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.

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.

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.

from Afghan Journal:

Challenging the myths of Pakistan’s turbulent northwest

By Reuters Staff
April 21, 2010

PAKISTAN/

Reuters' journalist Myra Macdonald travelled to Pakistan's northwest on the border with Afghanistan  to find that some of the Kiplingesque images of  xenophobic Pasthuns and ungovernable lands may be a bit off the mark especially now when the Pakistani army has taken the battle to the Islamist militants.  Here's her account :

On U.S., India and Pakistan: maybe some transparency would help

April 5, 2010

biden karzaiAccording to the Wall Street Journal, ”President Barack Obama issued a secret directive in December to intensify American diplomacy aimed at easing tensions between India and Pakistan, asserting that without détente between the two rivals, the administration’s efforts to win Pakistani cooperation in Afghanistan would suffer. ”

Iran’s role in Afghanistan

March 27, 2010

ahmadinejadkarzaiIran has been hosting regional leaders, including Afghan President Hamid Karzai, to celebrate the Persian New Year, or Nowruz (a spring festival whose equivalent in Pakistan, incidentally, is frowned upon by its own religious conservatives).

Have Plato’s cave shadows finally made it into the Afghan debate?

March 26, 2010

marjahJoshua Foust has a great piece up at Registan.net about a two-day workshop he attended on tribal engagement in Afghanistan. While essentially focusing on how far the United States should rely on tribes to find a solution to Afghanistan, he raises a fundamental question about the nature of the debate on what to do in a war now into its ninth year: