Sanjeev's Feed
Aug 17, 2010

Dollar, Japan shares test lows on global woes

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – The U.S. dollar headed toward a 15-year low against the yen on Tuesday and Japanese shares slid as weak U.S. data added to worries about a global slowdown.

Other Asian stock markets were slightly firmer although analysts said there was little reason for them to rise much higher given the weak sentiment.

Aug 15, 2010
via Afghan Journal

With Pakistan on the ropes, the fight against extremism just got harder

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Pakistan’s army has said it won’t be diverting forces from the fight against Islamist militants while it helps deal with the country’s worst floods  in 80 years . Troops who were on training have been called back to lead the flood relief effort, leaving those  deployed on the Afghan front to continue operations against militants, the army said.

But with the floods devastating the trunk of Pakistan running from the northwest to Sind, through the growthengine of Punjab, disrupting the lives of an estimated 20 million people - which is 12 percent of the population – and delivering a serious blow to an already enfeebled economy, it’s hard to imagine that there won’t be any impact on the deadly, costly battle to win back ground from the extremists, bothinside Pakistan and Afghanistan.  It is hard enough for any nation to fight a war such as the one Pakistan is engaged in, willingly or otherwise, against an enemy that it once nurtured.  But to be at war when a third of the land  is affected by the most devastating floods yet,  crops worth a $1 billion are damaged in a country in a country where agriculture is the mainstay  and popular anger is  running high, calls for nerves of steel. And all this when it is already on a $11.3 billion IMF bailout programme whose stringent conditions Pakistan was struggling to meet even before the floods struck.

Aug 11, 2010
via Afghan Journal

Resurgent Taliban target women and children

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Civilian casualties in the worsening war in Afghanistan are up just over 30 percent in the current year,  the United Nations said in a mid-year report this week, holding the Taliban responsible for three-quarters of the deaths or injuries.

More worrying, women and children seem to be taking the brunt of the violence directed by a resurgent Taliban, which will only stoke more concern about the wisdom of seeking reconciliation with the hardline Islamist group.

Aug 9, 2010
via Afghan Journal

The Islamists and the Great Flood of Pakistan

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(Flood victims in Pakistan's Sukkur)

Pakistan’s floods are now considered to be more damaging than the massive earthquake that devastated its part of Kashmir in 2005, not least because of the inability of the administration to respond quickly to the crisis.  Pakistan is not alone in the region ill-prepared  to cope with natural disasters. Bigger, richer India is just as unable to either eliminate or limit the destruction that its bountiful rivers unleash each monsoon, and you hear the same chorus of criticism of government apathy. Bangladesh, too, gets more than its share of cyclones and floods each season, and yet successive governments are overwhelmed each time disaster strikes.

But the one difference in Pakistan is that Islamist charities, some believed linked to militant groups, are ready to step into the breach. And that is worrying a lot of people, as the flood waters sweep over Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa, the province in northwest Pakistan which has been the main battleground in the fight against militants, down to the heartland province of Punjab and into Sindh.

Aug 3, 2010
via Afghan Journal

No place for women in the Great Afghan endgame

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A Time magazine cover showing the face of an 18-year-old Afghan woman mutilated by the Taliban has set off a furious debate about how far to go in search of a political settlement with the resurgent Islamist group to end nine years of fighting.

On the one side are those who point to the latest atrocity as a reminder of the brutality of the Taliban, and that nothing really had changed. Women will pay the heaviest price if the hardline Islamist group returned to power, they warn. On the other hand are those who argue that America cannot indefinitely remain in Afghanistan to defend women’s rights which in any case remains an elusive goal. Indeed the latest abuse took place while troops are on the ground which goes to show the limits of military power.

Jul 30, 2010
via Afghan Journal

The view from Pakistan: India is a bigger threat than the Taliban, al Qaeda

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A man unloads clay tiles, used for flooring and roofs, at a makeshift factory in Karachi.

India may have  a bigger problem in Pakistan than previously thought. More than half of Pakistanis surveyed in a Pew poll say India is a bigger threat than al Qaeda or the Taliban.

It’s not just the Pakistani military that believes a bigger, richer India is an existential threat. A majority of ordinary people share that perception as well. That ought to worry Indian policy planners. Of the Pakistanis polled, 23 percent think the Taliban is the greatest threat to their country, and 3 percent think al Qaeda is, despite the rising tide of militant violence in Pakistan’s turbulent northwest region on the Afghan border, and also in the heartland cities.

Jul 21, 2010

India adjusts Afghan strategy as endgame quickens

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – With Pakistan set to play a central role in any political settlement of the Afghan war due to its sway over the Taliban, India has few options to counter its bitter rival’s influence in the country.

Any deal that ends up with Pakistan in a dominant position in Afghanistan, while India is left smarting and worrying about its security, could foment tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbours, who already accuse each other of militant attacks and whose peace process has been deadlocked since the 2008 bombings in Mumbai.

Jul 9, 2010

Anand Sharma forecasts 9 pct-plus GDP growth

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – India’s gross domestic product growth is expected to return to “9 percent plus” this year, Trade Minister Anand Sharma said on Friday, led by strong corporate performance and rising savings levels.

Sharma also said he expected inflation, which is fuelled by food demand, to be brought under control.

Jul 9, 2010

Trade minister forecasts 9 pct-plus GDP growth

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – India’s gross domestic product growth is expected to return to “9 percent plus” this year, Trade Minister Anand Sharma said on Friday, led by strong corporate performance and rising savings levels.

Sharma also said he expected inflation, which is fuelled by food demand, to be brought under control.

Jul 7, 2010
via Afghan Journal

Pakistan’s Zardari in China; nuclear deal in grasp

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(File picture of President Zardari in China)

Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari is in China this week, making good his promise to visit the “all weather ally” every three months. During his previous trips, his hosts have sent him off to the provinces to see for himself the booming growth there, but this trip may turn out be a lot more productive.

Zardari  may well return with a firm plan by China to build two reactors at Pakistan’s Chashma nuclear plant, as my colleague in Beijing  reports in this article, overriding concern in Washington, New Delhi and other capitals that this undermined global non-proliferation objectives.