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CANADA



Published: Sun, June 10, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



The Globe and Mail, Toronto: The agents of Afghanistan's ruling Taliban have for years used their twisted, inhuman interpretation of Islam to justify treating the Afghan people as vassals. Their latest decree -- that foreign women must stop driving cars to deliver aid, as this "is against Afghan tradition and has a negative impact on the society" -- exercises two muscles of oppression.

The first target is women, in a country that systematically strips half the population of basic human rights. Though some have found ways to get around the rules, Afghan women are generally forbidden to work except as doctors in women's hospitals and to wander outside without a male relative escorting them. The driving force is misogyny masquerading as faith and paternalistic protection.

Famine: The second target of the new ban is the distribution of foreign aid itself, which the regime at best tolerates and at worst interrupts. If one point bears constant repetition, it is the misery of millions of Afghans suffering as a result of famine, drought and the cruel whims of the Taliban and their police.

The Taliban spare no one with their edicts.

But the harsh treatment of women is particularly offensive in its systematic, bullying denial of education and its grinding down of hope and free movement. That it gives the Taliban a further excuse to interrupt the efforts of aid workers goes just that little bit further in breaking the heart.

BRITAIN

The Times, London, June 6: Grief and shock have quickly turned to rage on the streets of Katmandu. The anger is understandable but so too is the grief. Nepal has suffered a true tragedy. King Birendra was a widely loved and admired monarch, a gentle man who steered his country along the troubled road to democracy. He inherited a throne with absolute power and a nation living in considerable poverty. He saw, in the face of several uprisings and assassination attempts, that a royal despotism was no longer tenable; and when he renounced his political role in 1990 and remodeled the monarchy on the constitutional lines that he knew and admired in Britain, he stuck carefully within his self-imposed restrictions and concentrated on the ceremonially important role as embodiment of Nepali unity and identity.

Massacre: New King Gyanendra has promised a full inquiry into the massacre; it must begin quickly. He must end the dithering over terms of reference, offer the full co-operation of all surviving family members and make public the findings, however discreditable to the family's once quasi-divine status. He must show, through frankness, dignity and sensitivity, that this depleted and wounded family is still capable of giving Nepal the focus and leadership it craves.

JORDAN

Jordan Times, Amman, June 3: Friday's suicide bombing in Tel Aviv, that killed 18 people and injured over 90, the deadliest attack in at least four years and the worst since the Palestinian uprising erupted eight months ago, has underscored the urgency of breaking the cycle of violence.

Palestinian President Yasser Arafat quickly denounced the attack and called for a "ceasefire."

Pain: But for the bloodshed to end, both Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon need to show their peoples that they have gained something from the pain the Intefadeh has caused them. Sharon needs an end to such attacks while Palestinians need an immediate halt to Israel's expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

A formula to help both inch closer to a compromise that meets the minimum requirements of both sides is waiting in the Mitchell report and the Jordanian-Egyptian peace initiative, two proposals that remain the only two serious offers on the table.

For at the end of the day the crisis can only be resolved through political solution and not through 'security measures' or suicide bombing.

SWEDEN

Dagens Nyheter, Stockholm, June 6: Previous Labor governments have not lasted long. The party has so far not managed to stay in power for two complete, successive terms. This has been changed under the new Labor. ... There has been a gigantic sea change in British politics. (Prime Minister Tony) Blair can, according to observers, do things (former Conservative Prime Minister Margaret) Thatcher never could dream of. But there is also a danger in the strong and dominant role.

School: Expectations increase, and there are no excuses for not carrying out (reforms) that won the elections. Blair's first electoral promise is to improve the country's neglected schools and hospitals. Second, and more important for us, is to conduct an active European policy. If the rest of Europe were to choose between an introverted and populist Tory Party and Blair's activist Labor, the choice would be clear. That also seems to be evident for the British.




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