Stories about Afghan Taliban

Afghanistan: A new dawn but old challenges

For over 30 years, Afghanistan has had to contend with political upheavals, foreign invaders, economic disruption and a ruthless insurgency. On April 5, 2014, Afghans went to the polls to choose a new president, in an election that was seen as crucial to the country’s future. Divided along ethnic fault-lines, instead of an inclusive and legitimate leadership who acts as a reflection of the mosaic nature of the Afghan society, what these elections produced in return was chaos and instability. For more than six months, the two rivals for the Afghan presidency, Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah had accused the other of ...

Read Full Post

How Islamic is the ISIS?

A recent news story left me utterly shocked and angry. Yesterday, the Islamic State (formerly known as the ISIS), a militant outfit, blew up and levelled one of the most well known and revered shrines in Mosul, Iraq – the resting place of Prophet Younus (AS). The militants blew up the shrine in front of a large number of people. The Islamic State (IS) has razed 15 mosques so far, belonging to both Sunni and Shia sects and, interestingly, this recent destruction of Prophet Younus’s (AS) shrine was done under the supervision of a proclaimed ‘caliph’. In the middle of all this chaos, my questions are ...

Read Full Post

Here’s why Pakistan may not win this fight against the militants

After many rumours and false starts, and after years of requests from US officials, Pakistan has finally launched a major military offensive in North Waziristan, ground zero for militancy in that country. Extremist organisations use North Waziristan as a base for attacks on US forces in Afghanistan and to mount assaults on targets in Pakistan. The remnants of al Qaeda central, including perhaps supreme leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, have a presence there, as do Uzbek extremist groups, one of which claimed responsibility for the recent Karachi airport attack. Even Faisal Shahzad, the Pakistani-American who attempted to blow up Times Square in 2010, received training in North Waziristan. ...

Read Full Post

Is there a need for peace talks?

The Government of Pakistan has been notified by the Mohmand Agency group of the Taliban that they have killed 23 Frontier Corps (FC) soldiers who were kidnapped four years ago from Shongari checkpost in Mohmand Agency. It is ironic that this incident took place during ‘peace talks’, with both sides hinting at the prospect of a positive outcome within a few days. Ironic? Unexpected? While flipping through TV channels a few days ago, I realised that all I could see was that certain militant outfits had somehow managed to win the media war against the State of Pakistan. The only thing I seemed to have come across continuously were ...

Read Full Post

Peace talks or muscle power, that is the question

Pakistan may finally be getting more serious about tackling its militancy problem. But don’t get your hopes up. For years, the US government has pushed Pakistan to crack down harder on militancy and for years, Islamabad has largely refused. Instead, it has dithered as extremist violence has spread across the country. Last week, investigative journalist Umar Cheema revealed that Pakistan’s previous government used a secret counter-terror fund to purchase jewels, rugs and even sacrificial goats. Yet the tides may be turning. Last week, Pakistan was rocked by a rapid succession of bomb blasts, including attacks on consecutive days that killed Pakistani soldiers in the northwest and ...

Read Full Post

After the Kerry visit: Dialogue may commence, but drones will continue

It was scheduled, then postponed. Then it was rescheduled—only to be postponed again. Then, on July 31, it finally happened—US Secretary of State John Kerry made his long-awaited trip to Pakistan. Alas, there were few major achievements. However, there were two notable takeaways. At first glance, each one may seem to be a boon for US-Pakistan ties. Yet at second glance, one comes away significantly less optimistic. The first takeaway is that Kerry and his Pakistani interlocutors are really serious about restarting the Strategic Dialogue, which has been suspended for two years. This is undoubtedly a good thing. Deep and sustained dialogue builds trust, which ...

Read Full Post

Negotiating with the Afghan Taliban is a good idea

Recent news of the Taliban opening an office to facilitate negotiations captured headlines across the world. First, Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai reacted with indignity to the decision made by the Taliban leadership to open an office under the banner of the Islamic Emirates of Afghanistan. Karzai then announced that Afghanistan will not be participating in peace negotiations with the Taliban. What followed was last week’s bombing by the Taliban at the Presidential Compound, believed to be the most secure area in Afghanistan. The negotiations so far have been inconsequential. No prisoners swapped, no eleventh-hour deal, no power-sharing agreement. There exist only desperate pleas from Secretary Kerry ...

Read Full Post

Afghan Taliban peace talks: Tragedy in Afghanistan, farce in Qatar

Karl Marx famously said that history repeats itself “first as tragedy, second as farce.” The war in Afghanistan has proven Marx wrong. Years from now, people will look back on this conflict and see that history can be both tragedy and farce at the same time. Events in recent days vividly demonstrate why. Let’s start with the farce. A Taliban office opened in Qatar to launch negotiations to end the war. The Taliban inaugurated the office with a flashy press conference, and proceeded to cast itself as Afghanistan’s true government. Kabul was furious, and refused to send negotiators. Washington asked Doha to demand that the Taliban, one of ...

Read Full Post