Articles by Iqbal Ahmed:
July 25, 2012 by Iqbal Ahmed
For Muslims around the world, Ramadan is a month of peace and calmness. That is hardly the case for the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. The ethnic rift between them and the ethnic Buddhists since June has spiraled out of control, leaving scores of Rohingya Muslims dead and homeless. Many have crossed the border into Bangladesh. Amnesty International’s Benjamin Zawacki said the latest violence has been “primarily one-sided, with Muslims generally and Rohingya specifically the targets and victims.”
Branded by the United Nations as one of the most persecuted minorities of the world, Rohingya’s live in the Rakhine State, located in west of Myanmar. With a population of 3 million, the Rakhine state borders Bay of Bengal to the west and the majority of its residents are Theravada Buddhists and Hindus.
May 25, 2012 by Iqbal Ahmed
The war between East and West Pakistan in 1971 lasted only nine months. But the atrocities were cowering – an estimated three million people dead, 400,000 women raped, 600,000 children killed, and scores of targeted intellectuals slaughtered in an attempt to cripple East Pakistan’s social and cultural backbone. Besides politics, atrocities against the people of East Pakistan by the West Pakistani army stemmed from ethnic hatred. In his book, “Death by Government”, R. J. Rummel wrote, “Bengalis were often compared with monkeys and chickens.” It was a statement West Pakistani General Niazi once made about how he viewed the people of East Pakistan.
April 27, 2012 by Iqbal Ahmed
Luminaries smelled blood. Hillary Clinton, Kevin Rudd, and David Cameron came and went, openly advocating for continued democratic reform. All met with Ms. Aung Sun Suu Kyi. In the aftermath of grandiose state visits from such luminaries to Burma (officially known as Myanmar), Aung Sun Suu Kyi and military leaders face a long and difficult task to bring about political, social, and economic reforms in a country that has remained under a brutal military junta and isolated from most of the world since 1960.
In politics, relationships matter less. Interest matters most. U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell, a high-ranking Republican, recently expressed his glowing enthusiasm and hopes for the reform in Burma. He thought Burma is on the path to achieve something that once seemed impossible. Ironically, Sen. McConnell is also the “architect” of the economic sanctions against Burma.
February 8, 2012 by Iqbal Ahmed
Seven thousand miles separate Arlington, Virginia and Shenzhen, China. Two continents apart, these two cities could not be more different. Yet they are similar, geopolitically and globally. The characteristics of today’s globalization have united and connected cities like Arlington and Shenzhen.
January 12, 2012 by Iqbal Ahmed
The Somali pirates terrorize the Gulf of Aden. In India, Monsanto terrorizes one of basic sources of human survival – food. But this may change. After years of cajoling with Monsanto, the Indian government finally threw in the towel. In 2010, it banned commercial approval of GM seeds “indefinitely” to prevent Monsanto from “frankencroping” basic crops like brinjal. Most importantly, the Indian government filed a “biopiracy” suit against Monsanto to curb its appetite for flooding the Indian market with “patented” artificial seeds.
At the center of this suit is brinjal or eggplant, a common crop that farmers across India grow. The Indian government alleged that Monsanto has developed its own lab-grown version of brinjal or known as Bt brinjal in an attempt to “re-engineer them into patented varieties.” There are about 2500 varieties of brinjals in India.
December 19, 2011 by Iqbal Ahmed
I met with a friend, an expat from Bangladesh like me, at a bar in Arlington on the eve of Bangladesh’s Victory Day on December 16 for drinks. It was already December 16 in Bangladesh because of the 11-hour time difference. After a few beers, my friend, who is 10 years older than me, offered to tell me a story. It was April 1, 1971. I was six years old.
The West Pakistan Army unleashed its attack on East Pakistan on the night of March 25. We stayed in Dhaka for a couple of days until my father told us to get ready to leave the city on March 28.
November 29, 2011 by Iqbal Ahmed
The notoriously powerful military junta of Burma is loosening its grip. In an uncharacteristic move, former army general Thein Sein, who came to power in March, thwarted the Chinese-funded $3.6 billion Myitsone dam project in the state of Kachin, relenting to the continuous pressure from the Burmese citizens in that region. The Burmese government has recently released more than 6,000 jailed political prisoners.
The U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is set to pay a visit to a country that has been closed to outside world for more than 50 years. These events indicate that Burma maybe inching toward a democratic reform.
November 3, 2011 by Iqbal Ahmed
Imran Khan, the legendary cricket player, is larger than life in Pakistan. His fame, persona, and charisma go back to his cricket days when he mesmerized the cricket world with his dazzling performance and style, not to mention leading Pakistan to become the World Champion in 1992.
Mr. Khan, 58, is long retired from cricket. But, now, he has brought his fame, charisma, along with patriotic endeavors into the political realm of Pakistan. The question is does he have the necessary skills to bring about Pakistan from rising unemployment and inflation, diplomatic fallout with the U.S., a testy relationship with India, and ongoing unrest between reformists and fundamentalists?
October 26, 2011 by Iqbal Ahmed
What is poverty? It points to a cycle of human behavior, suggesting that the poor remain in poverty because of their adaptation to the burden of unfulfilled needs.
Sudhir Vankatesh, the author of “Gang Leader for a Day,” said of Oscar Lewis, “Maybe there’s something in the way they live, in their lifestyle…that certain behaviors get transmitted from generation to generation.”
October 24, 2011 by Iqbal Ahmed
On September 26, 2011, Grameen America opened its first branch in the Bronx. Its goal is clear: to provide economic leverage to the low-income families in New York City. Grameen’s microcredit model aims to do what it achieved effectively in Bangladesh – to provide micro loans to individuals and small businesses and to create economic solvency.
In Bangladesh, it achieved something else – the empowerment of women. The Grameen Bank in the Bronx has the potential to achieve both — the program would provide a lifeline to individuals and small businesses and would empower the poor. But will it work to alleviate poverty in the U.S.?
October 14, 2011 by Iqbal Ahmed
Worldwide, the issue of immigration far exceeded its focal point – the immigrants. It has transformed into our own value judgment, predicament, and prejudice. In the U.S., the issue morphed into civil rights violation in the wake of a new controversial policy in Arizona. In France, ban on burqa has accentuated the anti-immigration sentiments. In the U.K., Prime Minister David Cameron’s stance on putting a cap on immigration quota set off an economic qualm between India and the U.K.
My argument is here not about any policy but our moral indignation. How do we become so indifferent to “other” people? We perceive others as “other” because they are different. This is, perhaps, the inherent nature of human being. “Other” invokes our curiosity. “Other” makes us indifferent. “Other” makes us complacent. “Other” makes us contrived.
October 8, 2011 by Iqbal Ahmed
Just a few months ago, Serbia was the centerpiece of the European Union (EU) policy. Its ascension to the EU looked promising. But the euro crisis in Greece shifted the EU’s policy priority. Now, the crisis has run so deep that the EU itself is under the threat of being disbanded. It is unlikely. And it would be only a matter of time before Serbia along with other Balkan countries return to the EU policy debate.
The timing, then, will be even more critical to evaluate Serbia’s ascension to the EU. The arguments for such an evaluation follow. On May 26, 2011 the Serbian authority arrested war criminal Ratko Mladic. His arrest was a critical factor for Serbia’s coveted EU membership. The arrest brought praises from the international community. But it is far cry from bringing a closure to the relatives of 8,000 men, women, children slaughtered in Srebrenica in 1994. Nor should it satisfy the outright preconditions of the EU membership. The larger question for EU is this: can it really afford to bear the burden of another volatile EU member in addition to Bulgaria, Romania, and Greece?