Pakistan: Now or Never?

We need to talk about the Haqqanis

October 7, 2011

In a question and answer session last month, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was asked about how the United States would balance its need to work with Pakistan while also putting it under pressure to end its alleged support for the Haqqani network.

from Afghan Journal:

In the U.S.-Pakistan fight, India an anxious spectator

September 29, 2011

Pakistan and the United States are in the middle of such a public and bruising fight that Islamabad's other pet hate, India, has receded into the background.  A Pakistani banker friend, only half in jest, said his country had bigger fish to fry than to worry about India, now that it had locked horns with the superpower.

Pakistan’s China Syndrome

September 28, 2011

At the height of Pakistan’s crisis in relations with the United States, Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani reminded his Chinese guest of the words he had used to describe its relationship with China. ”Pak-China friendship is higher than mountains, deeper than oceans, stronger than steel and sweeter than honey.”  In a press release issued by the prime minister’s office during a visit to Islamabad by Chinese Public Security Minister Meng Jianzhu, Gilani also promised China that “‘your friends are our friends, your enemies are our enemies and your security is our security.”

The “end game” is in Pakistan

September 23, 2011

The United States has turned on Pakistan with such dizzying speed over the past few weeks that it is difficult to keep pace. Yet what is clear after Admiral Mike Mullen’s extraordinarily blunt statement that the Haqqani militant network is a “veritable arm” of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency is that it now has the Pakistan army very firmly in its sights.

After Kabul attack, pressure remains on Pakistan

September 14, 2011

That the situation is bad in Afghanistan is obvious. Quite how bad is open to debate following the 20-hour attack by insurgents on Kabul, though former Indian intelligence chief B. Raman put it rather succinctly on his Twitter feed @SORBONNE75. “If one considers totality of picture—anti-terror, anti-insurgency—- US far from prevailing in Afghanistan. US troops after 10 yrs in same position as Soviet troops after 8 yrs were in 1987—victory increasingly elusive.”

Pakistan’s Afghan policy: is that depth strategic or senseless?

September 8, 2011

At a conference earlier this year, someone made an argument, convincingly I thought, against the use of the expression ”the end-game in Afghanistan”.  Afghanistan as a country and the people in it will not come to an end when western forces leave, and nor is their future a game.  I was reminded of that comment reading a report published at the end of last month called “Pakistan, the United States , and the End Game in Afghanistan; Perceptions of Pakistan’s Foreign Policy Elite.” 

Taliban talks and Mullah Omar’s Eid message

September 1, 2011

Since reading Mullah Omar’s lengthy Eid message on his view of Afghanistan’s future, I have been trying to work out, without success, what it means for prospects of talks with the Taliban. It is a piece of evidence without context, available to anyone to bolster whatever argument they care to submit.

from Afghan Journal:

America in Afghanistan until 2024 ?

August 22, 2011

The Daily Telegraph  reports that the status of forces agreement that the United States and Afghanistan are negotiating may allow a U.S. military presence in the country until 2024 .  That's a full 10 years beyond the deadline for withdrawal of U.S. combat troops and handing over security responsibilities to Afghan forces.

Pakistan’s growing democracy

August 14, 2011

Pakistani politics can be infuriating, petty, violent and often downright incomprehensible. So it is easy to miss what is actually quite a remarkable transformation in the way it governs itself. For perhaps the first time in its 64 years of existence, Pakistan is trying to figure out in detail how to make democracy work.

When there are no people in Pakistan

August 8, 2011

Rarely does a story reveal so much so unintentionally as this month’s article in the New Yorker by Nicholas Schmidle reconstructing the May 2 raid by U.S. forces who found and killed Osama bin Laden in the Pakistani garrison town of Abbottabad. The article, beautifully written in the genre of Black Hawk Down, purports to tell the inside story of the Navy SEALS on the raid, right down to what they were thinking, or indeed, in the case of one of them, what he had in his pockets.