JOURNEY FROM HOME TO UNIVERSITY

Last night prediction came true and it started raining while I was waiting for the bus at the bus stop at Baghati Kanipora. How science has influenced our lives, I was thinking this and the bus appeared out of nowhere. Anyways, I tried to get into the bus but failed on the first attempt as one lady nudged me and told “ladies first”. How strange it is here, from one side they talk about equal rights and from other side they seek reservation…even in getting into the bus, this thought prevailed over my mind initially while I was standing in the aisle of the bus till a big jerk was felt by all the passengers. We feel cloistered when there is no one in the bus whom you know and can use as a tool to kill your dreary travel time.
One lady with a baby began arguing with the driver for the brake he applied suddenly without knowing that this was not driver’s mistake but he was ordered to stop the bus instantly by the armed forces who were stationed at the Nowgam railway bridge. I heard people murmuring about the cause of stopping the bus. “They are alert now after recent militant attacks in the city,” said one old man sitting at the back seat with her small grand-daughter who was to be dropped at her school.
It took us half an hour to reach Natipora which is just 4 kms away and normally takes 15 minutes. I was feeling strangulated inside the bus as no window was open owing to cold climate but more specifically due to callousness shown by the bus conductor.
“Is public transport of our valley elastic” this was the enigmatic thought to get born in my mind. Hardly 30 passengers can make it in a mini-bus comfortably but I guessed there were no less than 50 passengers, out of them more than a dozen were drooping outside the bus. Even after that wherever any person was waiting on the road; the bus gets stopped as if automatically. I could hardly breathe now.
More than myself I started worrying about two premonitions: breakage of the laptop in my bag and fear of missing the first class. I wanted to know the time but tried unsuccessfully to see on my mobile, then asked one passenger who was sitting on the seat. Sometimes we get trapped in such situations that prove very costly later on.
Hardly had we crossed the main chowk there, than a cortege preceded us and bus again got sufficient time to make the business. One coin was dropped by the bus conductor and he rummaged through beneath the seats, just scrabbling without knowing the whereabouts of the coin. Meanwhile the bus scurried across the Rambagh bridge and the “great” traffic jam began now.
I was shuddered at the thought of missing my favorite class as the first class was “Literary journalism” being taught by Shahnaz Bashir. I began thinking: “Today we are having the assessment of Hadji murad and one hundred years of solitude.”
After an appaling one and a half hour bump for just 7 kms, we finally reached Iqbal Park and I sighed a great relief as I could breathe freely without need of any ventilator…which might have been used if journey had continued for few more moments.

Can china do what US failed to do in Arab-Israel Conflict?

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The greater step taken by the Chinese last year in mid-2013 for involvement in the Arab-Israel issue has been seen through various prisms. Chinese leader Xi jinping revealed his four point peace proposal for the settlement of the Palestinian issue. Although it seems that the peace plan contains nothing new, this offer to be the middle party in the peace discussion signals the willingness of China to continue, or even to take a further step, in Arab-Israeli affairs in the future.

This plan is much greater than the sum of its parts, since it pinpoints the real eagerness on China’s part to be an actual stakeholder in the Middle East’s long lasting problem.

Although the Chinese would not be able to magically eliminate all the hindrances in the way of peace negotiations, yet by virtue of their neutral interactions with both the Arabs and the Israelis as well as their relationship with other major forces in the Middle East, like Hezbollah and Hamas – which the West declines to cooperate with – the Chinese seem to be more capable of facilitating and injecting new vitality in the peace process.

Unlike the United States’ biased stance towards the Israelis that has long been negatively viewed by the Arab communities and most of the world, China has an advantage in this regard. That could offer an incentive for the Israelis to comply with some Arab demands in return for Chinese backing on issues relating to Iran, in particular.

Additionally, China’s lack of an aggressive history in the region is arguably another reason for the Arabs to be optimistic about Beijing’s support of the Palestinians. Unlike the Americans, the Chinese have never initiated a pre-emptive war in the region, and distinct from the European powers, China has never directly controlled territory in Southwest Asia. Beijing also has no record of anti-Semitism that could obstruct its future relationship with Israel. This lack of an imperial, as well as anti-Semitic, history in the region could enable Beijing to offer itself as a new actor in Arab-Israeli affairs.

That could offer an incentive for the Israelis to comply with some Arab demands.

Moreover, encouraging negotiations through the economic integration of Israel and Palestine seems to be a feasible approach, and the Chinese can raise their investment and boost economic alliances with both states. Historically, Beijing has in several circumstances successfully pressured countries such as the United States, France, and others to end their military involvement in some countries by threatening trade and economic sanctions. Therefore, it appears that China may one day have the means to effectively pressure the two parties to move forward towards a lasting solution.

Another aspect that would likely contribute to the success of China’s involvement in the Palestinian issue is its stability in leadership. Barring unexpected circumstances, Xi Jinping will be the leader of the Chinese People’s Republic for the coming years, and while his successor will differ in personality, the fundamental political principles will mainly be the same.

This is in sharp contrast to the efforts made by the Americans in mediating the Arab-Israeli problem, where the shift in administration can totally change the subtleties on the ground.

Historical records have amply demonstrated these changes affecting the peace efforts, as President Clinton’s last ditch attempts to implement a peace negotiation during the declining weeks of his administration were mainly set aside by his successor, George W. Bush.

Similarly, President Bush took up the Arab-Israeli peace process in his second term only to see President Obama pursue a foreign policy that has been dominated by his embrace of the Arab Spring, and had its attention diverted to the continuing Syrian turmoil, and to a potential conflict with Iran. With the Chinese as a peace mediator, it would not be necessary to press the reset button with each change in government.

Finally, one facet that makes China stand out is its lack of an ideological element when it comes to the Arab-Israeli conflict. Chinese civil society simply does not have activist and lobbying movements such as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) or other similar pressure groups based on political or religious ideologies exerting considerable influence on its foreign policy.

These movements have frequently utilized their significant power and influence to frustrate efforts by policy makers to hold the Israelis responsible for actions that breach international law and scuttle efforts for peace, most significantly the continued construction of Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory.

Although in recent years there have been efforts made by Israeli advocacy groups in Chinese academia to influence public opinion in China concerning Israel, it remains unlikely that such initiatives will bear any tangible fruit in the near future. In the meantime, China simply does not have to deal with independent organizations attempting to obstruct its foreign policy goals, or the blowback of public opinion in taking up a peace effort.

To the people of Middle East who have long waited for an effective partner to search for peace in the region, China’s proper debut could be a welcome development.