Pakistan army chief, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, is to be given a a three-year extension to his term of office to maintain continuity in the country’s battle against Islamist militants.
Pakistan: Now or Never?
Last week’s suicide bombing of a mosque in Zahedan, capital of the Iranian province of Sistan-Baluchestan, is another reminder of how far two of the United States’ main foreign policy challenges – its row with Iran over its nuclear programme, and its policies towards Afghanistan and Pakistan – are intertwined.
Richard Haass, president at the Council on Foreign Relations, has become the latest to urge the United States to change course in Afghanistan and to seek a political settlement to try to bring an end to the war.
Hopes of progress were low when the foreign ministers of India and Pakistan met in Islamabad last week and the two sides lived up to expectations, disagreeing on how to move their relationship forward and blaming each other for souring the mood.
Perhaps one of the most telling features on the media commentary ahead of a meeting between the foreign ministers of India and Pakistan in Islamabad this week is the lack of it. Expectations could hardly be lower.
In the highly charged debate about Afghanistan, one of the more common features is the straw man fallacy – in which you deliberately misrepresent your opponent’s position in order to discredit it. One of the least common is a definition of terms and timing – thereby making the straw man attack even easier. So before a round-up of where things stand on prospects for a settlement, here are some caveats on what it does not involve.
Another three people have been killed in Kashmir in the biggest anti-India demonstrations in two years, bringing the death toll to at least 14 in the last three weeks. You can see some video of the protests in the Kashmiri capital Srinagar here – please watch it and remember that only a few years ago peace had returned to the streets of Srinagar after more than a decade of violence.
Diplomats like to stress that Afghanistan is not a zero-sum game, that if only the many regional players — including Pakistan and India – can settle their differences, they can find common cause in seeking a political settlement that will offer stability. That view comes complete with an appealing historical template – the British in India were able to extricate themselves from their failed Afghan wars in the 19th century in part because they agreed with Tsarist Russia that Afghanistan should be allowed to remain neutral.
Nearly a week after suicide bombers attacked one of Pakistan’s most popular shrines in Lahore, it remains unclear how the country should, and indeed will, respond to a fresh wave of attacks in its heartland Punjab province.
Pakistani education authorities are verifying university degrees of members of parliament amid fears that scores of them could be disqualified for holding “fake degrees”, leading to “mini mid-term elections” less than three years after general elections were held in the country.