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GLOBAL CRISIS

The United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) was invited after a series of formal and informal agreements and understandings signed by both parties, the Maoists and the then Government of Nepal (GoN) to accomplish the peace process. On August 9, 2006, the Maoists and the GoN sent a 5-point joint letter to the UN Secretary General to establish the UNMIN with provisions to continue human rights monitoring. The letter asked to assist in the monitoring of the truce, managing arms and armed personnel on both sides - the Maoist Army (MA) and the Nepal Army (NA) - deploying qualified civilian personnel. It also requested for technical support and observation of elections to the Constituent Assembly to be held in April 2008.

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Recently, the C-130 J Super Hercules was inducted in the Indian Air Force. This is one of the many steps taken by New Delhi to modernize its armed forces.

Hardly anyone would disagree today that India is emerging as a major player on the global scene. New Delhi is further strengthening its position to establish itself as a major player on the world scene and an ambitious plan of military modernization is one of the steps in this direction.

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The fact that President Obama himself has asked Pakistan to release Raymond Davis is leaving the Government of Pakistan with not much choice. If the Gilani government chooses to ignore the President’s request, the latter will appear like a lame-duck ruler and would be criticized by his opponents and the media. If the Government in Pakistan accedes to his demand, it would then be ridiculed locally for acting like a satellite state of the United States.

The issue is not as complicated as it has unfortunately been made out to be by the incompetent handling and this is not the first time that such a thing has happened during the current government’s tenure.

My wife asked me while watching on TV the twin towers on fire on 9/11 as to whom in my opinion could have done this. Without thinking for a second, I said “Osama”. One did not need to be a Harvard professor to make such a guess. However, a lot remains to be desired if every terrorist attack in the world is attributed to Osama, Al Qaeda and Muslims in general.

It is true that quite a few of the terrorists are Muslims but we all have heard the maxim that not all Muslims are terrorists. Similarly, all acts of terrorism in India are not the “art work” of ISI, Pakistanis or Muslims.

The Indian police after every terrorist incident comes up with an email from some unknown Muslim group claiming responsibility; and a couple of dozen of Indian Muslims are apprehended within hours, who confess to their involvement. The Indian media goes into frenzy. We saw this happening following the terrorist blasts in Malegaon, Ajmer Sharif, Hyderabad Mecca Masjid, Kanpur, Benares’ Shehtala Ghat, Haryana’s Mewat and the Samjohta Express Train.

International

The Middle East crisis involving vacation of Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory and the creation of a Palestinian state on the occupied lands has been the staple of number of initiatives and agreements, both regional and international and yet history has recorded only failure and frustration. Major being Madrid conference in October 1993 and Oslo Accord between Yasser Arafat and Israel Prime Minister Rabin also failed to make Israel withdraw from the occupied lands.

A "Declaration of Principles" was agreed to, with U.S. as guarantor that recognized the mutual legitimate and political rights and thus began a negotiation process based on the creation of a Palestinian interim Self-government Authority in the West Bank and Gaza within five years, leading to permanent agreement in accordance with the UNSC Resolution 242. The core of the issue that has blocked the progress is the Jewish settlements that continue to defy the efforts for a negotiated settlement.  As President Carter observed "for nearly two decades, there have been peace processes but no peace".

Look at the plethora of problems. There are indeed, so many that it is difficult to decide which one to put at the top. There is even more than one running sore. The war in Afghanistan is going on unabated. General David Petraeus, the supreme commander of the NATO forces in Afghanistan-Pakistan (The International Security Assistance Force), is under pressure to show some magic results of the surge as yet another batch of about 1400 fresh marines is to take up position in February. They are planning to consolidate the “gains” achieved during the recent months albeit at the sacrifice of more men, and “preempt” expected Taliban attacks next spring.

Petraeus’s personal compulsions have made him impatient with Pakistan. Quoting U.S. officials the Washington Post in a recent report said that he “adopted a much tougher attitude toward General Kayani than his predecessor, General Stanley McChrystal.” The U.S. wants Pakistan to launch a full-scale ground assault against Afghan Taliban and al-Qaeda “safe havens” in North Waziristan.

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In November 2010, NATO held its 24th summit in Lisbon where its Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen unveiled the organization’s latest Strategic Concept. “The world is changing,” Rasmussen proclaimed, “We face new threats and new challenges. And this Strategic Concept will ensure that NATO remains as effective as ever in defending our peace, our security and our prosperity.” NATO’s new ten-year plan has identified 7 key areas of security concern for the transatlantic alliance: crisis-management, proliferation of nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), terrorism, secure communication, trade and energy transit routes, cyber attacks, technology-related threats, and environment and resource constraints. At the core of NATO’s strategic thinking is the belief, one that NATO’s official website spells out, that members must develop new capabilities and skills to combat the new and unconventional threats which have arisen.

The enchanting nature that embraces Sri Lanka, is legendary. Visitors from all around the world flock to this tear-drop shaped nation, despite the war and turmoil it has witnessed, to remain enamored by its natural beauty.

Sri Lanka prides itself on its natural allure and is therefore home to numerous parks that serve to somewhat further ‘harvest’ this natural charm. These parks provide conducive picnic spots for families where wild life is preserved. However, recently, yet another category has been added to the repertoire of parks in Sri Lanka which has raised several eyebrows. The government has recently embarked on a project to introduce the unique concept of Love Parks in Sri Lanka!

These Love Parks, otherwise known as Youth Parks, provide an avenue for courting couples to be together away from the interference of the prying eyes of the general public and police. Sri Lanka, being a South Asian nation that it is, generally withholds conservative values and shuns the open interaction of lovers in public places. Over-zealous police is known to warn or even arrest couples engaged in expressions of physical intimacy.

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Out of the total number of U.S. embassy cables released by WikiLeaks, Pakistan features in about 10 percent. Here is a quick look at the extent to which America is involved in Pakistani politics:

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A deluge of U.S. diplomatic cables has tarnished the reputation of Pakistan’s political and military leadership in the eyes of the country’s public, adding to anti-American sentiments in Pakistan. The situation post-WikiLeaks in Pakistan got so tense that the new American ambassador to Pakistan, Cameron P. Munter personally had to take charge where he made a point of meeting all the stakeholders in Pakistan to apologize.

The dispatches, released by the WikiLeaks website, show military and civilian leaders agreeing to policies in private meetings with U.S. diplomats that they would passionately disavow in public. Among those damaged by the cables is Pakistan’s powerful military chief, Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, who, according to the cables, would confide highly sensitive information to U.S. Ambassador Anne Patterson and use her to carry messages to his own political leadership. As they pored over the leaked cables, the Pakistani news media studiously ignored the other side of the story that emerges from the leaked communications: deep American frustration at Pakistan’s lack of cooperation.

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