IDSA COMMENT

Recent Developments in Myanmar

International pressure on Myanmar’s military government has intensified following the recent political upheaval triggered by a hike in fuel prices in August. This has brought into sharp focus the policies of Myanmar’s neighbours – China, India and the ASEAN States – whose reaction to the Naypyidaw regime has differed from capitals that are relatively distant. The UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy to Myanmar Ibrahim Gambari held consultations with leaders in New Delhi besides meeting Singapore’s Foreign Minister George Yeo recently.

November 02, 2007

Pakistan’s Political Future: Plus ça Change…

Pakistan is getting ready for the next elections amid many uncertainties. Musharraf is caught between the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League (Qaid-e-Azam) [PML-Q]. Benazir is back in Pakistan without any express assurance that she would have a third term as Prime Minister. Chaudhury Shujaat Hussain is undecided about Musharraf’s reconciliation proposals and is hobnobbing with Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) [PML-N]. Within the PPP, Benazir is soft on Musharraf while veteran party leader Aitzaz Ahsan is baying for the General’s blood.

October 30, 2007

A Watchful Eye on Kashmir

Pakistan has at present a great many internal and external troubles to cater for. Islamabad is still feeling the after-effects of the Lal Masjid operation, while simultaneously fighting a seemingly uphill battle to rein in support for militancy within the political, defence, and intelligence establishments. In addition, Islamabad is struggling to keep a lid on the instability that plagues its western border regions.

October 26, 2007

J&K Militants Pledge to Ban Use of Anti-Personnel Mines

The United Jehad Council (UJC) – an umbrella organisation of 13 Kashmiri militant groups and five non-Kashmiri terrorist groups with observer status – signed a declaration on October 16 banning the use, production or trade of victim-activated anti-personnel mines as prohibited under the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty.

October 24, 2007

India has to be wary of Chinese Intrusions

China's demand for the removal of two Indian Army bunkers from its outpost at Batang La near the India-Bhutan-China tri-junction in August 2007 can be seen from two angles. Firstly, the entire episode can be dismissed as a case of highhandedness of a few Chinese border officials who entered Indian territory inadvertently and came face to face with these Indian bunkers. Oblivious of where their actual position on the ground is, these officials then raised objections about the bunkers.

October 19, 2007

The Unfolding Crisis in Myanmar

Myanmar has been in the eye of the storm in recent months. In August, the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), as the Myanmarese military regime led by Than Shwe is known, arbitrarily increased the fuel prices from US $1.18 to $1.96 per gallon. This sudden decision caught the country's impoverished people by surprise, who subsequently began a massive non-violent protest. Similar mass protests had taken place in 1988 against the military regime's removal of bank notes from circulation resulting in loss of savings for the common people.

October 19, 2007

Russia and the Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant

On September 16, 2007, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki announced the completion of the Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant, adding that it was "sealed by the UN nuclear watchdog, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)". On September 20, Reza Aqazadeh, the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, in reference to his talks with Sergei Kiriyenko, the director of Russia's Federal Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, said that they "discussed the pending issues of the Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant".

October 19, 2007

How will Rajapaksa handle Killinochchi?

Since the launch of its July 2006 military offensive on Maavilaru, the Mahinda Rajapaksa government has made remarkable advances in almost all aspects of establishing its control over the Eastern province. This is largely thanks to the military inputs provided by the Karuna faction as well as technical, financial and military assistance provided by the international community. The ascendance of the security forces has indeed given much confidence to the Sri Lankan government in militarily engaging the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

October 18, 2007

Bangladesh’s Quest for Nuclear Energy

Bangladesh faces a shortage of electric power and is planning to meet the shortfall by setting up nuclear power plants. Significantly, this development has occurred at a time when the country is being ruled by a caretaker government with the backing of the military. The military in Bangladesh is trying to carve out a permanent place for itself in governance by creating a National Security Council.

October 17, 2007

The 17th Congress of the Communist Party of China

The Communist Party of China (CPC) will convene its 17th National Congress from October 15. The "highest decision-making body" of the CPC, the party congress is mandated to convene every five years. The 17th Party Congress assumes importance as its pronouncements and anticipated leadership shuffles would indicate the direction of state policy in the coming years. Reports in the state controlled media have referred to the 17th Party Congress 'electing' a fresh CPC Central Committee as well as a Central Commission for Discipline Inspection.

October 15, 2007

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