Stories about Washington

If you are the US, you can get away with anything. Even torture.

States exist for their own well-being. They have their self-interests. Domestic and foreign policies define and dictate state acts and omissions on the world stage. In the post 9/11 order, state-to-state interaction has undergone an incredible amount of change with the entire gamut of international relations now at the mercy of a few role players. The United States of America, of course, holds the centre stage, in a global effort against the spread of religious fanaticism and waging a war on terrorism. That being said, the recently released report detailing the US Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) tactics of interrogation after September 11, ...

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Why isn’t Pakistan on Obama’s travel itinerary?

Ever wondered why Pakistan is made to play a second fiddle role when it comes to US handling South Asian affairs? It’s only been a few months since Narendra Modi took office as India’s prime minister but he’s already captured the imagination of the West. He’s treated like a superstar wherever he goes. His visit to the US back in September this year was a tremendous success. He created a superb rapport with US President Barack Obama and his administration, and won admirers all over the US. Obama is now scheduled to pay a visit to India and attend the Indian Republic Day celebrations in ...

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Drones, Pakistan’s worst kept secret

The current surge in drone strikes in FATA has reignited the infamous ‘drone debate’ and ‘Pakistan’s tacit agreement’ on intelligence sharing with the United States. Only a few months ago, Peter Bergen, a US expert on drones, had revealed that the CIA drone campaign in Pakistan may have finally come to an end. Not only Bergen, but even the current Nawaz-led PML-N government boasted of lobbying against drones and convincing the Obama administration to cease the strikes. Till June this year, one could believe these reports and revelations as there was a long hiatus in predator strikes. However, it was on June 11 when, negating such ...

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Is the New Silk Road really an economic corridor for China and Pakistan?

While the world is busy tackling the ISIS and its look-alikes in the Middle East, China, on the other hand, has other plans to chase. One such plan is reviving the centuries old Silk Route, or the New Silk Road – a series of routes that were important in the past for cultural interactions and trade between the East and the West. As part of this revival, China recently announced working on a high speed train from Lanzhou to Urumqi, capital of the troubled Xinjiang province. It is also rumoured that the train may, in future, reach out to regional states including Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Iran and Turkey, along with ...

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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 ...

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The curious case of drone strikes in FATA

Peter Bergen – a US security expert on drones, militancy and Af-Pak relations – recently revealed that the United States may have finally ended its drone programme in FATA, Pakistan. At least, this is how the media in Pakistan showed its surprise. But Bergen was careful in his words and thus indicated towards a hold in these strikes and how it could, eventually, lead towards a total halt. Bergen, an author and a journalist who also heads the International Security Programme at the New America Foundation, has for long been tracking and reporting on the US drone strikes. Thus, with his experience and background, his revelation could not ...

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US-Iran renewed ‘friendship’: What’s in store for Pakistan?

On November 24, six major powers agreed with Iran on a landmark interim accord over Iran’s nuclear program. Tehran has committed to halt uranium enrichment beyond five per cent in return for some relief from sanctions, signalling the beginning of reconciliation with the major powers that would make the world safer. Some reports suggest that the P5+1, a group of six world powers including US, Russia, China, UK, France and Germany, dialogue was merely a show. It was the Obama administration’s secret diplomacy that succeeded. This shows the willingness of Washington to resolve the long-standing dispute through diplomacy. The interim deal, for six months, has benefited both sides. Iran has ...

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The superpower shuts down

Congratulations to the United States Congress. It has accomplished something that America’s enemies—including al Qaeda—have long wanted to achieve: Bring the government of the world’s sole superpower to a screeching halt. We Washingtonians are used to talking about shutdowns. Several times in recent years, Congressional gridlock has threatened to bring the government to its knees. Yet last-nanosecond deals have always averted disaster. Not this time. The story is sadly simple. Congress can’t agree on how to fund the federal government beyond October 1, the start of the new US fiscal year. In recent days, the Republican Party (goaded by its ultra-conservative Tea ...

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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 ...

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A year after Bin Laden: Could it happen again?

A year after the Abbottabad raid that plunged the US-Pakistan relationship to a new low, one big takeaway is that America’s general public is finally familiar with the name of at least one Pakistani city (though this does not mean we and our media have a handle on its geographical location). But on a more serious note, could there be an Abbottabad redux? Could there be another unannounced assault on Pakistani territory to take out a big-ticket terrorist? If there is one thing President Obama has demonstrated in recent months, it is that he is influenced by the hard-line rhetoric emanating ...

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