World News Brief, Friday May 10

Son of former Pakistani PM kidnapped; tensions between China and Japan heightened; Asian economies prepare for regional free-trade agreement; Mexico proposes bank reform to make loans cheaper; Israel approves new settlements near Ramallah; and more

Top of the Agenda: Pakistani Ex-PM's Son Abducted Before Sunday Vote

Ali Haider, the son of Pakistan's former Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and a candidate for the Pakistan Peoples' Party, was kidnapped (BBC) in the central city of Multan by gunmen during an election rally ahead of Sunday's vote. The incident marks the latest threat to the country's fragile stability as it faces the first transition of a civilian government. Meanwhile, a letter (Reuters) from the Pakistani Taliban leader revealed plans for suicide attacks in provinces on polling day. Since April, the al Qaeda-linked group has killed more than one hundred people in attacks on candidates and rallies in a bid to undermine elections they regard as un-Islamic.


"The elimination of liberal political figures must be seen as part of the process of creeping Islamization, as well as the permanent militarization of Pakistan, which began during Zia ul-Haq's military dictatorship. Using Islam and a narrow definition of patriotism to limit the options available to voters is nothing new," writes Farahnaz Ispahani for Foreign Policy.

"The old post-Ottoman 'grand bargain' – Western acceptance of authoritarianism in exchange for the secure flow of oil, use of sensitive sea-lanes, and some tolerance for the existence of Israel – has broken down. What replaces it will be determined by the shape of the new political order that finally emerges in the western Islamic world," writes Shahid Javed Burki for Project Syndicate.

"Whether Mian Nawaz Sharif emerges on top and is able to form a ruling coalition with Imran Khan, setting aside their aversion for one another, or President Zardari shows he is still able to hold onto power despite a lacklustre performance, the new government will very quickly need to address the law and order situation on the ground. It has collapsed in many districts of Pakistan," writes Akbar Ahmed for al-Jazeera.



China, Japan Territorial Tensions Heighten

China criticized Japan on Thursday for lodging a diplomatic protest (Reuters) against a commentary released by a Chinese state-run newspaper that questioned Japanese sovereignty over the southern Ryukyu Islands, which include Okinawa.

CFR's Sheila A. Smith examines Japan, China, and the East China Sea dispute in this article.

ASIA: Sixteen Asian economies, including all ten ASEAN members, are set to hold their first meeting Thursday in Brunei for the establishment of a regional free-trade agreement (JapanTimes).


Mexico proposes bank reform

Israel approves new settlements near Ramallah

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