The Great Debate UK

The real torture is in the waiting

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Marc Callcutt- Marc Callcutt is a casework lawyer for the Reprieve Death Penalty team. The opinions expressed are his own.-

Exactly five years ago, the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, two Britons, Naheem Hussain and Rehan Zaman, were in Dadyal Police Station, in Pakistan having been arrested on murder charges.

The police used their usual interrogation techniques. Rehan was hung upside down, in what is known as an inverse strappado, and had one of his finger nails pulled out. Naheem was tied to a chair and had red chillies rubbed in his eyes. Both had the police attempt to break their legs, and both were subjected to hours of falaka – a torture that involves whipping of the feet with a rod or cane, used because it is incredibly painful but leaves few scars. The torture was such that in the end, both of them signed “confessions” accepting their role in the murders.

Yet, if you talk to the two men now, it is not the 14 days of torture they suffered at the hands of the police they will complain about, but rather their ongoing torture at the hands of the Pakistan criminal justice system. Five years on, they remain in prison, unconvicted, desperate for their trial. Every day they wake up uncertain of how long they will remain in prison – the potential of the death penalty hanging over them like the sword of Damocles. They will tell you that this torture is much crueller than anything that they faced at the hands of the police. Rehan in particular has been told Reprieve that if his case fails to progress by the end of the year he will be forced to “sentence himself”.

Britain’s torture memos: keeping up appearances

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daniel gorevan- Daniel Gorevan is head of Amnesty International‘s Counter Terror with Justice campaign. The opinions expressed are his own. -

Tony Blair’s government reportedly advised MI5 officers that the UK must not be “seen to condone” torture. However, evidence is mounting that British agents knowingly exploited torture perpetrated by others.

from The Great Debate:

First 100 Days: Obama’s foreign policy challenges

Willis Sparks-- Willis Sparks is a Global Macro analyst at the political risk consulting firm Eurasia Group. The views expressed are his own. --

Few things in life amused my dad more than a good karate movie. I once asked what he found so funny about Bruce Lee’s jaw-dropping display of poise and power. “Nice of the bad guys to attack him one at a time,” he said. In the real world, threats don’t arrive single-file, like jets lining up for takeoff.

from The Great Debate:

Scoop! U.S. offers to cooperate with world

Paul Taylor Great Debate-- Paul Taylor is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own --

An American president vowing to cooperate with the rest of the world would barely be news if it did not follow eight years' of George W. Bush's tenure in the White House.

Barack Obama's inauguration address was thin on foreign policy specifics, but his pledge to work with allies and adversaries on global problems from nuclear weapons to climate change was a message many have waited impatiently to hear.

from The Great Debate:

Pakistan, Mexico and U.S. nightmares

Bernd Debusmann - Great Debate-- Bernd Debusmann is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own. --

What do Pakistan and Mexico have in common? They figure in the nightmares of U.S. military planners trying to peer into the future and identify the next big threats.

from The Great Debate:

Brace yourself: Political-market risks in 2009

prestonkeat-- Preston Keat is director of research at Eurasia Group, a global political risk consultancy, and author of the forthcoming book “The Fat Tail: The Power of Political Knowledge for Strategic Investors” (with Ian Bremmer). Any views expressed are his own. For the related story, click here.

There are a number of macro risks that will continue to grab headlines in 2009, including the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, cross-border tensions and state instability in Pakistan, and Iran's 
ongoing quest to develop advanced nuclear technologies.

from FaithWorld:

Lots of advice for Obama on dealing with Muslims and Islam

President-elect Barack Obama has been getting a lot of advice these days on how to deal with Muslims and Islam. He invited it by saying during his campaign that he either wanted to convene a conference with leaders of Muslim countries or deliver a major speech in a Muslim country "to reboot America’s image around the world and also in the Muslim world in particular”. But where? when? why? how? Early this month, I chimed in with a pitch for a speech in Turkey or Indonesia.  Some quite interesting comments have come in since then. (Photo: Obama image in Jakarta, 25 Oct 2008/Dadang Tri)

Two French academics, Islam expert Olivier Roy and political scientist Justin Vaisse argued in a New York Times op-ed piece on Sunday that Obama's premise of trying to reconcile the West and Islam is flawed:

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Assessing U.S. intervention in India-Pakistan: enough for now?

In the immediate aftermath of the Mumbai attacks, India's response has been to look to the United States to lean on Pakistan, which it blames for spawning Islamist militancy across the region, rather than launching any military retaliation of its own. So after U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice's trip to India and Pakistan last week, have the Americans done enough for now?

According to Pakistan's Dawn newspaper, Rice told Pakistan there was "irrefutable evidence" that elements within the country were involved in the Mumbai attacks. And it quotes unnamed sources as saying that behind-the-scenes she “pushed the Pakistani leaders to take care of the perpetrators, otherwise the U.S. will act”.

from The Great Debate:

Hidden emotions, hidden agendas

Wow, Thomas Friedman writing in the New York Times let fly with a zinger with his opinion piece "Calling all Pakistanis", presumably aimed at stirring compassion in Pakistani hearts over last week's horrifying attack in Mumbai.

Pakistanis were Peace protesters in Lahoreready enough to take to the streets to vent their anger and indignation over cartoons in Denmark, why can't they demonstrate a shared sense of outrage over the cold-blooded killing of 171 people in the country next door, asks Friedman.

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.

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