This week's installment of my "View from the West" column in the Pakistani daily The News is about the global context of the deepening crisis in Nepal, a country I lived in as a student for an academic year, nearly 20 years ago:
"We've grown so accustomed to living in the aftermath of September 11, 2001 that we forget that we're also still living amid the rubble of November 9, 1989. Midway between those dates, my mentor Ed Pettit predicted that the day would come when people wished the Berlin Wall had not fallen after all. Of course no one wishes that but, as grim a period as the Cold War was, it was also relatively stable.
"The Eastern Europeans led by example, and a strikingly disparate array of small peoples worldwide got the point. ... In an Asian society as tradition-bound and stratified as Nepal's, that's disorienting for all concerned, but it's also exhilarating. The Nepalis who forced the previously sacrosanct King Birendra to accept constitutional monarchy 16 years ago this month felt their own power, and saw its fruits. But what they ended up with was a corrupt mockery of democracy and a brutalising civil war."
The News has just launched a much more attractive and navigable new Internet edition. My full column is online here.