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Pakistan’s transition to substantive democracy April 17, 2013

Posted by southasiamasala in : Guest authors, Pakistan , comments closed

Rosita Armytage

When Pakistan holds elections on 11 May 2013 it will be the first time in Pakistan’s history that an elected government hands over power to another elected government.

Though this is a positive development, most Pakistani and international observers are not optimistic that the elections form part of a broader transition from procedural to substantive democracy — a system of government where civil and political liberties are protected.

There are many reasons for this lack of optimism. Ongoing attacks on the minority Shia population have significantly increased, with hundreds killed already this year. Political leaders and candidates are routinely targeted, and there have been regular attacks on development workers seen to be promoting ‘liberal values’. These political and social fault lines have been exacerbated by the worsening economic crisis. Economic growth has averaged just under 3 per cent over the last three years — a level that is insufficient to either substantially improve the population’s living standards or absorb the growing workforce. Prices are rising at around 11 per cent per year, and the price increases on fuel, together with severe electricity shortages, have prompted a growing number of mass protests across the country.

Politically, socially and economically, Pakistanis face deep insecurity.


‘Promoting peace and maintaining stability’: the evolution of the Bangladesh Navy April 15, 2013

Posted by aungsi in : Bangladesh, DeSilva-Ranasinghe, Serge , comments closed

Sergei DeSilva-Ranasinghe

This article originally appeared in South Asia Defence and Strategic Review

As a Bay of Bengal littoral state Bangladesh has strong maritime interests. Increasingly, Bangladesh has recognised the importance of its maritime domain and the requirement to augment its Navy to secure and project its regional interests. Bangladesh Navy chief, Vice Admiral Zahir Uddin Ahmed spoke to Sergei DeSilva-Ranasinghe about the navy’s changing responsibilities, maritime security challenges, efforts to mitigate the effect of natural disasters and the need for naval diplomacy.

Vice Admiral Zahir Uddin Ahmed (right) and Vice Admiral Anil Chopra of the Eastern Naval Command, India. Source: http://indiannavy.nic.in/


Australian military expands Indo-Pacific profile April 9, 2013

Posted by aungsi in : DeSilva-Ranasinghe, Serge, South Asia - General , comments closed

Sergei DeSilva-Ranasinghe

This interview first appeared in The Diplomat on March 13, 2013

Emerging out of a decade of coalition military intervention in the Middle East and Afghanistan, the Australian Defence Force (ADF) is now focused on initiatives to engage the strategic Indo-Pacific region. General David Hurley, the chief of the ADF, spoke to Sergei DeSilva-Ranasinghe about defence cooperation with the United States, engagement with Asia-Pacific and South Pacific regions, the implementation of the Force Posture Review’s recommendations, initiatives to engage with the Indian Ocean region, and what Australia’s withdrawal from East Timor, Solomon Islands and Afghanistan ultimately means.


General David Hurley (Source: defence.gov.au)


The trouble with ‘eve-teasing’: Some perceptions on sexual harassment and violence in India April 5, 2013

Posted by nishankmotwani in : By contributor, India, Motwani, Nishank , comments closed

Nishank Motwani

India is a dangerous country for women and the government is part of the problem rather than the solution. That was the overwhelming conclusion I observed when speaking to men and women on a visit to India (my home country) following the brutal gang rape of a twenty-three year old medical student in Delhi on the night of December 16, 2012. The victim of that heinous act of sexual violence succumbed to her injuries two weeks later, demonstrating the viciousness of the assault that destroyed her life and that of her family. Since then, three horrific cases in March 2013 have highlighted yet again the danger women face in India – the gang rape of a Swiss woman camping with her husband while on a cycling trip through Madhya Pradesh (central India), a British woman jumping off the balcony of her hotel room in Agra fearing a sexual assault by the hotel’s manager and security guard who tried to forcefully enter her room at 3.45am, and the thrashing of a twenty-two year old woman and her father by policemen in Punjab after she sought police assistance against a group of men sexually harassing her.


‘A continuum of security requirements’: The US Pacific Command and the rise of the Indian Ocean April 3, 2013

Posted by nishankmotwani in : DeSilva-Ranasinghe, Serge, India, South Asia - General , comments closed

Sergei DeSilva-Ranasinghe

As the US refocuses its attention to the Asia Pacific region, it is also seeking to augment its presence in the unstable and heavily contested Indian Ocean Region. Admiral Samuel J. Locklear, who commands the US Pacific Command, or PACOM, talked to Sergei DeSilva-Ranasinghe on the programme he is spearheading to reposition the US military footing towards the Indian Ocean and the revitalised strategy to engage South Asia and Australia.

How is the Indian Ocean of relevance to the US Asia Pacific rebalance?

Admiral Locklear: Whether the name is Indo-Pacific or something else, when I am sitting in my office looking at a pretty detailed chart of my entire jurisdiction, I view it as a continuum of security requirements, not broken down by historical perspectives of the different oceans. I think ‘one continuum’ is a good concept. However, it’s not just about the Indian Ocean. It’s about the connectivity of these large economies, the large core populations, and how things have to move.

Take that to the next level and you have the cyber commons and the space commons. Ships and airplanes travelling across the Indian Ocean, whether it be to the Arabian Gulf or through the Straits of Malacca, are critical for trade and flow of energy sources. The PACOM helps protect these routes.  (more…)