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 ...Read Full Post
The deal between the United States (US) and the Afghan Taliban in Doha last Saturday is bound to have lasting repercussions across the region. Under the agreement, the US is committed to reducing its number of troops in Afghanistan from 13,000 to 8,600 within 135 days of signing the deal, and the full withdrawal of forces will take place considering the security situation in the country and the Taliban’s commitment to not creating any more security threats in the region. However, it seems that President Donald Trump has made this deal in a hurry in an attempt to strengthen his chances ...Read Full Post
Successive Afghan governments, since Pakistan’s founding in 1947, have remained self-proclaimed champions of Pakistani Pashtuns’ rights. The basis on which Afghan officials (and part of the public alike) have shown interest in Pakistani Pashtuns is the assumption that Pakistani Pashtuns are an oppressed people. The source of the oppression, the argument goes, is the Punjab province. Bilateral Afghan-Pakistan tensions did not begin after the 1978 communist coup in Kabul or the subsequent Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, when Afghan Mujahideen and refugees fled to Pakistan. Afghan-Pak tensions had begun in 1947, when Afghanistan started insisting that Pakistan give ...Read Full Post
It may seem counter-intuitive to claim that a perennially failed state with illogical borders, an ethno-demographic ticking time bomb for a population, and a traditionally ungovernable periphery is the primary enemy of a nuclear-armed and exponentially militarily superior neighbouring state. But in the case of the failed state of Afghanistan’s relationship with nuclear Pakistan, this is the reality. Although traditionally India and Pakistan are considered supreme rivals, ultimately, modern Pakistan can handle India’s random acts of aggression, as was seen in the aftermath of February’s Pulwama incident. Moreover, if India truly seeks to take its place as a leading global ...Read Full Post
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
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
The Taliban government in Kabul during the 1990s had become symbolic, not only of political barbarity, but also of great cultural intolerance. They wanted to obliterate all the symbols present in the country that did not relate to its Islamic history and culture. The destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas – which symbolised the epitome of Afghanistan’s history and heritage – was a brutal extension of that mentality. Today, India’s ruling Hindu party is besieged with a similar sectarian outlook. It displays an obsession to turn India into a Hindu nation, side-lining its other cultural and historical diversities. This fixation is so pronounced ...Read Full Post
What better way of diverting attention from Donald Trump than by blaming Pakistan for all the ills of the world?
The world awoke earlier this week to another one of Donald Trump’s controversial insinuations. I call this an insinuation because the American president didn’t make any official statement himself, but had senior members of his staff hint at the possibility of his administration “hardening the line” against Pakistan. The revelation made to Reuters comes across as nothing new. Pick up any article printed in any paper from any country about the US-Pakistan relationship and you will find the exact same content, phrases, threats and arguments. It usually revolves around the US lamenting that Pakistan is not doing enough and is in cahoots with militant groups that are bent upon hampering the ...Read Full Post
At some level, I do understand why no Facebook profile picture filters appeared or why no hashtags dominated the social media landscape after a bombing in Kabul or Baghdad. It is assumed that cities like these must be acclimatised to the reign of terror; to towering plumes of smoke; to children’s blood being spilled on the city’s pavements; and to mangled corpses strewn on the dirty streets. It is assumed that they must be used to mothers wailing in a strange cacophony; to rundown ambulances whirring past shocked onlookers, who in turn are used to their unacknowledged existence; and used to the ...Read Full Post
In the event of a terrorist attack, why are Muslims in the West forced to assure the world that they are “good” Muslims?
We witnessed yet another terrible and senseless attack against innocent people in London, in which seven people were been killed and some 50 injured. And it was only a week back when a suicide bomber of Libyan origin killed 23 innocent people at a concert in Manchester. Muslims from the local community are equally outraged and several joined hands with the local community to help. Muslim doctors at local hospitals worked side by side with other colleagues for long hours to assist incoming casualties. However, this is not enough. Whenever a terrorist strikes anywhere, but more so in a western capital, Muslims all over the world are asked to make ...Read Full Post