- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 14, 2007

The Hindustan Times

Musharraf and the mosque

NEW DELHI — Once the dust has settled on the violent [Red Mosque] episode, many will argue that Pakistan’s Gen. Pervez Musharraf could have handled things differently. …

There is unlikely to be any major public outpouring of sympathy for those who dug themselves into the premises of the mosque, for, by all standards, they are considered the lunatic fringe even among the fundamentalists. The army action suggests that at last Pakistan means business in tackling terrorism. The general also had to act under Beijing’s pressure after a few Chinese citizens were taken hostage. …

If the army keeps up the pressure, it could turn the tide against fundamentalism. It is clear that the same militant groups that are creating unrest in Pakistan are the ones carrying out attacks on Indian soil. This is the ideal time for both nations to step up cooperation on the anti-terror mechanism. There is much more at stake for Pakistan in such a move. Pakistan is at a crossroads today. If it turns the right way, it could shake off its “failed state” tag.

Asahi Shimbun

Lessons learned?

TOKYO — Ten years have passed since the Asian currency crisis in 1997, a regional financial meltdown triggered by the crash of the Thai baht. Has the world learned the lessons from the harrowing experience?

In Asia, developing countries like Vietnam have yet to start opening their financial markets. Emerging countries in Latin America, the Middle East and other areas could also become “Ground Zero” of a new international financial crisis. And China’s emergence as a major economic power poses a new risk.

China’s foreign exchange reserves have ballooned to $1.2 trillion. In a campaign to promote exports, the Chinese government has been selling a huge amount of the yuan to buy dollars to prevent the currency’s appreciation. This currency intervention has generated an excessive money supply at home, resulting in bubbles in the stock and property markets.

If these bubbles burst, China could plunge into a serious financial system crisis as Japan once did. The consequences for the global financial markets could be devastating.

Asia’s emerging countries are expected to serve as the main growth engine for the world economy. But they face many policy challenges that demand urgent actions.

Independent

Kosovo’s fate

LONDON — Kosovo’s moment of truth is approaching. The plan for supervised independence for the province, unveiled in April by the United Nations envoy Martti Ahtisaari, is due to come before the Security Council. Under the proposals, Kosovo and Serbia would be given four months to negotiate an agreement on the province’s future. If there is no deal, the provisions would take effect anyway. Kosovo would have independence under international supervision and, eventually, full autonomy.

Independence for Kosovo is clearly justified. There is a strong moral argument in favor. Kosovo’s majority Albanian population was treated abominably when under the control of Serbia in the 1990s. And the campaign of ethnic cleansing unleashed in 1999 by the Serbian president, Slobodan Milosevic, destroyed Belgrade’s legitimacy in the region.

There is a practical justification, too. After years of patience, some leaders of Kosovo’s majority ethnic-Albanian leaders threaten to declare unilateral independence unless they see a real prospect of autonomy within a year. There has been an ominous upsurge in violent incidents since Mr. Ahtisaari unveiled his plan.

As U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned [this week], further delay would have disastrous consequences for the Balkans. Another outbreak of hostilities could wreck the progress of the past eight years. And the longer the delay, the more risky the situation becomes.