The Great Game of the 19th Century was played between empire builders Britain and Russia, using Afghanistan as their football in seeking control of central Asia. Today, there is a new great game under way between two very different competitors — China and India. But this time the ball is Burma. In much the same way that Afghanistan was a poor and undeveloped but strategic piece of territory, so Burma now fits that role for the two burgeoning economic giants. But Burma is more than simply a slice of well-placed geography: It is rich in energy resources, which China and [...]
Terror Torments Pakistan as Domestic Groups Go International
For Pakistan, any celebration over the counter-terrorism successes of the last week has been extremely short-lived. Shortly after American and British officials lauded Pakistan’s efforts to thwart the plot to blow up U.S.-bound planes, the focus of ongoing global investigations turned inexorably towards the South Asian nation. This focus is driven by overwhelming evidence that the country remains a hub of terrorist activity and is attracting followers from around the world. As news of arrests in Great Britain and Pakistan broke, Pakistani officials did their best to emphasize an Afghanistan-based Al Qaeda connection but admitted that the majority of the [...]
Multi-Ethnic Malaysia Grapples With ‘Islamization’
After July, Malaysians will grow old gracefully. Or, in any case, those who follow Malaysian Islamic law. The country’s National Fatwa Council (Jawatankuasa Fatwa) closed its three-day meeting on July 27, deciding to forbid the country’s Muslims from using botox, among other prohibitions. To settle questions of what is halal (allowed) and haram (forbidden) for Malaysia’s Muslims, the Fatwa Council meets regularly to mull over international Islamic scholarship. They pronounce on issues as modern as donating zakat funds via text-message (halal) and as serious as euthanasia (decision forthcoming). But Malaysia is no Iran. Since 1957, Malaysia’s parliament has been run [...]
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