Pakistan: Now or Never?

U.S. ground raids into Pakistan halted, Army Times says

September 30, 2008

Pakistani troops patrol in BajaurThe United States has decided to halt cross-border ground raids by Special Ops forces into Pakistan, according to the U.S. Army Times. It quotes a Pentagon official as saying U.S. leaders had decided to hold off on permitting ground raids to allow Pakistani forces to press home their own attacks on militants in the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan.

Pakistan names new spy chief: at U.S. behest or own move?

September 30, 2008

Pakistan has replaced the head of its powerful Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) spy agency, following months of questions from the United States about its reliability in the battle against the Taliban and al Qaeda.  Lieutenant-General Ahmed Shujaa Pasha, formerly head of military operations, will replace Lieutenant-General Nadeem Taj.

Pakistan’s Zardari wins mixed reviews with U.S. trip

September 29, 2008

President Asif Ali Zardari meets Alaska Governor Sarah Palin/Shannon StapletonDepending on who you read, Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari was either an embarrassment for trying to flirt with Sarah Palin during his trip to New York last week, or a street-smart wheeler-dealer bravely standing up to Islamist militancy after the assassination of his wife Benazir Bhutto.

Obama, McCain underline policy differences on Pakistan

September 27, 2008

Presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain stressed important differences in approach to Pakistan in their first debate.

Revisiting America’s war in Afghanistan

September 26, 2008

File photo of Afghan riding a donkey past a destroyed tankI finally got around to reading Charlie Wilson’s War (much better than the film and considerably longer) about the U.S. Congressman who managed to drum up huge amounts of money to fund the mujahideen fighting the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980′s.

India, Pakistan back to their aggressive ways at Wagah

September 25, 2008

One of the oddities of the troubled India-Pakistan relationship is a  theatrical flag-lowering ceremony that the border guards of the two countries together enact every day at sunset at the Wagah checkpoint in the Punjab – for long the only road crossing.YouTube Preview Image

Omar Sheikh, a childhood friend turned Pakistani militant

By Daniel Flynn
September 25, 2008

Marriott Hotel in IslamabadThe weekend bomb which tore through the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad, killing 53 people, was a reminder that Pakistan is entering the eye of the storm of Islamist militancy. But for me, it was also a more personal reminder of a childhood friend who went from a suburban upbringing in London to become one of Pakistan’s most notorious militants.

Choosing your friends: Pakistan, the U.S. and China

September 23, 2008

President Bush meets President Zardari in New York/Jim YoungWhile Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari is in the United States discussing U.S. military strikes across Pakistan’s border, army chief General Ashfaq Kayani is on a far less publicised trip to China to talk about defence cooperation. The timing may be coincidental, but the potential implications of the United States and China playing competing roles in Pakistan are huge.

Kashmir trade: glimmer of hope or false dawn?

September 23, 2008

In the aftermath of the deadly hotel bombing in Islamabad, amidst fresh tensions with the United States over  helicopter intrusions in Pakistan’s northwest, and in spite of reports of fresh cross-border firing in Kashmir, negotiators from India and Pakistan met in New Delhi and agreed to open trade across Kashmir. There could hardly have been a more unlikely time for the two countries to agree to crack open one of the world’s most militarised frontiers, where a ceasefire which has more or less held since 2003 is beginning to fray at the edges.

Pakistan: firing reported on Indian and Afghan borders

September 22, 2008

Just two days after a suicide bomb attack on the Marriott killed 53 people in the heart of Islamabad, there were reports of trouble both on Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan and on the Line of Control with India.