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Is Jammu and Kashmir Ripe for a Political Solution?

After nearly two decades of active militancy and disturbed conditions, Jammu and Kashmir is today witnessing a distinct change in the ground situation and signs of return to normalcy are clearly noticeable. Commercial activity in the State has picked up, people are no longer hesitant to move out at night and participate enthusiastically in national and religious functions. This year Kashmiri Pandits performed puja in ancient Hindu temples in the heart of the Valley and celebrated Dussehra in Srinagar after a gap of 20 years.

November 02, 2007

Encouraging Public Participation in Countering Terrorists

Mumbai was recently placed in a state of high alert after a taxi driver informed the police that he suspected four passengers, including a burqa clad woman, whom he drove around, may actually be terrorists carrying out reconnaissance of potential targets. Among the places they visited were the Mahim Dargah, Mahalakshmi Temple, Haji Ali Shrine, Siddihivinayak Temple and the Mantralya. Understandably, to maintain confidentiality about the identity of the person who tipped off the police, he was described as an old Muslim gentleman. Though he was paid a reasonable Rs.

November 02, 2007

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

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