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Monthly Archives: May 2009

Taliban Retreating from Swat Valley as Pakistan Gets Tough

May 18 – The Pakistani military has begun an offensive in the Swat Valley, occupied for the past few weeks by Taliban extremists, as the government starts to crack down on the apparent “State within a State” policy the Taliban appear to have been fostering.

This concludes the short-lived agreement between the Taliban and the Pakistani government in which it was agreed the Taliban would police the area in return for giving up arms. In reality, Taliban leaders, who had previously agreed that carrying arms was “un-Islamic,” changed their minds, declared that bearing was permitted under the Koran, installed strict Sharia law, demolished schools, hospitals and beat and shot civilians who were accused of being out of compliance with Sharia. Continue reading

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Sri Lankan Troops Secure Entire Coast for First Time in 25 Years

May 18 – The Sri Lankan army, navy and air force have secured the entire Sri Lankan coastline since the first outbreak of civil war with the Tamil Tigers began. With the rebels forces now just numbering a few thousand, and with reports that Tamil leader Vellupillai Prabhakaran along with other senior commanders appear to have committed suicide, the way is paved for a comprehensive victory over the rebels and the opportunity for national peace for the first time since the early 1980s.

The pro-Tamil website Tamilnet has also confirmed the three-decade-war is over, while heavily criticizing the international community for not coming to their assistance. The military battle may be won, however a political struggle may yet ignite in its place. The Tamils have long felt displaced, both from the Indian province of Tamil Nadu, and their adopted homeland, the northwest coast of Sri Lanka. Whether or not the community can pull itself together after the apparent suicide of its military leaders is another matter; now is certainly the time for political discussions to take place with whatever remnants of the organization remain intact and amenable to talks with Sri Lanka and India. Continue reading

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Google Astrology Predicts Indian Election Results

May 14 – India’s national elections have now been completed, and as one would expect with over 700 million voters, the results will take a little while to come in. In total, about 62 percent of registered voters turned out, probably up from the 57 percent that voted in the last elections. Interestingly, turnout was highest in areas that have been unsettled, such as Jammu and Kashmir, with a 5 percent increase in votes cast over 2004. So, who’s going to win?

We can either wait patiently until May 16th, when the official results are declared, or we can get scientific about it – and use a bit of old fashioned Indian mysticism. Continue reading

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Suzuki Motors Profitable Thanks to Indian Growth

May 13 – Japanese automaker Suzuki Motors narrowly avoided a loss in the final quarter of last year thanks only to the demand for its products in the Indian market. Suzuki’s presence in India represents about 50 percent of the total domestic market through its JV with Maruti Suzuki India.

The Indian outfit has posted four consecutive quarters of growth, in sharp contrast to markets in Japan and the United States, where Suzuki has seen an 87 percent decline in sales. The Indian market for small cars is booming, and the trend also now seems to be catching on in Japan and elsewhere, as consumers require less expensive vehicles to run. Tata’s much vaunted Nano has also achieved over 200,000 pre-paid orders in signs that the demand for smaller, and hybrid vehicles is going to take off on a global scale. Continue reading

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In Malaysia, Racial Integration Remains Fragile 40 Years after Riot

May 12 – Tomorrow marks the 40th anniversary of riots that raged through Malaysia, leaving over 200 dead and sweeping away the country’s appearance of racial harmony. The uneasy racial détente that has existed since what came to be known as the May 13 incident is a testament not only to the government’s reaction to the initial bloodshed and the perceived cause for it, but also the need as a nation to better integrate the very disparate sections of the Malaysian society.

In 1969, Malaysia was just emerging from colonial rule, having attained independence from Britain only 12 years previous. Malaysian society was deeply divided; the majority Malays controlled the government, while the Chinese, the largest minority, dominated the economics of the nation. Indian and Pakistani made up the third ethnic group, though their influence was weak and they had little say in business or politics. Continue reading

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First Satellite in Space

Numbers: (1970, 1975)

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New Détente as Pakistani President States India ‘Not a Threat’?

May 11 – After decades of mistrust, violence and three wars; is it possible that the threat of Taliban extremists is bringing Pakistan and India closer together? In signs that increasing cooperation, greater tolerance and better communications are having an effect, Pakistan’s president, Asif Ali Zadari, has publicly stated that “India is not a threat” and has highlighted internal terrorism and Muslim fanaticism as the main dangers his country now faces. The shift in policy, if extended to the military, would allow Pakistan to redeploy the massive armed forces on its eastern frontier and move them to deal with insurgents and reestablish control in parts of the country gradually being taken over by radicals.

Zardari held a series of high-level meetings in the United States last week – including meetings with U.S. President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the Afghan President Hamid Karzai and, in what is being classified as a rare admission by the India press, stated that he did not believe India was a “threat” to Pakistan. Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 2 Comments



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