High voting in Kashmir: the contrarian Modi factor

How does one explain the sudden high turn-out of voters in the terrorist-hit Kashmir region of India’s troubled state of Jammu and Kashmir? In any other part of the country it would have been attributable to the near mesmerising Narendra Modi factor but not in Kashmir, where political faultlines travel through the disputed Line of Control (LoC) separating India and Pakistan. But for sure, Mr Modi has remained the pivotal figure in the state. It would be untrue to say that he did not influence the voting pattern, though it might have taken a different course from what has happened in other states such as Haryana and Maharashtra in the recent past. The only difference is that some viewed him with hope, others with curiosity and scepticism.

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Peshawar atrocity will change Pakistan’s approach to terrorists

It took the massacre of 132 schoolchildren at the hands of Taliban rebels on December 16 to bring Pakistan to an inflection point in its struggles with jihadism. Massive public outrage, along with unprecedented criticism of the government’s ambiguous policies toward Islamist insurgents, will push the state to greatly intensify its war against jihadists. This intensification, in turn, will have considerable implications for the wider region, particularly Pakistan’s neighbours, Afghanistan and India. A key part of this effort will involve confronting extremists at the societal level, which will aggravate frictions between the conservative and liberal segments of Pakistani society — a struggle that cannot be avoided if the country is to rid itself of the scourge of religious extremism.After years of waging a vicious insurgency that has left some 50,000 Pakistanis dead since 2001,

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Newsletter 15 December 2014

Newsletter 31 December 2014