- The Washington Times - Friday, June 30, 2006

Excerpts of editorials from newspapers around the world:

Daily Telegraph

Pakistan’s porous borders

LONDON — The deaths [Monday] of two British soldiers in Helmand province are a grim reminder that Afghanistan is now more dangerous than at any time since the American-led invasion of 2001. A revival of the Taliban insurgency has led to the killing of more than 1,100 people since January, with most of the casualties being inflicted in the south. That is the heartland of the Taliban, who, with their al Qaeda allies, find refuge in the neighboring provinces and tribal areas of Pakistan. As NATO prepares to take over from America command of all coalition forces in Afghanistan, it is imperative that more pressure be put on President Pervez Musharraf to seal his northern border. …

Gen. Musharraf has stuck his neck out in confronting the Islamist threat within his country. But he is weakened by a lack of political legitimacy that stems from the indefinite prolongation of military rule. …

Such double-dealing would put impossible restraints on NATO forces, which are struggling to reach their desired strength of about 16,000. No one would pretend that Gen. Musharraf is not risking his life by tightening the screws on the Islamists. But the West has been indulgent toward his retention of military command and has helped stabilize the economy with aid. His part of the bargain is to deprive the Taliban and its allies of a safe haven in Pakistan. In that respect, much more needs to be done.

Daily Star

Egypt and democracy

BEIRUT — Halfway through U.S. President George W. Bush’s second term in office, the American push for democracy in the Middle East seems to have lost much of its steam. Although U.S. calls for democratic reform in the region have gotten quieter, there are fortunately many homegrown democrats who are raising their voices to demand rights and freedoms for Arab citizens. …

While the U.S. has measured progress toward democracy by studying the voting patterns of Arabs, the homegrown push for democratic reforms has focused less on the superficial trappings of democracy and more on the real underpinnings of a liberal, democratic state. …

Although Egyptian judges have long been active in promoting democracy, a controversy over last year’s parliamentary elections prompted them to launch a fresh public push for an independent judiciary. Two prominent judges had faced disciplinary action for denouncing state-sponsored election-rigging and other types of fraud in the vote. The judges won a limited, but nonetheless significant victory on Tuesday, when the Egyptian parliament approved a new law limiting the powers of the Justice Ministry over the judiciary. Although the law falls well short of the hopes of judges, it marks a small step in the push toward an independent judiciary, and thus a giant leap forward in the push for democracy in Egypt.

Cyprus Times

FIFA to blame

NICOSIA, Cyprus — It has been a highly entertaining World Cup so far, with most sides playing open, attacking [soccer] and even the usually slow group stage producing several breathtaking and exciting encounters. Unfortunately, the best World Cup for years is in danger of being ruined by some outrageously absurd refereeing. …

The frequency with which some referees have been brandishing yellow and red cards has been unprecedented. Unnecessary bookings and sending-offs for trivial offenses have plagued the 2006 World Cup, ruining matches, angering the players and shortchanging the spectators. …

Sweden’s Teddy Lucic was shown a second yellow card for a slight tug on a German player last Saturday and that was the end of the match. …

The blame for this overzealous and tough refereeing lies squarely with FIFA, [soccer’s] governing body, who gave written instructions to referees when to book players. And the refs who followed these stupid instructions to the letter … are the ones who messed up matches.

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