Pakistan: Now or Never?

Pakistan – a list too long

October 19, 2010

childPakistani journalist Mosharraf Zaidi had a good post up last week attempting to frame the many different challenges Pakistan faces in trying to deal with terrorism.  Definitely worth a read as a counter-balance to the vague “do more” mantra, and as a reminder of how little serious public debate there is out there about the exact nature of the threat posed to a nuclear-armed country of some 180 million people, whose collapse would destabilise the entire region and beyond.

The sound and fury of the Pakistan-Afghanistan debate

October 15, 2008

Marriott Hotel in Islamabad after bombingThe debate about the fate of Pakistan and Afghanistan is getting noisier by the day.

Tactics versus strategy in Afghanistan

October 11, 2008

Reading the latest spate of news reports about U.S. policies in Afghanistan, one thing strikes me as troubling — the failure to distinguish between tactics and strategy. Military boffins argue about the exact meaning of those two words, but for the purposes of argument, let’s say that tactics are a means to an end, while strategy contains within it an understanding of the end to be attained.

Will Pakistan become a quagmire for the United States?

September 11, 2008

File photo of Pakistani soldiers at a post overlooking Wana in South WaziristanFollowing up on yesterday’s post about U.S. military action in Pakistan, I see the New York Times is reporting that President George W. Bush secretly approved orders in July allowing American Special Operations forces to carry out ground assaults inside Pakistan without the prior approval of the Pakistani government.

Obama says Pakistan used U.S. aid to prepare for war against India

September 6, 2008

Senator Obama speaks in Milwaukee/Allen FredricksonSenator Barack Obama has accused Pakistan of misusing U.S. military aid meant to help it fight al Qaeda and the Taliban to prepare for war against India. In an interview with Fox News he also says the United States must put more pressure on Pakistan to crack down on Islamist militants, hold it accountable for increased military support, and be prepared to act aggressively against al Qaeda; “if we have bin Laden in our sights, we target him and we knock him out,” he says. However he adds that “nobody talked about some full-blown invasion of Pakistan.”

Are the Taliban under pressure in Pakistan?

September 4, 2008

File photo of South WaziristanAre the Taliban and al Qaeda finally under serious pressure in their hideouts along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border?

Will Obama’s Afghan plans survive Kashmir crisis?

August 15, 2008

Senator Barack Obama/Hugh GentryLess than a month ago, Senator Barack Obama was saying  that the U.S. war in Afghanistan would be made easier if the United States worked to improve trust between India and Pakistan. “A lot of what drives, it appears, motivations on the Pakistan side of the border, still has to do with their concerns and suspicions about India,” he told a news conference in Amman.

Would peace between India and Pakistan help stabilise Afghanistan?

August 4, 2008

File photo of Indian soldiers behind pictures of victims of Kabul embassy bombingAs far as a strategy for Afghanistan is concerned, it’s a long shot. Bring peace to India and Pakistan and not only will that stabilise Pakistan but it will also ease tensions in Afghanistan. Indeed it’s such a long shot that it has not been considered as a serious policy option. That was until last month’s bombing of the Indian embassy in Kabul. 

Food crisis adds to Pakistan-Afghanistan tensions

June 5, 2008

April photo of man at Kabul flour marketIt would be hard to think of a more complex web of problems.  Pakistan and Afghanistan face, in very different ways, severe domestic political crises which are being exacerbated by soaring prices and food shortages. Both blame each other for failing to crack down on the Taliban and al Qaeda. And now tensions are rising over attempts by Pakistan, the traditional supplier of food to Afghanistan, to curb its wheat exports to make sure it can feed its own hungry population.