Pakistan: Now or Never?

Afghanistan and Pakistan in 2010: the year of living incrementally?

December 31, 2009

another barack obamaOne of the labels being attached to President Barack Obama is that he is a committed incrementalist - an insult or a compliment depending on which side of the political fence you sit, or indeed whether you believe it to be true.

Failed airline attack raises fresh questions about battle against al Qaeda

December 28, 2009

departuresIn the absence of a coherent narrative about the failed Christmas Day attack on a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit, the debate about how best to tackle al Qaeda and its Islamist allies has once again been thrown wide open.

Pakistan and Afghanistan: holiday satire

December 24, 2009

karachiSince we are going into a holiday season and not everybody is working, here is some lighter reading to be going on with:

Pakistan: Through the eye of a needle

December 21, 2009

lawyers celebrateFor the first time in many months, the future of Pakistan is being determined not in the fight against Islamist militants, but within its institutions — its judiciary, its political parties, its government and its military.  Last week’s decision by the Supreme Court to strike down a 2007 amnesty given to politicians and bureaucrats has provided Pakistan with a rare opportunity to remodel itself as a civilian democracy based on the rule of law.  But the way forward is so fraught with difficulties that assessments of its chances of success are at best sober, at worst ominous.

Pakistan’s political pandemonium

December 18, 2009

sharifzardaridubaiA Supreme Court ruling striking down an amnesty given to politicians and officials by former president Pervez Musharraf has created havoc in Pakistani politics.  Among those affected on a list of 8,000 politicians and bureaucrats who were protected by the amnesty are the interior and defence ministers, who are now no longer allowed to leave the country until they clear their names in court.

Comparing Pakistan’s Islamists to India’s Maoists

December 16, 2009

chhattisgarhOne of the more controversial arguments doing the rounds is the question of whether you can compare Pakistan’s Islamist militants to Maoist insurgents in India. Both claim to champion the cause of social justice and have been able to exploit local grievances against poor governance to win support, and both use violence against the state to try to achieve their aims.

Afghanistan and Pakistan: on the battle for Kandahar

December 15, 2009

arghandabIn the vast swirl of debate about Afghanistan and Pakistan, it is worth taking the time to read this piece in the Small Wars Journal by Michael Yon about the looming battle for Kandahar and the central importance of the Arghandab River Valley (pdf document).

Do five Americans detained in Pakistan really prove a trend?

December 12, 2009

lahore mosqueThe arrest of five young Americans in Pakistan who according to Pakistani officials wanted to go to fight U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan has, perhaps predictably, increased fears of radicalisation within parts of the United States own Muslim community.

Can China help stabilise Pakistan?

December 11, 2009

forbidden cityWhen President Barack Obama suggested in Beijing last month that China and the United States could cooperate on bringing stability to Afghanistan and Pakistan, and indeed to “all of South Asia”, much of the attention was diverted to India, where the media saw it as inviting unwarranted Chinese interference in the region.

Pakistan and Afghanistan:how do al Qaeda and the Taliban respond?

December 7, 2009

peshawar twoIn openDemocracy, Paul Rogers writes that one of the great mistakes of the media is that it tends to assume the only actors in the campaign against Islamist militants are governments, with al Qaeda and the Taliban merely passive players.