Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Unfinished business

The Charlie Hebdo and the Hyper Cacher atrocities, or rather the extended coverage of the reaction to them, have swept reporting of other disasters from BBC News and most of the press. We are only now catching up not only with the news of a slow improvement in the Ebola situation and the much more horrendous Muslim-on-Muslim slaughter in northern Nigeria. The kidnapping of both girls and boys by Boko Haram continues, as statements in both houses of parliament in response to an urgent question by Sarah Teather revealed.

In the Lords, Qurban Hussain stretched parliamentary procedure by linking the Nigerian genocide with that in Peshawar. To be fair to the BBC, the return to school after the terror attack by Taliban was covered by the corporation.

But one had to turn to al-Jazeera to discover that President Assad continues to oppress his people and that various extremist factions are taking advantage of the situation by wreaking havoc across Syria. There is more hopeful news from Libya, but this is another lawless situation created by the big powers which has been rather lost sight of.

I see that Lord Hussain was born in Kashmir and that several of my Facebook friends* also have a special interest in this region. (Good luck to the Muslim Liberal Democrats who are standing in the elections in May, by the way. I hope they will increase the diversity both in parliament and in local councils in England.) The Telegraph published a brief history of this beautiful but troubled area in 2001. Since then, a few initiatives have been tried but have failed to resolve this long-running dispute. Pakistan clearly does not want to cede the third of Kashmir which she controls, and India will not yield independence to what she suspects will become a Pakistani puppet state.

Perhaps the answer is to revive a concept that has rather gone out of fashion: a condominium. Pakistan and India could agree to share responsibility for a demilitarised Kashmir. Since both nations are members, the Commonwealth would act as arbiter if one party felt that the other was exceeding its bounds, thus overcoming the main reason for failure of condominia in the past.

I hope that progress can be made in all those trouble situations and that the 2015 general election will return a less isolationist Commons.

* I trust that the security services have not put me on a watch list because of the large number of Muslim names that figure in my list of friends

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