In the current issue of Middle East Report, we write about the strategic logic of China’s increasing investment in teaching Middle Eastern languages, particularly Arabic, Persian and Turkish. A key goal of the push for Middle Eastern language competency is to help rebuild the Silk Road that China stood astride in centuries past.
In the forthcoming issue of Middle East Report, “China in the Middle East,” I write about the often forgotten history of political, intellectual and cultural ties between East Asia and West Asia (or the Middle East) in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
P. R. Kumaraswamy, India’s Israel Policy (New York: Columbia University Press, 2010).
The Pakistani army’s operation in the Swat Valley in northwest Pakistan is the most sustained in five years of selective counterinsurgency against the local Taliban. The toll already is immense: 1.9 million internally displaced, including tens of thousands housed in tents on parched plains; 15,000 soldiers battling 5,000 guerrillas; and more than a thousand dead, mainly militants according to available counts but also soldiers and of course civilians.
The day after Christmas, the wires buzzed with reports that Pakistan was moving 20,000 troops from its western border with Afghanistan to locations near the eastern border with India. The redeployment, said Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Qureshi, came in response to “certain developments” on the Indian side of the boundary, one reportedly being that New Delhi might be considering military strikes on militant bases inside Pakistan. Pakistani security officials stressed that these moves were “minimum defensive measures”: No soldiers had been taken away from the theater of counterinsurgency operations against the Taliban and al-Qaeda, only from “snowbound areas” where the army sits idle.
When George W. Bush arrives in Islamabad on March 4, 2006, his will be the first visit to Pakistan by a US president since Bill Clinton touched down there in March 2000. Aside from the coincidence of the month, the circumstances could hardly be more different. In 2000, Clinton stayed for barely five hours, refused to be photographed with the then recently installed military dictator, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, and proceeded to lecture the general on Pakistan’s continued sponsorship of the Taliban in Afghanistan and the Islamist insurgency in Indian-controlled Kashmir.
“The saviors of religion [in Kashmir] ordered all Muslim women to adopt the hijab by September 10, 2001. Women did because they did not want acid to be thrown in their faces…. When Roop Kanwar became a Sati with her husband, the event was glorified by the guardians of Hinduism. When it comes to women’s oppression, all religions are masculinist…. The man who proves the superiority of his own religion is a hero, and the man who destroys the follower of another is a jihadi….
From the beginning, the Gulf crisis aroused a level of interest and concern in India unusual for an international issue not directly involving this country. Much of our oil comes from the Gulf region, and “Gulf money” in the form of remittances from Indians working in Iraq and the Gulf states has become a significant source of upward mobility in recent years. Then there was the major problem of evacuation of Indians from Kuwait and Iraq, which the government of V. P. Singh managed fairly efficiently.