Time to clean up
I agree with Pervez Hoodbhoy’s argument that Pakistan today stands at a precarious crossroad (Pakistan after Osama, June). As if threats of internal strife, sectarian violence and military oligarchy were not enough, suddenly it is seen by the world as a benefactor and nurturer of terrorism. With Osama bin Laden found hiding a stone’s throw away from an army base, Pakistan is going to have a very hard time convincing the world of its anti-terrorism stance. The country’s leadership also needs to understand that China is friendly with it only because Beijing sees Pakistan as a deterrent against India.
Hoodbhoy has given us yet another well-written piece. The Pakistan Army has ruined the country, and something needs to be done before it is too late. The most vital point is that Pakistan needs to come out of its denial mode: as long as the government insists on blaming RAW, the CIA and Mossad for everything, no improvement will be able to take place. It is people such as militant leaders Hafiz Saeed and Zaki ur-Rehman Lakhvi that are causing them harm – particularly Pakistan’s own ISI working hand-in-glove with such individuals, as recently testified to by David Headley. A thorough clean-up of the army and the ISI is the need of the hour.
Third World dictators
In response to Tisaranee Gunasekara’s article on Iran-Sri Lanka relations (Our man in Tehran, June), I would like to point out that at this juncture, when the Western powers are pushing for prosecution of war criminals that are part of the Sri Lankan government, Mahinda Rajapakse desperately needs the support of Third World despots and leaders of countries that have had no history of social and political democracy. It is high time that activists and analysts looked beyond hollow terms such as ‘anti-imperialism’ and beyond simplistic anti-West rhetoric, because the US is not the only ‘evil’ power in the world. Just as the West cloaks its crimes under the guise of ‘humanism’, so do Third World dictators under the rhetoric of anti-imperialism.
Sandy Barron’s article on the Burmese refugees of Thailand (Neither safe nor voluntary, June) is important, but it needs to be noted that India too has asked certain Northeast states to check the influx of Burmese nationals. Besides occasional local demands to evict refugees – or economic migrants in the case of the Chin and Kachin that ‘flock’ to India, as some groups contend – it is realpolitik that seems to play a significant role in these relationships. An ‘elected’ Burmese government must not be treated as a junta, seems to be the thinking, and so denial of shelter to refugees by India and other countries must be the first symbolic move to recognise the new ‘democratic’ government. This is bizarre logic at best. Nonetheless, New Delhi’s anxiousness to please Burma seems strategic; China looms large, it fears.
With regard to Urooj Zia’s article (What really happened, June), it seems highly unlikely that anyone would call the writer up and start clarifying information. Intelligence agencies in Pakistan never ‘clarify’ their side of the story – undoubtedly it was someone else who called up Zia, claiming to belong to the intelligence community.
I agree with Jawed Naqvi’s assertion (American style, June) that a section of the political and media circle in India has reacted rather immaturely over the Abbottabad raid of early May. This appears to be a far cry from the Indian government’s line of thinking. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s statement in Kabul clearly indicates that India is unlikely to put in place any drastic alteration to its foreign policy while awaiting fundamental changes across the border. The reasonable way forward for both countries – particularly given their status as states with nuclear weapons – is to carry forward their diplomatic engagement on Kashmir while simultaneously focusing on their own core developmental issues. Incidents such as Abbottabad must not be allowed to cloud broader political judgement.
Mahima Jyoti Singh
Maybe it would help if Naeem Mohaiemen did not judge Meherjaan by realist standards (Women on the verge, March). After all, the film neither wants to be nor can be understood in those terms. In many ways, this is an allegory – characters are not just themselves but symbolise much more; the setting of the film is separated yet connected to the War of Liberation. Even by realist standards, I doubt that the entirety of Bangladesh was as involved in the war as we would like to think.
Romila Thapar addresses invitees at the
Southasian relaunch of Himal Southasian,
IIC, New Delhi, January 2013.
China, Southasia and India
On May 19 2013, newly appointed Chinese Premier Li Keqiang arrived in New Delhi for a series of meetings with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The visit is Keqiang's first outside of China since assuming power in March.
From our archive:
Purna Basnet discusses Chinese engagement in Nepal vis-a-vis security issues in Tibet and broader geo-strategic plans in Southasia (April 2011).
Fatima Chowdury relates the story of Calcutta's Indian Chinese community through the lens of political and economic upheavals in Southasia and China (May 2009).
Simon Long notes the importance of the Sino-Indian relationship for the rest of Southasia (September 2006).
J.N Dixit ruminates on the strategic concerns of the 'Middle Kingdom' in the wake of India's 1998 nuclear tests (June 1998).