By Najam Abbas

Pakistan's recent floods have left eight million people dependent on aid for their survival, and washed away huge swathes of the rich farmland on which the country's struggling economy depends. The Pakistani government has confirmed 1,600 people dead and 2,366 injured, but its officials warn that millions are at risk from disease and food shortages. The country's disaster agency fears that there will be a "significant rise" in the death toll as waters recede and the number of missing persons is tallied.

By Junaid S. Ahmad

The assassination of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan by US Special Forces was supposed to have been a landmark triumph that would bring peace and stability to the region. A Navy Seal unit executed an unarmed Bin Laden and killed at least four others, including a woman, in an early morning raid on Monday, 2 May 2011. However, instead of bringing peace and stability to the region, the assassination of the Al-Qaeda leader has aggravated the country's volatile political predicament. The hullabaloo over Bin Laden's presence in Pakistan is being used by the US government and military to coerce Pakistan into greater

By Mohammad Abdullah Gul

Obama's recent jive with school children in Delhi symbolises the nature of the new relationship that is emerging between India and the United States of America: the US, it seems, dances to the tune of India. While it is true that Obama did not pointedly accuse Pakistan of sponsoring terrorism as was India's desire, some trends within this emerging US-India relationship have become more evident through his refraining from referring to Kashmir in any of his several speeches over three days. Such avoidance reflects a dangerous and unjust trend in US policy for the region in general, and, more particularly, for India and Pakistan. Deliberately not discussing the main cause of bitterness between Pakistan and India shows not only poor understanding of the nature of the conflict but also does not augur well for a harmonious and peaceful coexistence for the countries of the region; the fallout of the India-Pakistani conflict is noticeable in other countries of the region as well. Such ignoring of the Kashmir issue comes at a time when that territory is gripped by conflict like never before, and Kashmiri politics is being determined by an unprecedented political movement led by a young generation of Kashmiris. The US refusal to discuss Kashmir, then, is nothing but a callous disregard of the much trumpeted democratic values which the west vociferously espouses.

By Ramananda Sengupta

"Nervous China may attack India in 2012." That was the title of a recent column by Bharat Verma, editor of the Indian Defence Review, a respected quarterly published in New Delhi. Picked up and disseminated by Indian wire and news services, the article sparked numerous public and private debates in the country - not on whether Verma was correct, but on whether India was prepared for such an attack by its northern neighbour.

When the world's two fastest growing economies (even though China is way ahead in the numbers game; India's GDP per capita of $1016 pales before China's $6,100) prepare to face off, the rest of the world cannot but worry. The events in these nations will probably determine the world's future over the next decade.

By Junaid S. Ahmed

With relations between Pakistan's civilian government and military incredibly tense, speculation is rife in the Pakistani and international media of a looming military takeover. The military is allegedly buoyed by support of the Supreme Court and the country's business and political elite. However, the nature of events is changing at such a fast pace that it is difficult to predict the future.

The tenuous relationship between the government and the military appears to have finally eased somewhat since the government markedly toned down its anti-military rhetoric. Indeed, Prime Minster Yousuf Raza Gilani has extended an olive branch of sorts to the military. He had previously accused Army Chief of Staff, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, and the head of Pakistan's principal intelligence agency, Lieutenant General Ahmad Shuja Pasha, of acting unconstitutionally when they expressed their alleged disapproval of the government. Just before Gilani left for the World Economic Forum in Davos in the middle of February, he attempted to smooth over the difficulties with his comment that he wanted to 'dispel the impression that the military leadership acted unconstitutionally or violated rules... The current situation cannot afford conflict among the institutions.'

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About AMEC

Established in 1998, the Afro-Middle East Centre (AMEC) aims to foster, produce and disseminate the highest quality of research on the Middle East, to maintain public discussion and to help shape the public discourse on issues related to the Middle East. Amec's research includes relations between Africa and the Middle East.

AMEC engages in funded research on the contemporary Middle East, and accepts research commissions from government, business, academia, non-governmental organisations, and community-based organisations.

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