Mohammed bin Howaidan in UAE’s al-Bayan writes about al-Qaeda’s expansion into Yemen. He points out that a base in Yemen is important to al-Qaeda as it is under tremendous pressure from coalition forces in Afghanistan and Pakistan. He draws parallels between the political climate of Afghanistan of the 1990s and today’s Yemen, saying that the ongoing civil war in Yemen, a weak government, and mountainous terrain make it conducive to expanding al-Qaeda’s base. He believes that the organisation, under pressure in Afghanistan and Pakistan, wants to draw the United States into an imprudent war in Yemen to further strain the US economically and militarily.
A January 13, 2010 opinion piece in Pakistan’s Jang criticises India’s army chief for allegedly declaring that India could fight a two-front war with Pakistan and China at the same time. The article says that General Kapoor’s statements were a reaction to burgeoning Sino-Pakistan strategic ties, which has yielded the JF-17 Thunder multi-role combat aircraft and F-22P frigates, which pose a threat to India’s ambitions. It goes on to say that India is interested in creating a rift between China and Pakistan and has engineered a number of attacks within Pakistan, including the killing of French naval engineers and fomenting suicide attacks. The article, while unsure as to the reason the general’s alleged statements, advises calm, and says Pakistan is equipped to handle any threat from India.
In Lebanon’s An-Nahar Randa Haider criticises Israel’s handling of the ongoing spat with Turkey, which began with Israel taking objection to how the country was portrayed in the Turkish TV show Valley of the Wolves. The Turkish ambassador was summoned by the Israeli foreign ministry, wasn’t greeted and was made to sit on a low sofa. Later, the Israeli foreign minister explained that the humiliation was intentional. The author believes that deteriorating relations between the two countries could affect Turkey’s mediation between Israel and Syria. Israel’s attacks in Gaza have already affected Turkish interlocution between Israel and Hamas. The author feels that Israel needs Turkey more than Turkey needs Israel, and that Israel will eventually look to soothe tensions and put aside differences.
Kurshid Nadeem writes in Pakistan’s Roznama Ausaf about the recent visit of the Bangladeshi Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina to India and the signing of five bilateral agreements on trade and security. The author feels that India treats South Asia as its own domain and desires to bring smaller South Asian countries under its influence; however, Bangladesh has always been a problem for India. The writer feels that the advantage Pakistan enjoyed over India during the reign of Khalida Zia has faded because India has always tried to engage Bangladesh (he points to India providing quotas to Bangladesh students in Indian universities as an example), while Pakistan has frittered away its leverage in Dhaka. He cautions against more complacency in Pakistan’s approach towards Bangladesh. The author sees opportunities for growth in Pakistan-Bangladesh relations; he feels that the ordinary Bangladeshi harbours neither love nor resentment towards Pakistan, despite the events of 1971.
Who’s in charge?
In Nawa-i-waqt on December 30, 2009 Bashri Rehman is critical at the lack of leadership of the political class during in the immediate aftermath of the violence in Karachi last month—there was neither any relief provided to victims nor was there any concrete effort to pursue those who were responsible. The author asks what the government is doing in terms of tougher laws and regulations, and law enforcement agencies to counter this scourge of terrorism. The author concludes that Pakistan’s politicians are leaders in name only, who spend their time not trying to assist the country, but trying to secure their own political careers.
Flight of fancy
The January 2, 2010 editorial of Pakistan’s Nawa-i-waqt is critical of the Aman ki Asha peace initiative launched by two news media groups in India and Pakistan. The editorial asks how there can be peace between the two countries without the resolution of basic disputes and without there being a mutual respect for freedom and sovereignty. Labelling it a hypocrisy, the editorial claims that the initiative is motivated to spread liberal culture in Pakistan at the expense of religion. It also alleges that emphasis has not given to the resolution of the Kashmir dispute in the charter of this peace initiative.