Pakistan: Now or Never?

Army, Allah and America: on Pakistani pitfalls and the future of Egypt

January 30, 2011

egyptAll countries are unique and comparing two of the world’s most populous Muslim countries, Egypt and Pakistan, is as risky as comparing Britain to France at the time of the French Revolution. But many of the challenges likely to confront Egypt as it emerges from the mass protests against the 30-year-rule of President Hosni Mubarak are similar to those Pakistan has faced in the past, and provide at least a guide on what questions need to be addressed.  In Pakistan, they are often summarised as the three A’s — Army, Allah and America.

Anyone here been to Pakistan and speaks English?

January 14, 2011

cricket  refugeeU.S. Vice President Joe Biden made a rather odd comment during his visit to Pakistan this week.  “We want what you want: a strong, stable, democratic Pakistan,” he told a news conference, according to the Washington Post.  “We wish your success because it’s in our own interest.” 

Bajaur bombing highlights conflicting U.S.-Pakistan interests

December 29, 2010

damadola2Last week’s suicide bombing in Pakistan’s Bajaur region, which killed at least 40 people, had a grim predictability to  it.  The Pakistan Army cleared Pakistani Taliban militants out of their main strongholds in Bajaur, which borders Afghanistan’s Kunar province, after 20 months of intense fighting which ended earlier this year.  But as discussed in this post in October the insurgents’ ability to flee to Kunar — where the U.S. military presence has been thinned out — combined with a failure to provide Bajaur with good governance, suggested the security situation in the region was likely to be deteriorating. The bombing appeared to confirm those fears.

China’s South Asia tour: win-win meets zero sum

December 20, 2010

wenJust over a year ago, President Barack Obama suggested during a visit to Beijing that China and the United States could cooperate on bringing stability to Afghanistan and Pakistan.  As I wrote at the time, China — Islamabad’s most loyal partner — was an obvious country to turn to for help in working out how to deal with Pakistan.  Its economy would be the first to gain from greater regional stability which opened up trade routes and improved its access to energy supplies. And it also shared some of Washington’s concerns about Islamist militancy, particularly if this were to spread unrest in its Muslim Xinjiang region.

Academics, experts appeal to Obama to back Taliban talks

December 11, 2010

arghandabA group of academics, journalists and NGO workers have published an open letter to President Barack Obama appealing to him to support direct negotiations with the Taliban leadership.

Pakistan talks up al Qaeda/Taliban split

December 7, 2010

british soldierPakistan is increasingly talking up the need for a political settlement in Afghanistan which would force al Qaeda to leave the region. And while there is little sign yet Washington is ready to hold serious negotiations with Afghan insurgents, analysts detect a new tone in Pakistani comments about driving Osama bin Laden’s organization out of its haven on the Pakistan border.

Wikileaks on Pakistan

November 28, 2010

iran pakistanIn the State Department cables released by Wikileaks and so far reported, the most eye-catching as far as Pakistan is concerned is a row with Washington over nuclear fuel.

Pakistan and the narrative of shame

November 11, 2010

lahore mosqueManan Ahmed has a piece up at Chapati Mystery which should be essential reading for anyone interested in the current state of Pakistan and its prickly relations with the west, particularly with the United States. 

Between the lines: Obama’s comments on Kashmir

November 8, 2010

nubra reducedPresident Barack Obama’s words on relations with Pakistan were always going to be carefully scripted during his visit to India, where even to say the word “Kashmir”  aloud in public can raise jitters about U.S. interference in what New Delhi sees as a bilateral dispute.

On either side of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border: Bajaur and Kunar

October 31, 2010

damadolaWhat is going on in Kunar and Bajaur, two neighbouring regions on either side of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border?