South Asia Theater

India: Muslim moderates declare jihad on terrorism

India's pro-secular website "Citizens for Justice and Peace" carries the following story on a July 27 fatwa jointly issued by a Muslim mufti (revered scholar) and a Hindu mahant (temple leader) in response to the Mumbai bombings.

Chief Mufti issues fatwa against terrorism
A mahant from Varanasi and a mufti from Punjab came together on a common platform in Mumbai on Thursday to jointly declare a holy war (jihad) against their respective co-religionists who preach hatred and perpetrate violence against innocent citizens.

Pakistan: Lashkar leader under house arrest

What a conundrum. The Pakistani state has long cultivated Lashkar-e-Taiba to make trouble in India-controlled Kashmir. But now it seems to have gotten out of control, and Islamabad, under pressure from Washington, has been induced to crack down. Yet every measure against the militants (who doubtless still have their sympathizers and adherents in the apparatus) brings Pakistan closer to an Islamist coup. Is the world ready for a nuclear-armed Taliban? From Reuters, Aug. 10:

Pakistan's ISI behind Mumbai terror?

Note the highlighted section and sound off, readers. From the CBC, July 14:

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Friday that Pakistan is still harbouring "terrorist elements," jeopardizing the peace process between the two countries as tensions remain high in the wake of the Mumbai bombings.

Nepal: "light at end of tunnel" —for tribal peoples too?

This optimistic June 26 analysis by Kavi Chongkittavorn in Thailand's The Nation is one of the very few accounts we've been able to find that even mentions the question of Nepal's indigenous peoples in the new order which is emerging. We've highlighted the reference to the Madeshi tribal people of the lowland plains of the country's southwest side. Our own observations will follow.

Terror bombs rock Mumbai rail

Once again, someone feels compelled to prove the intellectual superiority of their position by killing scores of random civilians. Some details from the Financial Times, July 11 (link added):

Within minutes, seven explosions on the railway that forms Mumbai's spinal cord left at least 163 people dead and possibly more than 1,000 wounded in one of the worst terrorist attacks in India.

Nepal: Maoists chill out; Hindu backlash next?

Nepal's Maoist rebels agreed June 16 to lay down arms and join the government, ending the 10-year guerilla insurgency. The accord, announced following a daylong meeting between Maoist leader Prachanda ("the fierce one") and interim prime minister Girija Prasad Koirala, calls for the elected Parliament to be dissolved pending a new constitution and for the guerillas to dismantle their parallel government in the countryside. The guerillas will not disarm until after until after a vote is held for a constituent assembly to draft the new constitution. As interim measures, hundreds of guerilla fighters have been released from prison, the word "royal" has been officially dropped from the name for the country's armed forces, and Nepal (heretofore the world's only Hindu kingdom) has been declared a secular nation. Prachanda is now on a national tour, holding meetings with the leaders of the guerilla "Peoples' Governments" and urging them to join the official political system. (Nepal News, June 18)

Nepal: back from brink?

The final capitulation of King Gyanendra to a militant pro-democracy movement that has made common cause with the Maoist guerillas is closely followed by The Rising Nepal website. The king, who had seized dictatorial absolute power last February, reached an agreement with the opposition Seven-Party Alliance (SPA) and on April 27 appointed Nepali Congress Party president Girija Prasad Koirala as prime minister. The following day, Parliament met for the first time since it was suspended in last year's royal coup. SPA leaders called on the citizenry to continue to act as the vanguard of the hard-earned democratic restoration at a mammoth mass meeting at Kathmandu's amphitheatre, and urged participation in an upcoming constituent assembly. The guerillas of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) have announced a three-month unilateral cease-fire. CPN(M) Chairman Prachanda said his army will halt all offensive military operations and work towards serving the people in its zones of control.

India: Naxalite insurgency spreads

A new and dramatic attack by India's Maoist Naxalite rebels. From the Times of India, April 16:

RAIPUR: At least 10 policemen were killed on Sunday in a Maoist attack in Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh, an official said.

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