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Afghanistan Live Blog
By Al Jazeera Staff in Asia on April 16th, 2012
The fighting between Taliban gunmen and Afghan security forces has ended after almost 18 hours [Reuters]
Latest events in Afghanistan as Afghan forces take control of the country's security ahead of the 2014 withdrawal date for foreign troops.
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North Korea rocket launch - What next?
By Marga Ortigas in Asia on April 13th, 2012
PAC-3 land-to-air missiles units at the Defense Ministry in Tokyo after reports of North Korea's rocket launch [Reuters]
TOKYO, JAPAN - And just like that, it's over.  Before anyone outside of Pyongyang’s inner circle could even figure out what was going on.
At 22:39 GMT on Thursday, 7:39am local time on Friday in the Korean Peninsula and Japan, the North Koreans launched a rocket despite strong international opposition.  Or rather, it tried to launch a rocket.  
Within 30 minutes, the US was calling it a "failure", saying it had reports that the North Korean rocket broke apart almost immediately after lift-off.  It didn’t even make it past South Korean waters.
Compared to its allies the United States and South Korea, Japan took much longer to react to developments. A reality that has not gone down too well with many in Japan.
Tags: Japan, North Korea
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Opening the Wagah border
By Prerna Suri in Asia on April 13th, 2012

A typical day at the Wagah border, usually ends with a show of muscle. Giant, hulking soldiers stride defiantly on the ceremonial border separating India from Pakistan. 
With each menacing step, they  confront each other, while their citizens’ cheer on from the stands. It’s a sort of diplomatic haka dance played out in front of hundreds, finally culminating in the two countries flags being unfurled and folded. 
Today, April 13, it’s different.
Instead of a hyper nationalistic performance, there’s a whiff of hope - and yes, even peace - in the air. And what’s bringing this change is good old fashioned business.
Tags: Pakistan
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The North Korean rocket watch begins
By Marga Ortigas in Asia on April 12th, 2012
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un waves during the Fourth Conference of the Workers' Party of Korea [Reuters]
Tick-tock. The wait has begun. The North Korean rocket launch is expected anytime in the morning from today through Monday. At least, that’s what's been announced - April 12 to 16.
Northeast and southeast Asia are on tenterhooks as the rocket is expected to cut a path between China and Japan as it heads towards the Philippines.

But North Korea isn't really known for sticking to its word, so the US and its Pacific allies are watching developments closely. 

North Korea, or the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), is celebrating the birth centenary of its founding leader, Kim Il-sung.

And as the climax, it's fuelled-up a three-stage rocket - ostensibly to send a satellite into space to monitor North Korea’s crops and weather.

But the US and its allies see this as a smoke-screen, concerned that the small, secretive, nuclear-armed nation is actually testing its long-range ballistic missile capabilities in defiance of a UN ban.
Tags: Japan, North Korea, South Korea, the Philippines
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Aceh: the happier sequel
By Andrew Thomas in Asia on April 12th, 2012
Photo: AFP
The ingredients were for a disaster that would be unimaginable, were it not also a potential re-run.

A massive earthquake, just offshore from Indonesia's Aceh province; a tsunami warning active.
Just over six years ago, the result was an actual tsunami so devastating that 170,000 died in that one province alone.
At Sydney airport, "Tsunami - The Return" was what I thought I was heading to cover.
It didn't turn out that way. At a 4am stopover in Kuala Lumpur, the smartphones of all the journalists abroad started to buzz with better news. No tsunami had materialised. Damage was light. For some, that was the end of the trip.

Journalists told by their newsdesks to turn around and head home. Few deaths; no story.
I carried on. How people dodged the bullet can be as interesting as any disaster. I took my connecting flights.  
Banda Aceh's people know they were lucky. In 2004, so many died because so few expected what came.
Tags: Banda
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A tale of two Koreas
By Harry Fawcett in Asia on April 12th, 2012
Delegates attend the Fourth Conference of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) in Pyongyang [Reuters]
I suppose we’re part of the problem.
South Koreans - living in a peaceful, democratic society, the world's 15th largest economy, home to global success stories like Samsung and Hyundai - often wonder why the rest of the world is so obsessed by their northern neighbours, at their expense. 
Wednesday April 11, was a case in point. A general election – the closest in years, full of scandal, personal rivalries, and not least big philosophical differences - has been largely overlooked by the world’s media. Us. Me.
Of course the reason is North Korea’s unerring ability to surprise, provoke and infuriate. Most recently with its announcement that it would launch a satellite – saying its sovereign right to a space programme trumped UN resolutions banning it from rocket launches.
Tags: Kim Jong Un, North Korea, United Nations
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Siachen Glacier: World's highest battleground
By Kamal Hyder in Asia on April 11th, 2012
Siachen Glacier, 71km long and one of the world's largest glaciers, is situated in the north of the disputed region of Kashmir.
This is a land seen by only determined mountaineers or adventurers, a place that can test human endurance against the rigours of high altitude and turbulent terrain. 
But this is also the worlds highest battleground, where two nuclear armed states are locked in a struggle to keep a foothold at heights of 6700 metres.
Ever since Indian forces occupied the Siachen Glacier in 1984, both India and Pakistan have fought intermittent artillery duels.
In winter, temperatures here can plummet to minus 70 degrees and an estimated force of around 10,000 to 20,000 troops from India and Pakistan are deployed on this high altitude territory where mother nature and high altitude has left more soldiers dead than combat. 
Tags: India
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Tsunami Alert Live Blog
By Al Jazeera Staff in Asia on April 11th, 2012
Indonesians try to move to higher ground [AFP]
A tsunami warning has been issued in the Indian Ocean after Indonesia's geophysical agency reported a powerful earthquake off Aceh province.
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Looting the seas
By Bhanu Bhatnagar in Asia on April 9th, 2012
Fish like these should benefit India, but instead they end up in markets as far away as Taiwan
The fish in the sea. Who do they belong to? It’s a question that’s been asked for generations in all parts of the world. Fish and seafood sustain a multi-billion-dollar industry and help support hundreds of millions of people around the world.
In India, some 14 million people rely on the fishing industry for their livelihoods. There are more than 3,800 fishing villages dotted up and down its immense coastline. It’s an industry worth more than $2bn. But India is losing out.
Like so many other industries in this vast and vibrant country, it has become the victim of corruption and mismanagement, lining the pockets of a few at the expense of the many.
And it’s thanks to loopholes in a government-run scheme that allows foreign ships to deplete India’s fish and take them to other markets, with no benefit to India whatsoever.
This scheme is called the Letter of Permit (LoP).
Tags: India
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No one asked their names
By Qais Azimy in Asia on March 19th, 2012
Nine of the 16 victims were children [AFP]
In the days following the rogue US soldier’s shooting spree in Kandahar, most of the media, us included, focused on the “backlash” and how it might further strain the relations with the US.
Many mainstream media outlets channelled a significant amount of  energy into uncovering the slightest detail about the accused soldier – now identified as Staff Sergeant Robert Bales. We even know where his wife wanted to go for vacation, or what she said on her personal blog.
But the victims became a footnote, an anonymous footnote. Just the number 16. No one bothered to ask their ages, their hobbies, their aspirations. Worst of all, no one bothered to ask their names.
In honoring their memory, I write their names below, and the little we know about them: that nine of them were children, three were women.
Tags: Robert Bales
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