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May 4, 2011

Alif

Indo-Pak Peace Process

The Daily Express, in its April 2 editorial, opines on India-Pakistan relations, at the backdrop of the cricket World Cup semi-final match between India and Pakistan in Mohali.  The editorial is optimistic about the prospects for a betterment in relations between the two countries, based on Mr. Gilani’s meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Mrs. Sonia Gandhi.

The editorial expresses satisfaction about the joint statement, which stressed the need for increased parliamentary and people-to-people interaction, tackling problems of poverty and unemployment, and addressing outstanding bilateral issues.  The editorial opines that peace between India and Pakistan will benefit not only the two countries concerned, but the entire region as well.  It applauds Prime Minister Singh for stressing the importance of peace so that the people of both nations can live with dignity.  The editorial, however, cautions that peace will remain unattainable until longstanding issues remain unresolved.

The editorial argues that 26/11 and the Samjhauta blasts have shown us that extremists and terrorists exist in both countries, who intend to derail the people’s pursuit of peace.  It suggests, therefore, that it is important for the peace process to be sustainable and not succumb to the acts of extremists.  It further urges both nations to be wary of other countries that have built their defence industries by selling sophisticated military weapons to India and Pakistan. On the peace process, the editorial suggests while both India and Pakistan can pursue dialogue on “lesser” issues to build confidence, priority must also be given to bigger issues, including Kashmir and Siachen.  It ends by suggesting that a bilateral cricket series between India and Pakistan would be ideal in paving the way for warm ties between the two nations.

Syrian Unrest

Munir al-Wadi writes in the state-run Syrian newspaper, Sana, about the recent uprising in Syria.  Mr. al-Wadi argues that safety and security were inherent characteristics of Syria for decades after its foundation.  These provided conditions for growth and development of infrastructure and industry in both rural and urban areas.  Syria’s growth, the writer argues, was as a result of a collective effort by the people of Syria, and now Syrians must unite against those that seek to destroy what the Syrians have built.

Mr. al-Wadi states that citizens have a right to redress their grievances, but not through threats and intimidation of other citizens.  The writer says that the “Syria we knew” provided security to to entrepreneurs and businessmen to pursue their trade, and to its citizens such that men, women and children could move freely about their cities, even until late hours of the night. Mr. al-Wadi states that all Syrian citizens have the right to feel secure, and that it is the duty of the State to provide for such security.  He applauds recent statements by the Ministry of Interior suggesting that violent protests will be dealt with force.  He urges all Syrians to rally around their government and their country.

The US-Pak Tango

Jang’s editorial of April 13 focuses on the state of relations between the United States and Pakistan.  The editorial recaps a recent lecture by Ambassador Cameron Munter at the Institute of Strategic Studies, Islamabad.  Mr. Munter had argued that the United States wanted not only better political ties with Pakistan, but also better people-to-people ties.  The ambassador had also indicated to participants that he would convey Pakistanis’ concerns about drone attacks to Washington, D.C.

The editorial is critical of Mr. Munter’s lecture, saying that the realities are far different from his diplomatic statements.  The editorial accuses the United States of hostility towards Pakistan and the Islamic world.  It points to Secretary Clinton’s statements that India and Pakistan cannot be equated with each other; it further takes umbrage to recommendations made by some members of the United States Congress, favoring stronger ties with India at Pakistan’s expense.

The editorial contrasts the cases of Raymond Davis and Aafia Siddiqui, arguing that while an American citizen escaped punishment after killing two Pakistanis, a Pakistani citizen in the United States was languishing in prison on unproven charges.  It opines that the United States sends its spies to Pakistan on diplomatic visas to steal Pakistan’s nuclear secrets.

It is further critical of American aid to Pakistan.  The editorial suggests that American aid to Pakistan was via the World Bank and IMF, which have hurt, rather than helped Pakistan.  It points to the absence of tangible results — in terms of new power projects, industrial ventures or employment — as evidence of the United States not fulfilling its obligations towards Pakistan. The editorial ends by predicting that ties will not improve unless the United States alters its approach to Pakistan and treats that country with dignity and respect.

Egypt’s Economy

Egypt’s al-Ahram poses challenging questions on the state of Egypt’s economy, in light of Cairo’s request for $10 billion from the West to address its fiscal deficit.  The editorial, critical of this approach, asks how long Egypt will continue to depend on foreign assistance to sustain its economy.  It asks what measures Egypt’s interim government plans to institute to make a significant economic impact to the average citizen.

The editorial sees three main economic challenges in Egypt.  First, the editorial says that the policies pursued by the Mubarak regime on production levels, wage levels, employment, investment and export regimes were a total failure.  It asks whether the interim government has the wherewithal to reform Egypt’s economy.  Second, the editorial says that many sectors of Egypt’s economy are riddled with corruption, so much so that Arab and foreign investors are deterred from investing in and assisting Egypt.  Third, the editorial says that the revolution instilled a sense of dignity, justice and freedom among Egyptians, but questions whether this is sufficient to invigorate Egypt’s ailing economy.  It ends by asking whether Egyptians will be able to direct their new-found energy into transforming their country or will nothing of substance materialise from the Revolution.


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