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Archive for July, 2006

Spinning Out Of Control

The situation in the Middle East is rapidly degenerating from terrible to atrocious. Already bordering on living hell for those at ground zero in the battle zone in Lebanon, the conflagration could spread out of control. While the mainly Sunni Hamas are offering token resistance to the Israeli ground incursion in Gaza, Shia Hezbollah are putting up a robust resistance in South Lebanon. Israel has every right like any nation on the Earth to defend itself, however the disproportionate response has been shocking to its friends and foes alike, undermining Israel’s moral domination in western perceptions. In the eyes of its immediate neighbours and the rest of the muslim world, the callousness reinforces their opposition to Israel’s existence, even among those who have been persuaded over the years through intellectual interaction that Israel can live in peaceful co-existence with its neighbours.

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A Time To Unite

The terrorists who strike South Asia (mainly India) from time to time have a precocious propensity to do so close to a noteworthy event, e.g. whenever a US President (or someone likewise important) is about to visit the region. Despite the fact that India has a fair number of militants, Naxalites, Mizos, Nagas, Manipuris etc with several thousands of square miles under their control and who are certainly not Islamic, any major terrorist activity is blamed immediately on Pakistan, lack of evidence notwithstanding! That it also puts Pakistan on the defensive as a terrorist-ridden State (if not a sponsor) is not a coincidence anymore. Whoever thought up the Mumbai blasts (targetting first class railway compartments?) did not have mayhem only in India’s economic capital in mind, Pakistan’s image in the world (and existence as the only muslim nuclear entity) was the real target. No mean coincidence that for the past four weeks the Economist, the Atlantic Monthly, Time, Newsweek, etc etc have been running remarkably similiar articles attacking Musharraf and Pakistan, in that order, much before the Mumbai blasts. The coincidence goes on when you note the “accusations” list against Pakistan are strikingly in sequence.

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The Road Ahead

As we approach election year 2007 (or will it be early 2008), the Musharraf regime has to decide very soon what political garb it has to cast itself in to fight the elections successfully. While there is no meltdown of the government, if what we read in the media and hear at private gatherings from neutral observers is true than in the run-up to general elections we are headed for political in-fighting within the government coalition, with every partner holding out to get the best possible deal for themselves. That is to be expected, with each constituent utilising this opportunity for crying for more seats than its share, before deciding upon the consensus candidate for each National and Provincial Assembly seat, mostly at the last minute. PML (Q) is a heterogeneous outfit that will be beset from within to an extent, particularly in the Seraiki belt, it will still be the majority party in Punjab, based namely on the strength of individual candidates rather than party affiliation. However both PPP and PML(N) will also do well in their strongholds. In Sindh, NWFP and Balochistan. PML(Q) is almost non-existent without official manipulation We are in for an era of backroom politics, may not be exactly smoke-filled and whisky–laden but there will be a potent power-play nevertheless.

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