Pakistan Elections 2013: The view from afar

by Omar Ali

If all goes well, Pakistanis will go to the polls on May 11th to elect a new national assembly and all 4 provincial assemblies.  The Pakistan People’s Party was the largest party in the outgoing parliament and under the guidance of President Asif Ali Zardari, successfully held together a disparate coalition regime in the face of multiple challenges to complete its 5 year term of office. Unfortunately, that huge achievement is almost their only major achievement in office. While things were not as absolutely abysmal as portrayed by Pakistan’s anti-PPP middle class (rural areas, for example, are better off economically than they have ever been), they are pretty awful.  Chronic electricity shortages (inherited from Musharraf’s Potemkin regime, but still not fixed), galloping inflation, widespread corruption and endless terrorism have tried the patience of even the most devoted PPP supporters and make it difficult for the PPP to run on their record. There are a few bright spots (including a relatively well run welfare scheme called the Benazir income support program) and with Zardari deploying his coalition building magic, it is not a good idea to completely rule them out.  Still, they are clearly not the favorites in the coming elections. The middle class excitement (especially in Punjab and KP) is all about Imran Khan, while more serious pundits seem to be betting on Nawaz Sharif and his PMLN. Being out of the country, I have little direct knowledge of what retail politics looks like on the ground; but there is such a thing as a long-distance view and I am going to take that view and try and make some predictions. We will know in 3 weeks how out of touch I really am.

If you do want to look up what is happening on the ground in detail there are several excellent sources available, for example:  Saba Imtiaz’s election watch, the Dawn newspaper’s election page (including an interesting motor cycle diary from Tahir Mehdi as he motors across Pakistan), an election page from journalist and public intellectual Raza Rumiand last but not the least, the wonderful young team at fiverupees.com, who don’t have a lot of coverage yet, but do have writers who prefer carefully checked facts and data to mere opinion.

Chinese Troops Set Up Post 10km Inside Ladakh – India Times

By IndiaTimes

NEW DELHI: In yet another deep incursion into Indian territory, Chinese troops apparently made inroads into the Daulat Beg Oldi (DBO) sector of eastern Ladakh and erected a tented post there this week.

Indian Army officials were, however, not too perturbed about the incursion, holding that it was a common occurrence. “In that area, patrols do have a face-off every now and then due to differing perceptions of where the Line of Actual Control lies. We resolve it through existing consultative border mechanisms,” said a senior officer.

As per reports, a platoon-strength contingent of about 50 troops of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) came 10 km inside Indian territory in Burthe in the DBO sector, which is at an altitude of about 17,000 feet, on the night of April 15.

Troops from Indo-Tibetan Border Police(ITBP), which mans that stretch of the border, have also established a camp approximately 300 metres opposite the location, the sources said.

ITBP has asked for a flag meeting with the Chinese side but there has been no response till now.

The Ladakh Scouts, an infantry regiment of the Indian Army that specializes in mountain warfare, has also moved towards the area where the situation was described as tense.

DBO, located in northernmost Ladakh, is an historic camp site and located on an ancient trade route connecting Ladakh to Yarkand in Xinjiang, China. IAF has in recent years activated advanced landing grounds at DBO and two other places in eastern Ladakh as part of the policy to build military infrastructure along the LAC, in a belated move to counter strategic moves by China in the region.

Courtesy: India Times
http://www.indiatimes.com/news/india/chinese-troops-set-up-post-10km-inside-ladakh-73150.html

BBC – Burma riots: Video shows police standing by while Buddhist rioters attacked minority Muslims

Burma riots: Video shows police failing to stop attack

To watch video click HERE

The BBC has obtained police video showing officers standing by while Buddhist rioters attacked minority Muslims in the town of Meiktila.

The footage shows a mob destroying a Muslim gold shop and then setting fire to houses. A man thought to be a Muslim is seen on fire.

It was filmed last month, when at least 43 people were killed in Meiktila.

Meanwhile the EU is expected to decide whether to lift sanctions imposed on Burma, in response to recent reforms.

It is thought likely that despite concerns about the treatment of minorities, Brussels will confirm that the sanctions, which were suspended a year ago, are now permanently lifted.

The sanctions include the freezing of assets of more than 1,000 Burmese companies, travel restrictions on officials, and a ban on EU investment in many areas. However, an arms embargo is expected to remain in place.

Continue reading BBC – Burma riots: Video shows police standing by while Buddhist rioters attacked minority Muslims