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Current Affairs

When Manmohan Singh comes to Islamabad
Pervez Hoodbhoy teaches physics and political science

Still better news is that the Zardari-Singh joint communique says “practical, pragmatic” solutions will be sought for disputes. Showing his willingness to put Mumbai 2008 on the back-burner, Singh accepted Zardari’s invitation to Islamabad. This is exactly the way it should be; frequent high-level meetings are the best confidence-building measures. But what should the two sides talk about?...


Persecuted and oppressed by Islamabad, the tortured Shias of Gilgit-Baltistan are now looking towards New Delhi for help. After all, the Government of India does officially claim the area to be its own. It stands to reason, therefore, that it should also be responsible for the safety and welfare of the people of Gilgit-Baltistan. …


Zardari on India Yatra: Too Little, Too Late
Murtaza Haider is at Ryerson University, Toronto

Accompanied by a 40-member delegation and an 11 per cent approval rating, President Asif Ali Zardari visited India earlier this week where he met with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who, unlike Mr. Zardari, enjoys the confidence of 87 per cent of his fellow countrymen. Given the lack of substance in the Zardari-Singh dialogue, political pundits shifted their focus to the gastronomical particulars of Mr. Zardari’s meal with the Indian Prime Minister. …


Pakistan Running Scared of Pashtuns
G Parthasarathy is a distinguished diplomat and author in India

To check the tide of rising Pashtun nationalism, Pakistan’s ISI is promoting the non-Pashtun Taliban who may soon be in control of southern Afghanistan. With ISI backing and American acquiescence in these developments, Afghanistan soon became the hub of global terrorism, once Mullah Omar was installed in Kandahar. Osama bin Laden was welcomed as an honoured guest by the Taliban, with the Al Qaeda and militant groups ranging from the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and the Chechens, to the Abu Sayyaf in the Philippines …

Delhi Stopover of Zardari: Sunni Punjabi Elite Indifferent to Shia Sindhi President
K. Gajendra Singh is a former diplomat

As for the geopolitical template of Hindustan or South Asia, the people now dominating Pakistan, i.e. the Punjabi Musalman in Lahore or Islamabad have though out history been envious of the rulers of Hindustan with their capital on Yamuna in Delhi or Agra with their vast territories for revenue, even without Deccan .They invited the Moguls to invade Hindustan when Afghans were ruling in Delhi .Later they invited Afghans and Iranians when Moguls were ruling in Delhi. …


Why Karachi Burns Again and Again
Pervez Hoodbhoy teaches physics and political science at LUMS (Lahore)

Scientists who study fish habits say cramped aquarium conditions hugely increase fish-on-fish violence. When the tanks are large enough, or the fish few enough, the inhabitants are perfectly peaceful; the fish flutter their eyes as they sweetly swim past each other. A recent pioneering study says fish need their space — and they become upset when it isn’t there. Ronald Oldfield, the biologist who did the research, says that fish in their natural ecological environments sometimes aggressively compete for food or shelter. …


Quaid Imam Khan and Sarah Palin: The Neocons of Politics
The writer is a freelance columnist residing in the US

In American politics, if there is anyone who can match the popularity of Imam Khan, his omnipresence in the media and the simplistic understanding of complex international issues, it can be no other than Sarah Palin. Like Imam Khan, Sarah Palin is very popular at the grassroots level. She also has mastered some of the catch phrases like “corruption” and has a blind following in the country. In addition, both of them believe that religion should guide political decision-making. …


Flogging the anti-Americanism Horse to Death
Nadeem F. Paracha is a journalist, cultural critic and satirist

But the more militant and violent expressions of this new-found anti-Americanism in the shape of Jihadist and sectarian outfits failed to gather much sympathy from most Pakistanis  In fact, a gradual sense of repulsion against these outfits began to emerge…. The mainstream political parties are now concentrating more on economic and social issues, rightly conscious of the fact that these are what get the most attention from the voters. …

Does Mumbai Killer Qassab Deserve this Show of Fairness?
K. N. Bhat is former additional solicitor-general of India

The show of fairness through the ritual of re-examination of the whole material by the executive in considering mercy petitions is abhorrent. Unfortunately, it is not just the politicians who indulge in such stunts. Kasab was caught red-handed, literally so. His unmistakable figure was repeatedly seen on TV screens while the massacre was on. Because he was caught alive, an elaborate trial took place in as open a fashion as any civilised country can have. …

Rediscovery of Non-Alignment
Chinmaya R. Gharekhan

Rediscovery of Non-Alignment
Chinmaya R. Gharekhan is former Indian Ambassador to the United Nations

'Nonalignment 2.0' is not without its flaws but on the whole, the document offers a comprehensive view of foreign policy, makes sensible suggestions and is lucid, readable and deserving of wide debate. Eight eminent men — alas, not a single woman — has rendered a very useful and much-needed service by producing “Nonalignment 2.0: A Foreign and Strategic Policy for India in the Twenty First Century.”…


What Pakistan should do in Afghanistan
Pervez Hoodbhoy teaches physics and political science at LUMS

Many Pakistanis living and working in Kabul say they feel a palpable hostility towards them once their nationality becomes known. Some occasionally pretend to be Indians, which brings more acceptability. If this anecdotal evidence indicates an actual truth, then it is worrisome. In principle Afghans should like Pakistanis better;… If Pakistan has to compete with India on various internationally funded reconstruction projects, then so be it. That is a choice for Afghans to make, not us. …

Pakistan military intelligence ISI Has Taken Over Army GHQ
Najam Sethi is Editor-in-Chief of Friday Times, Pakistan

In recent times, however, something even more sinister has been happening. This is the creeping growth of the ISI from a small arms-length intelligence directorate or department of the military in the initial decades of independent Pakistan to an omnipotent and invisible "deep state within the state" that now controls both military strategy and civilian policy…. 


Modesty of Dress and Indian Culture
Suchi Govindarajan volunteers with the Spastics Society of Karnataka

I write to complain about the abysmal standards of modesty I am noticing in Indian society. All bad things — sensationalist TV, obscene movies, diabetes among elders, pick pocketing, dilution of coconut chutney in Saravana Bhavan — are a result of Evil Western Influences. However, to my surprise, in this issue of modesty, even the Great Indian Culture seems to encourage this. …

Some Learned from Fukushima. Did we?
Pervez Hoodbhoy teaches physics and political political science

Since two extreme natural events are unlikely to be similar, this is technically correct. But how would Pakistan deal with massive radioactive release after deliberate sabotage, a terrorist attack, equipment failure, or operator error? Floods and earthquakes have shown that the country can make piteous calls for international aid but lacks the capacity to deal with disasters, natural and human-caused. …

The Rise of the Mullahs in the US … And Indonesia
Julia Suryakusuma is the author of Julia’s Jihad

Well, actually that’s not true. He’s not really a member of JI. It’s just that in her widely syndicated New York Times column, Maureen Dowd calls him a “small-town mullah” (“Rick’s Religious Fanaticism”, NYT, and Feb. 21, 2012). You see his views on issues like religion; women’s rights, homosexuality, abortion and birth control are very similar to those of JI and other hard-line (religious) right-wingers in Indonesia. …

Kashmir Conflict and Chinese Design In the Region
Sardar Shaukat Ali Kashmiri, Kashmiri leader living in exile in Switzerland

Sardar Shaukat Ali Kashmiri has comprehensively elaborated about the history and politics of the region as well as he brings into light all the aspects on recent Chinese interest in the region of Gilgit Baltistan which is part of the former princely state of Kashmir. Pakistan has no locus standi on Kashmir issue, she is sample illegal occupier and she should withdraw its troops and those people who enter in Kashmir. Chinese designs are expansionist and colonizing our natural resource…

The Mullah Media Alliance
Mujahid Hussain, New Age Islam

The Mullah Media Alliance

The religious, militant and sectarian organizations are having a field day. Led by Hafiz Saeed’s Jamaat ud Dawa, they are holding big rallies across Pakistan. Prominent among those who are attending are some retired military figures. Jamaat ud Dawa wants to bring together all the sympathetic leaders such as Hamid Gul, Shaikh Rasheed Ahamed, Ijaz ul Haq and Maulana Sami ul Haz. For this Hafiz Saeed has received a pat on the back from Rawalpindi. …

Blindfolded, hands tied and mouth gagged in a matter of seconds, trapped in a mélange of elbows, insults and accents, he was driven to a destination 40 minutes away and deposited in a room. Here he was routinely beaten, tortured, fed at the rarest possible intervals, and made to sign blank papers and disclosure agreements. High Court ruled that any evidence connecting the accused to the bombings was "woefully absent" ...

Converting Children into Obsessive-compulsive Consumers Worldwide: Addictions Galore

The US is the world’s leading exporter of children’s TV fare. For instance, Sesame Street was reaching 115 countries and had 500 internationally licensed products some ten years ago. The problem with the Disney channel is not only that it stirs desires and converts children into consumers. For one thing, they don’t develop reading habits. In addition, TV addiction also has consequences for children’s health. ...

India must hold its ground on Iran

Iran is India’s second largest oil supplier after Saudi Arabia, providing about 12 per cent of its annual requirements worth about $ 12 billion. India can potentially obtain pipeline gas or LNG from Iran if security and sanctions issues can be overcome. Iran’s geographical proximity makes it a logical source of hydrocarbons for energy deficient India which today imports 70 per cent of its needs and will import 90 per cent in the years ahead. …


Pandemonium in Libya - Part 2: Gaddafi’s shadow hangs over North and West Africa

The availability of looted Libyan arms may allow new armed groups to form in West Africa with greater ease than usual. The West’s poorly considered support of a spontaneous Libyan rebellion lacking common aims, ideology or even basic organization has secured the present reality. Clearly, the restoration of security in Libya is an essential first step in stabilizing the region. Unfortunately, the ability of Libya’s Transitional National Council to either project force or promote conciliation seems to be diminishing rather than increasing....


Be vigilant of what not only might happen in the Indian peninsula, in the islands but also of what may happen in the wider Indian Ocean,” then President of Maldives Mohamed Nasheed had warned cadet officers at the Sri Lanka Military Academy on December 27, 2011. His words rang true on Tuesday when mutinous factions within the police and the Army joined hands to remove him, ... 


Rather than allowing events to drift towards a political or even military showdown, Maldivian President Mohammed “Anni” Nasheed has shown great fidelity to democratic principles in a country where none existed before him by stepping down from office with grace and poise. As President, Nasheed began well. With much help and cooperation from his predecessor, he could ensure a smooth transition when much trouble was feared. -- N. Sathya Moorthy


The myth of the Muslim vote bank, though denied by sociologists and debunked by psephologists, refuses to die. It reasserts itself with new vigour at every election. Even those well aware of the diversity within the community cannot resist building their arguments on this spurious claim. Whether they are Thai, Chechen, Palestinian or European, Muslims are judged unfailingly by their faith and so-called beliefs. -- Shahid Siddiqui

In the present political crisis Islamic radicals have also played an important role. There has been growing Islamic radicalism in Maldives. Islamic radicals have been trying to create problems for the government of Nasheed who represented the moderate stream in the country. Islamic radicals even demolished the monument constructed by Pakistan at Addu city on the occasion of the 17th SAARC summit in November. Nasheed is an honest man but unfortunately he is not an astute politician. -- Anand Kumar

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