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Volume 2 Issue 9| November 2007



Original Forum Editorial

Month in Review: Bangladesh
Month in Review: International
The dilemmas of rural finance- - Akbar Ali Khan
On agflation--Jyoti Rahman
Political failure of the state as a chronic infection-- Afsan Chowdhury
Trying to remember, refusing to forget-- Tazreena Sajjad
Of coups and killings, of hope and despair-- Syed Badrul Ahsan
Aristocracy versus meritocracy-- Akhter M. Choudhury
Photo Feature Poverty amidst plenty-- GMB Akash
Inner wheels-- Gazi Nafis Ahmed
Pakistan's mercenary elites -- M. Shahid Alam
Reforming the political parties--A.T. Rafiqur Rahman
Responsible tourism-- Md. Anwarul Islam
Writing Pakistan-- Kamila Shamsie
Long summer nights-- Rumi Ahmed
Science Forum
It's No Joke


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Month in review: International


Karachi bomb blasts target Bhutto, kill 139

Two suicide bomb blasts kill 139 people in Karachi in the early hours of October 19 as former Pakistan PM Benazir Bhutto returns home after eight years of self-exile. Bhutto's return and the bomb attack are mired in controversy. Government officials have said the attack was mounted from the Afghan border, a stronghold for al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters. Bhutto says senior members of the Pakistani establishment are plotting against her, though she does not believe General Musharraf, who came to power in a coup eight years ago, was involved.

Nuclear Iran could lead to WWIII: Bush

As Bush warns that a nuclear-armed Iran could lead to "World War Three," Democratic leaders in the US question whether a new Bush administration request for $88 million to fit "bunker-busting" bombs to B-2 stealth bombers is part of a plan of attack on Iran. The proposal is included as part of a $200 billion request to Congress on October 22 for the US-led Iraq and Afghan wars. "The drumbeats of war are beating again, this time against Iran and we have to step in while there is still time," says one Democrat. Meanwhile, on October 28, US protestors call for an end to the Iraq war and a stop to further funding.

Turkey loses patience

Ankara amasses 100,000 troops on the Iraq border to crush around 3,000 Kurdish PKK rebels who use northern Iraq as a launch pad for attacks on Turkey. Turkish fighter jets bomb several rebel positions after an attack by PKK on October 21 in which 12 Turkish soldiers were killed. The US and Iraq call on NATO member Turkey to refrain from military action in the Kurdish region, one of the few relatively stable areas of Iraq since the US-led invasion. But President Abdullah Gul warns that Turkey's patience is running out and Ankara vows military incursions into northern Iraq unless Iraqi and US forces crack down on PKK.


Suu Kyi meets with Myanmar junta

Detained Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, under house arrest for 12 of the past 18 years, meets with a representative of the ruling junta for more than an hour on October 25. On the same day the UN envoy on Myanmar concludes talks with China, with no sign that Beijing will exert tougher pressure on the nation's ruling generals. India, along with other Asian nations, also refuses to take a harder line. Myanmar's junta continues to be heavily criticised by the international community for its severe crackdown on anti-government protests in September, with the US expanding sanctions against the military leaders.


The two Koreas talk peace

Leaders of the two Koreas agree on October 19 to try to bring peace to the Cold War's last frontier, just one day after the North signs an international deal to disable its nuclear facilities. But observers say the pledges at only the second summit between North and South Korea were limited, with the North reluctant to break much new ground. The two Koreas will push for talks next month with China and the United States to formally end the 1950-53 Korean War, which is technically still ongoing as a peace treaty has yet to be signed.


Wildfires ravage California

About one million people are forced from their homes in California as wild fires rage through the US state for almost a week. Some 15 major fires claim six lives, injure dozens and destroy thousands of homes as they ravage 800 sq. miles of land from Santa Barbara down to the Mexican border. Among the worst affected areas is around San Diego, where evacuation centres struggle to shelter more than 300,000 people. Fire damage in the state is well over $1 bullion. Police say at least one of the larger fires may have been deliberately started, and one arson suspect is shot dead by police after a pursuit.


Nobel Peace Prize awarded for climate campaign

Climate change campaigner Al Gore and the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The Norwegian Nobel Committee says the peace award stresses the "increased danger of violent conflicts and wars, within and between states" posed by climate change. Gore's selection prompts renewed calls for him to stand in next year's US presidential race. President Bush is "happy" at the "important recognition" for his rival and the IPCC, but is not expected to change his more sceptical stance on global warming.


Sudan govt declares 'ceasefire'

Sudan's government declare an immediate unilateral ceasefire at the opening of Darfur peace talks on October 27, but the absence of key rebels cast doubt on whether the move could produce meaningful progress. One rebel leader who did attend the gathering in the Libyan town of Sirte voiced reservations about Khartoum's move, saying the government had failed to honor such undertakings in the past during four and a half years of violence in the western region.

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