Stories about Afghanistan

Mohammed bin Salman is breaking the chains of a ‘regressive’ society – will the rest of the Muslim world follow?

During his recent visit to the US, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), sat down with CBS news for what can only be termed as a remarkable interview. Many interesting statements were made, but what was most shocking was undoubtedly his criticism of the law in Saudi Arabia. According to him, the unisectarian implementation of Shariah in Saudi Arabia since 1979 is to blame for what the country has become over the years, and its radical laws are the reason his generation has suffered the most. He further elaborated that according to Shariah, there are no pre-defined garments for ...

Read Full Post

Afghanistan can accept the Taliban, but not recognise the Durand Line?

In an unprecedented move, Afghan president Ashraf Ghani surprised the world by proposing peace talks with the Afghan Taliban. He made this offer in his opening speech at the Kabul Process Conference, which was attended by the representatives of around 25 countries, signalling a major policy shift from his earlier belligerent stance. Ghani expressed his government’s willingness to accept the Taliban as a legitimate political group, and insinuated that factions of the Taliban will have to recognise the Afghan government and respect the rule of law, suggesting, “We are making this offer without preconditions in order to lead to a peace agreement.” The Taliban, who dominate a ...

Read Full Post

The Syrian conflict approaches its seventh year, but the inhumanity is endless

“Everybody knows that the dice are loaded. Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed. Everybody knows that the war is over. Everybody knows that the good guys lost.” – Leonard Cohen, Everybody knows 1988 As Syria labels its latest escalation with Washington DC a ‘war crime’, an obscene irony in a civil war fast devolved into a brutal proxy war, on the threshold of its seven year anniversary, the world’s most violent proxy war is fast spinning out of orbit. The developments are dizzying. NATO’s two largest armies, in a tense face-off, now stand on opposite sides of the conflict. In the cross hairs aimed at one another, the Kurdish forces – the Pershmaga, astonishing ...

Read Full Post

The US never did and still doesn’t know what it is doing in Afghanistan

Almost a week on since I wrote on the (im)probability of peace talks with the Taliban, Afghanistan has not only seethed with violence but has further drifted into the abyss of terror. The country’s misery has continued in 2018 as a spate of major terror attacks, especially in the heavily-guarded capital of Kabul, has left its people reeling with agony, terror and fear. In the latest of these attacks, 11 soldiers were killed when five Islamic State (IS) militants attacked the Marshal Fahim National Defense University (MFNDU) on January 29th. This was the third major attack in just over a week, with the ...

Read Full Post

Pakistan’s asymmetrical response to Trump’s tweet is a clever way to flip the tables on Afghanistan

Donald Trump is soon going to regret what he tweeted about Pakistan on New Year’s Day, in accusing it of giving safe haven to terrorists, since Islamabad is poised to hit Washington with an asymmetrical counterpunch that it surely won’t forget. The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 1, 2018 The Pakistani ...

Read Full Post

As history proves, presidents will come and go, but Pakistan’s relationship with the US will always hang by a thread

The relationship between the US and Pakistan today is the diplomatic equivalent of a miserable marriage, where neither partner is ready to divorce the other, yet there is persistent bickering. Can’t live with each other, can’t live without each other either. Earlier this year, Islamabad watched with anxiety and horror as President Donald Trump called on India to deepen its influence in Afghanistan in his speech outlining the Afghan policy. India’s presence in Afghanistan has been a long time worry for Pakistan, and Trump’s speech earlier this year only reinforced that fear. By pitting two arched enemies against each other, President Trump aimed to ...

Read Full Post

A life sentence for Ratko Mladic, the ‘Butcher of Bosnia’, is no cause for celebration

The Bosnian war is one of my earliest childhood memories. I remember watching the coverage on our small TV screen in our living room. It was the 90s – I must have been seven or eight-years-old – and I distinctly remember it was the first time I saw my dad cry. It was around this time that I also remember some newcomers to our class at school. I had overheard one of my teachers saying, “Exciting day today, the Bosnian refugees are joining!” He seemed genuinely jubilant, in a kind and anxious sort of way. I will never forget the bright blue parka coat ...

Read Full Post

Chabahar: Without Pakistan, there is no stability or growth in landlocked Afghanistan and Af-Indo relations

We can bypass neither our history nor our geography – we have to live and deal with the consequences of both. Europe has a bitter history of war and dissensions among its member countries, with France and Germany, for instance, having had a long history of animosity and distrust. They fought many battles against each other, but by learning from their history and accepting their geography, they decided to come together for the common good of their people. Today, South Asia resembles this pre-World War II era, with historical animosities defining the political wisdom of South Asian states. The distrust is so deep that countries ...

Read Full Post

Pakistan’s foreign policy, cross-country trade and internal security: For better or for worse?

Is Pakistan’s foreign policy in mayhem or is it a work in progress? This is a tough question for any political analyst. On one hand, the dwindling Pakistan-US relationship has drawn a lot of unsolicited criticism, while on the other, the increasing cooperation between China, Russia and Pakistan is claimed to be a stepping stone to country’s long-term growth. Pakistan has recently been under a lot of fire since Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has clearly stated that Pakistan will neither fight the US-Afghan war on its own soil nor will it be used as a scapegoat. Abbasi stated, “Nor can we endorse any failed ...

Read Full Post

16 years after 9/11: Its tragic memory, surreal aftermath and the insecure world it left behind

In 1989, when the Berlin Wall came down, young men like me who had posed as ‘Marxists’ across the 80s were overwhelmed by a sense of both sadness and dread. And yet we knew that things in our beloved Soviet Union were not quite like what we had imagined – a socialist Utopia in which the working classes (the proletariat) had risen above economic, religious and social biases to consolidate their own rule according to the noble dictates of Marxist-Leninism. I was 22 in 1988 and about to head out to a university in Moscow on a scholarship. The plan was ...

Read Full Post