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South Asia Security Monitor - No. 201
An Islamic constitution for Afghanistan?;
Burma back as a narco-state
Edited by Stephen Yates
November 2, 2007
In a move sure to further complicate the already-tenuous peace process in Afghanistan, the Taliban has published its own hard-line Islamist alternative to the country’s constitution. According to the London Telegraph, the document outlines an Afghan state where women remain veiled and uneducated, jihad is an obligation for every citizen, all "un-Islamic thought" is banned, and human rights – which are “contrary to the teachings of Islam” - would be ignored. All violators of these tenets, the document lays out, are to be punished according to the Taliban's strict interpretation of sharia law.
The move is a milestone for the ousted Islamist movement, observers say. According to author Ahmed Rashid, it is the "first time the Taliban has clearly set out its aims" in the political arena.
As part of the latest agreement hammered out in the Six Party Talks, North Korea has agreed to "declare all of its nuclear programs and disable its main atomic reactor" by the end of this year, the Agence France Presse reports. The commitment is the second phase of a long-running process to curb the Stalinist country’s nuclear drive – a plan outlined by the DPRK, China, Russia, Japan, the United States and South Korea back in February. As part of the arrangement, North Korea will disable its five-megawatt plutonium reactor and two other key facilities at Yongbyon by December 31st. In return, it will receive 900,000 tons of oil or its equivalent in aid from the other five nations.
Burma's military junta is now extending its violent crackdown – launched in late September – to journalists, detaining anyone accused of having taken photos and leaking them to other countries, Der Spiegel reports. Burma's state radio is currently spearheading a campaign to berate and threaten journalist who are critical of the country's military junta, calling them "public nuisances" and "saboteurs." Meanwhile, several Burmese journalists have reportedly been arrested and many are suspected of having "disappeared."
Growing concern over China's expanding maritime presence has led Japan to announce that it will deploy sophisticated fighter aircraft to the southernmost island chain of Okinawa. According to Defense News, the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force will shift twenty F-15s from their current station in Tokyo to Okinawa's Naha base by March of 2009, replace a similar number of aging F-4 aircraft already stationed there. "The Japanese government cannot say that China is a threat, but we are showing concern," Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura has told reporters. The announcement comes as Japan, the U.S. and Australia hold their first ever joint military drill in the East China Sea. According to defense officials, those maneuvers are aimed at "improving techniques in fields such as communications and search-and-rescue operations, as well as helping build mutual confidence."
After years of comparative decline, Burma is experiencing an "alarming upsurge" of illicit drug production, analysts say. "Over the past years, Myanmar [Burma] was priced out of the opium market by much higher yields and cultivation in Afghanistan," says Antonio Maria Costa, head of the UN's Office of Drugs and Crime. But a sharp increase in Burmese production this year "undermines progress towards a drug-free south-east Asia." The Financial Times reports that the opium crop in Burma shot up almost 30 percent this year, reaching 27,000 hectares, while higher yields boosted production by almost 50 percent. Production is concentrated in the country’s south and east Shan states, where corruption, collusion by authorities and weak border security are fueling the resurgence.