Posts Tagged ‘ Taiwan ’

Pakistan’s Hindu Girls Forced into Muslim Marriages

As Reported by IRIN

Sixteen-year-old Ameena Ahmed*, now living in the town of Rahim Yar Khan in Pakistan’s Punjab Province, does not always respond when her mother-in-law calls out to her. 


“Even after a year of `marriage’ I am not used to my new name. I was called Radha before,” she told IRIN on a rare occasion when she was allowed to go to the corner shop on her own to buy vegetables. 


Ameena, or Radha as she still calls herself, was abducted from Karachi about 13 months ago by a group of young men who offered her ice-cream and a ride in their car. Before she knew what was happening, she was dragged into a larger van, and driven to an area she did not know. 


She was then pressured into signing forms which she later found meant she was married to Ahmed Salim, 25; she was converted to a Muslim after being asked to recite some verses in front of a cleric. She was obliged to wear a veil. Seven months ago, Ameena, who has not seen her parents or three siblings since then and “misses them a lot”, moved with her new family to southern Punjab. 


“The abduction and kidnapping of Hindu girls is becoming more and more common,” Amarnath Motumal, a lawyer and leader of Karachi’s Hindu community, told IRIN. “This trend has been growing over the past four or five years, and it is getting worse day by day.

Pakistan is one of several nations across Asia suffering from a shortage of females as sex-selective abortion has played growing role in the deficit. Portable ultrasound machines have made gender selection much easier. A 2005 study quoted by Wiki estimated that more than 90 million females were “missing” from the expected populations in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, China, India, Pakistan, South Korea and Taiwan alone.

He said there were at least 15-20 forced abductions and conversions of young girls from Karachi each month, mainly from the multi-ethnic Lyari area. The fact that more and more people were moving to Karachi from the interior of Sindh Province added to the dangers, as there were now more Hindus in Karachi, he said. 


“They come to search for better schooling, for work and to escape growing extremism,” said Motumal who believes Muslim religious schools are involved in the conversion business. 


“Hindus are non-believers. They believe in many gods, not one, and are heretics. So they should be converted,” said Abdul Mannan, 20, a Muslim student. He said he would be willing to marry a Hindu girl, if asked to by his teachers, “because conversions brought big rewards from Allah [God]. But later I will marry a `real’ Muslim girl as my second wife,” he said. 


According to local law, a Muslim man can take more than one wife, but rights activists argue that the law infringes the rights of women and needs to be altered. 


Motumal says Hindu organizations are concerned only with the “forced conversion” of girls under 18. “Adult women are of course free to choose,” he said. 


“Lured away”

Sunil Sushmt, 40, who lives in a village close to the city of Mirpurkhas in central Sindh Province, said his 14-year-old daughter was “lured away” by an older neighbour and, her parents believe, forcibly converted after marriage to a Muslim. “She was a child. What choice did she have?” her father asked. He said her mother still cries for her “almost daily” a year after the event. 


Sushmat is also concerned about how his daughter is being treated. “We know many converts are treated like slaves, not wives,” he said. 


According to official figures, Hindus based mainly in Sindh make up 2 percent of Pakistan’s total population of 165 million. “We believe this figure could be higher,” Motumal said. 


According to media reports, a growing number of Hindus have been fleeing Pakistan, mainly for neighbouring India. The kidnapping of girls and other forms of persecution is a factor in this, according to those who have decided not to stay in the country any longer. 


“My family has lived in Sindh for generations,” Parvati Devi, 70, told IRIN. “But now I worry for the future of my granddaughters and their children. Maybe we too should leave,” she said. “The entire family is seriously considering this.” 


Pakistanis for Peace Editor’s Note- This is an absolutely despicable practice that the Pakistani government needs to put an end to just like the blasphemy laws of the nation. The religious minorities of Pakistan deserve equal rights, protections and freedoms.

Jeremy Lin: Where’s The Indian Version?

By Palash R Ghosh for International Business Times

I am as excited and thrilled with the sudden meteoric climb of New York Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin as anyone else. I am completely immersed in ‘Linsanity’ and hope he becomes a dominant superstar in the NBA over a nice long career.

Jeremy Lin is the greatest sports story I’ve seen in years, perhaps decades. As an Asian-American, Lin’s brilliant play has special meaning and significance to me.

However, I must admit, since I am neither Chinese nor Taiwanese, my appreciation of Lin is somewhat as an “outsider.” That is, I can’t quite reach the same level of excitement about No. 17 as my Chinese and Taiwanese friends have.

I have waited many years for an Indian boy in the United States to become a professional sports superstar. Thus far, such a thing hasn’t happened, and, sadly, I doubt it will in my lifetime.

The term “Asian-American” is impossibly vague, broad and diverse, encompassing everyone who claims descent from the Philippines to Afghanistan. Indeed, it’s a rather meaningless phrase, but, for the sake of simplicity, it really means Americans whose parents or ancestors immigrated from a handful of major Asian nations.

According to the 2010 U.S. Census, there were 17.3-million Americans of “Asian” descent, representing about 5.6 percent of the total population.

I found a breakdown of that population for 2008, which indicated that the Chinese formed the largest group among Asian-Americans at 3.6 million, followed by Filipinos (3.1 million), East Indians (2.7 million), Vietnamese (1.7 million), Koreans (1.6 million) and Japanese (1.3 million).

In the popular vernacular, Indians are sometimes not even considered “Asian” since they are sometimes more associated with Middle Eastern peoples, especially since 9-11.

No matter, I consider the people of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Afghanistan as “Asians.”

So, with these large numbers, why are there no Indian star athletes in the United States?

To the best of my knowledge, no Indian lad has ever reached the NBA or Major League Baseball.

Sanjay Beach had a brief career as a wide receiver for the San Francisco 49ers and the Green Bay Packers; Brandon Chillar (whose father is Indian) played linebacker for the Green Bay Packers; and Manny Malhotra (an Indo-Canadian), plays for the Vancouver Canucks in NHL.

And that’s it — and none of them are exactly ‘household names’ or superstars.

Part of the problem is that Indian parents pressure their children to succeed in academics and to shun ‘frivolous’ pursuits like sports, arts and music. Hence, the large number of Indian-American doctors, engineers, accountants, mathematicians, scientists, corporate executives, and, uh, underpaid journalists.

Indeed, Indians (like Chinese and Koreans) are among the highest-earning, best-educated people in the U.S. The residue of being a dreaded “model minority.”

This is all fine and dandy… but, frankly, I’m rather tired of Indians in America being pigeonholed into dull, safe careers. I would be much happier if an Indian boy could pitch a 95-mile-an-hour fast-ball, or slam dunk a basketball or throw a football with pinpoint accuracy for 60 yards.

Realistically, an Indian reaching the NBA and NFL is probably beyond the realm of reality. But what about America’s grand old pastime, baseball?

After all, Indians have excelled at cricket – a sport that requires skills similar to baseball.

If Sachin Tendulkar had grown up in California, perhaps he would now be the starting centerfielder for the Los Angeles Dodgers. If Muttiah Muralitharan were raised in New Jersey, maybe he’d be a 20-game winning pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies. They certainly have the ability to excel in baseball.

What about U.S. football? Indians are pretty good at soccer — surely some NFL club could find place for an Indian placekicker or punter, no? NFL teams have, over the years, employed a number of former European soccer players for such humble (non-violent) duties.

Will we see an Indian-American athletic superstar in my lifetime (I probably have about 30 years left on this earth)? My guess is no.

Most Indian parents compel their children to study subjects in school that will lead to good, solid, stable high-paying jobs. Sports are fine as long as they don’t become an obsession or, worse, a career goal.

Indian parents likely tell their children that becoming a professional athlete is the longest of long shots (even if one has great talent) — and indeed, they are right. Consider that in the NBA there are 30 teams with a roster of 12 players each.

That’s just 360 players.

Thus, for every NBA player, there are about 850,000 people in the United States.

It makes no logical sense to pursue a career in sports – unless your name is Jeremy Lin, of course.

And let me add that if a young Indian man rose to the top of any American sports leagues, he would likely become the number one celebrity on the planet, especially if he is telegenic.

He would not only enjoy the fame and wealth that is bestowed upon those lucky few that reach the zenith of pro sports in the western world, but he would also have about one-billion people on the Indian subcontinent as rabid, devoted followers. He would be like a combination of Michael Jordan, Tom Brady, Joe DiMaggio, Elvis Presley, John Wayne and Salman Khan.

It would be utterly incredible… but highly unlikely.

China Ramps Up Pressure Over Kashmir

By Sudha Ramachandran The Asia Times

BANGALORE – A recent report in the Chinese media describing the Sino-Indian border as being 2,000 kilometers long, roughly 1,500 km shorter than that defined by India, has evoked an alarmed response among sections of the Indian strategic community.

The “missing 1,500 km” from the definition of the Sino-Indian border is seen to be a clear pointer to Beijing’s hardening position, not only on its long-standing boundary dispute with India but also on Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). While India holds about 45% of J&K territory and Pakistan controls 35%, China occupies about 20% (including Aksai Chin and the Shaksgam Valley, ceded by Pakistan to China in 1963).

A Beijing-datelined Xinhua news agency report of an official briefing by China’s Assistant Foreign Minister Hu Zhengyue on the eve of Prime Minister Wen Jiabao’s recent visit to India triggered the flap. “China and India share a 2,000-km-long border that has never been formally demarcated,” the report said. India describes the border as being 3,488 km.

The different positions were made even more explicit by the Global Times, an English-language newspaper published by the People’s Daily, the official mouthpiece of the ruling Chinese Communist Party. In an interview with Global Times, India’s ambassador to China, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, spoke of the “long common border of 3,488 kilometers” between the two countries. But a comment by the editors of Global Times in parentheses said: “There is no settled length of the common border. The Chinese government often refers to the border length as being ‘about 2,000 kilometers’.”

Reports in state-owned media have been describing the border as being 2,000 km for at least a year now.

The roughly 1,500 km-long shortfall in the Chinese perception is believed to refer to the Sino-Indian boundary in J&K. “China apparently no longer treats the line of nearly 1,600 km separating Jammu and Kashmir on the one hand and Xinjiang and Tibet on the other as a border with India,” strategic affairs expert C Raja Mohan wrote in the Indian Express. That is, it does not recognize Kashmir to be part of India.

Beijing is questioning India’s locus standi to discuss J&K’s border with China, observes B Raman, a retired director in India’s external intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW). In essence, it is seeking to exclude discussion of the western sector of the disputed Sino-Indian boundary with India. The western sector includes the large chunk of Indian territory, Aksai Chin, in the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir that China occupied in 1962.

Besides, China “wants to change the format of the border talks in order to keep it confined bilaterally to the eastern and middle sectors and expand it to a trilateral issue involving India, China and Pakistan in the western sector,” Raman wrote recently.

China has become increasingly assertive in its questioning of India’s sovereignty over J&K. Since 2008, it has been issuing visas on a separate sheet of paper to residents of Jammu and Kashmir rather than stamping the visa in their passports, as is the norm with other Indian citizens. In August last year, China also denied a visa to Lieutenant General B S Jaswal – commander of the Indian army’s Northern Command, which includes Kashmir – for an official visit to China, on the grounds that he “controlled” a “disputed area”.

Besides, over the past year, Beijing has been reaching out to the Hurriyat Conference, an umbrella organization of Kashmiri separatist outfits. In March 2010, for instance, Chinese Foreign Affairs director Ying Gang met with Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq in Geneva on the sidelines of the 13th session of the UN Human Rights Council. Besides questioning India’s sovereignty over Kashmir, China has been endorsing Islamabad’s control over the part of Kashmir it has administered since 1947.

It was with India that the Maharajah of Jammu and Kashmir, Hari Singh, signed an Instrument of Accession in October 1947. However, only 45% of the territory of the former princely state is in India’s hands today, roughly 35% remaining under Pakistani administration and another 20% under Chinese control. The territory under Chinese occupation includes Aksai Chin and the Shaksgam Valley that Pakistan gifted to China in 1963.

In the Northern Areas of Pakistan-administered Kashmir, China is involved in the construction of several infrastructure projects, including roads, hydroelectric power projects, dams, expressways, bridges and telecommunication facilities. During Wen’s recent visit to Pakistan, the two countries signed a US$275 million agreement for repair and expansion of the Karakoram Highway. Earlier in September, Beijing underlined its support to Islamabad’s territorial claims over parts of Pakistan-administered Kashmir when it described the Northern Areas as “a northern part of Pakistan”.

The India-Pakistan dispute over Kashmir predates the People’s Republic of China (PRC). India and Pakistan had already fought their first war over Kashmir when the PRC came into being. Initially, China took its cues from the Soviet Union on the issue. It described the conflict as a Western creation and maintained that the US and Britain were hoping to make Kashmir a Western base.
China took a “neutral position” in the 1950s. It opposed foreign arbitration on the Kashmir issue, which pleased India. At the same time, it did not endorse Delhi’s claims over Kashmir. Fraying Sino-Soviet relations and Moscow’s overt support to Jammu and Kashmir as “an inalienable part of the Republic of India”, as well as concerns that its backing of India would push Pakistan into a closer embrace of the US, seem to have prompted it to adopt a more “neutral position” between India and Pakistan on Kashmir.

With Sino-Indian relations deteriorating from 1959 onwards, China began tilting towards Pakistan. It signed a border agreement with Pakistan. Since this dealt with areas that constituted Pakistan-administered Kashmir, the agreement amounted to a de facto Chinese recognition of Pakistan’s control over this area. Although it subsequently denied such recognition, describing this as “provisional” and “pending settlement of the Kashmir dispute”, a joint communique issued at the end of prime minister Zhou Enlai’s visit to Pakistan in February 1964 was a strong endorsement of the Pakistani position. It urged a solution of the dispute “in accordance with the wishes of the people of Kashmir”. India is opposed to a plebiscite in Kashmir.

By the mid/late 1970s, China began advocating a status quo on Kashmir. Support for the Kashmiris’ right to self-determination was toned down. In 1976, in his speech before the UN General Assembly, Chinese foreign minister Chia Kuan-Hua omitted naming Kashmir in a list of territories where the right to self-determination had not been exercised. It is believed that China’s own troubles with separatism and improving ties with India prompted its shrinking support on self-determination.

With Sino-Indian rapprochement gathering momentum in the 1990s, China began describing Kashmir as a bilateral matter to be resolved by India and Pakistan through peaceful means. On his visit to India in 1996, president Ziang Zemin called on India and Pakistan to set aside contentious issues and build a cooperative relationship. During the brief Kargil conflict in 1999, China called on India and Pakistan to respect the Line of Control that separates Pakistani- and Indian-administered Kashmir. These were seen as signs of Beijing taking a neutral position on Kashmir again.

China has never accepted India’s sovereignty over Jammu and Kashmir, even over the part that is under its control. After all, if it did it would mean giving up the roughly 43,180 square kilometers of territory that is currently under its control. However, it had avoided provoking India on the matter publicly. This has changed in recent years, with Beijing being “deliberately provocative” on Kashmir.

India is not letting the repeated provocations go unchallenged. After all, the territorial integrity of the country is a core concern of the Indian state. A couple of months ago, in his talks with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, India’s External Affairs Minister S M Krishna did some tough talking. According to officials quoted by the Hindu, for the first time India drew a parallel between “the territorial red lines” of the two countries.

Krishna reportedly told Yang that just as India had been sensitive to its concerns over Tibet and Taiwan, Beijing too should be mindful of Indian sensitivities on Jammu and Kashmir. The message that India is sending is that if China questions India’s sovereignty over Kashmir, India will question Beijing’s sovereignty over Tibet and Taiwan.

Delhi has indicated that Krishna’s warning was to be taken seriously. The joint communique issued at the end of Wen’s visit to India made no reference to India’s commitment to a “one china policy”. This is the first time since 1988 that a summit-level joint communique has made no mention of the policy. Instead, both sides agreed to show “mutual respect and sensitivity for each other’s concerns and aspirations”.

-Sudha Ramachandran is an independent journalist/researcher based in Bangalore.

China and India: Contest of the Century

As reported by The Economist

A HUNDRED years ago it was perhaps already possible to discern the rising powers whose interaction and competition would shape the 20th century. The sun that shone on the British empire had passed midday. Vigorous new forces were flexing their muscles on the global stage, notably America, Japan and Germany. Their emergence brought undreamed-of prosperity; but also carnage on a scale hitherto unimaginable.

Now digest the main historical event of this week: China has officially become the world’s second-biggest economy, overtaking Japan. In the West this has prompted concerns about China overtaking the United States sooner than previously thought. But stand back a little farther, apply a more Asian perspective, and China’s longer-term contest is with that other recovering economic behemoth: India. These two Asian giants, which until 1800 used to make up half the world economy, are not, like Japan and Germany, mere nation states. In terms of size and population, each is a continent—and for all the glittering growth rates, a poor one.

Not destiny, but still pretty important

This is uncharted territory that should be seen in terms of decades, not years. Demography is not destiny. Nor for that matter are long-range economic forecasts from investment banks. Two decades ago Japan was seen as the main rival to America. Countries as huge and complicated as China can underachieve or collapse under their own contradictions. In the short term its other foreign relationships may matter more, even in Asia: there may, for instance, be a greater risk of conflict between rising China and an ageing but still powerful Japan. Western powers still wield considerable influence.

So caveats abound. Yet as the years roll forward, the chances are that it will increasingly come down once again to the two Asian giants facing each other over a disputed border (see article). How China and India manage their own relationship will determine whether similar mistakes to those that scarred the 20th century disfigure this one.

Neither is exactly comfortable in its skin. China’s leaders like to portray Western hype about their country’s rise as a conspiracy—a pretext either to offload expensive global burdens onto the Middle Kingdom or to encircle it. Witness America’s alliances with Japan and South Korea, its legal obligation to help Taiwan defend itself and its burgeoning friendships with China’s rivals, notably India but also now Vietnam.

This paranoia is overdone. Why shouldn’t more be asked from a place that, as well as being the world’s most-populous country, is already its biggest exporter, its biggest car market, its biggest carbon-emitter and its biggest consumer of energy (a rank China itself, typically, contests)? As for changing the balance of power, the People’s Liberation Army’s steady upgrading of its technological capacity, its building of a blue-water navy and its fast-developing skills in outer space and cyberspace do not yet threaten American supremacy, despite alarm expressed this week about the opacity of the PLA’s plans in a Pentagon report. But China’s military advances do unnerve neighbours and regional rivals. Recent weeks have seen China fall out with South Korea (as well as the West) over how to respond to the sinking in March, apparently by a North Korean torpedo, of a South Korean navy ship. And the Beijing regime has been at odds with South-East Asian countries over its greedy claim to almost all of the South China Sea.

India, too, is unnerved. Its humiliation at Chinese hands in a brief war nearly 50 years ago still rankles. A tradition of strategic mistrust of China is deeply ingrained. India sees China as working to undermine it at every level: by pre-empting it in securing supplies of the energy both must import; through manoeuvres to block a permanent seat for India on the United Nations Security Council; and, above all, through friendships with its smaller South Asian neighbours, notably Pakistan. India also notes that China, after decades of setting their border quarrels to one side in the interests of the broader relationship, has in recent years hardened its position on the disputes in Tibet and Kashmir that in 1962 led to war. This unease has pushed India strategically closer to America—most notably in a controversial deal on nuclear co-operation.

Autocrats in Beijing are contemptuous of India for its messy, indecisive democracy. But they must see it as a serious long-term rival—especially if it continues to tilt towards America. As recently as the early 1990s, India was as rich, in terms of national income per head. China then hurtled so far ahead that it seemed India could never catch up. But India’s long-term prospects now look stronger. While China is about to see its working-age population shrink (see article), India is enjoying the sort of bulge in manpower which brought sustained booms elsewhere in Asia. It is no longer inconceivable that its growth could outpace China’s for a considerable time. It has the advantage of democracy—at least as a pressure valve for discontent. And India’s army is, in numbers, second only to China’s and America’s: it has 100,000 soldiers in disputed Arunachal Pradesh (twice as many as America will soon have in Iraq). And because India does not threaten the West, it has powerful friends both on its own merits and as a counterweight to China.

A settlement in time

The prospect of renewed war between India and China is, for now, something that disturbs the sleep only of virulent nationalists in the Chinese press and retired colonels in Indian think-tanks. Optimists prefer to hail the $60 billion in trade the two are expected to do with each other this year (230 times the total in 1990). But the 20th century taught the world that blatantly foreseeable conflicts of interest can become increasingly foreseeable wars with unforeseeably dreadful consequences. Relying on prosperity and more democracy in China to sort things out thus seems unwise. Two things need to be done.

First, the slow progress towards a border settlement needs to resume. The main onus here is on China. It has the territory it really wants and has maintained its claim to Arunachal Pradesh only as a bargaining chip. It has, after all, solved intractable boundary quarrels with Russia, Mongolia, Myanmar and Vietnam. Surely it cannot be so difficult to treat with India?

That points to a second, deeper need, one that it took Europe two world wars to come close to solving: emerging Asia’s lack of serious institutions to bolster such deals. A regional forum run by the Association of South-East Asian Nations is rendered toothless by China’s aversion to multilateral diplomacy. Like any bully, it prefers to pick off its antagonists one by one. It would be better if China and India—and Japan—could start building regional forums to channel their inevitable rivalries into collaboration and healthy competition.

Globally, the rules-based system that the West set up in the second half of the 20th century brought huge benefits to emerging powers. But it reflects an out-of-date world order, not the current global balance, let alone a future one. China and India should be playing a bigger role in shaping the rules that will govern the 21st century. That requires concessions from the West. But it also requires commitment to a rules-based international order from China and India. A serious effort to solve their own disagreements is a good place to start.

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