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In Depth

In Depth


Problematic Strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan

A few weeks after President Barack Obama announced a new integrated a new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, based on increasing the number of troops and technicians in the first country, to strengthen military help and of development in the second, to initiate dialogue with moderated insurgents and to promote a regional framework of negotiation, hesitations about its viability arise. General David Petraeus would like to repeat in Afghanistan the formula used in Iraq: To momentarily increase the US troops, to place more emphasis on civil projects, not to act as occupants and to create militias that defend their villages and collaborate with the weak Afghan Police and Army to combat the Talibans.

Thousands of Pakistanis run away from the Combats between the Army and the Talibans

"We run away from the bombings of the Army, not from the Talibans", Gusa Rilal repeats. It sounds incredible. Rilal is Sikh, a tiny minority among the 170 million Pakistanis, 95% of which are Muslim. Like the rest of the 70 families that are sheltered in the temple of Panja Sahib, in Hasanabdal, the Rilal procede from Buner, 100 kilometres from Islamabad, where the soliders try to evacuate the Talibans since Wednesday. Reports inform of at least 170 Talibans and a vague number of dead civilians. More than 50000 people have abandoned their homes.

The City, Laboratory of New China

While the rural areas in the 20th century were proud of belonging to that China that was characterized by the establishment and practice of the doctrines of the Communist Revolution, the 21st century will be dominated by the cities and large transformations related to urbanization. Never before had the history of humanity seen a phenomenon similar in such a short period of time. The number say it themselves: The urban population of China (according to the official register) grew 422 millions since 1978, when it was only 172 millions, until the 594 million people that were counted in 2007. In addition, the cities host 149 million immigrants that do not exist in official numbers.

"Spain does not know how to make the most of its Good Image among the Ruling Class of the Asian Giant"

Spain is the surest and reliable ally of China in Europe, as Wen Jiabao recently said, the Prime Minister of the Asian country. Without a doubt, this declaration, carried out in public and private, inside and outside Spain, has a great political reach and value. This praise is a consequence of an attitude of the Spanish diplomacy that, away from some European partners, is characterized by almost systematically avoiding thorny issues in their relations with the Eastern Giant, regarding human rights, Tibet or Taiwan. Without taking into account the convenience or non-convenience of the attitude, the paradoxical part of this fact, more natural than specific, is that it doubtfully obeys a strategic reflection to encourage an environment of confidence that allows to operate an important jump in bilateral relations, especially within the commercial field, under their most modest potentialities. We can difficultly make to host of a relation politically praised by the Chinese and Spanish authorities that could bring important facilities if we counted on suitable proposals at our disposal.

Dangerous Games in Northeast Asia

North Korea has challenged the International Community again, causing an increase of military tensions in Northeast Asia. On the 5th of April he launched a intercontinental ballistic missile that, according to military sources of the USA, after flying over Japan and touring 3100 kilometres it fell in the Pacific Ocean. On the other hand, Pyongyang affirms to have successfully launched a satellite of communications that once it is placed in orbit begins to broadcast the immortal revolutionary songs of Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-Il. But the USA, South Korea and Japan insist in the fact that not satellite or object entered into orbit and transmissions or signals were not detected.

Salman Rushdie: 'Human beings have created gods, and not the other way round'

Salman Rushdie has come back to Barcelona to present his new creation, The Enchantress of Florence, a book that brings out his best dowries as a historian travelling to the 16th century, in the empire of Akbar 'the Great', a stage where reality coexists with fiction. It is magic, superstitions and legends that give life to the characters of this book and surrounds in an aureole that, regarding style, approaches the new creation of Rushdie to the stories of One Thousand and One Nights, more than to a historical account. The novel is a game between what's real and what is not, a territory where a 'contract' is necessary between the author and reader that legitimate this literary deceit. And it is precisely in this register where Rushdie affirms to feel more comfortable: 'The dimension of fiction, this contract between both parts, allows you to focus on different realities from the sides. I can say: The account is not true, but inside it you can find a great number of truths. And that lack of didacticism is what makes the account more democratic'.

"Without Justice there will be no Peace in our Country"

Orzala Ashraf wears a veil and a flower tunic. She speaks an excellent English and she represents, as she says, a country that has gone through atrocious wars, long exiles and hopeful returns. She lived 14 years sheltered in Pakistan and learnt other languages watching television and listening to the radio. She is used to herself and now represents Afghan Women's Network, and an NGO that brings together more than 80 similar groups in her country. Yesterday, she attended the lecture devoted to the future of her country, guaranteeing her compatriots to be ready to take part in the processes of high level decision. At the end of the event, her will seemed to approach reality more than ever. It was when Hillary Clinton, State Secretary of the USA, said that Afghan women and children's rights constitute "the centre" of its policies, because "no society can advance relegating more than half of its population".

'Pakistan will be a frustrated State in six months if the current drift continues'

According to Ahmed Rashid, one of the most prestigious politica analysts of Central Asia, time runs against the whole region, which is dangerously close to the abyss of Islamic extremism. Rashid affirms that the 'Talibans have become a model' of insurgence and a 'redefinition of war against terror' is required to avoid the collapse of the region in anarchy. Rashid is in Madrid owing to the publication of his latest book, Descent Into Chaos (Península 2009).

The 'Peaceful' Rise of Foreign Policy in Japan

Japan has been considered for a long time an economic giant and a political dwarf in the international scenario. After their defeat in 1945, the country was occupied by the USA but, once it recovered its sovereignty, it did not have enough ploy capacity to develop and active and independent diplomacy. It was established, since 1951, under the US military protection and devoted its efforts to the reconstruction of the country and its reintegration in the international economic system. In 1964, the Olympic Games of Tokyo consecrate the Japanese irruption in the international scenario. With the purpose of the Cold War, the Chinese economic opening began in 1978 and therefore, the democracy starts in South Korea in 1987. Japan becomes the first world economy, the first Asian and the first donor of OAD in the system of the UUNN. However, when Japan turns to the Asian continent it sees China reborn as another economic giant with vocation of regional leadership. The successful Olympic Games of Beijing in 2008 have asko marked a difference for China. On the other hand, Japan with its constitutional limitations in the military field, its decelerated economy and an old population, cannot develop a 'political' leadership in East Asia.

Toyo Ito: "There is no better Architecture than that of a Tree"

Just like the trunk of a tree coming out of a futurist painting, is the hotel that the Japanese architect Toyo Ito (1941) has build in the Square of Europe of L'Hospitalet, near the access of Fira Barcelona from Gran Via. New icon of the entrance in Barcelona, its red colour between blood and earth silhouette - "it takes us a long time to decide what tonality of red suited it best", the architect commented yesterday in Barcelona- it matches an octagonal glazed tower made for offices. It will be finished in May and the hotel, which involves the disembark of the chain Hoteles Santos in Barcelona, can begin to work in October, once the interiorism of the building ends, which is also designed by the Japanese architect. They make up a broader project. Its studio is in charge of the complete extension of Fira 2, a work that, up-to-now, doesn't have financing problems. "Even I am surprised that my studio is not too affected by the crisis", he commented yesterday during the presentation of the exhibition of his Spanish works that will be displayed at Casa Asia until the end of May. "I suppose it is because almost all of my projects are of public financing".

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