Tag Archives: pakistan

Observations of an ex pat: Kashmiri powder keg

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi should consider the age-old truism “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Actually, to say that Kashmir isn’t broke would be putting an optimistic gloss on the Asian sub continent’s number one flashpoint. Since independence and partition in 1947, the mountainous region has been the cause of three wars and numerous border clashes which have threatened to escalate into full-blown conflicts.

Kashmir is a simmering political cauldron whose lid has largely been kept in place by two clauses in the Indian constitution which give the Muslim-dominated, but Indian-controlled region autonomy in all matters except foreign affairs, defence and communications.  Kashmir has its own flag and has passed laws favouring the property rights of the Muslim majority. Modi has revoked the constitutional clauses—articles 370 and 35A—and dropped big hints that he wants to develop Indian-administered Kashmir with imported Hindu settlers.

The result has been riots, demonstrations and the recall of the Pakistani ambassador to India. But that could only be the start. Both states are armed with about 150 nuclear weapons each and blinkered by a dangerous religious zeal. The conflict also has the potential to drag in China and possibly the US. China’s interest is its claim to a desolate and sparely-populated section of Kashmir.  The Chinese have also $46 billion investment in Pakistan to protect.

America’s position is more ambivalent. It needs Pakistani support the fight in Afghanistan, but is angry at what President Trump has called Pakistan’s  “lies and deceit” in combating the Taliban. At the same time, Trump and Modi enjoy close personal relations through a shared right-wing populist approach to political issues.

The problems started with partition. Kashmir has three religious populations: Hindu, Muslim and Buddhist. The overwhelming majority of the inhabitants are Muslim. But at the time of partition it was ruled by a Hindu Rajah. As the sub-continent edged inexorably towards partition, Irregular troops from Pakistan moved into Kashmir to claim the entire country. The Hindu Rajah, Hari Singh, appealed for help to the Congress Party in India who dispatched troops to the region.

The result was a stand-off; A UN-mediated ceasefire and the division of Kashmir which left Pakistan in control of the under-developed provinces of Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir which are 100 percent Muslim and India in control of the more prosperous Jammu, Ladakh and Kashmir  provinces which are 66 percent Muslim with the balance made of up Hindus and Buddhists.

The UN ceasefire agreement included a clause for a referendum over the decision of who governs the whole of Kashmir. The Indians failed tocomply with this part of the agreement as their part of Kashmir was 66 percenty Muslm.  Instead they came up with the compromise of autonomy in the form of constitutional clauses 370 and 35A. The Muslims in Indian-administered  Kashmir were generally satisfied  with this. They were not as zealous as their co-religionists in Pakistan and were happy to remain part of India as long as they were allowed control of domestic affairs.

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Lord Eric Avebury writes…Polio and Terrorism

The Global Polio Eradication Initiative, set up by the World Health Organisation (WHO),has reduced the number paralysed by polio from 350,000 in 1988 to 405 in 2013, and the number of countries where the disease is endemic has been cut from 125 to just 3 –Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan. But progress has come to a grinding halt, with Pakistan reporting 174 new cases so far this year out of 193 worldwide.

The WHO says there is a high risk that this highly infectious disease will spread to other parts of the world, paralysing many of its victims.

Three quarters of all cases are reported from two lawless areas of Pakistan, Khyber Pakhtunkwa (KP) and the misleadingly named Federally Administered Tribal Areas. In these provinces terrorists call the shots, intimidating and murdering those who don’t agree with their fundamentalist brand of Islam.

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Lord (Eric) Avebury writes…Pakistan’s Army stands firm against the Taliban

The Pakistan Army’s Inter Service Public Relations (ISPR) has condemned Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) Chief Syed Munawar Hassan’s statement in which he called former Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) Chief Hakimullah Mehsud a martyr.

In fact, Mehsud was a mass murderer, motivated by implacable religious hatred, and his killing by a US drone on November 1 was fully deserved. Under his leadership the TTP slaughtered Pakistani soldiers and civilians, men women and children indiscriminately. He targeted Shia Muslims, of whom 700 have been killed so far this year.

The objective of the TTP is to overthrow the state of Pakistan and to replace it with …

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Eric Avebury writes…We must heed the cries of the Hazaras

Just over a week ago a massive bomb was detonated in a packed bazaar on the outskirts of Quetta, killing at least 92 people and seriously injuring more than 200.

Last month a double suicide bombing on Alamdar Road, Quetta took the lives of 108 people

These were the latest in a crescendo of genocidal attacks on the Shia Hazara community in Pakistan since the turn of the century, which was considered in a packed meeting I chaired at the House of Lords yesterday, February 25.

According to published accounts, these atrocities have left over 1,100 dead and 1,300 injured. In fact the …

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Opinion: we must act to make sure all girls have access to education

Yesterday, in the Swat region of Pakistan, a 14 year old girl was shot. Her name is Malala Yousafzai, and she was walking home from school with her friend when she was shot in the side of the head. The Taliban have claimed responsibility for the shooting.

The question on all our minds is ‘Why would anyone try and kill a 14 year old girl?’.

Because Malala Yousafzai stood up for something that scares and horrifies the Taliban – she dared to speak out for girls’ right to an education.

Malala was 11 years old when she started writing about life under the …

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A longer read for the weekend: how Obama orders the death of terrorists

This week the New York Times ran a fascinating, detailed study of the drone war being fought by Barack Obama as he decides which alleged terrorists will be targeted by the American military:

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The Saturday debate: Do we pay too much attention to news from the US?

Here’s your starter for ten in our Saturday slot where we throw up an idea or thought for debate…

The tragic killing of six and injuries to thirteen others, including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, have received heavy coverage in the UK media, not only in response to the shooting itself but also following up the story subsequently. Yet other recent political deaths from countries around the world have received, at most, very little media coverage in the UK.

There are partial explanations – such as the murdered Nigerian politician being a local government figure rather than a national figure and the

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How to defeat Al Qaeda

The cover of Bruce Riedel’s The Search for Al Qaeda shows a group of armed men working their way up a hillside overlooking a beautiful valley that stretches away to rolling hills. It captures the wonder and the tragedy of Afghanistan in one frame.

The book itself is similarly crisp, packing a wide-ranging history of Al Qaeda and its key figures into only 150 pages of moderate size print. It is penned by an ex-CIA man of thirty years service who was frequently closely involved with the figures and events painted in the book, but not so closely as to make the reader fear it is more a justification of his career than a fair account of events.

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Nick Clegg writes about his visit to Afghanistan and Pakistan

In an email sent this afternoon, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has written about his trip to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Earlier this week this week I went to Afghanistan and Pakistan to see for myself the problems and challenges that those countries face. The coalition government is committed to playing our part to helping ensure that the region has a peaceful and prosperous future.

It was my second visit to our armed forces in Afghanistan, where I saw again the bravery and professionalism of our troops. Whilst the situation in the country is still difficult, I believe

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Daily View 2×2: 14 February 2010, featuring news from India and the easiest delivery round ever

It’s Sunday. It’s 9am on the day when in 1984 Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean won gold at the Winter Olympics in Sarajevo. You want to see the easiest leaflet delivery in the world, don’t you? But first, the news and blogs.

2 Must-Read Blog Posts

What are other Liberal Democrat bloggers saying? Here’s are two posts that have caught the eye from the Liberal Democrat Blogs aggregator:

Spotted any other great posts in the last day from blogs that aren’t on the aggregator? Do post up a comment sharing them with us all.

2 Big Stories

You probably know the news from the UK. So here’s the news from India.
Blast breaks lull – Foreigners among bakery bomb victims

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Daily View 2×2: 25 October 2009

Morning all. Clocks changed? Good. Now it’s time to catch up on the news including, as it’s a Sunday, another in my occasional series of “Forget Obama; forget West Wing – now THIS is what we should be copying from US politics”.

It’s the political ad that is just bursting to be copied for our next party political broadcast. Send you lobbying email to Cowley Street now. (Probably best do that now rather than after watching the ad. In case you don’t agree with me. But you’d be mad not to. This is quality political advertising at its very best.)

2 Big Stories

Pakistani army takes Taliban chief’s hometown

Pakistani soldiers captured the hometown of the country’s Taliban chief Saturday, a strategic and symbolic initial prize as the army pushes deeper into a militant stronghold along the Afghan border. An army spokesman said the Taliban were in disarray, with many deserting the ranks.

The 8-day-old air and ground offensive in the South Waziristan tribal region is a key test of nuclear-armed Pakistan’s campaign against Islamist militancy. It has already spurred a civilian exodus and deadly retaliatory attacks.

Washington has encouraged the operation in the northwest because many militants there are believed to shelter al-Qaida leaders and are also suspected to be involved in attacks on Western troops in Afghanistan. The U.S. military has also kept up its own missile strikes in the lawless tribal belt, including a suspected one that killed 22 Saturday. (Associated Press)

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Daily View 2×2: 31 May 09

Welcome to the Sunday outing for our Daily View. As it’s a Sunday, today’s comes with a special examination paper supplement. If you spot anything for future posts, do let us know on [email protected]

2 Big Stories

Opinion polls

It’s been a tale of two polls: a disappointing Populus poll on Saturday followed by a spectacularly good ICM poll in today’s Sunday Telegraph, putting the Liberal Democrats in second place in both general election and European election voting intentions:

The ICM poll for The Sunday Telegraph is the worst possible news for the Prime Minister as he enters his most important week since taking

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Daily View 2×2: 24 May 09

Welcome to the Sunday outing for The Voice’s new daily post series highlighting two big stories from the media and two “must read” blog posts from Liberal Democrats. As it’s a Sunday, there’s also a bonus extra supplement. If you spot anything for future posts, do let us know on [email protected]

2 Big Stories

MPs’ expenses
Heading into its third week, the MPs’ expense story shows no sign of abating. The latest scalp is that of Andrew MacKay, again. The story has been running for so long that not only was he one of its first victims (losing his Conservative Party job) but …

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Better news from Afghanistan and Pakistan

An update on two of the the trio of stories I blogged about earlier this month, all relating to the treatment of women.

In Afghanistan, the controversial law which would have severely curtailed the rights of women, for example by requiring married women to get permission from their husbands before leaving the house, has been shelved.

Meanwhile in Pakistan, the public flogging of a teenage girl in Swat (footage of which was broadcast on Channel 4) has now triggered a government inquiry.

Posted in Europe / International | Also tagged | 1 Comment

“Women Erased in Israel, Flogged in Pakistan and Restricted in Afghanistan”

The New York Times headline neatly wraps up three stories about the at times grim, and in the photoshopping case verging on farcical, struggle for women’s rights across much of the Middle East:

On Friday, The Associated Press reported that Israeli newspapers “aimed at ultra-Orthodox Jewish readers” digitally manipulated a photograph of the new Israeli government, to remove two female cabinet ministers, Limor Livnat and Sofa Landver…

The Pakistani newspaper Dawn reports on Friday that Pakistan’s prime minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani, is “taking serious notice of the public flogging of a girl in Swat” and “has ordered the authorities to inquire

Posted in Europe / International | Also tagged and | 1 Comment
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