As we came to the end of 2010, we thought it would be informative to talk with some of our colleagues at VOA about the biggest stories of the year and look forward to 2011. With a look at the year in South Asia, we welcomed Mohammed Ibrahim, Managing Editor of VOA's Pashto Service and Kokab Farshori, Managing Editor of VOA's Urdu Service.
Mohammed Ibrahim, Managing Editor of VOA's Pashto Service
Ibrahim said Afghanistan's parliamentary election was the big news story of 2010, in part because it lingered for months without results. The results were tainted by allegations of fraud and he said no one is certain if the parliament that convenes January 20 will be acceptable to the people of Afghanistan.
Another major story from Afghanistan, said Ibrahim, was the anticipation that U.S. and NATO troops are scheduled to begin leaving in 2011.
Ibrahim also noted the tensions between Afghanistan and Pakistan over the presence of Taliban fighters in Pakistani tribal areas.
Intimidation, Fraud Mar Afghan Vote - Election observers are calling for reports of intimidation and fraud to be fully investigated, following Saturday's parliamentary vote in Afghanistan.
Afghan Government Welcomes Additional US Resources - U.S. President Barack Obama has pledged to start transitioning security responsibilities in Afghanistan to the Afghan forces next August. He also said a drawdown of the U.S. military in Iraq has helped free resources for the war effort in Afghanistan.
Afghan-Pakistan Relations Thaw, For Now - As donor nations at an international conference in Kabul mulled over Afghanistan's future course, there were also signs of a warming in the sometimes frosty relationship between the Afghan and Pakistani governments. But it remains to be seen how long the thaw will last.
Ibrahim said the expected start of the pullout of NATO troops from Afghanistan will be the New Year's big story.
Kokab Farshori, Managing Editor of VOA's Urdu Service
Farshori said the biggest story out of was the massive floods that inundated more than one-fifth of the country and affected more than 20 million people. He said the magnitude and impact of the floods made them worse than the earthquake in Haiti and Hurricane Katrina combined.
Ibrahim added the floods came at a time when millions of people were already displaced from the Swat Valley and surrounding areas, which were some of the hardest hit.
Farshori said another top Pakistan story was the revelations from WikiLeaks that, he said, did more damage to Pakistan than any other country.
Pakistan Flooding Breaks All Records - According to the United Nations, the number of people affected by the Pakistani floods has now exceeded the combined total of those affected by the tsunami in 2004, the 2005 earthquake in Pakistan and this year's earthquake in Haiti.
Pakistan Condemns WikiLeaks Disclosure of US Diplomatic Communications - Pakistan has condemned the release of classified U.S diplomatic communications as an irresponsible act. Excerpts from the documents made public by WikiLeaks have reportedly raised concerns that highly enriched uranium could be diverted from one of Pakistan's nuclear facilities to make illicit weapons.
And, for a prediction for 2011, Farshori said the big story will be the visit of President Obama to Pakistan.