South Asia

  • With an Eye on IMF Loan, Pakistan Proposes Tax Reforms

    A new set of tax reforms announced by Pakistani Finance Minister Asad Umar on January 23 follows pressure from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) from which Islamabad is looking to secure another loan. The bill, which seeks to boost foreign and domestic investment, comes as Pakistan faces a balance-of-payments crisis on its foreign loans intensified by currency devaluations and rising energy imports.

    The tax measures would be Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s second set of fiscal reforms since taking power in July 2018. 


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  • India’s Data Localization Efforts Could Do More Harm Than Good

    In April 2018, India’s central bank—the Reserve Bank of India (RBI)—issued a new rule for payment systems providers operating in the country. Under the rule, all user data collected within the borders of the country needed to be localized within six months. The RBI said it was motivated by the need to have “unfettered supervisory accesses” to such data, given the fast-growing and increasingly technology dependent payments ecosystem in India. This new data protection rule is just one part of a larger set of multi-sectoral data protection and privacy measures being considered by India, put forth in a contentious draft Personal Data Protection (PDP) Bill in July 2018. The draft PDP Bill is expexted to be introduced to Parliament this summer after the Lok Sabha elections in India in May 2019.


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  • Getting Peace Right in Afghanistan: A Political Solution to a Military Problem

    After seventeen years of war in Afghanistan, the NATO Mission Commander, US Army Gen. Austin “Scott” Miller, provided a candid assessment of the situation, stating: “This [war in Afghanistan] is not going to be won militarily… This is going to a political solution.”


    Last week, talks between Zalmay Khalilzad, the US special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation, and the Taliban produced a tentative agreement that has generated hope for peace. What then are the mechanisms through which the military resources of the remaining thirty-nine troop-contributing nations can be translated into an enduring political resolution in Afghanistan?


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  • Nawaz Joins CGTN to Discuss Afghanistan Peace Talks


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  • Can Iran Help Reach a Lasting Peace in Afghanistan?

    Progress has been reported in peace talks between US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and the Taliban, but without the participation of the Afghan government, it seems premature to assume that an agreement will be reached soon. Could Iran play a constructive role in achieving an end to America’s longest war?

    Despite their lack of diplomatic relations and enduring hostility, Iran and the United States have kept some channels of dialogue open since the 1979 revolution. These channels facilitated an end to the hostage crisis, the selling of US arms to Tehran in the Iran-Contra affair and preceded the US invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq under the George W. Bush administration. Communication became formalized under the Obama administration and continued even under the Trump administration until its unilateral withdrawal last year from a 2015 nuclear agreement.

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  • A Step Closer to Peace in Afghanistan?

    There is renewed hope for a settlement to the seventeen-year-old war in Afghanistan—although significant questions remain.

    US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad is reported to be making headway in his talks this week with the Taliban in Doha, Qatar. Although Khalilzad has consulted with most of the relevant Afghan and regional actors since last September, details of the full range of discussions are still sketchy as they may arouse undue suspicions or misunderstandings in Kabul and in other concerned capitals.


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  • Charai for The Hill: Rethinking America’s Commitment to Afghanistan


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  • Charai in The Hill: Rethinking America’s commitment to Afghanistan


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  • President Trump: 'I Want Europe to Pay'

    [Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan] is working so hard on the military. We have a — we were taken advantage of by so many countries on our military.
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  • US Troop Drawdown from Afghanistan Needs to be Done Responsibly

    US President Donald J. Trump’s demand that the Pentagon plan for the withdrawal of 7,000 US troops from Afghanistan should not be viewed in isolation as it coincides with his decision to disengage from Syria, which, in turn, seems to have triggered the resignation of Secretary of Defense James Mattis—viewed by many as a seasoned strategist and supporter of a nuanced approached to the US missions in Syria and Afghanistan.

    Trump’s Afghan withdrawal coincides with an ongoing effort, kicked off with the appointment of Zalmay Khalilzad as the US special representative in September, to end the seventeen-year-old war in Afghanistan. If not coordinated, the withdrawal of US troops could hinder Khalilzad’s efforts and bolster the Taliban’s negotiating position. This, in turn, could weaken the positions of the US and Afghan governments, including political elites in Afghanistan, domestically as well as at the regional level. 


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