Pakistan’s civilian leadership falls on its face

(By I.A. Rehman) THE federal government has been diligently trying for several weeks to convince the people that the central issue facing Pakistan is poor governance, but without offering any hope of redemption.

The petrol crisis led to the government’s indictment for somnolence, its incapacity to speak with one voice and its lack of expertise in crisis management. Then came another nationwide electricity breakdown. Both episodes exposed three serious weaknesses in the executive. Continue reading Pakistan’s civilian leadership falls on its face

Indonesia – Death penalty for many foreign drug dealers

Indonesia is ready to execute seven foreign drug convicts on death row after their appeals for presidential clemency were rejected, an official said, in a move certain to set Jakarta on a collision course with international allies.

The seven include two Australian leaders of the “Bali Nine” drug-smuggling gang, who have been on death row for almost a decade.

Continue reading Indonesia – Death penalty for many foreign drug dealers

Democracy – No one-size-fits-all

BYasir Masood Khan

Democracy is the complex web of connections between individual politicians, political parties, the electorate, civil society, media and state institutions that is formed through the electoral process.

The roots of Indian democracy have been strengthened due to the establishment and consolidation of the Indian Election Commission through parliament and the constitution of India. The trust invested by the politicians, the public, civil society and the media invested in this commission have further empowered it. Despite this, the election commission requires still greater independence. This has become a highly significant aspect of the discourse on electoral reforms in India.

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Modi – A secular leader or an extremist Hindu?

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed a campaign rally ahead of local elections in Indian-held Kashmir on December 8, 2014.  (Photo: AAP)Entering 2015 with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in power at the federal level in India, there appears to have been a metamorphosis in India’s social, political and economic environment. The BJP and its coalition was voted into power in 2014 in a landslide victory, promising ‘development’ for India. But Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s development agenda has been held back by attempts to promote Hindu nationalism.

The BJP’s role as the home of right-wing conservative Indian nationalists can be traced back to the pre-1947 era when Hindu nationalists not only demanded an independent India, but one completely dominated by Hindus. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the historical antecedent and parent organisation of the BJP, still wishes for a ‘Hindustan’ (a land of the Hindus). Continue reading Modi – A secular leader or an extremist Hindu?

Modi went overboard with Bollywood like acting in front of Obama

(By M K Bhadrakumar) Trust a high-level visit to throw up surprises when least expected. President Barack Obama’s visit to India has concluded on controversial note. Just before he departed from India on Tuesday, in his town hall address in Delhi, Obama waded into a topic that even India’s brave-hearted prime minister, Narendra Modi fears to tread – freedom of religion in India.

Obama said, “India will succeed so long as it is not splintered along the lines of religious faith, as long as it is not splintered along any lines, and it is unified as one nation.” On the face of it, it is such a noble thought. But Obama said this in Modi’s India, “a country with a history of strife between Hindus and minorities.” (Reuters). These are extraordinary times in India with Modi’s government tacitly acquiescing in the campaign by Hindu nationalists (Sangh Parivar, as they are popularly called in India) that India is a “Hindu Rashtra”. Modi himself has kept a deafening silence on the issue, refusing to criticize the Hindu zealots. Continue reading Modi went overboard with Bollywood like acting in front of Obama

USA’s forced relations with Saudi Arabia

Obama couldn’t get to Paris, but somehow he managed a late schedule change to go see the new Saudi king. Can this ever change? Not likely.
So who wants to take a stab at explaining why Barack Obama couldn’t adjust his schedule to attend a massive march in Paris dedicated to the values of the Enlightenment, but somehow did manage to find a way to make exactly such a schedule change to pay his respects to a regime that is one of the most implacable foes of Enlightenment to be found on our morally creaky little planet?

For the trip he did make, to Saudi Arabia yesterday, he not only managed a schedule change but miraculously enough, the last-minute schedules of roughly 30 very important people—James Baker, Condi Rice, Susan Rice, John Kerry, Nancy Pelosi, John Brennan, John McCain—who accompanied the president to Riyadh, were also changed.

Continue reading USA’s forced relations with Saudi Arabia

Obama warns India to ensure religious freedom

India is changing fast, and Hinduism is keeping up.

On Tuesday, before he left India, U.S.President Barack Obama delivered a speech in which he remindedIndians that “your Article 25 says that all people are ‘equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practice and propagate religion.’” President Obama noted that “every person has the right to practice their faith how they choose, or to practice no faith at all, and to do so free from persecution and fear.”

Continue reading Obama warns India to ensure religious freedom

Hilary Clinton’s negative role in Arab wars

 First of three parts

Top Pentagon officials and a senior Democrat in Congress so distrusted Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s 2011 march to war in Libya that they opened their own diplomatic channels with the Gadhafi regime in an effort to halt the escalating crisis, according to secret audio recordings recovered from Tripoli.

The tapes, reviewed by The Washington Times and authenticated by the participants, chronicle U.S. officials’ unfiltered conversations with Col. Moammar Gadhafi’s son and a top Libyan leader, including criticisms that Mrs. Clinton had developed tunnel vision and led the U.S. into an unnecessary war without adequately weighing the intelligence community’s concerns. Continue reading Hilary Clinton’s negative role in Arab wars

Pakistan’s Ahmadis finding it difficult to get another home

The Ahmadi Garhi Shahu mosque in PakistanPakistan’s story began with a parting — partition from India — and now, for a growing number of people, it is ending with another parting. Negombo, a beach town 24 miles from Sri Lanka’s capital, Colombo, is refuge for hundreds of Ahmadi Muslims fleeing persecution in Pakistan.

According to the Colombo office of the UN Refugee Agency, or UNHCR, there was a nearly 780 percent increase in the number of Pakistani asylum seekers in Sri Lanka from 2012, when 152 people sought asylum, to 2013, when this number jumped to 1,338. While most of them are Ahmadis, the number also includes Pakistani Christians and Shia Muslims, who have also faced increasing persecution in Pakistan over the years.

However, with Sri Lanka becoming less accessible following the suspension last year of on-arrival visa facilities, fewer people have sought shelter here recently. In 2014, only 239 new asylum seekers were registered.

Members of the Ahmadiyya community can be found all over the world. In Pakistan, their population ranges from 600,000 to 700,000, according to Ahmadi leaders in that country (there has been no census there since 1998). They are among a growing number of minorities — people belonging to small sects within Islam and non-Muslims — leaving Pakistan against the backdrop of increasing religious intolerance and attacks on marginal groups in recent years.

Continue reading Pakistan’s Ahmadis finding it difficult to get another home

Stabilizing Afghanistan: Obama can’t count on Modi

By M K Bhadrakumar

The most significant foreign-policy document to emerge out of US President Barack Obama’s visit to India – “US-India Joint Strategic Vision for the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean Region” – makes interesting reading. It is about Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean – and not the ‘Indo-Pacific’. Does that make a difference?

The statement bodily lifts previous articulations of what by now has become a mantra for South Block concerning maritime security and freedom of navigation and over flight throughout the region, “especially in the South China Sea”. The sting is in the tail, of course. It’s supposed to irritate — and, hopefully, unnerve — China. Whether it succeeds or not, we do not know. According to a Xinhua commentary with Beijing dateline, however, the Chinese comfort level remains high. It puts Obama’s visit to India in perspective —  he is beleaguered at home politically and badly needs this visit to burnish his image, whereas for the Indians, they hope to gain leverage in their “multi-faceted diplomacy” and maybe derive some commercial spin-off, while the differences between the US and India, which are far too serious, cannot be wished away.

Continue reading Stabilizing Afghanistan: Obama can’t count on Modi