Pakistan: Now or Never?

Perspectives on Pakistan

from Expert Zone:

India-Pakistan border flare-up a zero-sum game

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author, and not necessarily of Thomson Reuters)

At places along the Line of Control (LoC), barely a wire separates the Indian soldier and his Pakistani counterpart. The genesis of the recent flare-up was the killing of five Indian soldiers on the Indian side of the LoC. The media blitz in Delhi found more fodder with a spike in infiltration attempts and exchange of fire beyond the LoC at posts across the international border.

Hostilities reached their peak with the detection and elimination of a rather large group of infiltrators in the Keran sector north of Srinagar. In between, the militant groups in Kashmir valley seemed to have drawn inspiration and staged a well-executed attack on a police post and an army unit in Jammu and Kashmir, deep inside Indian territory.

What are the possible reasons for this spurt? Are these tactical with local commanders acting in isolation, or do they reflect a strategic design?

Drones over FATA – next year may be the last they are legal

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Selective tweeting, selective outrage and selective media reporting – everyone has a view on drones. On one hand, the United States is accused of lying about civilian deaths in its drone strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas, of human rights abuses, and of operating outside a transparent legal framework. On the other, many of those opposed to drones brook no nuance, reserve their outrage only for people killed by Americans  rather than by the Pakistan Army or the Taliban, and promote a dangerous ahistorical narrative that militants are the result rather than the cause of drone strikes.

The people who live in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) don’t get much of a say at all. Used by Pakistan for decades as a deniable base for jihad, FATA has been deprived of full political and economic rights by the same country that protests loudly that drone strikes violate its sovereignty. The United States in turn has been able to exploit the ambiguous status of FATA to run a secret campaign whose precedent in international law is likely to haunt it as more and more countries acquire their own armed drones.

From Mogadishu to Mumbai, managing urban conflict

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At first glance it is an unlikely comparison – the 2008 attack on Mumbai by Pakistan-based gunmen and the disastrous 1993 operation by U.S. troops against a Somali warlord in Mogadishu.

But David Kilcullen, a former adviser on counterinsurgency in the U.S.-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, compares the fighting in the two cities in often unexpected ways in his new book “Out of the Mountains” to convince people to think more about urban conflict.

China re-wires its West

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By Raffaello Pantucci

(Raffaello Pantucci is a Senior Research Fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, London)

In his seminal article from October 2012 advocating for China’s ‘March Westwards’ Beijing University Dean of International Relations Wang Jisi spoke of a ‘new silk road [that] would extend from China’s eastern ports, through the center of Asia and Europe, to the eastern banks of the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean coastal countries in the west.’ In addition to this route to Europe, ‘A major route from China’s western regions through the Indian Ocean should also be constructed as quickly as possible.’ An ambitious geopolitical sketch of the world seen from Beijing, but one that is being brought to life under President Xi Jinping, whose recent tour of Central Asia provided some definition of what exactly China is aiming for in its western relationships.

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