Pakistan

  • Can Peace Be Won in Afghanistan?

    At a time when the Taliban are gaining ground in Afghanistan, Afghan government losses are mounting, and regional partners’ views on the conflict are shifting, US Secretary of Defense James Mattis has not given in to pessimism. On a September 7 visit to Kabul, Mattis expressed optimism about the existence of “a framework” and “open lines of communications” between US diplomats and Qatar-based Taliban representatives that he believes might lead to an intra-Afghan reconciliation process that would end nearly two decades of war. He also reassured Kabul’s leadership that the United States will stand by the Afghans until there is lasting peace and stability.

    What remains uncertain at this point, however, are the answers to two overarching questions: How will key regional stakeholders—Pakistan, Russia, Iran, China, and India—manage shifting interests and threat perceptions at a time when the United States is pushing for a peace deal, and is there a contingency plan if talks fail?

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  • Trump Picks Zalmay Khalilzad, Atlantic Council Board Director, as Special Representative on Afghanistan

    Appointment signals administration’s intent to wind down war, get tough with Pakistan

    The appointment of Zalmay Khalilzad as US President Donald J. Trump’s special representative on Afghanistan sends a clear signal that the US administration is serious about winding down its involvement in the war in Afghanistan. By putting a longtime critic of Pakistan in charge of the peace process, the Trump administration has also put Islamabad on notice that it has little patience for its support for terrorists in Afghanistan.

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  • US-Pakistan Dialogue of the Deaf

    US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford arrive in Islamabad on September 5 for a fresh episode of Mission Impossible: to bend Pakistani leaders into submitting to their wishes in the losing war in Afghanistan. They hope to persuade Pakistan’s newly minted prime minister, Imran Khan, and army chief, Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, to move against militants inside Pakistan, especially those who use Pakistani soil to fight the United States, NATO, and the Afghan troops in Afghanistan. A sense of déjà vu hangs over these talks.

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  • In Pakistan, It’s Imran Khan’s Turn to Bat

    The apparent victory of cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party in the July 25 parliamentary election marks a new inflection point in Pakistan’s politics and external policies.  This election, though marred by allegations of tampering and violence, marks Pakistan’s second consecutive transition from one civilian-led government to another through an election.  Additionally, PTI’s ascent is a break from the dominance of Pakistan’s two, dynastically controlled, political parties, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).  As negotiations to form a government under PTI leadership take place over the coming weeks, observers should watch a few factors for signs of what is to come.

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  • Pakistan’s Election May Further Fracture its Polity

    Pakistanis will elect a new parliament and prime minister on July 25 marking only the second transfer of power from one civilian government to another in the nation’s seventy-year history. Though this should be cause for celebration in a country where governments have been abruptly changed by military coups or presidential fiats, there are genuine fears that the election will magnify and unleash the centrifugal forces that divide Pakistan’s fractured polity. 

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  • Nawaz Quoted in Real Clear Life on a U.S. Attaché’s Diplomatic Immunity Following a Deadly Crash in Pakistan


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  • Biberman in The Washington Post: Pakistani Militants Have Created their Own Political Party. Can it Actually Win Votes?


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  • Ahmad in The National Interest: Pakistan’s Secret War Machine


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  • Gopalaswamy Quoted in Newsweek on Trump Slamming Pakistan Companies With Sanctions


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  • Is Peace Possible in Afghanistan?

    Amid ongoing, deadly attacks in the Afghan capital and elsewhere, the Taliban has reached out to the United States to begin peace talks aimed at ending more than seventeen years of conflict between US-led forces and the once-ruling extremist group.

    At least, that’s what the group’s open letter in February reads. In it, the Taliban states it is imploring the American people and members of Congress to convince the Trump administration of the necessity for the talks.

    Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on February 28 extended his own olive branch by offering to recognize the Taliban as a legitimate political group as part of a proposed peace process. He said he was making the offer “without preconditions.”

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