South Asia

NEW DELHI – While much of the world celebrates Valentines Day, February 14th will be celebrated in India as the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King's 1959 visit. And it all ties to photographs of King, Gandhi and President Obama.

To celebrate the anniversary, ten programs are planned in India featuring King's son, Martin Luther King III, Representative John Lewis - a veteran of the civil rights movement, and musician Herbie Hancock. (The U.S. embassy's description is here).

MUMBAI -- Following the attacks here two weeks ago, much of the coverage on local media looks familiar: red banner stripes and logos with such phrases as "26/11 Fight against Terrorism". But it is not quite the same as US networks' "War on Terror".

There are "Indians of the Year", mini-package profiles of the soldiers and others who died during the fighting that occurred the week before last just down the street from my hotel, and live coverage of vigils and demonstrations. Also, the attack on Mumbai has been framed as attack on modernity. So far, again, it looks quite familiar.



Given that President Bush told journalists this summer that Pakistan will be the next American president's biggest foreign policy challenge, let's take a moment to consider the public-diplomacy issues for both sides now that the U.S. has a new President-elect.

I had heard many good things about Wilton Park's conferences, and was finally able to participate in one entitled "Public Diplomacy: Meeting New Challenges" on October 7, 2008. The conference consisted of several sessions, including one on Afghanistan that generated much discussion by a number of publicly renowned diplomacy experts and practitioners from some of the countries with forces in Afghanistan.

My brother and I, accompanied by his brother-in-law, were driving to the posh and overpriced Dynasty Chinese restaurant in Islamabad’s Marriott hotel recently. Yet the tightwad in me convinced them that we could enjoy ourselves just as much by going to one of the many cheaper Chinese local restaurants. Soon after we heard the Marriott explosion a few miles away, it became clear we had saved more than money.

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