First something about the big picture ….
There is nothing really ideological or fraternal about the Chinese investments in Pakistan, as some Pakistani newspapers would like us to believe. Interestingly, while the Pakistani media has a knack for comparing everything to India, it has really remained mum over premier Jiabao’s visit to Delhi
The relationship between the US and Pakistani intelligence agencies appears to be moving from playing uneasy footsie to a fairly sordid affair. The blowing of the CIA’s Islamabad station chief’s cover, allegedly at the behest of the host country’s spooks, has not gone down well with the US. That this happened on the eve of the Chinese premier Wen Jiabao’s much-trumpeted visit to Pakistan raises a question if Pakistan is using grandpa Wen to help fend off the ‘big bully’ US.
The Chinese leader’s visit, in turn, came on the heels of the US strategic review of the Afghan war chiding Pakistan and asking it to do more to fight the Islamist terrorists operating from within its borders. This review has not set any benchmarks — at least publicly — to gauge Pakistan’s success in what is being demanded of it. Additionally, President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defence Secretary Robert Gates have reiterated in separate statements their concern about Pakistan’s role in the Afghan war.
Wen Jiabao obviously did not disappoint his hosts, and speaking to the joint session of the Pakistani parliament said what they really wanted to hear: “Pakistan was at the front of the international fight against terrorism and made big sacrifices and important contributions, which were obvious to all. The international community should affirm that and give great support as well as respect the path of development chosen by Pakistan. The fight against terrorism should not focus on specific religions or ethnic groups, but rather on eradicating the root factors breeding terrorism.”
While appearing to be a shot in the arm for the Pakistani regional policy, Mr Jiabao’s speech reinforces what is already known about Sino-Pak relations and the Chinese ambitions in the second decade of the 21st century. The Pakistani policy planners, especially those directly or indirectly associated with its ruling establishment, take a vicarious pride in the strides China has made and tend to believe that in the coming decade it would surpass the US as a global power. …
Read more : Daily Times
When a prominent ultra-orthodox Israeli spiritual and political leader agrees with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyehthat the fire destroying Israel’s Carmel Forest is a punishment from God, there’s silence.
Ovadia Yosef, a former Chief Rabbi of the State of Israel, who remains a prominent spiritual and political leader of the Shas party, and Palestinian Prime Minister elect Haniyeh agree that the Deity has been venting His fury by means of the destructive blaze in Israel, but disagree about why.
Read more : Alternet.org
The language of discussion is urdu/ Hindi.
In the late twentieth century, fundamentalism has emerged as one of the most powerful forces at work in the world, contesting the dominance of modern secular values and threatening peace and harmony around the globe. Yet it remains incomprehensible to a large number of people. In The Battle for God, Karen Armstrong brilliantly and sympathetically shows us how and why fundamentalist groups came into existence and what they yearn to accomplish.
We see the West in the sixteenth century beginning to create an entirely new kind of civilization, which brought in its wake change in every aspect of life – often painful and violent, even if liberating. Armstrong argues that one of the things that changed most was religion. People could no longer think about or experience the divine in the same way; they had to develop new forms of faith to fit their new circumstances.
by Johann Hari
February 14th, 2009
The right to criticise religion is being slowly doused in acid. Across the world, the small, incremental gains made by secularism – giving us the space to doubt and question and make up our own minds – are being beaten back by belligerent demands that we “respect” religion. A historic marker has just been passed, showing how far we have been shoved. The UN rapporteur who is supposed to be the global guardian of free speech has had his job rewritten – to put him on the side of the religious censors.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights stated 60 years ago that “a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief is the highest aspiration of the common people”. It was a Magna Carta for mankind – and loathed by every human rights abuser on earth. Today, the Chinese dictatorship calls it “Western”, Robert Mugabe calls it “colonialist”, and Dick Cheney calls it “outdated”. The countries of the world have chronically failed to meet it – but the document has been held up by the United Nations as the ultimate standard against which to check ourselves. Until now.