Sohail Mahmood writes on the history of relations between Pakistan and India and underlines the essential need for dialogue at all costs. Despite the existence of many contentious issues –from Kashmir, to Siachen, to the destabilizing United States–India partnership–. Mahmood believes that much progress has been made in creating peace in South Asia. But in order for negotiation to work, both sides must set aside their long history of enmity, and build trust. Only then can the incredible potential of Pakistan and India, wasted for so many years by senseless conflict, be realized.
Rafael Moreno Izquierdo analyzes Daniel Ortega‘s second opportunity as President of Nicaragua. Despite his friendship with Raúl Castro, Hugo Chávez and Evo Morales, Ortega is not the same revolutionary that we remember from the seventies and eighties. He has managed to temper his revolutionary past with a strong dose of pragmatism to make him effective in the twenty first century. In Moreno Izquierdo‘s opinion, Ortega‘s election will not transform Nicaragua into a capitalist paradise, nor will the Nicaraguan economy model itself off of the highly regulated examples of Cuba or China. The future, therefore, will depend on Daniel Ortega‘s ability to prove that he truly has changed, and on the politicians and businessmen of the United States and Europe to believe him.
Fernando Delage outlines the changes in Asia‘s geo-strategic framework with the entrance of North Korea into the nuclear club. In Delage‘s opinion, China, Japan, and South Korea have a strong motivation to unite, and form a unified foreign policy with regards to Pyongyang. With the danger of nuclear contagion, as well as North Korea‘s new threat to global security, Washington does not trust the possibility of multilateral diplomatic solutions. But while Washington deliberates, Asia should act, and use the diplomatic dynamism instigated by North Korea‘s nuclear test, as an opportunity to take the first steps towards the formation of its own system of security.
Mario Esteban analyzes the relationship between China and Japan since the nomination of the new Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the conversion of North Korea‘s nuclear threat into a reality. In Esteban‘s opinion, both Peking and Tokyo will oppose the nuclear proliferation on the Korean peninsula head on. But when the time comes to decide what measures to take against Pyongyang, the discrepancies will begin to surface.
Rafael Bueno discusses how the great leap forward taken by Kim Jong Il‘s North Korean regime is unlikely to have a happy ending. Using the presence of a foreign threat to secure the absolute obedience of the people, the nuclear test carried out in the province of Hwadaeri will change geopolitics in Asia forever. As Pyongyang just entered the select military nuclear club, bad times are ahead for the Korean peninsula.
Sohail Mahmood discusses the growing need for a peaceful solution to the age-old conflict between India and Pakistan. Although enmity runs deep, and the issue of Kashmir will be difficult to resolve, by establishing an environment of patience, trust, credibility, and goodwill, peace may be possible in South Asia. It is time that the people of both Pakistan and India unite with the international community in sending a message of peace to their leaders. In Mahmood‘s opinion, a lasting peace is long overdue, to enable both countries to be able to address the important issues of economic and political development, like economic growth, the strengthening of political institutions, and finding a solution to widespread poverty.
Sohail Mahmood discusses the achievements and failures of the Musharraf regime in Pakistan over the last seven years. Although the government claims to be democratic, Pakistan lacks many of the principal institutions, processes, and structures necessary for the democratic rule of law. In Mahmood‘s opinion, while the Musharraf regime has instituted some very positive, liberal policies to promote constructive change in Pakistan, the Pakistani people are still disappointed with his government. Musharraf is an authoritarian leader governing a people that yearn for true democracy. Many challenges lie ahead for the Musharraf regime in the coming years.
Fernando Delage discusses the changes that have taken place in Japan over the last five years under the administration of Junichiro Koizumi. Prime Minister Koizumi gained extraordinary popularity for his ability to deal with diverse interest groups and bring about the structural reforms that the Japanese economy had been needing since the beginning of the 90’s. Now that Koizumi‘s government is ending, the question to be asked is: whether Shinzo Abe, Koizumi‘s successor, will have the consistency and leadership to clear up economic uncertainty, secure foreign policy, and continue the legacy of reforms?