Must-Reads from Around the World

Today's picks include Japanese proposals to phase out nuclear plants, the decline of global child mortality rates and the success of center-ground parties at the Dutch election.

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Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (R) speaks with Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari during a meeting in New Delhi on on April 8, 2012

Pakistan-India TiesVOA News notes that improving ties between Pakistan and India in recent months are pivotal for Afghanistan’s future. Increased co-operation between Islamabad and New Delhi could help bring more stability to Afghanistan, which is plagued by powerful militant factions that are believed to have links to the Pakistani military. Experts explain that “the peace process in South Asia is linked to how militant groups are dealt with, and linked to the situation in Afghanistan,” quoted VOA.

Japan’s Nuclear Phaseout — Japanese media said that the country plans to phase out all nuclear plants by the 2030s, reports the Washington Post. The proposed phaseout of Japan’s 50 operable reactors over the next two decades “represents a major concession from Japan’s traditionally pro-nuclear leaders to a largely anti-nuclear public” that has become skeptical about nuclear energy after the meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in March 2011. Phasing out Japan’s nuclear plants raises concerns about how the country will meet its energy needs and whether it can grow renewable energy into a feasible and affordable alternative, explains the Post.

Child MortalityThe Guardian looks at the latest U.N. report which shows that the world’s mortality rate for young children has nearly halved over the past two decades. In 2011, 6.9 million children under the age of five died, compared to 12 million in 1990, says the UNICEF report “Committing to Child Survival: A Promise Renewed.” Despite the progress made in improving child survival, especially in the likes of Bangladesh, Brazil, Liberia, and Oman, “there is also unfinished business,” said UNICEF’s executive director Anthony Lake, as millions of children under five are still dying from mainly preventable causes.

Aftermath of Attacks — Despite being “garbed in religious language and references,” the Los Angeles Times suggests that the attacks on U.S. diplomatic compounds in Libya and Egypt on Tuesday, in which the U.S. ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, was killed, were “more about local politics than Islam,” noting both nations’ “serious domestic political fragmentation.” Meanwhile, Al Jazeera English observes how a “little-seen trailer posted on YouTube in July” has “incited violence and outrage across Muslim world” as it covers the spread of anger and violence to Yemen, Iran, Tunisia and Gaza.

Pragmatism v.Ideology — The Financial Times notes that the success of two pro-Euro parties – the ruling Liberals (VVD) and Labour – at Wednesday’s Dutch election has “overturned myriad assumptions,” with voters having “abandoned the fringe anti-European parties that had been expected to win big.” The results “don’t mean that Dutch voters have suddenly rediscovered an overwhelming enthusiasm for Europe,” but were instead “driven by strategic voting.” Voters “on both right and left dropped their favoured small parties in the hope of pushing the biggest party on their side over the top.”