WILLIAM DALRYMPLE – has by far the best analysis of recent events in Afghanistan that I’ve read. He sees the removal of Karzai’s head of security and internal affairs as much more important than McChrystal’s departure, since it indicates Karzai is already moving towards a deal with the Pakistanis that has nothing to do with the US. While this might look a major threat to Indian interests there, Dalrymple argues it offers a chance for a grand deal whereby India makes concessions on Afghanistan in exchange for Pakistan controlling militancy in its backyard. The big risk (alluded to in this CFR article) is that Karzai might be looking for an accommodation with the Haqqani network, whose ties to al Qaeda make them a much more dangerous proposition than the localised Taliban.
BBC – Sharad Pawar has been named the new head of the International Cricket Council. One wonders where the man finds the time, since he is also supposed to be India’s agricultural minister – a job that pretty much no one thinks he is doing very well. Food inflation was up 16% last month and thousands of farmers are committing suicide due to mounting debts, particularly in Pawar’s home state of Maharashtra. How does he stay in the job? Well, he’s one of those “unfire-able” ministers that comes from a useful coalition partner.
TEHELKA – The failure to implement the Forest Rights Act in Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh, which is supposed to formally recognise customary ownership of land where property rights have not previously existed. The story claims that well over half the 486,000 claims have been rejected since the Act came into force in January 2008, with officials resorting to coercion to get round the new rules.
INDIAN EXPRESS – In the wake of the recent attack that killed 27 police officers in Chhattisgarh, Home Minister P Chidambaram admits that just blindly sending in troops to areas (based on assessments dating back to 2007) might be a mistake. Meanwhile, specialist CoBra squads are being deployed there from Andhra Pradesh.
WSJ – Ussain Bolt, billed as the star attraction at the Commonwealth Games In Delhi this October, won’t actually be there.
TIMES OF INDIA – Skype and Blackberry are threatened with a ban in India if they don’t fall in line with strict security regulations that allow the government to monitor phone calls. The reasoning is terrorism-related, although given recent revelations about the bugging of MPs’ phones, there are always worries about who is going to listen to what.
INDIAN EXPRESS – Delhi is the 5th worst city in the world for commuters, according to IBM’s Commuter Pain Study. Beijing and Mexico City came top.