Pakistan: Now or Never?

Perspectives on Pakistan

from Tales from the Trail:

Is Holbrooke’s “bulldozer” style working?

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Dubbed the "bulldozer" for his tough guy tactics in Balkan negotiations, U.S. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke has been making waves in South Asia recently.

holbrookeU.S. embassies in New Delhi and Kabul have been scrambling over the past week to deal with local fallout from statements made by Washington's special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Statements that often go by unnoticed in Washington are parsed word for word in a region where there are deeply-held suspicions over U.S. intentions.

One such example is Holbrooke's comments at a forum at Harvard last week where he was asked about re-integration efforts with the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Pakistan, India and the Kabul attack

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kabulAs discussed in my last post, the place to watch for developments on relations between India and Pakistan right now is more likely to be Kabul than Kashmir. That may have been graphically illustrated when Taliban fighters attacked Kabul on Friday, killing 16 people, including up to nine Indians.

It is too early to say whether the attack specifically targetted Indian interests or whether it was aimed at foreigners more generally. But India has blamed earlier attacks on its interests in Afghanistan on Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency – its embassy in Kabul has been bombed twice.

from Afghan Journal:

The price of greater Indian involvement in Afghanistan

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U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates is heading to India, and one of the things Washington is looking at is how can regional players such as India do more in Afghanistan. "As we are doing more, of course we are looking at others to do more," a U.S. official said, ahead of the trip referring to the troop surge.

But this is easier said than done, and in the case of India, a bit of a minefield. While America may expect more from India, Pakistan has had enough of its bitter rival's already expanded role in Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban in 2001. Indeed, Afghanistan is the new battleground on par with Kashmir, with many in Pakistan saying Indian involvement in Afghanistan was more than altruistic and aimed at destabilising Pakistan from the rear.  Many in India, on the other hand, point the finger at Pakistan for two deadly bomb attacks on its embassy in Kabul.

Afghanistan blames Pakistan for embassy bombing; India holds fire

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Afghanistan has wasted little time in accusing Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) spy agency of being behind a bomb attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul on Thursday.

Asked by PBS news channel whether Kabul blamed Pakistan for the bombing, Afghan ambassador to the United States Said Jawad said: ”Yes, we do. We are pointing the finger at the Pakistan intelligence agency, based on the evidence on the ground and similar attacks taking place in Afghanistan.”

The virtues of doing nothing: Why focusing on Afghanistan’s opium makes the opium problem worse

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Joshua Foust is an American military analyst. He blogs about Central Asia and Afghanistan at Registan.net . Reuters is not responsible for the content – the views are the author’s alone.

It would be an understatement to call opium cultivation in Afghanistan America’s headache. The issue of illegal drug cultivation and smuggling has vexed policymakers for three decades, and led to a multi-billion dollar campaign to combat the phenomenon.

In Afghanistan, China extends its reach

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Afghanistan sits on one of the largest mineral deposits in the region, the country’s mines minister told Reuters in an interview this month.

And the Chinese are already there, braving the Taliban upsurge and a slowing economy at home to invest in the vast Aynak copper field south of Kabul, reputed to hold one of the largest deposits of the metal in the world.

from India Insight:

Is India playing its hand well over Mumbai?

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It has been a tense game of poker between India and Pakistan since the Mumbai attacks. On the face of it, India had the much stronger hand -- not least because it captured one of the attackers alive and got him to confess to being trained in Pakistan.

But has it played its cards well?

Some analysts say India overplayed its hand in the initial days after the attack by saying the military option remained open.

Assessing U.S. intervention in India-Pakistan: enough for now?

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In the immediate aftermath of the Mumbai attacks, India’s response has been to look to the United States to lean on Pakistan, which it blames for spawning Islamist militancy across the region, rather than launching any military retaliation of its own. So after U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice’s trip to India and Pakistan last week, have the Americans done enough for now?

According to Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper, Rice told Pakistan there was “irrefutable evidence” that elements within the country were involved in the Mumbai attacks. And it quotes unnamed sources as saying that behind-the-scenes she “pushed the Pakistani leaders to take care of the perpetrators, otherwise the U.S. will act”.

Taliban ready to defend Pakistan against India

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                  By Robert Birsel and Zeeshan Haider

Pakistan’s Taliban have indignantly criticised what they said were India’s “unfounded” threats against Pakistan in the wake of  the Mumbai assault and they vowed to rally to the defence of the country in the event of an Indian attack.
 
“If they dared to attack Pakistan then, God willing, we will share the happiness and grief with all Pakistanis,” said Pakistani Taliban spokesman Maulvi Omar.
 
“We will put the animosity and fighting with the Pakistani army behind us and the Taliban will defend their frontiers, their boundaries, their country with their weapons.

“We will defend the Line of Control in the same way as we are defending the Durand Line,” he told Reuters by telephone referring to the frontier  with India in disputed Kashmir and the border with Afghanistan.
 
“We will show Pakistanis whether we are miscreants or defenders of the country.”

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

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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.

File photo of General Ashfaq KayaniThe change was part of a major overhaul of the military leadership by Pakistan Army chief General Ashfaq Kayani, who also replaced the head of the 10 Corps in Rawalpindi, the most powerful corps in the army.

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