Bangladesh

A Less Crowded Planet

20 July 2020 If you wanted evidence that reasonably competent government – not great, not corruption-free, just not awful – produces good results in the end, here it is. Back in 1971, when the two countries split apart, Bangladesh had 65 million people and Pakistan had 60 million. By the end of this century, Bangladesh …

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The Reluctant Rohingyas

The Rohingyas are around a million Bengali-speaking people who used to live in Rakhine state in Burma – until late last year. Then the Burmese army attacked them, claiming they were illegal immigrants. Thousands were killed, tens of thousands were raped, their villages were burned – and at least 700,000 of them are now in …

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Pakistan: A Mistake?

It was never my plan to tell Pakistanis their country had been a mistake. I was nineteen years old at the time, in Pakistan for the summer with 40 other young Canadian university students on a trip to foster international understanding. I had already realised that this was a completely pointless exercise, but it was …

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Iraq: Failed State

Property prices in central Baghdad are as high as London’s, even though Iraq’s national income is down by 70 percent since the collapse in the oil price. Islamic State’s bombs regularly devastate parts of the capital, and still the real estate market booms. Why? Because there is so much “dirty money” in Iraq that needs …

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Bangladesh in Trouble

How’s this for a staunch defence of free speech in a secular state? Earlier this month, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh denounced anyone who criticised religion or expressed their own lack of religious faith in striking terms: “I don’t consider such writings as freethinking but filthy words. Why would anyone write such words? It’s …

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