Monthly Archives: May 2009

“We Apologize”

A group of progressive Pakistani activists has published an important piece in Bangladesh’s Daily Star acknowledging and apologizing for Pakistan’s 1971 atrocities against the Bangladeshi people. The piece, We Apologize, was written by the members of Action for a Progressive Pakistan.

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U.S. soldiers on Afghan troops

The Guardian (UK) has done a video report on how U.S. soldiers feel about the Afghan soldiers they are tasked with building into an army.  The piece hints at a broader reality:  it is a bit difficult to build a national military on another nation’s behalf.

Interesting excerpts:

Supervising Afghan soldier to reporter (translated):

This army is really upsetting me now.  In fact, you can’t really call it an army at all.  I’m just losing interest in it.  But  what can we do?
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Building (good) government

Maria_Otero_fullThe Obama Administration has nominated a major microfinance leader to serve as U.S. Under Secretary of Global Affairs in the State Department.  It’s a great example of how to bring people into the U.S. foreign policy establishment who have a direct understanding of strategies for international poverty alleviation.

Read on for the full press release from Accion, the organization that is about to lose its CEO, Maria Otero

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“Pakistanis Debate Their Future On Facebook”

Sanjeev Bery, The Huffington Post, 05/18/09

As the Pakistani military rains fire down upon villagers and Taliban alike, Pakistanis and members of the diaspora are engaged in numerous online debates about the future of their country. In some cases, they are offering perspectives that the rest of us should listen to.

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Sri Lanka’s ethnic identities

Sri_Lanka-mapWhen dealing with longstanding grievances between ethnic communities locked in war, it can be difficult to disentangle a historical understanding of issues of identity and polarization.  There is always the easy temptation to create the “eternal battle” between rival identities that always fought.

I don’t have the knowledge of Sri Lankan politics or history to deeply evaluate the following, but the Peace and Conflict Timeline (PACT) website offers an interesting perspective (that might be offensive to all sides).  PACT is a project of The Centre for Poverty Analysis, which seeks to promote “a better understanding of poverty related issues in Sri Lanka.”

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The Death of the Tamil Tigers

SRILANKA_woundedThe Sri Lankan government’s endgame shelling of areas controlled by the Tamil Tigers has reached its conclusion — a massive defeat for the secessionist movement and the death of its leader, Velupillai Prabhakaran.

The Associated Press reported the details of Prabhakaran’s death:

Senior [Sri Lankan] military officials said Prabhakaran was surrounded early Monday with the last of his fighters.  He and his top deputies drove in an armor-plated van accompanied by a bus filled with armed rebels toward approaching Sri Lankan forces, sparking a two-hour firefight … Troops eventually fired a rocket at the van, ending the battle, the officials said.

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“Today we are all Pashtuns”

“I learnt about a family who had to leave child with polio behind and take all the other healthier children with them. Similarly, there are people who left the elderly behind as they could not endure the travel.”

The following piece landed in my inbox via the yahoo group for the Pakistani American Community of Atlanta.  Reports say more than one million Pakistanis are fleeing the Pakistani military’s bombardment of Taliban-controlled areas.  The piece ends with a bit of a whimper, but it does a good job of turning aggregate numbers into individual realities.

Sanjeev

Today We are All Pashtuns

Saud Anwar

As the horrific situation with the internally displaced people in Pakistan unfolds it has hard for any one with a heart to remain focused on their work.

While we continue to see the numbers of people leaving their homes rise, these are not mere numbers. These are actually people who have had to make some very difficult choices. Choices most of us cannot even dream of making.
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