Pakistan: Now or Never?

With Karzai off to Washington, Taliban talks back in focus

May 8, 2010

marjah“The effort required to bring about a compromise was indistinguishable from the requirements of victory—as the administration in which I served had to learn from bitter experience.”

Could you pass bin Laden to the left please?

May 6, 2010

osamaWhatever Osama bin Laden once aspired to, it was not to be passed around the table like a bottle of port  in the British Raj nor worse, handed on quickly  in a child’s game of Pass the Parcel. Yet that is the fate which for now appears to be chasing him.

Pakistan-despite failed NY attack, change will be slow in coming

May 6, 2010

karachiAfter the media frenzy following last weekend’s failed car bomb attack on Times Square, you would be forgiven for thinking that something dramatic is about to change in Pakistan. The reality, however, is probably going to be much greyer.

Times Square bombing; was the inspiration from the U.S. or Pakistan?

May 4, 2010

times squareThe failed car bomb attack on New York’s Times Square this weekend is almost certain to rekindle questions about a “jihadi highway” where citizens of western countries, often radicalised at home, seek either inspiration or training from one of many militant groups based in Pakistan.

Is Baluchistan more strategically significant than Afghanistan?

May 1, 2010

gwadarBaluchistan, Pakistan’s biggest province, rarely gets much attention from the international media, and what little it does is dwarfed by that showered on Afghanistan.  So it is with a certain amount of deliberate provocation that I ask the question posed in the headline: Is Baluchistan more strategically significant than Afghanistan?

India and Pakistan agree to hold more talks: now comes the hard part

April 29, 2010

thimphuAs predicted, the prime ministers of India and Pakistan agreed during a meeting in Bhutan that their countries should hold further talks to try to repair relations strained since the 2008 Mumbai attacks.  Foreign secretary Nirupama Rao told reporters at a regional summit in Thimphu that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his counterpart Yusuf Raza Gilani had decided their foreign ministers and foreign secretaries (the top diplomats) should meet as soon as possible.

from India Insight:

India-Pakistan “secret pact” – was Kashmir accord just a signature away?

April 28, 2010

India and Pakistan held secret talks for more than three years, reached an accord on the thorny Kashmir issue and had almost unveiled it in 2007 before domestic turmoil in Pakistan derailed it, former Pakistani foreign minister Khursheed Mehmood Kasuri has revealed.

Pakistan and India: After Yekaterinburg and Sharm-el-Sheikh; now we have Thimphu

April 25, 2010

bhutanAnother international summit. Another chance for the leaders of India and Pakistan to find a way of getting their countries to talk to each other.

On tipping points and Taliban talks

April 25, 2010

british soldierOne of the issues that seems to arouse the strongest emotions in the Afghan debate is the question of when the United States and its allies should engage in talks with the Taliban.  Some argued that the moment was ripe a few months ago, when both sides were finely balanced against each other and therefore both more likely to make the kind of concessions that would make negotiations possible.  It was an argument that surfaced forcefully at the London conference on Afghanistan in January. Others insisted that U.S.-led forces had to secure more gains on the battlefield first.

Pakistan unlikely to act soon on Lashkar-e-Taiba

April 24, 2010

damadolaDespite initial military successes against the Pakistani Taliban in the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan, Pakistan is unlikely to move any time soon to dismantle the Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group. As I wrote in this analysis,  Pakistani security officials say the country has enough on its plate fighting militants on its Afghan border without opening a new front in Punjab province, where the LeT is based. They argue this could drive the LeT – which has been careful not to launch attacks within Pakistan itself – into a dangerous alliance with the Pakistani Taliban and other al Qaeda-linked militant groups.