South Asia heating up…

Swat region of Pakistan.  Source: BBC

The temperature in South Asia, often sweltering, has heated up over the last week.  Read a selection of news reports below.

With the peace deal between the government of Pakistan and the Taliban in tatters and pressure on Pakistani President Zardari from Holbrooke and Co. getting heavy, the Pakistani armed forces launched attacks in recent days on the Taliban in the Swat region of northwest Pakistan.  This comes against a backdrop of continued U.S. targeted killings of Al Qaeda operatives in the region. Tens of thousands of civilians are reportedly fleeing their homes, leading the United Nations to call for restraint. 

Meanwhile, in Afghanistan, U.S. air strikes against Taliban positions in Farah may have resulted in many civilian deaths, causing President Karzai, a struggling though still favored candidate in that country’s national elections in August, fresh from a summit with President Obama, to criticize the U.S.  President Obama, as candidate Obama, had been a vocal critic of such U.S. air strikes in that country.  Early last week, President Zardari of Pakistan joined Karzai and Obama for an anti-Al Qaeda summit in the White House.  Finally, elections in India are winding down, opening the door for the Obama administration to pressure the government that emerges there to seek a peace deal with Pakistan over Kashmir.  South Asia certainly qualifies these days as a hot spot.

Read about (and listen to): Obama’s remarks following the meeting with the Af-Pak leaders, praising unity in the war against Al Qaeda; General David Patraeus’s announcement of a policy review regarding air strikes in Afghanistan; a BBC report on the latest fighting in Swat, where 200 militants have reportedly been killed; a NYTimes article over the weekend discussing Al Qaeda’s effort to effect a jihadist takeover of Pakistan;  another Times article about Pakistan’s effective ambassador to the U.S.; an FT opinion piece arguing that NATO is fighting the wrong war in Afghanistan, while hamstrung in Pakistan; a piece in the Economist about how Hamid Karzai, with only 15% support, remains the favored candidate in Afghanistan’s August elections; and finally, further south, off the coast of India, reports emerging of a horrendous death toll of 378 people (over a hundred of them children) in the ongoing civil war in Sri Lanka.

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