Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

from Afghan Journal:

Burying the India-Pakistan dialogue for now


The foreign ministers of India and Pakistan have returned home, licking their wounds from their latest failed engagement.  Both sides are blaming each other for not only failing to make any progress, but also souring ties further, with Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and his Indian counterpart S.M.Krishna openly sparring at a news conference following the talks in Islamabad.  Qureshi suggested Krishna did not seem to have the full mandate to conduct negotiations because directions were being given from New Delhi throughout the day-long talks, drawing rebuke from India which said the foreign minister had been insulted on Pakistani soil.

Some people are asking why bother  going through this painful exercise  at this time  when the chances of  of the two sides making even the slightest concession are next to zero?  India and Pakistan may actually be doing each other more damage by holding these high-profile, high-pressure meetings where the domestic media and the  opposition  in both the countries  is watching for the slightest sign of capitulation by either government.

It's the world's longest running soap opera, made for great television viewing, says a blog on the Indian National Interest. "These events have become the drivers of the process each such opportunity attracting saturated media coverage and intense public scrutiny in both countries."

And  these are only talks about what to talk about since they can't even agree on whether terrorism should be front and centre of the dialogue as New Delhi wants or the row over Kashmir be given top billing as Pakistan wants. "If anything, the precarious relationship between India and Pakistan deteriorated after the countries’ two foreign ministers haggled in day-long sessions on July 15 – not over substance but over what issues they would discuss and when they would discuss them," argues Michael Hughes in the Huffington Post

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Pakistan’s General Kayani given three-year extension

kayani profilePakistan army chief, General Ashfaq Parvez  Kayani, is to be given a a three-year extension to his term of office to maintain continuity in the country's battle against Islamist militants. 

Kayani, arguably Pakistan's most powerful man, had been due to retire in November. His future had been the subject of intense speculation for months, with opinion divided between the those who argued he should be given an extension for the sake of continuity, and those who said that Pakistan needed to build its institutions rather than rely on individuals - as it had done with powerful army rulers in the past.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

When two foreign policy crises converge: Iran and Afghanistan

zahedanLast week's suicide bombing of a mosque in Zahedan, capital of the Iranian province of Sistan-Baluchestan, is another reminder of how far two of the United States' main foreign policy challenges - its row with Iran over its nuclear programme, and its policies towards Afghanistan and Pakistan - are intertwined.

A senior commander in Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards said on Saturday that the United States would face "fall out" from the bomb attack which it blamed on the Jundollah Sunni Muslim rebel group - a militant group which Iran says is backed by Washington and operates from Baluchistan province in neighbouring Pakistan.  Massoud Jazayeri, deputy head of the dominant ideological wing of Iran's armed forces, did not specify what he meant by fall-out from the bombing, which killed 28 people and which the United States has condemned.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Richard Haass on Afghanistan – time to scale down U.S. ambitions

arghandab3Richard Haass, president at the Council on Foreign Relations, has become the latest to urge the United States to change course in Afghanistan and to seek a political settlement to try to bring an end to the war.

"The war the United States is now fighting in Afghanistan is not succeeding and is not worth waging in this way. The time has come to scale back U.S. objectives and sharply reduce U.S. involvement on the ground. Afghanistan is claiming too many American lives, requiring too much attention, and absorbing too many resources. The sooner we accept that Afghanistan is less a problem to be fixed than a situation to be managed, the better,"  he writes in an article in Newsweek.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

India and Pakistan, living up to low expectations

qureshikrishnaHopes of progress were low when the foreign ministers of India and Pakistan met in Islamabad last week and the two sides lived up to expectations, disagreeing on how to move their relationship forward and blaming each other for souring the mood. 

Pakistan took exception to the timing of remarks by the Indian Home Secretary on the eve of the talks accusing the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency of involvement in the November 2008 attack on Mumbai.  India objected to comments made by Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi comparing those remarks to anti-India speeches given by Hafez Saeed, the founder of the Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group blamed for Mumbai.  Qureshi complained his counterpart repeatedly took instructions from Delhi during their talks, an accusation that Indian External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna denied.

7 circles of Juarez: teenage assassins


This article by Ioan Grillo originally appeared in GlobalPost.

Caption: A police man walks at a crime scene where three people were gunned down in a drive-by shooting in downtown Ciudad Juarez April 28, 2010. REUTERS/Claudia Daut

CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico — At less than 5 feet 6 inches with acne and a mop of curly hair, 17-year-old Jose Antonio doesn’t look particularly menacing.

Ciudad Juarez’s grim milestone: 6,000 dead


The daily killings have become so normal they have almost ceased to shock.  Unless Mexico’s Ciudad Juarez, across from El Paso, Texas, bucks all previous indicators and undergoes a dramatic security turnaround, the death toll from the drug war raging in the city since January 2008 will reach 6,000 people this month. That is more than all the dead serving in the U.S. military in Iraq and Afghanistan combined. MEXICO/It is also a tragic milestone reached with the killings of mostly teenage hitmen, police, drug addicts, dealers and people who failed to cough up extortion money and kidnap ransoms.MEXICO-ELECTIONS/

The grim tally underlines a harsh decline for Ciudad Juarez, which was hailed in the 1990s as the poster child for free trade, the city that through the North American Free Trade Agreement was meant to bring prosperity and stability via its border factories exporting dishwashers and televisions to the United States. The Ciudad Juarez-El Paso region did handle $50 billion in trade in 2008, but little of that wealth stayed in Ciudad Juarez.

Merkel in trouble, gambles with new ‘swing vote’ spokesman


Angela Merkel has come up with a risky – but intriguing – choice for one of the most-talked-about and closely GERMANY/scrutinised jobs in Germany:  her spokesman.
The German chancellor is not normally known for rolling the dice with her decisions. Cautious to a fault, Merkel tends to seek consensus and the “safe road” with just about every decision she makes – whether that angers France when she first drags her feet on whether to push ahead aggressively with economic stimulus measures during the 2008 crisis or annoys Greece in early 2010 when it badly needed cash or at least strong words of support.

But Merkel has suddenly picked a complete outsider to try explain her government’s policies, an eye-raising choice of that may come back to haunt her.  German government spokesmen have an incredibly high public profile and appear in public almost daily explaining what Merkel and her ministers are trying to do. She will surely be hoping “Seibert’s smile will help get rid of Merkel’s woes” as Bild newspaper wrote

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Hopes low, stakes high when Indian and Pakistani foreign ministers meet

thimphuPerhaps one of the most telling features on the media commentary ahead of a meeting between the foreign ministers of India and Pakistan in Islamabad this week is the lack of it. Expectations could hardly be lower.

Part of that is the nature of the actors involved. In India, policy towards Pakistan is set by the prime minister's office, not the foreign ministry. So External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna is not in a position to deliver the kind of breakthrough that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh achieved at a meeting with his Pakistani counterpart Yusuf Raza Gilani when both agreed at a meeting in Thimphu, Bhutan in April to try to find a way back into talks broken off by the November 2008 attack on Mumbai. In Pakistan, the army retains a tight grip on foreign and security policy, limiting in turn the kind of concessions that Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi might make.

In Swedish politics, casual style belies serious intent


By Patrick Lannin

In a short-sleeved shirt, shorts and sandals, Swedish Left Party leader Lars Ohly looked like a man on holiday.

In fact, he was presenting proposals with his centre-left allies on Friday for more money to be spent on culture, part of a hard fought campaign in the Nordic state against the centre-right government coalition ahead of an election on September 19.