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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2785

Monthly archive


Too much ado about Pak FO remarks on Kashmir

By M Rama Rao in New Delhi

Surprisingly, too much is being read into Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson Tasnim Aslam’s remarks on the Kashmir issue both in India and in Pakistan. What she said, namely Pakistan never claimed Kashmir as its integral part and that Islamabad always hoped that Kashmiris would opt to be part of Pakistan one day, should be seen in the context it is made. And it is a clinically sanitised bottom-line of Pakistan case right from day one. It has been resurrected now to buttress Musharraf’s four point plan – demilitarisation, self rule et al - he had elucidated in an interview to an Indian TV channel last week. The target audience for Musharraf and his FO are neither Kashmiris nor India. They are the White House and the State Department in Washington and British Commonwealth and Home Office in London.

Challenges 2006-2007: Will New UN Chief Stand Up to Big Powers?

Analysis by Thalif Deen - Inter Press Service

When South Korea's former foreign minister Ban Ki-moon assumes duties as the new U.N. secretary-general on Jan. 1, he will succeed Kofi Annan of Ghana who spent over 44 years in the U.N. system, serving the last 10 years (1997-2006) as the chief administrative officer of the 192-member world body. Ban takes over a cash-strapped organisation described -- rightly or wrongly -- as mostly mismanaged, inefficient, over-staffed and politically-manipulated primarily by the United States, and to a lesser extent by the remaining four veto-wielding big powers: Britain, France, China and Russia.

Coup in Fiji Turning Violent

Professor Laksiri Fernando - University of Sydney (Visiting)

The military coup in Fiji that ousted the elected government of Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase on 5 December is turning violent although it appeared peaceful at the beginning. Former minister Kenneth Zinck was allegedly harassed and even tortured at the Queen Elizabeth Barracks. There are reports of others suffering the same fate. The soldiers have attacked the ‘Democracy Shrine,’ a popular center of democratic activists in Suva. The military is threatening the ‘use of force’ against any protest against its rule. What characterizes the coup in Fiji most, compared to many similar military coups in other countries, is the cynical manner in which it was executed. Two days before the coup, the Military Commander Frank Bainimarama was playing rugby with his loyal soldiers against the police team.

UN refugee agency helping refugees fleeing to Kanthale from Serunuwara, Somapura and Sooriyapura

By Walter Jayawardhana

The UN refugee agency, the United Nations high Commissioner for Refugees has opened aid camps to serve more than 4000 refugees now flowing continuously to Kanathale, mostly fleeing from near by villages targeted by LTTE artillery guns as diversionary tactic for the army to move attention away from the besieged Vakarai area where the Tamil Tigers are now cornered. The LTTE has been making use of both Tamil and Sinhalese civilians to fight their war with the security forces, the Sri Lanka Army has accused. They have prevented the Tamil civilians from leaving Vakarai and shelling Sinhalese settlements in the Trincomalee District , the Army has alleged. "On December 12 total of 355 Tamil civilians have entered the government controlled areas seeking protection from the government forces. Of the total 355, 282 people have arrived at Redeethenna while the rest 73 reached PESALAI in boats," they announced.

How to reconcile the reports

By Dayan Jayatilleka

Chill out, guys, these things happen, as they say, in the best of circles. I mean the leak of the Committee A or ‘majority’ report of the experts’ panel of the APRC. I was watching and reading sneak previews of the Iraq Study Group report, well before it was handed over to President George W Bush! Thanks to some nifty foot work by the Sunday paper, The Nation, and the online Asian Tribune, we the people are now less in the dark as concerns the so-called minority or dissenting report of the experts’ panel of the all parties’ conference. At first glance the contending reports, those of committee A (the ‘majority’ report) and committee B (the minority report) are irreconcilable. Yet I would suggest that this is not so, and that it all depends on how you view them.

Radhika Coomaraswamy UN Special Representative chides LTTE for bombing a school, killing a child and wounding ten

The UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy chided the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam for the shelling a school in Kallar in the Sri Lanka’s Trincomalee district. Radhika Coomaraswamy pointedly said that the mortar attack by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam on a school in Kallar village which killed one child and wounded ten school children is a grave violation. "Attacks on schools and hospitals are too considered violations of international humanitarian law," said Radhika Coomaraswamy. She further added, "This kind of warfare takes an enormous toll on children. Sinhalese, Tamil and Muslim children have all suffered terribly in the last few months."

Central Finance introduces 'CF Cash' ATM facility

By Quintus Perera - Asian Tribune

Central Finance Co Ltd (CF) one of the most predominant player in the financial sector successfully ventured into the savings programme 'CF Savings' in early January 2006 which attracted a large number of customers because of the unique features and benefits offered to suit the individual needs by understanding the customers and give them what they want. Flexible uni-banking is one such programmes to perform their transactions from any CF branches To boost this venture CF launched Automated Teller Machines (CF ATM) network commencing 5 December.

Sri Lanka Marxist JVP withdraws from the All Party Conference

Janatha Vimukthi Perumuna, (JVP), Sri Lanka’s Marxist Liberation Front JVP has announced that it has decided to withdraw from All Party Conference formed to discuss national question of Sri Lanka. Speaking at a media meeting held to announce the JVP decision Somawansa Amarasinghe, Leader of the JVP said, "his party did not want to go down in history as a member of an institution which would take a decision hostile to the country." Somawansa Amerasinghe, the JVP leader, told at the media conference held yesterday in Colombo, that the JVP was unhappy with the announcement of recommendations by a part of the experts’ panel appointed by President Mahinda Rajapakse.

Sri Lanka truce monitors reprimand LTTE for restricting the movements of the civilians

Sri Lanka’s Truce Monitors have openly criticized the separatists Tamil rebel outfit, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam for restricting the movements of the civilians under their control. They have pointed out that it is the responsibility of the LTTE to do their utmost facilitate for the innocent civilians to reach safe ground. "The SLMM has contrary to acceptable practices on one occasion experienced that civilians were being hindered from exiting the area", Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission said in a statement. The SLMM spokesperson Thorfinnur Omarsson in a statement reprimanded the LTTE for its failure to protect the civilians in Vakarai.

Aftermath of recent suicide bombing in Sri Lanka

International Center for Strategic Defense (ICSD) Analysis

Assassination attempt of the Secretary of Defense by a suicide bomber is, undoubtedly, a direct expression of LTTE’s military strategy vis-à-vis the political strategy. Although present Government is said to be aspiring towards a political solution and keeping negotiation option open to LTTE, it’s real responses in relation to LTTE’s terror tactics are not falling short of direct military engagements, at times offensive than defensive in nature. The President, quite resilient to multiple threats offered by LTTE, is also aware that his popularity in the South increases with each successful offensive operation.

Expert Committee Majority Report Lacks Vision: North East Merger and Ethnic Enclaves May Hurt Long Term Objective

By Raj Gonsalkorale

One of the first hurdles in finding a political resolution to the conflict in Sri Lanka has been passed. Needless to say there will be many more before one could see some light at the end of the tunnel. The majority report of the committee is public knowledge now and one of the two minority report has been already released countering the many points set out in the majority report. The next hurdle is for the All Party Representative Committee to consider all three reports and produce a single proposal that outlines the way forward to achieve a political solution to this conflict. As the different reports are made public, those who have opposing or supporting views and others who have changes to offer, could do so in a spirit of harmony and cooperativeness, especially those who are in the democratic main stream and who all have one objective in their horizon: long term peace with honor to all communities.

Douglas & Sons going strong after 20 years

By Quintus Perera – Asian Tribune

Douglas & Sons Ltd which was established 20 years ago in 1986, as a small business in importing automotive batteries and tyres with only four employees have now grown into a leading importer of automotive spare parts employing 225 persons. DSL also has become a leader in the manufacture and supply of soft toys for the international markets, with retail chains such as Mark and Spencer, Mothercare, Wal-Mart, Gapand Next among its customers.

Forget the give-give syndrome: No withdrawal from Siachen

By Sarla Handoo - Syndicate Features

A look, in retrospect, over India’s response to victories in wars with Pakistan, big or small, makes a dismal reading. It has been one of returning to the vanquished all that it could get hold of ---after a huge sacrifice, of course. On top of such surrenders has been the return of not only the huge territories India occupied during the 1971 war, but also about 95,000 soldiers who had surrendered in Dhaka, following the Simla agreement between Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Pakistan President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.

Britain: Blair stirs up Islamophobia

On his return from Washington, Prime Minister Tony Blair gave a speech to a selected audience at his Downing Street residence. The subject of his remarks was not the criticisms made by the Iraq Study Group of US—and by implication British—foreign policy failures in Iraq. Instead he sought to deflect any examination of his criminal war policy by launching yet another provocative attack on Muslims. Blair’s abject appearance alongside President George W. Bush at the White House had led one commentator in the British press to label him a "dead man walking." His Downing Street speech confirmed how entirely dependent the prime minister is for his political survival on a narrow, right-wing social base.

Sri Lanka Army Commander vows to chase the LTTE shortly out of Eastern province

Sri Lanka Army Commander vows to drive the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam out of the Eastern province shortly. "This would help the people in the East to lead their lives peacefully," Lieutenant General Sarath Fonseka, according to a report has told the media. The report reveals that the strength of the LTTE has been weakened since the Karuna faction broke away in March 2004. The report pointed out that, this was not the first instance the LTTE has lost its hold in the Eastern province. During the period 1993 – 1994, LTTE influence was swept away under Brigadier Lucky Algama, then Commander of the Eastern province.