A nearly 24-hour gunbattle this week between militants and Indian security forces in the centre of Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir, is a powerful reminder of the tensions in the region at the heart of enmity between India and Pakistan. Two people were killed along with the two militants – one of whom was described by police as a Pakistani – in the biggest attack in Srinagar in two years. Hundreds of people, who had become accustomed to relative calm after years of separatist violence, had to be rescued from nearby buildings.
Pakistan: Now or Never?
Last week’s suicide bomb attack on a base in Afghanistan which killed seven CIA officers and a Jordanian spy is raising fears in Pakistan that it could encourage an intensified drone bombing campaign to target those who planned the assault.
One of the labels being attached to President Barack Obama is that he is a committed incrementalist – an insult or a compliment depending on which side of the political fence you sit, or indeed whether you believe it to be true.
In the absence of a coherent narrative about the failed Christmas Day attack on a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit, the debate about how best to tackle al Qaeda and its Islamist allies has once again been thrown wide open.
In the vast swirl of debate about Afghanistan and Pakistan, it is worth taking the time to read this piece in the Small Wars Journal by Michael Yon about the looming battle for Kandahar and the central importance of the Arghandab River Valley (pdf document).
When President Barack Obama suggested in Beijing last month that China and the United States could cooperate on bringing stability to Afghanistan and Pakistan, and indeed to “all of South Asia”, much of the attention was diverted to India, where the media saw it as inviting unwarranted Chinese interference in the region.
In openDemocracy, Paul Rogers writes that one of the great mistakes of the media is that it tends to assume the only actors in the campaign against Islamist militants are governments, with al Qaeda and the Taliban merely passive players.
One year ago, I asked whether then President-elect Barack Obama’s plans for Afghanistan still made sense after the Mumbai attacks torpedoed hopes of a regional settlement involving Pakistan and India. The argument, much touted during Obama’s election campaign, was that a peace deal with India would convince Pakistan to turn decisively on Islamist militants, thereby bolstering the United States flagging campaign in Afghanistan.
from Afghan Journal:
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is in the United States for the first official state visit by any foreign leader since President Barack Obama took office this year. While the atmospherics are right, and the two leaders probably won't be looking as stilted as Obama and China's President Hu Jintao appeared to be during Obama's trip last week (for the Indians are rarely short on conversation), there is a sense of unease.