Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

India and Pakistan: finding the right forum for dialogue

agra"Peace," said Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw "is not only better than war, but infinitely more arduous."  Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao begins that arduous process on Thursday when she meets her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir to try to break a diplomatic freeze that followed the November 2008 attack on Mumbai.

 Rao, speaking at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, said she hoped to "build, in a graduated manner, better communication and a serious and responsive dialogue to address issues of concern between our two countries".

In her speech, she insisted Pakistan must act to dismantle Pakistani-based militant groups blamed for attacks in India and Indian Kashmir. "The greatest threat to peace and stability in our region emanates from the shelter terrorists find in the border of Afghanistan-Pakistan and in Pakistan itself," she said. "Terror groups ... continue to recruit, train and plot attacks from safe havens across our borders."

In answer to a question about whether Kashmir would figure in her discussions, as sought by Pakistan, she acknowledged this was a subject that must be discussed bilaterally. India's concerns about terrorism would find "essential focus", she said  -- with emphasis on the word essential -- but that "obviously we would like to keep the door to dialogue open".

Greeks bay for blood but get committees


GREECEGreeks hit by a financial crisis threatening their salaries and pensions are baying for blood.

As Prime Minister George Papandreou prepares a third wave of EU-prescribed austerity measures to cut a double-digit deficit, in the streets of Athens people want someone to pay for ending their golden years and bringing their country to the brink of collapse.

from Afghan Journal:

America attempting a more “humane war” in Afghanistan

(A U.S. Marine in Marjah, picture by Goran Tomasevic)

(A U.S. Marine in Marjah, picture by Goran Tomasevic)

One of the reasons the big U.S.-led offensive in Afghanistan's Marjah area has slowed down is because the Marines are trying to avoid civilian casualties at all costs, according to military commanders. So use of air power, the key to U.S. battle strategy, has been cut back because of the risk of collateral damage from strikes.

Lara M. Dadkhah, an intelligence analyst, in a New York Times op-ed says troops under heavy attack in Marjah have had to wait for an hour or more for air support so that insurgents were properly identified. "We didn't come to Marjah to destroy it, or to hurt civilians," Dadkhah quotes a Marine officer as saying after he waited 90 minutes before the Cobra helicopters he had requested showed up with their Hellfire missiles.

from Africa News blog:

When is a coup a good coup?

By David Lewis

Weeks after the African Union boldly announced the end of an era of coups on its continent, Niger’s military staged a spectacular overthrow.
Heavily armed in armoured vehicles soldiers blasted their way into the presidential palace, arrested the President Mamadou Tandja and dissolved every democratic institution in the uranium-exporting nation.
Niger’s new military rulers, the Supreme Council for the Restoration of Democracy (SCRD), faced the standard flurry of strongly-worded statements from Western nations and regional bodies that condemned people taking power through unconstitutional means.

But, more interestingly, there was no insistence on Tandja returning to his job. Instead, the focus appeared to be on looking towards elections and a new government. Tandja had drawn the ire of many Nigeriens and the international community over his successful campaign last year to change the constitution and extend his time in power by at least three years.
Spontaneous celebrations in Niamey after the military take-over were, therefore, not surprising. But, faced with the illegal ouster of a president many believed had become unconstitutional, the international community also seems to have been quick to recognize the opening the coup has offered.
Analysts cite members of the junta having been involved in a previous coup that swiftly led to elections as a reason for optimism. They also say Niger’s military is more professional than in place like Guinea, where soldiers have also grabbed power but failed to deliver elections despite over a year in power.
An aggressive, bold military operation has delivered a new dynamic that months of diplomatic and political wrangling failed to achieve.
Has the international community been too quick to jump at this opportunity? Or, if the politicians appear to be failing, should the military be allowed to play the role of arbitrator in crises like Niger’s?
Coups, especially in West Africa, seem to be alive and well. Niger’s takeover follows similar ousters in Mauritania and Guinea in 2008, and another one in Madagascar last year.
What impact are these actions having on confidence in a continent that is attracting unprecedented investment and is keen to draw a line under a violent and chaotic past?
Does swiftly accepting Tandja's ouster not set a dangerous precedent for crises elsewhere?

from Afghan Journal:

Ex-Guantanamo Bay prisoner the next Afghan Taliban commander?

(An Afghan soldier speaks at a flag raising ceremony in Marjah)

(An Afghan soldier speaks at a flag-raising ceremony in Marjah)

It is a measure of the shadowy nature of the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan that it is hard to come up with even a couple of names of senior figures who could possibly succeed  top commander Mullah Abdul Ghani Barader following his capture in a joint U.S.-Pakistan raid.

Such is the diffused leadership structure - more like a franchise down to the villages - that the only thing you can say for certain is that the Islamist movement is still led by the one-eyed Mullah Mohammad Omar, although according to reports  he hasn't been seen even by his own followers in the past three years.

How Reuters told the world about Tutanhkamun in February 1923


It was on the November 26, 1922 that archaeologist, Howard Carter looked through a small opening chipped in a 3000 year old wall and saw the glittering chaos of the ante room of the tomb of the Boy Pharaoh Tutankhamun.

“Can you see anything?” asked Lord Carnarvon, his chief backer.

“Yes, wonderful things” replied Carter.

The world went ‘Tut’ mad. From fashion to interior design, from Hollywood movies to hairstyles, ‘Egyptian’ became the ‘must-have-theme’ of the moment.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Pakistan’s arrest of Mullah Baradar: tactics or strategy?

marjahThe arrest of Taliban commander Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar in Karachi leaves big unanswered questions about why Pakistan chose to act now against a man credited with giving operational coherence to Afghan Taliban (or Quetta Shura Taliban) operations in Afghanistan.

The answers to those questions depend very much on the assumptions you start out with about what Pakistan is trying to achieve in Afghanistan. But for the sake of of argument, let's take three  of them -- that it is pushing the Taliban to sever ties with al Qaeda and enter negotiations on a political settlement; that it wants a stable Afghanistan, and that it is aiming to keep it free of Indian and Iranian influence.

from Afghan Journal:

Afghanistan’s operation Marjah: taking on the Quetta shura

(U.S. Marines from Bravo Company of the 1st Battalion, 6th Marines fires mortars in the town of Marjah in Nad Ali district of Helmand province February 14, 2010)

(U.S. Marines from Bravo Company of the 1st Battalion, 6th Marines fires mortars in the town of Marjah in Nad Ali district of Helmand province February 14, 2010)

U.S.-led NATO and Afghan forces are in the third day of their offensive to establish control over the town of Marjah and surrounding areas in southern Afghanistan.

Security: Never safer, or close to the civil liberties abyss?


cctvAs an air crash survivor I know how long jitters about safety can last. Eighteen years ago I crashed in an old Dakota in a remote corner of Africa, where such tragedies are sadly still not that rare.

The worst moment was when I was trapped for 20 seconds in the burning fuselage before being rescued by a fellow journalist. My physical injuries cleared up within months and I resumed flying, but mentally it was difficult. It took me about four years to recover my composure on planes.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Pune bombing unlikely to derail India-Pakistan talks

german bakeryThis weekend's bombing which killed nine people in the Indian city of Pune -- the first major attack since the 2008 assault on Mumbai -- is unlikely to derail plans for the foreign secretaries, or top diplomats, of India and Pakistan to hold talks on Feb. 25.

The Hindu newspaper -- which is well-informed about the thinking in the prime minister's office where India's policy towards Pakistan is decided -- says there will be no rethinking about the planned talks