Pakistan: Now or Never?

Compromise in Swat: is the Pakistan army up to fighting insurgency?

February 17, 2009

Pakistan’s military has ordered troops to hold fire in the Swat valley following the deal between the provincial government and Taliban militants to enforce Islamic law.

U.S. steps up missile strikes in Pakistan’s northwest

February 16, 2009

U.S. missile strikes in Pakistan have killed more than 50 people in the past three days in what appears to be an escalation of the military campaign in the troubled region along the Afghan border, conducted largely by unmanned drone aircraft.

from FaithWorld:

Religion and politics behind sharia drive in Swat

February 16, 2009

Pakistan has agreed to restore Islamic law in the turbulent Swat valley and neighbouring areas of the North-West Frontier Province. What does that mean? Sharia is understood and applied in such varied ways across the Muslim world that it is difficult to say exactly what it is. Will we soon see Saudi or Taliban-style hand-chopping for thieves and stonings for adulterers? Would it be open to appeal and overturn harsh verdicts, as the Federal Sharia Court in Islamabad has sometimes done? Or could it be that these details are secondary because sharia is more a political than a religious strategy here?

Pakistan agrees to sharia law to end Swat fighting

February 16, 2009

Pakistan has agreed to introduce sharia law in the Swat valley and neighbouring areas of the north-west in a peace deal with Taliban militants. Religious conservatives in Swat have long fought for sharia to replace Pakistan’s secular laws, which came into force after the former princely state was absorbed into the Pakistani federation in 1969. The government apparently hopes that by signing a peace deal in Swat it can drive a wedge between conservative hardliners and Islamist militants whose influence has been spreading from the tribal areas on the border with Afghanistan into Pakistan proper.

Afghanistan’s military challenge

February 13, 2009

Herschel Smith at the Captain’s Journal has picked up on a presentation about the increasing sophistication of Taliban fighting, which he thinks ”should be considered the most important thing to come out of Afghanistan in the past two years.”  It’s very focused on the approach he says the U.S. military needs to adopt in response, but worth a read even by those not interested in army tactics.

Holbrooke in Pakistan: a sea change?

February 12, 2009

With Richard Holbrooke very much keeping his own counsel about his maiden visit to Pakistan, it’s been hard to assess quite how much change is to be expected from President Barack Obama’s new special envoy.

America’s Predators : fighting the Afghan war from Las Vegas

February 11, 2009

In a camouflaged trailer truck in the Nevada desert, a bank of computer screens shows live images of a mud-walled compound in Afghanistan, 8,000 miles away. Those pictures are coming from a Predator unmanned aircraft that you, hunched over the computer in the darkened room not far from Vegas, are flying remotely.

from FaithWorld:

Militants killing laughter and music in Pakistan region

February 11, 2009

It's hard to write about the Taliban on a religion blog without giving the impression that this militant movement in Afghanistan and Pakistan is basically religious. It's certainly Islamist, i.e. it uses Islam for political ends. But it's hard to find much religion in what they're doing, while there's a lot of power politics, Pashtun nationalism and insurrection against the Kabul and Islamabad governments there.

Afghanistan: the Great Name Game

February 10, 2009

Afghanistan is beginning to accumulate cliches. If it’s not “Obama’s Vietnam”, then it’s the “graveyard of empires”.  (The British press, never one to be bamboozled by the big picture, says it’s the end of bully beef for the troops.)

Musharraf planning to visit India

February 6, 2009

Former President Pervez Musharraf was always one for the grand gesture. So it should come as no surprise that after a period of relative obscurity following his resignation in August last year, he will visit India as part of a series of lectures he plans to give worldwide.