Category Archives: International Affairs

Leave Cricket of all the sports alone!

INDIA-PAK cricket showdown was there before also. And those matches were not played during peaceful times either. The matches were prone to hyper nationalism ventilation as well. Just like the present, but with a difference. The sports page handlers of media houses then were sane enough to separate the chaff from the wheat. The winners were given prominent coverage, the perennial hostilities not withstanding. The editorial policies were relatively fair when it came to sports.

Now, we are in a more hyper sensitive era with media playing the three-in-one tone with finesse. Aggrieved, aggressor and the clueless. This two ‘A’ and one ‘c’ mode is incongruous with the five ‘W’ notion that’s the bedrock of journalism. The perfect example is india’s leading English paper’s coverage of Pakistani team. The insiders say the desk hands were told not to give significance to Pak players. Yeah, you heard right! Even if they had the best day on field. Read the rest of this entry

A tipping point in Pakistan

A CII meeting in progressGiven the track record, and growing influence of regressive conservatives in Pakistan, this news item was unusual. The Pakistan Senate’s Functional Committee on Human Rights has recommended that the Council of Islamic Ideology [CII], be dissolved. The CII was established in 1962 by the semi-benevolent dictator Field Marshal Ayub Khan, when he forced through his new Constitution, to recommend ways by which all laws could be in conformity with religious doctrine.

Demanding dissolution of a Constitutional body is hardly routine, but the tipping point seems to have been CII’s suggestion that husbands should be allowed “light” violence against “errant” wives, with the decision on quantum of crime and punishment being left, naturally, to the husband.

It is true that CII’s recommendations are not mandatory, but they affect public discourse. This preposterous instance of misogyny and, indeed, misogamy, made headlines across the world, eliciting ridicule mostly. But ridicule is an inadequate response. Read the rest of this entry

ISIS is a common threat


When India reassumes its engagement with successor states of the Safavid, Ottoman and European empires to its west up to the Nile and the Sahel in north Africa, it will renew dialogue with a region that has not had a good night’s sleep for at least two centuries. Analysis is not an advent of any blame game. The fault, as that crusty realist Shakespeare noted, may lie in ourselves, rather than our stars, but the destiny of men also has its profound cycles across the cartwheels of time. The past is littered with skeletons of nations which once ruled as much as the world as they could reach, and then imploded, leaving those who suffered colonisation to search for a new beginning within the debris. This search has never been easy, or short. All interventions disorient. Every collapse destabilises.

The one great incubation of the 20th century is that it has made the 21st a more egalitarian age. We should be careful, however, about how far we stretch the meaning of a more egalitarian spirit. It does not necessarily mean an equitable transformation towards democracy. But the era of acquisitive, or even domineering, empires is over. Great powers have to be more subtle in their manoeuvres, more guarded in their expectations. Only foolish powers, super or medium-sized, make non-negotiable demands. Read the rest of this entry

America, Iran and Iraq: Partners, not friends

Kerry-Zarif handshakeStability is an illusion that nations advertise to comfort citizens. Countries either sink along a gravitational pull beyond the control of governments, or ascend into a virtuous spiral. The pace is often slow, and sometimes invisible, but society is never static.

In the first 15 years of the 21st century, a linear, contiguous land mass from the Atlantic shores of Africa to the Pacific shore of Japan has become a slope. The western wing is slipping into quagmire, while the eastern expanse, starting from India, is inching up. This may not be an even fact. There are exceptions, some significant. But this is the broad truth. Read the rest of this entry