The Great Debate UK

from Afghan Journal:

The price of greater Indian involvement in Afghanistan

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U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates is heading to India, and one of the things Washington is looking at is how can regional players such as India do more in Afghanistan. "As we are doing more, of course we are looking at others to do more," a U.S. official said, ahead of the trip referring to the troop surge.

But this is easier said than done, and in the case of India, a bit of a minefield. While America may expect more from India, Pakistan has had enough of its bitter rival's already expanded role in Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban in 2001. Indeed, Afghanistan is the new battleground on par with Kashmir, with many in Pakistan saying Indian involvement in Afghanistan was more than altruistic and aimed at destabilising Pakistan from the rear.  Many in India, on the other hand, point the finger at Pakistan for two deadly bomb attacks on its embassy in Kabul.

Against such a difficult backdrop, what can New Delhi possibly do without complicating things further?

Several proposals are afoot but the one that the Afghans are pushing for and which is equally likely to stir things up further is an expanded training programme of the Afghan National Army by the Indian army. A small number of Afghan army officers have been coming to Indian defence institutions, such as New Delhi's National Defence College, for training under a programme that India has been running for years for several countries.

from Afghan Journal:

Opening up Afghanistan’s trade routes

Afghan seller at the World Pomegranate Fair in Kabul. Pic by Reuters/Omar Sobhani

Afghan seller at the World Pomegranate Fair in Kabul. Pic by Reuters/Omar Sobhani

The United States is pressing Pakistan to allow Afghan agriculture products to pass through its territory to India, the U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said during a trip to the war-torn country this week. Opening India's huge and exploding market to Afghan farmers sounds like a perfectly logical thing to do. Their produce of dried fruits, nuts and pomegranates long made its way to India before the partition of  India and Pakistan in 1947, immortalised in Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore's classic story for children, Kabuliwallah.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Can China help stabilise Pakistan?

forbidden cityWhen President Barack Obama suggested in Beijing last month that China and the United States could cooperate on bringing stability to Afghanistan and Pakistan, and indeed to "all of South Asia", much of the attention was diverted to India, where the media saw it as inviting unwarranted Chinese interference in the region.

But what about asking a different question? Can China help stabilise the region?

from Global Investing:

What worries the BRICs

Some fascinating data about the growing power of emerging markets, particularly the BRICs, was on display at the OECD's annual investment conference in Paris this week. Not the least of it came from MIGA, the World Bank's Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency, which tries to help protect foreign direct investors from various forms of political risk.

MIGA has mainly focused on encouraging investment into developing countries, but a lot of its latest work is about investment from emerging economies.

Where schooling is sabotaged

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Kennji_KIZUKA- Kennji Kizuka was a consultant to the children’s rights division of Human Rights Watch and conducted research for their new report, Sabotaged Schooling: Naxalite Attacks and Police Occupation of Schools in India’s Bihar and Jharkhand States. The opinions expressed are his own. -

Late in the evening of November 29, 2008, a group of guerrilla fighters entered the remote village of Dwarika in the Indian state of Jharkhand and detonated improvised bombs inside the village’s only school. Doors blew apart, desks and chairs splintered, and portions of the classroom walls crumbled. No longer suitable or safe for learning, the school closed.

from Global Investing:

Time to kick Russia out of the BRICs?

It may end up sounding like a famous ball-point pen maker, but an argument is being made that Goldman Sach's famous marketing device, the BRICs, should really be the BICs. Does Russia really deserve to be a BRIC, asks Anders Åslund, senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, in an article for Foreign Policy.

Åslund, who is also co-author with Andrew Kuchins of "The Russian Balance Sheet", reckons the Russia of Putin and Medvedev is just not worthy of inclusion alongside Brazil, India and China  in the list of blue-chip economic powerhouses. He writes:

After 25 years impact of Bhopal leak lingers

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Controversy still surrounds one of the world’s worst industrial accidents 25 years after an estimated 8,000 people died in the immediate aftermath of a toxic gas leak in Bhopal, India.

At around midnight on December 3, 1984, a leak at a Union Carbide plant of methyl isocyanate gas — a chemical compound used to make a pesticide marketed as Sevin – led to about 50,000 people being treated for severe injuries to their eyes, lungs, and kidneys.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

India and Pakistan: the missing piece in the Afghan jigsaw

One year ago, I asked whether then President-elect Barack Obama's plans for Afghanistan still made sense after the Mumbai attacks torpedoed hopes of a regional settlement involving Pakistan and India. The argument, much touted during Obama's election campaign, was that a peace deal with India would convince Pakistan to turn decisively on Islamist militants, thereby bolstering the United States flagging campaign in Afghanistan.

As I wrote at the time, it had always been an ambitious plan to convince India and Pakistan to put behind them 60 years of bitter struggle over Kashmir as part of a regional solution to many complex problems in Afghanistan.  Had the Mumbai attacks pushed it out of reach? And if so, what was the fall-back plan?

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Defeating the Taliban in Pakistan’s Tribal Areas

Brian Clougley is a South Asia defence analyst.  Reuters is not responsible for the content - the views are the author's alone.

When the Taliban insurrection in Pakistan began in earnest, in 2004, the Pakistan army did not have enough troops in North West Frontier Province to combat the growing menace.  It was not possible for the army and the paramilitary Frontier Corps to conduct operations without considerable reinforcement.  In any event, the role of the lightly-armed Frontier Corps has always been more akin to policing than to engaging in conventional military operations. Dealing with inter-tribe skirmishes and cross-border smugglers is very different to combating organised bands of fanatics whose objective is total destruction of the state.

from Breakingviews:

EU looks lonely on climate high ground

icebergNegotiations to save the planet from catastrophic climate change are heading for trouble, five weeks before a crucial U.N. conference in Copenhagen.

The European Union has been at the forefront in pressing for binding, internationally monitored reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, and funding from industrialised countries to help developing nations switch to clean energy.

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