Asahi Shimbun, Tokyo, Jan. 29: The perilous stalemate between India and Pakistan has shown no sings of waning in more than a month, with troops from both countries massed along the line of control separating the disputed territory of Kashmir and their border.
Kashmir is at heart of the protracted enmity between India and Pakistan. Bloody conflict over the territory is also hampering cooperation among South Asian nations and destabilizing the whole region.
U.N. mediation: There is surely no ready solution to a dispute that has persisted for more than a half-century. But India should at least reciprocate Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf's positive actions, acknowledging his decision to sever relations with terrorists. India should drop its stubborn refusal to accept mediation by the United Nations and a third country, a stance based on the argument that Kashmir is a bilateral issue.
About 100,000 Indian troops and security forces are stationed on the Indian side of Kashmir, forcibly repressing those who live there. The situation demands serious effort by the two nuclear rivals to achieve a diplomatic breakthrough that will lead to resolution of this conflict.
The Citizen, Johannesburg, Jan. 29: Despite its overwhelming military victory against the Taliban in Afghanistan, the U.S. risks losing a propaganda war over its treatment of 158 captives from that conflict.
No one expects the detainees to be treated with kid gloves at Camp X-Ray at the U.S. Naval Base, Guatanamo Bay, Cuba. Indeed there will be considerable public support, especially in America, for them to be given a hard time. We too have no sympathy for them. They're probably being better looked after than they deserve.
International criticism: However, the U.S. is courting international criticism by labeling them "illegal combatants" -- a newly invented category. It seems a transparently deliberate ploy to avoid according them any rights under the Geneva Convention as prisoners of war.
The Times, London, Jan. 29: Mr. Bush's difficult task is to nurture the rebirth of confidence while sustaining military and diplomatic momentum. He must keep his compatriots' minds, and those of Americas friends and allies, focused on the present danger. Militarily, the Afghanistan campaign has achieved some, if not all, of its objectives more speedily than many skeptics thought possible.
On the economic front, the recessionary impact of the attacks has been less severe than it might have been. Americans know -- and have repeatedly been reminded -- that the threats to their security, and the world's, are still only hazily identified, let alone subdued. But as confidence recovers, and if the U.S. recession turns out to be as shallow and short-lived as some economists now expect, they will be tempted to set the "war" aside while they return to what they cheerfully do best, "the pursuit of happiness."
Weakening of will: A waning of interest will not necessarily signify a weakening of will. There is so far no sign of that. But if it is perceived as such by Islamist fanatics, who share Osama bin Laden's conviction that Islam's triumph over "decadent" America is inevitable and will be aided by the frivolity of Western democracies, they will more readily link up with the substantial remnants of Al-Qaida to prepare further terrorist attacks. That is why the American president, who has been studiedly reluctant to spell out what he means by "a common effort to stamp out evil where we find it," needs to be more precise about what America is up against, alone or with others, in this battle that he has called "civilization's fight."
Financial Times, London, Jan. 29: The collapse of joint venture talks between British Airways and American Airlines offers a ray of hope for airline passengers. Not only was the scheme misconceived; its demise may at long last open the way for a more rational trans-Atlantic air transport policy. The failed plan was modeled on bilateral deals between U.S. airlines and national flag-carriers in 11 European Union states.
These misnamed "open skies" agreements have done little to increase competition and are heavily unbalanced. While they allow U.S. airlines to fly freely to and from Europe, the main gain for European carriers is U.S. antitrust exemption for limited collaboration with American partners. By denying European airlines the right to serve U.S. destinations from anywhere in the EU, the deals thwart internal European liberalization. This time, Washington may have pushed too far.
Overriding objective: Instead, the government should recognize that tailoring policy to suit BA, at the expense of rivals and passengers, is politically and economically indefensible. Promoting competition by freeing aviation from the dead hand of government control and bureaucratic favoritism should be the overriding objective of U.K. policy. If the European Court decides in the commission's favor, it is likely to become an inevitability.