Obama is more of Bush

Nawa-i-waqt‘s editorial on President Obama’s Afghanistan review argues that despite running on a platform to bring US troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan, his policies are essentially the same as George W Bush’s, with the exception of a set timeframe for withdrawal. The editorial argues that the decision to send additional troops will not only negatively impact Pakistan, but would also impact existing US troops in the region and Hamid Karzai’s government in Kabul.

Attiq Siddiqi argues on Aaj that the “surge-and-withdraw” approach announced by Mr Obama was a decision based largely on political compulsions. He refers to Mr Obama as a “weak President”, who was compelled by the financial crisis in the US (he points out bankruptcy in California and the automobile industry crisis in Detroit) to divert domestic attention to the war in Afghanistan.

Iran under criticism

Hassan Haider, columnist at Dar al-Hayat, previews the possibility of rapprochement between the West and Iran in 2010. He is critical of Iran’s confrontational approach towards dialogue with the West on nuclear negotiations. Haider argues that the crisis of the presidential elections this year exposed Iran’s internal weakness; he doubts Iran’s sincerity and ability to coexist peacefully with other nations.

Pakistan will make it

Hamid Mir, journalist and editor, GeoTV, writes on the fall of Dhaka in 1971 in Jang and compares that crisis to the ones faced by Pakistan today. Mir reminds readers of David Kilcullen’s prediction in March 2009 that the Pakistani state would collapse in six months. He highlights key differences between the Pakistan of 1971 and the Pakistan of 2009, saying that the strength of state institutions, voice of the people and proliferation of news media outlets would ultimately ensure that the Pakistan of 2009 would emerge successfully out of the current crises.

Dubai’s downturn

Ali Abdul Aziz Suleiman, columnist for Egypt’s al-Shorouk articulates reasons for the financial crisis in Dubai—its focus on economic growth, rather than development of its own people and society; enthusiasm for the economic frenzy unleashed in Dubai being incommensurate with the emirate’s resource constraints; diminishing returns in building several similar enterprises competing for limited resources in the same area; and the reduced competitive advantage of Dubai in relation to other economic centres in the Gulf such as Doha and Bahrain over the past decade.

It was India that attacked India

On the 8th anniversary of the December 13 terrorist attacks on India’s parliament, Muhyuddin on Roznama Ausaf expresses skepticism over the involvement of Pakistan based groups in the attacks. He cites India’s subsequent deployment of troops along Pakistan’s border as an over-reaction to incident and infers that the parliament attack was a ruse for a planned Indian military offensive against Pakistan. He extrapolates this theory to suggest that there a larger Indian conspiracy behind the 26/11 Mumbai attacks. He criticizes the Congress Party as being anti-Muslim and anti-Pakistan—an allegation he supports by citing violence in Kashmir and India’s role in the fall of East Pakistan in 1971.

Low expectations from Copenhagen

On UAE’s al-Bayan, Saleh Abdel Azim writes on the climate change conference in Copenhagen, arguing for a more grass-roots approach to climate change. He argues that it is the responsibility of all governments to expand awareness of climate change across all sections of society—particularly the poor. Mr Azim does not expect much to come out of the Copenhagen conference—he expects that the economic downturn will result in a myopic slant to any potential agreement on an international climate change regime. He sees the stalling in Copenhagen as being due to each country trying to protect its own narrow economic interests instead of considering the true impact of climate change in the world.