the eyes of a young male activist, as his equally young female comrade attempts to drag him away. Shampa Bose, central committee member of the Samajtantrik Mahila Forum, told me that when the police had raided Bashod’s office (Bangladesher Samajtrantik Dal), had dragged out women activists, Selina Akhtar, a master’s student, had been pushed to the ground, had been kicked and stomped on her breasts and stomach by male police officers. Lutfunnahar Sumona, student of Eden College (see photo above), was kicked by a male police officer in her upper groin. Is this part of police training? Are they specifically taught to target reproductive organs of female activists? -- Rahnuma Ahmed


For example, it is ironic hearing men such as Imran Khan, Hamid Gul, Munawar Hassan and Zaid Hamid spout lectures and speeches on corruption, sovereignty and patriotism, when the truth is that much of what these gentlemen are spouting is nothing more than a populist version of a slippery narrative propagated by a political and economic elite. Their roots are not in the so-called masses but in the smoky corridors of Pakistan’s intelligence agencies and in the comfortable TV lounges of the country’s urban middle and upper classes.-- Nadeem F Paracha

“Every indication is that this was a deliberate, targeted killing that was most likely meant to send shock waves through Pakistan's journalist community and civil society,” said the official, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the delicate nature of the information. A spokesman for the Pakistani intelligence agency said in Islamabad on Monday night that, “I am not commenting on this.” Senior ISI officials have called and visited journalists, warning them to douse their criticisms and rally around the theme of a united country, according to three journalists who declined to be named for fear of reprisals. “We have recently arrested a terrorist and recovered a lot of data, diaries and other material during the interrogation,” Shahzad quoted Rear Admiral Nazir saying. “The terrorist had a list with him. If I find your name in the list, I will certainly let you know.”-- ERIC SCHMITT & JANE PERLEZ (Photo: Syed Saleem Shahzad)


At a time when the distance between American and Pakistani priorities in the post-Osama period continues to grow, China is passionately vouching for Pakistan's entry into the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which is seen as the upcoming Asian NATO. For some time now, China and Pakistan have aspired to create a regional alliance comprising the Arab countries, Central Asian Republics, Iran, Afghanistan and Turkey, and SCO could most likely help that dream come true.  But there is more to it than meets the eye. The lynchpin connecting these countries will be Gilgit Baltistan, a disputed region rivaling Serbia in area. Although constitutionally a part of India and bordering China's Xinjiang province, Afghanistan and Tajikistan, Gilgit Baltistan remains in Pakistani control since 1947. Today, Chinese miners and their affiliates are everywhere in Gilgit Baltistan especially in the Hunza-Nagar district, which is rich in uranium and certain minerals used in space technology. -- Senge Hasnan Sering,


Obviously this is not the case. By pulling back so many soldiers before his first term ends and by linking that action to concentrating energies on "nation building at home", Obama has narrowed options for himself or his successor. A severe and quick reduction in American troop presence will not result in a zero-sum game. It will deplete political capital all-round. There will be many losers. The US military presence in Afghanistan has provided the umbrella for Indian social and economic programmes. -- Ashok Malik


For the first time after 1975, Bangladesh has got the opportunity to correct calculated distortions to its original Constitution framed in 1972, following independence of former East Pakistan. “These changes were fundamental in nature and changed the very basis of our war for liberation and also defaced the Constitution altogether,” the Supreme Court observed, adding they transformed a secular Bangladesh into a “theocratic state” and “betrayed one of the dominant causes for the war of liberation of Bangladesh.” ‘Bismillah,' an Arabic word, is not the issue; the issue is its political use. -- Haroon Habib


Religion, owing to its emphasis on morality, usually is supposed to build one’s character and discourage corruption. But not here. During Ziaul Haq’s time, the drug trade was one of the most cherished occupations of our state. Even today when we are busy inventing conspiracy theories about American support to the Pakistani Taliban, their actual financial backbone, the drug caravans that originate from Afghanistan, pass through Balochistan and reach Iran, continue unabated. You can visit Chaghai to view it with your own eyes. No wonder that when money and property become the primary concern of the defenders of the state, fighting the real threat becomes secondary. Terrorists can kill your children and mine but how can they attack the children of the elite who live outside the country enjoying life on the taxpayers’ money? -- Farrukh Khan Pitafi

Harvard and other major American universities are working through British hedge funds and European financial speculators to buy or lease vast areas of African farmland in deals, some of which may force many thousands of people off their land, according to a new study. Researchers say foreign investors are profiting from "land grabs" that often fail to deliver the promised benefits of jobs and economic development, and can lead to environmental and social problems in the poorest countries in the world. In Ethiopia, a process of "villagisation" by the government is moving tens of thousands of people from traditional lands into new centres while big land deals are being struck with international companies.-- John Vidal and Claire Provost


Yemen's terrain, culture, and politics all render a military intervention untenable. And at this time of Western deficits and Saudi dread, no one will take responsibility for its collapsing economy. Nor will states take in millions of refugees For the first time in its exceedingly long history, Yemen now threatens the outside world. Scarce food resources, columnist David Goldman points out, threaten to leave large numbers of West Asians hungry and a third of Yemenis faced chronic hunger even before the unrest. That number is growing quickly. Yemeni Islamists range from members of the Islah Party, which competes in parliamentary elections, to the Houthi rebels fighting Saudi forces, to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.  -- Daniel Pipes


Ostensibly directed at preventing outbreaks of communal violence, the National Advisory Council Draft Bill, titled ‘Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence (Access to Justice and Reparations) Bill, 2011’, has been roundly critiqued by minority groups, who are almost invariably the worst-hit in incidents of communal violence. Speakers at a national consultation of Christian leaders recently held in Delhi, presided over by the Archbishop of Delhi, noted that the draft Bill contains disturbing features which, they argued, were contrary to the purposes of a law aimed at combating communal violence, thus defeating its purported objectives. -- Yoginder Sikand,

Bangladesh plans to unveil a statue of Indira Gandhi, widely seen as the "liberator of Bangladesh", on a major road in Dhaka to be named after her during Singh's visit in a symbolic gesture of gratitude. More important, Hasina's government welcomes huge Indian investments, especially in infrastructure. Foreign minister Dipu Moni has wished that India's economist prime minister will take captains of Indian industry along with him during the visit. At home, Hasina finds herself caught in a crossfire between friends and foes that could weaken her control. On one hand, her plans to do away with the caretaker arrangement for holding elections has provoked opposition parties, especially the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), to hit the streets. -- Subir Bhaumik


The Israelis might as well be looking in the mirror and talking about themselves when they say things like “They are the aggressors; we’re the victims just defending ourselves.” That’s part of an Israeli-generated myth of insecurity whose premise is that Israel bears all the risk in the conflict with the Palestinians. Obama fed into that myth in his recent “Arab Spring” speech when he called, in effect, for an even swap: the Palestinians would get a state and the Israelis would get security, as if the massively stronger Israelis are the main ones suffering from insecurity. “Israel’s right needs perpetual war” is the way the eminent Israeli intellectual Zeev Sternhell sums up the situation. -- Ira Chernus


…. will the media, the judiciary and the institutions of civil society grow and expand their influence or will they be also squeezed into inertia? Pakistan’s greatest strength, in recent years, has been the growth of a robust and fiercely independent media, and its brave and often audacious NGO community (including a significant human rights and women’s movement). They have been the biggest bulwark against Pakistan’s otherwise imminent collapse into Talibanism. The influence exercised by these groups will be an important determinant of Pakistan’s future. -- Amitabh Mattoo

One of the startling features of the landscape in Muzaffarabad is the presence of mosques with Ottoman architecture — gentle domes with “pencil minarets” like those in Istanbul! Quietly, Turkey has been at the forefront of helping Muzaffarabad recover from the 2005 earthquake.

They have helped build hospitals, schools, mosques and more. In conversation with Dr. Muharem Hilmi- Ozev, a political scientist from the Turkish Asian Center for Strategic Studies in Istanbul — invited to attend the conference — I discovered that Turkey sees Pakistan as being, along with itself, one of the “two most important Islamic countries in the world today.” Inevitably, the conversation veered towards the J& K conundrum and regional comparisons. -- Siddiq Wahid

How should India respond to David Coleman Headley’s deposition in the trial of alleged terror facilitator Tahawwur Hussain Rana in a court in Chicago? For the past few days, almost in the manner of a television series, there’s been a new revelation every episode. Headley has laid bare the 26/11 conspiracy. He has identified key individuals in the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba and the Inter-Services Intelligence who trained him as a reconnaissance operative.

It is a fair expectation the world will listen to these suggestions more than it would have in, say, 2001. This is not just due to Headley. In the past 10 years, the locus of international jihad has moved further and further from the Arabian Peninsula. The world community’s number one nightmare is no longer an extremist overthrow of the Saudi royal family. It is an Islamist occupation of the Pakistani heartland, with the LeT-ISI and the Tehreek-e-Taliban competing for supremacy. -- Ashok Malik

The Dalai Lama has finally succeeded in introducing changes in the Tibetan Constitution for which he has been working for over 50 years. Last Sunday morning he appended his signature to these changes, bringing to an end a 469-year-long chapter of theocracy in world history. Now he is neither the Head of State nor the Chief Executive of the Gaden Phodrang — the Tibetan Government. … by giving up his temporal powers and proposing to change the succession system, the Dalai Lama has demolished the hopes of Beijing.-- Vijay Kranti


Restraint by India at this critical time, in particular, will help generate support for internal military accountability because Pakistani leaders and people finally seem to recognise that Pakistan's strength and viability are not a function of endless acquisition of hardware but of a leadership with a vision and its people being given the resources and priority to advance economically in security in a democratic state. American policy in the near future in Pakistan is complicated by the low opinion most Pakistanis have of the U. S. The U. S- India strategic relationship had fed the decline in US fortunes in Pakistan where the much touted de- hyphenation of the India- Pakistan equation for Washington has fed the paranoia of the average Pakistani. Pakistan's implosion will not leave India untouched, for as Indian leaders have noted, “Geography is destiny” for the subcontinent. -- Shirin R. Tahir- Kheli

Either they stop the war and leave Col Gaddafi in control of the larger part of a partitioned Libya, or they escalate further in the hope that at some point Col Gaddafi’s supporters abandon him. The US Air Force had a name for this strategy during the Vietnam War: They were trying to find the North Vietnamese regime’s “threshold of pain”. They never did find it in Vietnam, but Nato is still looking for it in Libya.

Let us give Nato Governments credit for letting their hearts overrule their heads. Let’s also acknowledge that they have been meticulous and largely successful in avoiding civilian casualties in their bombing campaign. But it isn’t working. -- Gwynne Dyer


It really is impossible to understand this reality. It's impossible to understand why a country and a people continue to refuse to do the right thing, something that could have been done a long while back, and prefer to continue to bang their heads against the wall until blood flows, with absolutely no logic, literally amok, like someone who has gone insane. It's hard to understand a reality in which a prime minister sits and, contrary to all logic and every code of conduct, arrogantly lectures his host, the president of the United States. It's hard to understand a reality in which a day before their scheduled meeting, a prime minister responds to the speech of the U.S. president, who is about to host him, with an announcement that is as good as spitting in his face. The reality is that in the prime minister's own reality show, he is "the leader of a persecuted people" and he likes being "the leader of a persecuted people." -- Merav Michaeli


May I suggest a Tahrir Square alternative? Announce that every Friday from today forward will be “Peace Day,” and have thousands of West Bank Palestinians march nonviolently to Jerusalem, carrying two things — an olive branch in one hand and a sign in Hebrew and Arabic in the other. The sign should say: “Two states for two peoples. We, the Palestinian people, offer the Jewish people a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders — with mutually agreed adjustments — including Jerusalem, where the Arabs will control their neighborhoods and the Jews theirs.”

If Palestinians peacefully march to Jerusalem by the thousands every Friday with a clear peace message, it would become a global news event. Every network in the world would be there. Trust me, it would stimulate a real peace debate within Israel — especially if Palestinians invited youth delegations from around the Arab world to join the marches, carrying the Saudi peace initiative in Hebrew and Arabic. Israeli Jews and Arabs should be invited to march as well. Together, the marchers could draw up their own peace maps and upload them onto YouTube as a way of telling their leaders what Egyptian youth said to President Hosni Mubarak: “We’re not going to let you waste another day of our lives with your tired mantras and maneuvering.” -- THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN

Choosing a non-Parsi spouse, especially husband, is condemned as high treason against the community and, worse, heresy against the faith. Children of 'parjaat' fathers cannot be raised as Parsi-Zoroastrians, and zealots are even trying to exclude the mother from her legal communal rights. It's no coincidence that we have perhaps the world's highest proportion of single females.  Which brings me to the separation of Church and State. Breached boundaries may litter the Indian landscape, but they compound our complex vulnerabilities. Moderates were aghast when, in 2009, the freshly elected 'traditionalist' trustees of the Bombay Parsee Punchayet (BPP) summarily barred two well-versed priests from conducting any ceremonies at Mumbai's Tower of Silence and in the two fire temples under its control. -– Bachi Karkaria


The joint session of parliament, the statement of Mian Nawaz Sharif, the deliberate silence of the government and the open debate in the media raised hopes for policy changes. But, alas, the holy cows go unscathed despite the East Pakistan debacle, the Ojhri camp disaster, the brutalisation of Balochistan and the Kargil operation. This time around the main issues have been skilfully sidestepped. We have suffered crisis after crisis with unending patience because of skewed security and foreign policies. This is not likely to change after the military leadership has turned the tables on civilians who have abandoned their own concerns and joined the establishment’s bandwagon. -- Asma Jahangir

Unless the state can find a way of bringing all the diverse elements in Balochistan to the peace table, an early election to determine the people’s genuine representatives will become unavoidable. The essential fact to be realised is that peace cannot be established in Balochistan without an accord on democratic self-government. .. surrender to the vested interest would only mean adding to the agony of the Baloch people and undermining the state’s capacity to deal with the crisis in future. The risks in allowing the present drift to continue are far greater and more serious than those in seeking peace by accommodating the angry, dispossessed and the deeply hurt Baloch. -- I.A Rehman


Making the powerful answerable for their crimes is the only way to curb these crimes against humanity. I am asking the impossible but this US administration and the previous one as a whole should be arraigned on charges of the violation of the Geneva Conventions on Prisoners and Torture and tried for crimes against humanity, along with those who practice torture here and the world over, and should be kept in a jail for eternity so that horrible crimes like waterboarding are not palmed off as some sort of exotic sport. For as long as torture is officially sanctioned by states and acquiesced in by the world, humanity will continue to be stripped of its dignity without any retribution for the violators. -- Mir Mohammad Ali Talpur

The US should pursue a two-stage strategy. First, we should formally present any information about Pakistani complicity in shielding Bin Laden to Pakistan's leaders. Then we should follow up with demands that Pakistan break the backbone of Al-Qaida in Pakistan by moving against figures like Ayman al-Zawahri; remove limits on the Predator drone campaign; uproot insurgent sanctuaries and shut down factories that produce bombs for use against American and Afghan soldiers; and support a reasonable political settlement in Afghanistan.-- Zalmay Khalilzad

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