Pakistan: Now or Never?

Facing up to “the war in Pakistan”

September 14, 2008

Masked pro-Taliban Pakistani militantsThere has been much hesitation in the world’s media about how to label U.S. military action inside Pakistan’s borders, including a reported ground raid and a series of missile strikes. Do you call it an “invasion”? Or use the more innocuous-sounding “intervention”? In an editorial, the Washington Post gives it a name which is rather striking in its directness. It calls it quite simply, The War in Pakistan.

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.

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?

Sharif vs Zardari: A fight to the finish or revival of democracy?

August 24, 2008

Asif Ali Zardari and Nawaz Sharif/Aug 18The resignation of President Pervez Musharraf has, as expected, unleashed a new power struggle within Pakistan’s fractious coalition. Asif Ali Zardari, leader of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and widower of Benazir Bhutto, has staked a claim to the presidency, setting him on a collision course with former prime minister Nawaz Sharif. Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) sees Zardari’s candidacy as an attempt to garner more power and delay the restoration of judges sacked by Musharraf last November. PML (N) officials are already saying the row could break up the six-month-old coalition cobbled together after elections in February.

After Canada, now it’s France’s turn to ask: What’s happening in Afghanistan?

August 19, 2008

Girl holds her brother at refugee camp outside Kabul/Adnan AbidiLast week the Canadians were soul-searching about their presence in Afghanistan after three female aid workers, two of them Canadian, were killed in an ambush. ”(The) Canadian deaths in Afghanistan underscore the most troubling aspect of the West’s strategy there,” said the Toronto Star. “Put simply, it isn’t working.”

Pakistan and the view from the U.S. blogsphere

August 18, 2008

President Musharraf leaves presidential house after resignation speech/Mian KursheedGiven how little many people in the west seem to know about Pakistan — at most that it has nuclear weapons and, possibly, Osama bin Laden; rarely that it has 165 million people (not too far off three times the population of Britain) with individual day-to-day challenges of earning a living and bringing up children like anywhere else – it’s encouraging to see the range of debate in the U.S. blogosphere after President Pervez Musharraf announced his resignation.

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. 

Why choose now to complain about Pakistan’s ISI?

August 1, 2008

Partial solar eclipse in Karachi/Athar HussainWhy now? Until this week, the ISI was an acronym for Pakistan’s powerful spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence, that was little known outside of South Asia. Now it’s all over the American media as the organisation accused of secretly helping Islamist militants in  Afghanistan and Pakistan, while the country it works for is a crucial ally in the U.S. battle against al Qaeda and the Taliban.

Will more foreign troops bring peace to Afghanistan?

July 25, 2008

APCs of German ISAF in Afghanistan/Fabrizio BenschWith both U.S. presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain calling for more troops to be sent to Afghanistan, there have been a slew of articles arguing this will at best not work and, at worst, fuel the insurgency.

Pakistan’s missing citizens

July 23, 2008

April 2008 file photo of the family of a missing man near QuettaIn a country facing the triple challenges of economic crisis, political instability and Islamist militancy, the impact on individuals can be easy to overlook. Amnesty International has tried to redress part of this by publishing a report about the hundreds of people it says have disappeared in Pakistan as a result of counter-terrorism measures.