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Blog Buzz From South Asia

‘Tis that time of the year — we are at the cusp of a new year and it is time to take stock of 2005. South Asian bloggers have been busy drawing up their lists, their impression, and how things can be improved in their countries.

Bangladesh:
Ahmede Hussain has his round-up for 2005, while Rifat talks about the education system and points out that good trained teachers are essential before introducing new courses in universities, especially computer and engineering ones.

India:
Sports, films and person of the year are some of the themes discussed by India-related bloggers.

The World of Cricket
discusses about the year that was and the future of cricket in India, while Sandeep Shinde writes on why he chose Sania Mirza as his person of the year. Division of Labor has a list of top Bollywood films of 2005. Ashish Kumar's take on NDTV's “Indian of the year,” contest.

Pakistan:
December 25th was the birthday of Mohammed Ali Jinnah Metroblogging Karachi, and Zeeshan Khan share their thoughts on Jinnah.

Karachi seems to have captured the minds of a couple of people: Streetphotos has a series of wonderful, colorful pictures of Old Karachi and here are a some close-ups of vultures.

Reza discusses about women's rights in Pakistan and Raheel complains about Pakistan's ban of Indian TV channels except for MTV and Zoom! Ejaz looks back at 2005 and his focus is the area of IT and technology.

Sri Lanka:
Shandy
, a British expat shares his thoughts about the latest political developments in Sri Lanka. Crossroad Dispatches highlights Bazuki, a photographer who revisited Sri Lanka to mark the first anniversay of the devastating tsunami.

8 comments

  • Wish you a very happy new year. May God’s blessings be with you for the year that lies ahead and let the dawn and a new era of success to Global Voices.

  • wish you a very happy new year!!

    Thanks for referring to my blog (sandeep shinde)

    But the link is not working, just remove the “/” at the end of address…

    current link -> http://spshinde.blogspot.com/2005/12/sania-mirza-my-indian-of-year-2005.html/

    new link -> http://spshinde.blogspot.com/2005/12/sania-mirza-my-indian-of-year-2005.html

  • Situation report from Sri Lanka

    Jaffna school girl abducted by SLA soldiers

    A school girl, yet to be identified, was forcefully taken away by four Sri Lanka Army (SLA) soldiers when she was walking home along PaalPannai Road (Milk farm Road) from school between Kondavil and Thirunelvely junctions in Jaffna at 2 p.m. Tuesday, residents of the area who witnessed the incident said.

    Jaffna Magistrate Ms Srinithi Nanthikesan and the members of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission were informed of the incident.

    Residents of the area and a youth witness, who saw the girl dragged by the SLA, searched the shrub area near where she was abducted for signs of evidence.

    Troopers who came to the scene around 5 p.m. with an SLMM member fired in the air to disperse the crowd who were searching the the area.

    Tension prevails in Kondavil, Thirunelveli area.
    http://www.tamilnet.com/art.html?catid=13&artid=16817

  • LTTE terror campaign fast tracked

    Sinking of an Israeli built Shaldag Class Fast Attack Craft (FAC) by an LTTE suicide squad at Foul Point near Trincomalee harbor past midnight on Saturday marked a new phase in the war. Regrettably the government appears to be ignorant of the LTTE strategy.

    While denying publicly its involvement the LTTE indicated that the suicide strike was a direct retaliation for the recent deaths of five young men for which the LTTE are accusing government security forces.

    The latest attack proved that the LTTE would not hesitate to increase the level of hostilities. The LTTE also emphasized that it would not alter its strategy to appease co-chairs to the Tokyo Donor Conference. That was the undeniable truth.

    By mounting a suicide attack the LTTE underlines the fact that it was serious about protecting the Tamil civilians. It was a signal that it would mount tit for tact strikes. But in this particular case it was not clear whether the five youth whose deaths in the hands of security forces on the night of January 2 the LTTE wanted to avenge were really civilians.

    Don’t forget the recent claims by LTTE political wing leader S.P. Tamilselvan that Tamil civilians had taken up arms against the security forces. According to him the recent claymore and landmine blasts were triggered by civilians angered by the security forces presence in the northern and eastern provinces. Tamilselvan has declared that it was a peoples’ uprising.

    Children

    The LTTE had made the decision, and it was irrevocable. They are mounting pressure on Mahinda Rajapakse’s government in the pretext of avenging deaths of five persons on January 2 evening in Trincomalee.

    Imagine the LTTE taking up arms against students, one of the groups on the UN list of shame for forcibly conscripting underage boys and girls. Unfortunately the UN has done precious little to punish the LTTE for continuing with child recruitment.

    Make no mistake I want the government to punish security forces if the youth were innocent and were executed. But the government must not allow the LTTE to take a policeman’s role. Co-chairs must dispute this.

    The LTTE, its representatives in parliament and the NGOs would justify the latest attack on the navy. An influential section of the Colombo based diplomats would echo the Tigers and their henchmen. The LTTE would not have blasted P 476 if the forces did not kill five youth. The war is entering a frightening phase with the sole representative of the Tamil speaking people assuming new responsibility.

    Unfortunately the government appears to be na`EFve and totally ill-equipped to handle the developing crisis.

    Warning

    The latest attack takes place in the backdrop of co-chairs’ threat on the LTTE and Austria taking over EU leadership from the UK on January 1. The warning was issued after co-chairs met in Brussels on December 19 but they clearly failed to dissuade the LTTE. There is no doubt that high handed terrorist attacks embarrass the co-chairs. The latest outrage took place as Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera was in the US, his first visit there as slain Lakshman Kadirgamar’s successor.

    President Mahinda Rajapakse’s government struggling to cope with the crisis Monday issued a contradictory statement. It was not different from any statement issued by Ranil Wickremesinghe during his short tenure as the Prime Minister. It was pathetic. It declared that troops would take the strongest possible measures to combat ceasefire violations but would continue to act with great restraint. Would this be possible? Definitely not. This means that troops would not initiate action to thwart terrorist attacks.

    The President’s Office issued a lengthy statement after Rajapakse met with co-chairs representatives Akio Suda (Japan), Julian Wilson (EU), Jeffrey Lunstead (US) and Hans Brattskar (Norway) at the Presidential Secretariat. The Netherlands Ambassador Reynout van Dijk was also present. The co-chairs applauded Rajapakse for his commitment to peace in the face of mounting attacks by the LTTE. The co-chairs unquestionably believed that the LTTE was responsible. This was evident during the hastily arranged meeting, the first between Rajapakse and co-chairs to discuss the ongoing wave of terrorist attacks.

    Co-chairs took advantage of the meeting to raise the recently concluded cordon and search operations in the city and its suburbs. Rajapakse would have been definitely surprised. The query came in the backdrop of the TNA criticism of the latest joint police-security forces operation dubbed Strangers Night.

    Co-chairs, I am sure are fully aware that cordon and search operations are necessary on a regular basis, at least to disturb undercover LTTE operatives. Such cordon and search operations and raids are conducted on specific intelligence reports. Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar was assassinated at his residence in a Colombo suburb. Let me remind the co-chairs that the assassin fired at Kadirgamar from a neighbor’s residence, a place never subjected to scrutiny. It was not an isolated incident. LTTE cadres carried out a series of attacks in the city and its suburbs regardless of the ceasefire agreement that prohibited arrests under the Prevention of Terrorism Act.

    Co-chairs can’t be ignorant of the LTTE maneuverings and machinations. All terrorists are innocent until they detonate themselves, assassinate a politician or an intelligence officer or blow up a building. Two senior intelligence officers and several members of the dissident Karuna faction were among the targets taken in Colombo and its suburbs.

    Covert Operatives

    Don’t forget the fact that LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran was a 17-year-old lad when he gunned down Jaffna Mayor Alfred Duraiappah in the early stages of the conflict.

    Are we simply to turn a blind eye to the LTTE build-up in the city? Let me give you a simple example to emphasize the threat posed by covert operatives. The woman who exploded herself in the Kollupitiya police station adjoining Temple Trees was later identified as a servant employed by a UNP politician, a former minister’s son. She was never subjected to scrutiny at least by the local police. If local police searched the politician’s residence he would have vouched for her innocence. If she was arrested on available intelligence, the NGOs would have opposed. The Nordic truce monitoring mission would have asked for evidence to prove her links with the LTTE. The Human Rights Commission would have demanded access to the suspect.

    Sri Lanka is under heavy pressure to lower her defenses against terrorism while the entire world is fighting back. Major countries are fighting back. The recent controversy over secret US flights via EU member States revealed the readiness of the solitary superpower to tackle her enemies. It also revealed that EU would co-operate with US efforts despite public denials of its knowledge of the clandestine movement of prisoners through EU member States. The US has also denied access to some of the terrorist suspects by simply not acknowledging their arrest while US forces, law enforcement agencies and the intelligence services conduct operations on several theatres.

    Opposition

    Sri Lanka’s peace co-chair Japan is a key partner in the US-led war on terror. Despite widespread public opposition, the Japanese government rammed legislation through the Lower House of the Diet (parliament) approving the deployment of troops in Iraq. It was the first time since World War II that Japanese troops have been sent overseas to what is an active combat zone.

    The deployment marks a sharp political shift. For more than five decades, the Japanese political establishment abided by the so-called pacifist clause of the constitution effectively banning the use of military force except in self-defense. In the 1990s, however, sections of the ruling class have pressed for an end to such restrictions so as to permit the more aggressive pursuit of their economic and strategic interests.

    Japan also intends to draw up a new anti-terrorism bill to allow it to detain and question without arrest warrants people she defines as terrorists or members of terrorist groups. Japan hopes to pass the new law in 2007 after an expert panel looked into questions including the effect on human rights and possible clash with the Japanese Constitution, according to Yomiuri and Mainichi.

    Remember last year’s terrorist attacks in London which prompted the senior most police officer in charge of the city to issue a shoot on sight order. He ordered that suspects should be shot in their heads to prevent them from triggering blasts. This followed the killing of an unarmed Brazilian by British police who mistakenly identified him as a would-be-suicide cadre. What would have happened if an expatriate was shot dead by Sri Lankan police during a cordon and search operation? The British are in the process of tightening her anti-terrorism laws but Anton Balasinghams would be free to operate from UK. The LTTE runs a vast network in EU member States to fund its terror campaign. Interestingly the LTTE operatives and their victims are EU citizens.

    International Community

    What would have happened if former President Chandrika Kumaratunga ordered an air strike on the LTTE airstrip or bombed Chalai to retaliate Kadirgamar’s assassination? Would it have been acceptable to the facilitator Norway and other co-chairs and the UN?

    The international community demanded the continuation of the ceasefire agreement. The message was clear. Nothing should be allowed to disturb the ceasefire agreement even if the LTTE killed the country’s foreign minister. I hope Rajapakse and UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe struggling to remain at the helm correctly recognize the looming threat and the international community’s indifference to Lanka’s plight.

    The western powers would act in their interests and it would be absurd to hope that they would decisively intervene here. Although India due to domestic political reasons was reluctant to play a BIGGER PUBLIC role here, we continue to benefit immensely from their backing.

    Take the ongoing UN action targeting Syria. UN wants to interview Syrian President Bashar al-Assad regarding the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri last February. Syria quite rightly has rejected the UN move on the basis that it would violate the country’s sovereignty. This comes in the backdrop of UN Security Council threatening unspecified action if the Syrians did not cooperate.

    British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw recently declared that Syria was aware of the consequences of her failure to fully cooperate.

    There were no previous cases of UN interviewing (interrogating) presidents and prime ministers. Former Yugoslavian leader Slobodan Milosevic had been hauled up before a Special tribunal.

    Former commander of the elite Special Air Services (SAS) Gen. Sir Michael Rose recently called for the impeachment of British Prime Minister Tony Blair over the war in Iraq. He said that Blair should not be allowed to walk away from the fact that he took UK to war on a false pretext.

    The allies are now in the process of making a case against Iran, a major US-British target. The world must not forget that US-British forces invaded Iraq on the false pretext that deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s regime was in the process of making WEAPONS OF MASS DISTRUCTION (WMDs). The invaders are yet to come across evidence to prove their ‘sexed up’ intelligence reports that spoke of an imminent Iraqi threat.

    Fighting LTTE terrorism is Sri Lanka’s business and we hope the three major parties the SLFP led PA, UNP and JVP shed their differences and unite in fighting the common enemy.

    It is no secret that the LTTE, despite being proscribed by the US and UK continues to operate freely raising funds and strengthening its war chest to wage war. The Oslo arranged ceasefire underwritten by the US, EU and Japan does not hinder their progress. In fact their campaign has been fast tracked.

  • Ali

    Dr Politics your post can be considered a masterpiece. Journalism at it’s best!

  • Thanks Ali… credit for this article should go to Mr. Shamindra Ferdinando of Island News Papers in Sri Lanka.

  • Situation report from Sri Lanka

    Journalists to demonstrate against Emergency Regulations

    Media organizations including Sri Lanka Working Journalists Association, Sri Lanka Tamil Media Alliance, Sri Lanka Muslim Media Forum, Media Employees Trade Union Federation and Free Media Movement, in a press release issued Wednesday, said they are planning to demonstrate in front the Fort Railway Station Thursday protesting against the Emergency Regulations that allows Sri Lanka Security personnel to detain and harass journalists.

    Full text of the release follows:

    Stop using emergency rule to harasses media and journalists
    Journalist demonstration in Colombo
    On 12th January 2006 at 4.00 pm in front of Fort railway station

    The Sri Lanka Working Journalists Association, Sri Lanka Tamil Media Alliance, Sri Lanka Muslim Media Forum, Media Employees Trade Union Federation and Free Media Movement have decided to hold a demonstration in front of the Fort Railway Station in Colombo Thursday evening against the security forces for harassing Tamil media persons and media institutions using the Emergency Regulations.

    In recent times search operations at media institutions and arrest of journalists and other harassment, particularly targeting Tamil media institutions and media persons, are on the increase. Security forces refuse to accept media accreditation cards by the Department of Information when they arrest Tamil media persons. The security forces had assaulted Tamil media persons who were covering a demonstration in Jaffna recently and were not accepting their media accreditation card. Photographers of two Tamil dailies have been subjected to inquiry for taking photographs of Tamil people when they were arrested and detained in Colombo police stations. Security forces searched offices of two Tamil dailies published in Jaffna recently.

    Hence the five major Journalists organisations have decided hold a demonstration in front of the Fort railway station on Thursday evening at 4.30 pm to oppose using the Emergency Regulations against the Tamil media institutions and Tamil media persons and demanding the security forces to accept the government media accreditation cards.

    Main slogan of the demonstration will be stop using emergency rule to harasses media and journalists.

  • Tigers proved poor liars

    *SLMM finds story of abducted schoolgirl false

    Attempt to tarnish forces’ image fail
    A Jaffna schoolgirl claimed by the LTTE to have been abducted by the army on Tuesday has been found safe at home, prompting the Ministry of Defence to harshly criticise the Tigers for spreading false propaganda.

    TamilNet and other LTTE machinery went into overdrive on Tuesday, alleging the abduction of the girl. The former reported that: “A school girl, yet to be identified, was forcefully taken away by four Sri Lanka Army (SLA) soldiers when she was walking home along PaalPannai Road (Milk farm Road) from school between Kondavil and Thirunelvely junctions in Jaffna at 2 p.m. Tuesday, residents of the area who witnessed the incident said.”

    It claimed that “residents of the area and a youth witness, who saw the girl dragged by the SLA, searched the shrub area near where she was abducted for signs of evidence”.

    Tamil National Alliance parliamentarians also took the allegation to President Mahinda Rajapakse who called for a report from the Chief of Defence Staff.

    However, SLMM conducted inquiries later Tuesday and found the story to be false, said a statement from the Ministry of Defence.

    Asked for a comment, SLMM Spokesperson Helen Olafsdottir said that the monitors had searched the army camp where the girl was alleged to have been held but found no evidence. “It was never a case,” she said. “It’s off our desk.”

    “Information given to the Army by guardians of the girl in question confirmed that the teenage girl has returned home, reportedly after an alleged tour of the town with someone else,” the Defence Ministry statement said.

    The statement claimed that the LTTE had “tried hard” to provoke civilians in Kondavil against the alleged abduction. “This concocted LTTE canard once again, clearly, reinforces that the LTTE was hell-bent on provoking the masses against the troops deployed in this area,” it complained.

    There was no comment from the LTTE.

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