Asia – A Week in Pictures, September 19, 2010

September 20, 2010

This week has seen a dramatic increase in violence and tension throughout much of the Asia region, and  the pictures on the wire reflect this mood. It seems that actions by not only nations, armed groups but individuals have all had a dramatic impact on the mood of the region. The weight of the news feels almost claustrophobic as I try to keep on top of what is happening.

AFGHANISTAN/

U.S. Army soldiers from Delta Company, a part of Task Force 1-66 carry a wounded 7-year-old Afghan boy, a victim of a road side explosion, at their base near the village of Gul Kalacheh, Arghandab River valley, Kandahar province, September 18, 2010.  REUTERS/Oleg Popov

On the surface of it the parliament elections can only be good news for the people of Afghanistan, but 16 hours spent live blogging pictures with our team of 18 journalists, watching the minute by minute developments made me wonder about  the timing of this election as different groups tried to impose their influence on the outcome through violence and fraud.  Attacks by the Taliban killed 14 who were directly involved in the polling process. A radio commentator I was listening to assured his listeners that this death toll was part of normal daily life in Afghanistan and should not be seen to reflect election violence, I was not cheered by this. Oleg’s picture above seems to bear this out; does it really matter what the motivation was behind the blast as the boy writhes in agony, his blood stained hands trembling and clawing at his bandaged head. If the election had not gone ahead would he still have been injured?  Even Masood’s picture below of the election worker and the donkey struggling through the mountains seem to reflect the uphill battle the whole country has to face. Ink being washed off fingers so voters could vote and vote again; fraudulent voting cards printed and who knows what amount of ballot box stuffing will take place  before the final count is revealed late October; all of which seem to undermine the democratic process. Who wants to be ruled by leaders who have gained power through corruption – notably the only political point the Taliban make.

AFGHANISTAN

An Afghan man and a donkey transport ballot boxes to villages unreachable by vehicles in Panjshir province, north of Kabul September 17, 2010. Afghanistan will hold parliamentary elections on September 18. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood

AFGHANISTAN

An Afghan girl stands in line with her mother to get food package on the outskirts of Kabul September 14, 2010. A hundred food packages were distributed to flood hit families by the International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) led-Turkish troops on the outskirts of Kabul.  REUTERS/Ahmad Masood

AFGHANISTAN

Mullah Tarakhel (Mohammadi), a Kuchi member of Parliament seeking re-election, addresses his supporters during an election campaign inside a room on the outskirts of Kabul September 13, 2010. Afghanistan will hold parliamentary elections on September 18. REUTERS/Fayaz Kabli

AFGHANISTAN/

New female recruit of the Afghan National Police (ANP) aims her weapon during a training session in a police base south of Herat, western Afghanistan September 16, 2010. REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi

In Pakistan millions continue to struggle with the flooding, while militant attacks are unabated.  In a separate act of violence in London Imran Farooq, a founding member of the MQM party was stabbed to death outside his home, an action that led to the complete shutdown of Karachi, Pakistan’s commercial capital. The MQM announced ten days of mourning amid fears of a repeat of widespread violence last month that left 100 dead and hundreds wounded after MQM member Raza Haider, was gunned down at a funeral. Every Pakistan-related violent act seems to be a catalyst for more violent reaction. The pictures below shot by Morteza, Akhtar and Fayaz in different locations hint at the  hopelessness the ordinary people of Pakistan are facing – the eye contact in the images quite haunting.

PAKISTAN-FLOODS/

A flood victim stands in a swamp as he waits to catch a fish in Mohib Banda near Charsadda, Pakistan’s northwest Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province September 13, 2010. REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl

PAKISTAN-FLOODS/

Five year old flood victim Aabdi, who suffers from eye infection, eats a meal outside her family tent while taking refuge in a relief camp for flood victim in Sukkur, in Pakistan’s Sindh province September 17, 2010. REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro

 PAKISTAN-FLOODS/HOLBROOKE

A father places his hand on his 7-year-old son, Abrar, who is suffering from typhoid, while taking refuge at a camp for flood victims in Nowshera, in Pakistan’s northwest Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province September 15, 2010. The disaster has killed more than 1,750 people, and aid agencies have warned that millions are at risk of death if emergency food and shelter are not quickly provided.  REUTERS/Fayaz Aziz

Two weeks before the opening of the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi gunmen opened fire on a tourist bus near the Jama Masjid Mosque injuring two tourists in an apparent attempt to disrupt plans for the games.  In Kashmir police opened fire into a crowd of protestors who were defying a curfew, killing three.  One could ask if these act are related?

INDIA-KASHMIR

A Kashmiri protester runs for cover during an anti-India protest in Srinagar September 14, 2010. Hundreds of stone-throwing protesters battled police in Indian Kashmir on Tuesday, a day after one of the worst single episodes of violence in two decades of separatist protests. Eighteen people were killed, nearly all of them in police firing, on Monday during anti-India and Koran demonstrations in the disputed region, increasing the pressure on the government to tackle the protests that have simmered through the summer. REUTERS/Danish Ismail

KASHMIR

Women mourn during the funeral of a Kashmiri youth, Yasir Rafiq Sheikh, in Srinagar September 17, 2010. Sheik, who was injured during an anti-India protest last month, succumbed to his injuries at a New Delhi hospital, relatives said. REUTERS/Danish Ismail

INDIA-KASHMIR

An Indian policeman stops a woman during a curfew in Srinagar September 14, 2010. Indian authorities deployed thousands more federal police across Kashmir to enforce a curfew on Tuesday after one of the worst single days of violence in two decades of separatist protests. Eighteen people were killed, nearly all of them in police firing, during anti-India and Koran demonstrations in the disputed region, increasing the pressure on the government to tackle the protests that have simmered through the summer.  REUTERS/Danish Ismail

In a disturbing turn of events the relationship between Japan and China has taken a down turn. Japan refuses to release a captain of a Chinese fishing vessel after a clash in the disputed waters with Japanese coast guard vessels. The Japanese may start drilling near a gas field in disputed waters if China extends its drilling activities there the Nikkei business daily reported.  Separately, the Japanese economy is under pressure after the government intervened in the value of the Yen. Business sentiment at Asia’s top companies fell in Q3 as growing concerns about the global economic outlook dented optimison.  Pictures illustrating a downturn in the economy are tough to do but beautiufully mastered by Tokyo based Kim Kyung-Hoon and Korea based Yonghak Jo. Yonghak also shot a terrific image of the 60th anniversary of the US led UN landing operations during the 1950-53 war.

JAPAN-ECONOMY/

People walk past an exchange booth in Tokyo September 16, 2010. Japanese Prime Minister signalled that Japan was ready to keep intervening to curb gains in the yen, as a deterioration in manufacturing confidence underscored the threat of a strong currency to the fragile economic recovery.   REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

ASIA-COMPANIES/SENTIMENT

An office worker carrying his bag walks up the steps of an underground passage in central Seoul September 14, 2010.  Business sentiment at Asia’s top companies fell in the third quarter, marking the first decline in six quarters, as growing concerns about the global economic outlook dented optimism. 
Picture taken September 14, 2010. REUTERS/Jo Yong-Hak

KOREA/

South Korean Marine Corps’ amphibious vehicles take part in a mock landing operation in the sea off Incheon, west of Seoul, September 15, 2010. The operation marked the 60th anniversary of the U.S.-led United Nations troops’ Incheon Landing Operations during the 1950-1953 Korean War.  REUTERS/Jo Yong-Hak

In additional to these man-made troubles nature has thrown in her hand to keep the tension high in Asia with typhoon Fanapi hitting Taiwan then heading to China and volcano Mount Semeru spewing smoke in Indonesia. From these looming disasters are two images that really stand out.

INDONESIA

Indonesia’s Mount Bromo volcano spew smoke next to Mount Semeru volcano (in the background) as seen from Penanjakan mountain outside Pasuruan, East Java province September 14, 2010. REUTERS/Beawiharta

TAIWAN-TYPHOON/

People walk along a flooded street as Typhoon Fanapi hits Kaohsiung City, southern Taiwan September 19, 2010. A typhoon injured 45 people, cancelled flights and cut power to tens of thousands in Taiwan on Sunday, keeping officials on high alert to stop any repeat of a deadly storm last year that damaged the president’s reputation. Typhoon Fanapi, Taiwan’s most severe storm so far in 2010, brought 162 kph (101 mph) maximum wind gusts that caused injuries by toppling scooters, breaking glass and blowing down signs, the National Fire Agency disaster response centre said. REUTERS/Stringer

In addition to this rather gloomy report are pictures that also caught my eye; some bizarre, some beautiful and one that demands you read the caption to find out just what is going on, I will let you decide which is which.

CHINA/

Participants compete in the traditional game “Snatching the Lamb”, also known as Diaoyang in Chinese, during the seventh Xinjiang Ethnic Minorities Traditional Games in Hami, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region September 15, 2010. Snatching the Lamb, which is a popular game among the Kazaks, requires five to eight horsemen riding their horses and trying to grab a headless lamb carcass with one hand. The winning team is the first to bring the lamb to a designated place. REUTERS/Stringer

THAILAND-KING/

A woman prays with joss sticks as she joins thousands others at the Siriraj hospital praying every day for the health of Thailand’s 82-year-old revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej in Bangkok September 18, 2010. As the world’s longest-serving monarch marks a year in hospital on Sunday, Thailand faces hard questions over the future of its most powerful institution and whether it can sustain its traditional role as pillar of stability in times of upheaval.   REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

CHINA/

 Naked boat trackers pull a vessel along the Shennong Brook for a photo opportunity in Badong county, Hubei province September 12, 2010. The photo opportunity, organized by a local photographing club, was a re-enactment of the boat trackers’ working scenes which has faded since the 1980s, local media reported. Boat tracking formed a popular profession in the early 20th century, but the development and modernization of transportation infrastructure gradually ended the need for such a job.  The physically-intensive nature of boat tracking compelled labourers in this region to remain naked and the practice has since become tradition.  Picture taken September 12, 2010. REUTERS/Stringer

INDIA/

A man performs Mallakhamb (gymnast’s pole) during a practice session at a playground in Mumbai September 13, 2010. Mallakhamb is a combination of traditional Indian gymnastics and martial arts and it can be traced back to the 12th century. For centuries, the sport has been dormant but is now regaining popularity in the country. This old sport helps one to be more agile, improves mind and body coordination as well as overall fitness. The group will perform during the opening and closing ceremonies at the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, according to their coach. Picture taken September 13, 2010.      REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

MACAU

A performer takes part in a show “The House of Dancing Water” at the City of Dreams resort in Macau September 15, 2010. The HK$2 billion ($256 million) water-based show, created and directed by Franco Dragone, is inspired by the “seven emotions” principle derived from classical Confucian beliefs in Chinese culture. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

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