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From West to East a Somber Week

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Message Arshad M Khan

It has been a somber week.


An orphaned dugong nurtured and returned to the sea has died from eating plastic. Mariam died from a stomach infection made much worse by the plastic, which often harbors bacteria. Only a few hundred of the sea mammals -- similar to our manatees but with a forked tail -- are left in Thailand.


India celebrated independence -- 72 years of it -- on Thursday, Pakistan on Wednesday having pipped it by a day. All this while Indian Kashmir was in lock-down, the people caged in their houses, and food running short according to a National Public Radio eyewitness report. One-in-ten is the ratio of the security personnel to the population. It is as if the small town where I live had 20,000 instead of a couple of dozen police officers.


Mr. Modi would have you believe otherwise. He has unilaterally rescinded Kashmir's autonomy, claiming he can because the state at present is absent a legislature. He omits to mention he dismissed it. The Kashmiris are livid and waiting like a time-bomb for the lock-down to end, although there have been stories of small-scale demonstrations met with tear gas and shotgun pellets.


More than pellets in the armament of the forces trained on each other, India and Pakistan each have over a hundred nuclear weapons, enough to destroy themselves and give the rest of the world a nuclear winter. In Pakistan's favor ... the prevailing wind is from the west carrying the radioactive dust to India.


While only one in ten may want to join Pakistan, two-thirds of the people in Indian-held Kashmir want independence from India according to polls. So do other areas of strife in the northeast and the eastern end of India's southern peninsula. In the jaws of the military and the paramilitary, success for insurgents appears remote.


Kashmir has a stronger legal case. In 1952, Nehru promised a peaceful solution based on a plebiscite, adding they had given their word of honor at the UN and a great nation does not go back on it. So much for greatness. At present India controls 45 percent, Pakistan 35 percent and China the rest -- the troubles are confined to the Indian section.


A couple of thousand miles away to the east is a very unhappy young man. In an economic vice of sanctions he seeks relief to fulfill his desire of economic progress for his country and a better life for his people. Donald Trump has put him on ice, seeking more concessions on nuclear disarmament but Kim Jong Un cannot throw away his main bargaining chip. He chose to test fire a couple of intermediate-range missiles -- he has long-range ones as well.


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Arshad M Khan is a former Professor. Educated at King's College London, Oklahoma State University and the University of Chicago, he has a multidisciplinary background that has frequently informed his research. He was elected a Fellow of the (more...)
 
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