|Asia News Digest
Reports of a Myanmar-India Rift Are False
Dec. 30 (EIRNS)The Washington Post ran a misleading, or perhaps entirely false, report today, titled "India's Halt to Burma Arms Sales May Pressure Junta," claiming (according to unconfirmed "diplomatic sources") that India has stopped arms sales and transfers to Myanmar. Journalist Glenn Kessler also quotes statements by First Lady Laura Bush from Dec. 10, making the same claim. This, the Post argues, will pressure China, Burma's closest ally and trading partner, to curtail its support for Yangon.
However, this implication of a rift in India's relations with Myanmar is contrary to the fact that the two nations agreed on Dec. 29 to expand cooperation along the border in dealing with the smuggling of narcotics, and that Myanmar's Foreign Minister, U Nyan Win, visited India for five days beginning on Dec. 31. He met with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee, among others.
The two sovereign states have reached agreement on developing extensive water-transport routes along their borders, concluding plans for the Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project, which will develop waterways and roads linking Mizoram (the northeast area of India, essentially cut off from the rest of India by Bangladesh) to the Myanmar port of Sitwe on the Bay of Bengal, thus connecting Mizoram via water to the rest of India.
The Post's disinformation must be seen in light of British destabilization operations in the region, especially the assassination of Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan, and a brewing crisis in neighboring Thailand.
Cuba Offers To Send Doctors to the Philippines
Dec. 30 (EIRNS)Philippines doctors have been flooding out of the country, mostly to the United States, often to work as nurses, partially because of the miserable conditions and pay scale in the Philippines, but also because Philippines policy is to send its skilled labor abroad to earn foreign exchange, to pay the debt.
Now, Cuba's Ambassador to the Philippines, Jorge Rey Jimenez, has offered to send Cuban doctors to the Philippines, as they have to other nations of Africa and South America, to deal with the collapsing medical system there. Jimenez noted that the doctor-to-population ratio in Cuba is 1:158, compared to 1:10,000 in the Philippines, or 1:26,000 in some areas. The Philippines government has not yet responded to the offer.
President-Elect of South Korea Admits Global Collapse
Jan. 2 (EIRNS)South Korea's President-elect Lee Myung-bak, who campaigned as the "economic candidate" who would bring South Korea 7% growth and enhanced prosperity for all, has woken up, acknowledged reality, and announced that such plans are pipedreams in the face of a global economic collapse. Meeting with economic think-tank leaders in Seoul today, Lee said, "Raw material prices are soaring and exchange rates are unstable. In addition, the subprime mortgage crisis has hit the global economy. I am fully aware that it's not easy to make the economy grow fast. But we should do something to boost it, because the situation facing working-class families is much more serious than perceived."
EIR published a warning last week from Korean economist Haeran Lim, that Lee must confront the global banking crisis fast, or watch his popularity fall even faster. Lee appears to be admitting that reality.
India Helping Pakistan Against Terrorists
Jan. 5 (EIRNS)The Pakistani government of President Pervez Musharraf is getting help from Indian intelligence to gear up the fight against terrorists, the Pakistani website Daily Times reported today from New Delhi, citing a "top intelligence source." On Dec. 28, the day after Benazir Bhutto was killed, India's Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) held a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The CCS concluded that "a strong and stable Pakistan" is urgently needed for peace in India, and that Musharraf is fighting the same terrorist groups that are operating in Jammu and Kashmir and other regions in India, and are behind the instability in Afghanistan.
Therefore, "India has quietly geared up the intelligence operatives it has in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran to help President Pervez Musharraf fight terrorists."
Yesterday, Indian External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee told the editors of Press Trust of India that India "believe[s] that a strong, stable, and prosperous Pakistan will be helpful to us," and that "President Musharraf is in command of the situation," referring to Pakistan's nuclear capabilities.
Indian assets in and near Pakistan have been told to not take advantage of the current unrest in Pakistan, but rather to help stability, without jeopardizing themselves.
The Daily Times source called it a "good omen for the region" when these two rivals see terrorist groups, including the Taliban, as common enemies. India has doubled its forces on the Pakistani border, also to make it impossible for any terrorists to escape the crackdown ordered by Musharraf.
The source did not rule out that elements in the Pakistan Army and establishment could well support the terrorists' operations.
Indian security analysts are calling the Bhutto assassination a "wake-up call" for Pakistan. The Daily Times quotes Dr. Smruti Pattnaik, head of the Pakistan Desk at the Institute of Defense Studies and Analysis (IDSA), saying, "It is time the Pakistani state reorients its policy to fight its own war on terror inside its territory." Other analysts stress that India must be extremely vigilant about the situation in Pakistan and beyond, as Pakistan, as stated by security expert Bharat Karnad, is a "cushion for India against Islamic extremists."
Pakistan: International Crisis Group 'Promoting Sedition'
Jan. 5 (EIRNS)The Pakistani government today accused the International Crisis Group (ICG) of "promoting sedition," by calling for the resignation of President Pervez Musharraf before the upcoming parliamentary elections, Press Trust of India reported. The ICG had called for the United States to use the Pakistani military to get Musharraf out, calling him "a serious liability, seen as complicit" in Benazir Bhutto's death. The IRC claimed that unless Musharraf is ousted, "the international community could face the nightmare of a nuclear-armed, Muslim country descending into civil war."
Islamabad said the report "amounts to promoting sedition" and that the ICG "neither has the credentials, nor the credibility, and lacks representational standing specially on Pakistan's national affairs" to comment on Pakistan.
Musharraf has also asked Prime Minister Muhammadmian Soomro to increase the speed of the investigation into Bhutto's assassination. He said he is concerned about the "slow progress," and asked Soomro to extend full cooperation to Scotland Yard experts who have arrived in Pakistan.