India Insight

U.S. on Israel — double standards or a double-edged sword?

December 24 – Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip ratchet up rocket fire towards Israel after Hamas ended a six-month ceasefire.

December 27 – Israel launches air strikes on Gaza in response killing more than 200 people in Gaza, the highest one-day death toll in 60 years of Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

December 27 – The United States blames Hamas for breaking the ceasefire and provoking Israeli air strikes.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice expressed concern about the escalating violence and called for immediate restoration of the ceasefire.

“We strongly condemn the repeated rocket and mortar attacks against Israel and hold Hamas responsible for breaking the ceasefire and for the renewal of violence there,” she said in a statement.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

India – aiming for diplomatic encirclement of Pakistan?

India is piling on the diplomatic pressure to convince the international community to lean on Pakistan to crack down on Islamist militants blamed by New Delhi for the Mumbai attacks.

According to the Times of India, "India has made it clear to the U.S. and Iran as well as Pakistan's key allies, China and Saudi Arabia, that they need to do more to use their clout to pressure Pakistan into acting..." The Press Trust of India (PTI), quoted by The Hindu, said India had used a visit by Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal to Delhi to drive home the same message.

As discussed previously on this blog, in the immediate aftermath of the Mumbai attacks, India's response was to look to the United States to put pressure on Pakistan. It also appears to have won some support from Russia, whose officials said publicly that the attacks were funded by Dawood Ibrahim, an underworld don who India says lives in Pakistan. China, Pakistan's traditional ally, supported the United Nations Security Council in  blacklisting the Jamaat-ud-Dawa, the charity accused of being a front for the Lashkar-e-Taiba.  China's Foreign Minister has also telephoned his counterparts in India and Pakistan urging dialogue, according to Xinhua

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

And now the Chinese navy in Somali waters…

Chinese naval ships may soon be steaming into the Gulf of  Aden to join a growing fleet of international warships fighting  Somali pirates.

A first probably for a navy that has long confined itself to its own waters, the move is certain to stir interest in the strategic community stretching from New Delhi to Washington.

Chinese state media on Wednesday quoted Vice Foreign Minister He Yafei as telling a UN Security Council meeting that Beijing  was considering sending naval ships on escort duty in the troubled waters.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

China, Pakistan and India

 

According to Pakistani newspaper the Daily Times, Pakistan's decision to crack down on the Jammat-ud-Dawa, the charity linked to the Laskhar-e-Taiba, came as the result of pressure from China. Jammat-ud-Dawa was blacklisted by a UN Security Council committee this week.

The Daily Times noted that earlier attempts to target the Jamaat-ud-Dawa at the Security Council had been vetoed by China. "It is the Chinese “message” that has changed our mind. The Chinese did not veto the banning of Dawa on Wednesday, and they had reportedly told Islamabad as much beforehand, compelling our permanent representative at the UN to assert that Pakistan would accept the ban if it came," the newspaper said. "One subliminal message was also given to Chief Minister Punjab, Mr Shehbaz Sharif, during his recent visit to China, and the message was that Pakistan had to seek peace with India or face change of policy in Beijing. Once again, it is our friend China whose advice has been well taken..."

This is intriguing, all the more so given how much attention has has been focused on what the United States has been doing to lean on Pakistan to curb militant groups blamed by India for the attacks on Mumbai.  So what has been going on? Has China, with its growing economic power, become a pivotal player in global diplomacy even as the United States continues to hog the limelight?

from FaithWorld:

GUESTVIEW: Mumbai violence brings New York faith groups together

The following is a guest contribution. Reuters is not responsible for the content and the views expressed are the author’s alone. Matthew Weiner, the author, is the Program Director at the Interfaith Center of New York. He is writing a book about Interfaith and Civil Society.

When terror attacks like those in Mumbai occur, many people of faith want to stand together despite their differences to condemn them with one voice. Faith leaders in New York, having seen their own city targetted in 2001, quickly responded with a show of support for their sister city in India. Their news conference on the steps of New York's City Hall on Monday was an example of how faith communities in the world's most religiously diverse metropolis can join hands to speak out against such violence. (Photo: New York interfaith meeting, 1 Dec 2008/Edwin E. Bobrow)

Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, senior vice-president of the New York Board of Rabbis, Mo Razvi, a Pakistani-American Muslim and community organizer, and the Interfaith Center of New York organized the meeting while Councilman John Liu got the green light to use City Hall as the venue. Potasnick worked through Thanksgiving weekend to make it happen and insisted on having representatives from every faith. "It is very important to condemn the attacks...but it is imperative we stand together with one voice," he said.

Obama or McCain – who is better for India?

Like much of the world waiting to find out who leads the United States as its president for the next four years, India too looks askance at the mother of all elections.

While some believe India-U.S. relations have evolved to a strategic level where it does not matter who is at the helm of affairs, a debate rages on whether Obama or McCain will be good for the South Asia region, and India in specific.

As in the U.S., in India the balance seems to tilt in favour of Obama. His backers say he will be a welcome change from the stifling neoconservatism of the Bush administration and its heavy-breathing belligerence.

Does the White House think India is a Hindu nation?

The White House staffers charged with transcribing the every public utterance of U.S. President George W. Bush and his friends do not have an easy job. If they falter even for a moment in the constant war against What did you say?tape hiss, mumbling and ill-timed coughs, they risk putting the wrong words in some of the most powerful mouths on the planet.

And so, as I read today’s official transcript of remarks made by Bush and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the G8 Summit in Japan, I wondered if the transcriber forgot to take a cotton swab to their ear that morning:

PRIME MINISTER SINGH: Mr. President, it is a great opportunity for me to once again meet you and to review with you the state of Hindu-American relations. (Emphasis added.)

Jury still out on Indo-U.S. “unclear” deal

US President Bush raises his glass for a toast with Indian Prime Minister Singh at an official dinner …US President Bush raises his glass for a toast with Indian Prime Minister Singh at an official dinner …You could be forgiven for thinking that the civilian nuclear deal with the United States is all about whether India holds early elections or not.

Every newspaper is speculating if Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who has staked his personal reputation on the deal, will resign to disassociate himself from an administration that failed to save a pact keenly watched by the world.

But are these the arguments India should be debating in the short-term or should we be discussing the real benefits and drawbacks of the deal?

Do India and U.S. have more in common than they think?

First impressions count. That’s true no less with airports, the gateway to a globalised world for any country.

Which is why the United States and India may have more in common than they like to think.

A passenger carries luggage as an airhostess waits outside a terminal at an airport in New Delhi March 12, 2008. REUTERS/Adnan AbidiI have been one of those thousands that have spent three hours in Delhi International Airport making it from check-in though to the boarding gate. Which is why I read with interest the recent spat between deputy planning chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia and civil aviation minister Praful Patel over who is responsible for the chaos.

A chance to bash Mr Bush

Fed by a sensation-hungry media, India’s politicians got another chance to flex their nationalist muscles and bash the United States over the weekend.

U.S. President George W. Bush waves as he walks across the South Lawn after returning to the White House in Washington, April 25, 2008. REUTERS/Jim YoungThe object of their ire was none other than George W. Bush, who was reported as having blamed India for rising global food prices.

“A cruel joke,” said Defence Minister A.K. Antony. The United States appeared to believe “the rest of the world should starve”, the CPM was reported as having said.

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