"In a marked contrast to his pre-election diatribe against other political parties, monarchy and the 'imperialist forces of India and America', Prachanda gave a very reserved and conciliatory speech in his election victory rally, emphatically pleading everybody, especially the international community, to not doubt his party’s commitment to multi-party democracy. This evolution of Maoists into a more or less liberal democratic party with an anomalistic name now appears ever clearer."
"Across the rugged terrain of Burma's frontiers, major ethnic armies have lowered their weapons and started working with the country's military leadership. At the center of this development is a political innovation known as Special Regions, where leaders of groups that were previously hostile toward each other are now making commercial profits within an uneasy ceasefire. Will their people support their business, and can profits develop into a permanent peace?" (Photo by John Hulme)
Damming Public Opinion: Risks of China’s Economic Diplomacy
By Devin T. Stewart
Tuesday, 01 April 2008
"A powerful dynamic is playing out in China’s relations with the developing world. China is willing to deal with authoritarian regimes, and strike contracts on energy that are non-transparent. China’s distaste for making foreign aid contingent on policy indicators may worsen corruption in recipient countries. Some of its dam building projects will have devastating impact on neighboring countries. Will China be able to dam the public opinion backlash fueled by all of these?"
"Fatalities connected with terrorism and insurgency in India declined in 2007 relative to a peak in 2001. But the magnitude of challenges confronting New Delhi has not. Indeed, the sheer spread of terrorist incidents across India -– linked to groups that originally operated exclusively within Jammu and Kashmir -– is now astonishing, with incidents having been engineered in widely dispersed theatres virtually across the country." (Photo by Soumik Kar)
"Unlike Europe, East Asia and the Middle East, South Asia has never been treated as a region of vital interest to the United States. This strategic reality will not change soon. China's rise will be of paramount significance to American grand plans. The campaign against al-Qaeda will continue to be another major concern. So regardless of whether a Republican or a Democrat wins the White House in November 2008, expect no radical departure in U.S. policy toward South Asia."
Sri Lanka: Political Solution Continues to Take Second Place
By Jehan Perera
Sunday, 24 February 2008
"As the possibility of a protracted fight looms, the government feels pressured to show continuous progress on the military front if it wants to contain the negative fall out of the costs of war. It is the promise and hope of victory in the not-so-distant future that keeps the general population behind the government. The government will face the challenge of burning its candle at both ends." (Photo by Jadhu Nadarajah)
"A year has passed since the military assumed power in Bangladesh, and the silence of much of the world amounts to complicity in the destruction of the country's democratic potential. The army is becoming politicized and democracy is being delegitimized. If these trends continue, a Pakistan-like outcome is not unlikely: The military will have the final say in society, the political class will be decapitated, and grassroots Islamism will strengthen as an alternative." (Illustrations by Abro)
"For two years the US continued to ignore more democratic possibilities and kept on shoring up the general in Pakistan. And despite the growing signs of failure in that policy, the US administration has been replicating it in Bangladesh, supporting another group of generals and their large-scale political purging there. Has the time not come for US policy to become transparent and consistent, along the lines of its own founding principles?"