Stories about Afghanistan

The scenario for Afghanistan after the US-Taliban deal

The tentative deal signed on February 29, 2020 between the United States (US) and the Afghan Taliban after almost two decades of war hinges on a successful execution of four main points. Firstly, America has to gradually withdraw its troops from Afghanistan over the next 14 months, with 5,600 troops to leave the country within 135 days. Secondly, the Taliban and the Afghan government (which was not a party to the deal) must open direct talks, which will be preceded by the release of 5,000 Taliban prisoners currently held by the Afghan government and the release of 1,000 prisoners in Taliban captivity. Thirdly, the Taliban ...

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What does the future hold for Afghanistan after the Doha deal?

The Leap Day treaty signed at Doha between the United States and the Taliban, which stipulates a 14-month American withdrawal in return for Taliban guarantees of inhibiting international militancy, officially begins the end of the United States’ longest and perhaps least understood war. Provided that the deal holds, the Americans will leave in 2021, bringing their sojourn in Afghanistan to a full 20 years. In turn, the withdrawal of foreign forces, a major theme in Taliban recruitment, should seem to preclude further militarisation from the insurgents’ side. But there remain risks involved in Afghanistan, not least because the coalition installed ...

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What does Hafiz Saeed’s arrest mean for Pakistan?

In a recent development, Hafiz Saeed, the head of the proscribed Jamat-ud-Dawah, has been sent to prison for five and a half years by the anti-terrorist court in Lahore. Naturally, this news quickly made it to the the headlines across the globe since Saeed’s name is included in the list of banned terrorists by the United States (US) and United Nations (UN). Saeed is also wanted by India for his alleged role in the 2008 Mumbai attacks. But one cannot understand the impact of Saeed’s arrest if one is unaware of exactly what Saeed has been up to for all these years. Saeed ...

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Was Imran Khan’s Davos trip a success or a failure?

Nestled in the snowy Alps of Switzerland lies a quaint town that plays host to the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) annual meeting. For fifty years, Davos has provided a platform for the world’s political leaders, economists, academics, journalists and corporations to come together to accomplish an impossible task: “improving the state of the world”. From the outside, Davos seems like yet another stomping ground for the global elite. Their onerous mission entails a discussion on the eternal conundrums of economic inequality, political instability and social development. Members of civil society mingle with the heads of powerful organisations to shape ...

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In conversation with Noam Chomsky – Part 2: Intellectuals, imperialism and human nature

This conversation with Professor Noam Chomsky is presented as a three part series. Part 1 covers American culture and politics. Part 2 covers media, intellectuals and imperialism, along with science, language and human nature. Part 3 includes a conversation regarding religion and spirituality, alongside a discussion about the Indian subcontinent, climate change and the migration crisis. ~ Media, intellectuals and imperialism Hassan Mirza (HM): In a famous BBC interview of yours with presenter Andrew Marr, you told him that if he believed in something different and was more independent-minded he wouldn’t have been hired by the BBC. He called you a conspiracy theorist after ...

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In conversation with Noam Chomsky – Part 1: American culture and politics

This conversation with Professor Noam Chomsky is presented as a three part series. Part 1 covers American culture and politics. Part 2 covers media, intellectuals and imperialism, along with science, language and human nature. Part 3 includes a conversation regarding religion and spirituality, alongside a discussion about the Indian subcontinent, climate change and the migration crisis. ~ My email exchange with Professor Noam Chomsky began in 2017. I had read many of his writings and was curious about his views on a variety of topics. I sent him an email out of curiosity and what had started as an occasional email exchange at first soon ...

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Pakistan’s role in the Middle East conundrum

Sitting 8000 miles across the Pacific from my hometown Islamabad, I had to take a break from work for an early afternoon stroll along the Santa Monica Beach to make sense of recent developments in the Middle East and their wider implications. My country of origin, Pakistan, has already seen the aftermath of indulging in proxy wars at a staggering human, social and economic cost. Hindsight in our case has unfortunately never been 20-20. Even after the relative de-escalation of tensions following President Donald Trump’s address last week, one still cannot dismiss the potential of one hasty tweet or one cyber-attack to ...

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Busting myths about water scarcity in Pakistan

By 2050, 5.7 billion people could be living in areas with severe water scarcity at least a month a year – that means almost six out of 10 people could be suffering from water shortages. This alarming report by the United Nations, presented last year, led to some much needed dialogue among world leaders. However, it has resulted in little change, and a nuanced discussion about water scarcity is often marred by the prevalence of certain myths regarding the water crisis in Pakistan, and around the world. For instance, many in Pakistan believe that desalination is the ultimate remedy which will cure water shortages ...

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The Citizenship Amendment Bill has tarnished India’s secular ideals

When a government considers itself to be the sole arbiter of a nation’s destiny then it has become a prisoner of its own hubris. At the time of his reelection in May, there was hope that the renewed mandate of Narendra Modi and his regime could perhaps usher in some positive change in India and South Asia. But that was not to be. The bloated ego of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has strengthened the belief in the party that its agenda is far more important than the aspirations of the people. The abrogation of Article 370  was part of the ...

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Ahmad Shah Durrani and the misconceptions surrounding the Third Battle of Panipat

Today Panipat is a bustling city in Haryana state, but on January 14, 1761 it was the site of an epic battle — known as the Third Battle of Panipat — between Ahmad Shah Durrani (also known as Ahmad Shah Abdali) and the commander of the Maratha army Sadashiv Rao Bhau. The battle has been referenced, albeit usually inaccurately, by Hindu extremists to play the victim card, and to drive the wedge between Hindus and Muslims. Lately, the Bollywood film ‘Panipat: The Great Betrayal’ has also drawn a great deal of attention to Durrani, whom many in Afghanistan and Pakistan ...

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