Pakistan: Now or Never?

Obama takes Afghan war to Pakistan

March 27, 2009

U.S. President Barack Obama set out his strategy to fight the war in Afghanistan on Friday, committing 4,000 military trainers and many more civillian personnel to the country, increasing military and financial aid to stabilise Pakistan and signalling that the door for reconciliation was open in Afghanistan for those who had taken to arms because of coercion or for a price.

Garrisons and force protection crowd out other objectives in Afghanistan

March 27, 2009

- Joshua Foust is a defense consultant who has just spent the last 10 weeks embedded with the U.S. Army in Afghanistan. He also blogs at Registan.net. Any opinions expressed are his own. -

Lashkar-e-Taiba threatens more violence in Kashmir

March 25, 2009

The Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Pakistan-based militant group blamed by India for last November’s assault on Mumbai, has threatened more violence in Kashmir after a five-day gunbattle that killed 25 people, including eight Indian troops.

In Afghanistan, China extends its reach

March 23, 2009

Afghanistan sits on one of the largest mineral deposits in the region, the country’s mines minister told Reuters in an interview this month.

Talking to the Taliban and the last man standing

March 23, 2009

The debate about whether the United States should open talks with Afghan insurgents appears to be gathering momentum — so much so that it is beginning to acquire an air of inevitability, without there ever being a specific policy announcement.

Has Pakistan become the central front?

March 4, 2009

In a report released late last month, the U.S. Atlantic Council think tank warned that the ramifications of state failure in Pakistan would be far graver than those in Afghanistan, with regional and global impact. “With nuclear weapons and a huge army, a population over five times that of Afghanistan and with an influential diaspora, Pakistan now seems less able, without outside help, to muddle through its challenges than at any time since its war with India in 1971.”

The Pakistan Army and “the history of the stick”

February 27, 2009

In his book on the Pakistan Army, South Asia expert Stephen Cohen quotes a senior lieutenant-general as warning the late Zulfikar Ali Bhutto against using the military to control political opposition. “If you use a stick too often, the stick will take over,” Cohen quotes the general as saying. “This has always been the history of the stick.”

The Pakistani kaleidoscope and the Swat ceasefire

February 24, 2009

The debate over the Pakistan government’s decision to seek peace with Taliban militants in the Swat valley by promising to introduce sharia law is proving to be like everything else in the Pakistani kaleidoscope – turn it a little bit and you see something else.

America’s Predators : fighting the Afghan war from Las Vegas

February 11, 2009

In a camouflaged trailer truck in the Nevada desert, a bank of computer screens shows live images of a mud-walled compound in Afghanistan, 8,000 miles away. Those pictures are coming from a Predator unmanned aircraft that you, hunched over the computer in the darkened room not far from Vegas, are flying remotely.

Afghanistan and the breakdown of the balance of power

January 27, 2009

Keeping track of the many countries with a stake in Afghanistan — and the shifting alliances between them — is beginning to feel awfully like one of those school history lessons when you were supposed to understand the complex and tenuous balance of power whose breakdown led to World War One.