Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

India turns up the heat on Pakistan, where will this end?

The language is deliberate, the signals unmistakable: India is turning up the heat on Pakistan for the Mumbai attacks that have  killed at least 195 people, and there is no knowing where this downward spiral in ties between the uneasy neighbours will end.

Beginning with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's warning that a cost will have to be paid by neighbouring nations that allow militants to operate,  to Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee's direct call to Islamabad to "dismantle the infrastructure of terrorism", there is a sharp, cold edge to the tone that you can't miss even factoring in the immediate anger and sense of outrage the attacks have evoked  across India.

Then the signs: Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi in India on a previously scheduled visit to review the peace process packing his bags and heading home because Indian political leaders cancelled meetings with him following the attacks.

We have been here before, for sure. A 2001 attack on the Indian parliament, for which like the Mumbai attacks, the  Lashkar-i-Taiba was blamed, triggered a set of measures by New Delhi including breaking sporting and cultural links, downgrading diplomatic relations, and the deployment of the military in full combat readiness all along the Pakistan border.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Mumbai attack and Obama’s plans for Afghanistan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As if the challenge facing President-elect Barack Obama of stabilising Afghanistan was not difficult enough, it may have just got much, much harder after the Mumbai attacks soured relations between India and Pakistan -- undermining hopes of finding a regional solution to the Afghan war.

As discussed in an earlier post, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has blamed a group outside India for the attacks which killed at least 121 people. The coordinated attacks bore the hallmarks of Pakistani-based Kashmiri militant groups like the Lashkar-e-Taiba, which India says was set up by Pakistan's spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Can India-Pakistan ties withstand Mumbai bombings?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has blamed a group with "external linkages" for coordinated attacks which killed more than 100 people in Mumbai. The language was reminiscent of the darker days of India-Pakistan relations when India always saw a Pakistan hand in militant attacks, blaming groups it said were set up by Pakistan's spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, to seek revenge for Pakistan's defeat by India in the 1971 war.

An attack on India's parliament in December 2001 triggered a mass mobilisation along the two countries' borders and brought them close to a fourth war.  That attack was blamed by India on the Pakistan-based Kashmiri militant groups Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed - hardline Islamist groups with links to al Qaeda.  Both have been associated with the kind of "fedayeen" attacks -- in which the attackers, while not necessarily suicide bombers, are willing to fight to the death -- seen in Mumbai.

from FaithWorld:

Exercised over yoga in Malaysia

Of all the things to get exercised about, yoga would seem to be an unlikely candidate for controversy. But such has been the case in Malaysia this week.

Malaysia's prime minister declared on Wednesday that Muslims can after all practice the Indian exercise regime, so long as they avoid the meditation and chantings that reflect Hindu philosophy. This came after Malaysia's National Fatwa Council told Muslims to roll up their exercise mats and stop contorting their limbs because yoga could destroy the faith of Muslims.

The political price of recession

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As journalists, we spend a lot of time watching politicians and policies to guage their impact on financial markets and economies. Now, as recession takes an inexorable hold in the Asia-Pacific region, we’re watching for the impact on politicians themselves.

 So far there has been no repeat of the political upheaval triggered by Asia’s economic crisis a decade ago, which culminated in the ignominious resignation of President Suharto in Indonesia and the ouster of Thailand’s prime minister (see previous blog). There are no food riots as there were back then, and Asians are not crowding at  banks’ doors to rescue their savings.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Zardari says ready to commit to no first use of nuclear weapons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari says he would be ready to commit to a policy of no first use of nuclear weapons, in what would be a dramatic overturning of Pakistan's nuclear policy. Pakistan has traditionally seen its nuclear weapons as neutralising Indian superiority in conventional warfare, and refused to follow India's example of declaring a no first use policy after both countries conducted nuclear tests in 1998.

Zardari was speaking via satellite from Islamabad to a conference organised by the Hindustan Times when he was asked whether he was willing to make an assurance that Pakistan would not be the first to use nuclear weapons.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

“Plan C” – Pakistan turns to the IMF.

Pakistan has agreed with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on a $7.6 billion emergency loan to stave off a balance of payments crisis. 

Shaukat Tarin, economic adviser to the prime minister, said the IMF had endorsed Pakistan's own strategy to bring about structural adjustments. The agreement is expected to encourage other potential donors, who are gathering in Abu Dhabi on Monday for a "Friends of Pakistan" conference.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Israel and India vs Obama’s regional plans for Afghanistan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Will Israel and India -- the first the United States' closest ally and the second fast becoming one of the closest -- emerge as the trickiest adversaries in any attempt by the United States to seek a regional solution to Afghanistan?

The Washington Post reported earlier this week that the incoming administration of President-elect Barack Obama plans to explore a more regional strategy to the war in Afghanistan — including possible talks with Iran.

Axis of rejection? U.S., Iran, North Korea snub nuclear test ban pact

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Pakistan's nuclear-capable Hatf 4 (Shaheen-1) missile during a test launch 

There is a saying in English that people are judged by the company they keep. If this  applied to countries, the United States would not fare well when it comes to the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).
 
Although Washington signed the pact, which would ban all nuclear tests if it ever comes into force, in 1996, U.S. lawmakers have never ratified it. Eight other countries with nuclear activities must ratify the treaty before it can enter into force.
 
Those other hold-out countries are China, North Korea, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel and Pakistan. Two of those — Iran and North Korea — are members of a trio which U.S. President George W. Bush once referred to as the “axis of evil.”
 
Iraq, which was a member of Bush’s axis of evil until the U.S. invasion in 2003 toppled Saddam Hussein’s government, signed the treaty last month, though Iraqi parliament has yet to ratify it.
 
The treaty opened for signatures 12 years ago. Since then, 179 nations have signed and 144 ratified it. Costa Rican Foreign Minister Bruno Stagno Ugarte told a news conference on the  sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York that “these nine countries must not hold the international community at bay.” 
 
Ugarte was one of some 40 foreign ministers who issued a joint statement calling on the United States, Iran, North Korea and the rest to ratify the treaty. 
 
Even veteran Hollywood Actor Michael Douglas, a U.N. messenger of peace, appeared at the United Nations in support of the CTBT alongside former U.S. Defense Secretary William Perry and the Costa Rican, Australian and Austrian foreign ministers. 

Michael Douglas
 
When the United States signed the treaty in 1996, President Bill Clinton, a Democrat, was in charge, but the then-Republican-majority U.S. Senate rejected it in 1999. When Bush took office in 2001 his administration made clear it did not want its options limited by such a treaty and never resubmitted it.  It has has, however, continued to observe the U.S. moratorium on nuclear testing that began in 1992.
 
Perry, who was in Clinton’s cabinet when Washington signed the CTBT in 1996, made it clear that he supports Democratic Sen. Barack Obama, who Perry expects will push the U.S. legislature to ratify the treaty if he becomes president. Even Republican candidate Sen. John McCain, Perry said, might make a U-turn from the Bush administration on this issue in an attempt to reingratiate Washington with allies overseas.
 
Some analysts have said that if the United States fails to ratifies the treaty, it will most likely die. 
 
What do you think? Should the next U.S. president push for ratification of the treaty banning all nuclear tests or would it be better to keep the door open to research on new and improved atomic weapons in the interest of keeping the United States and its allies safe?

Enter the new farmers

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Wheat field in RomaniaWhat’s with farming these days? The humble, even if slightly romantic vocation, is attracting a new breed of participants as investing in farmland and agriculture becomes the latest fad in the world of investments.
 
With financial markets in tumoil and commodity prices at record highs, traditional financial players such as investment banks and hedge funds, and even sovereign wealth funds of cash-rich emerging economies are increasingly looking at farm land as the next major investment avenue.

The motivations are varied — from pure financial punting to concerns about food security. Underlying all this is the belief that the rapid economic expansion of China and India could add more than a billion people between them to the ranks of consumers of meat and wheat-based products. And then there is the growing demand for land to grow crops for biofuels.

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