Towards a Sound Pakistan Policy

This Hindustan Times story about how Pakistan’s governing coalition is already on the brink of collapse (due to the PPP’s refusal to reinstate the Supreme Court justices sacked by Pervez Musharraf) reminded me to link to Arif Rafiq’s very smart piece on how America should reconfigure its strategic partnership with Pakistan: Historically, ties between the United States and Pakistan have been strongest with a Republican in the White House and an army general in power in Islamabad. In this scenario, Congress generally plays an antagonistic, if not wholly hostile role. The goodwill usually ends when Democrats in Washington and democrats […]

KATMANDU, Nepal — After two weeks of counting, Nepal’s election results are official: a solid win for the former rebel Maoists and a humiliating slap in the face for the country’s traditional political parties. Almost nobody predicted the landslide victory, and now Nepal’s political elite and the international community are scrambling to deal with the world’s first ever elected Maoist government. The Maoists, for their part, have been sure to make the right noises on economic and diplomatic issues. They say they will use capitalism and multiparty democracy as stepping stones to achieve their socialist vision. But first they must […]

Pipeline Diplomacy

We’re used to hearing about the coming resource wars, in particular how the increased global demand for scarce energy resources will lead to increased conflict. But as this post from about the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline points out, energy can also be the basis for cooperation between historical enemies. The beauty of natural gas is that transit fees actually encourage interconnectivity. Ultimately that’s why the West probably has a better chance of integrating Iran into its sphere of interest through the Nabucco pipeline project than it does at containing it. Of course, gas pipelines also create pressure points, as Russia […]

China, Pakistan and India

If it weren’t for all hell breaking loose in the Middle East, the tectonic shifts going on in South Asia would probably be the decade’s storyline. As it is, they still might be. In addition to China’s rise and India’s emergence, there’s also all sorts of movement towards warmer relations between the region’s traditional rivals that could smooth the way for further growth. Pakistan-India relations, while still prickly and marked by tit-for-tat missile tests, are more cordial than they’ve ever been. Same goes for China-India relations.As for China-Pakistan relations, a couple of articles (one here at Asia Times Online, and […]

Pakistan’s Taliban Problem

The Times reports on the growing internal debate within the Bush administration over requests by American military commanders in Afghanistan for more operational leeway to go after Taliban and al-Qaida forces in Pakistan’s tribal frontier areas. The usual dilemma over the overall costs of more agressive tactics on Pakistan’s stability have been complicated by the fact that the new Pakistani coalition government is even more hostile to American intervention than Pervez Musharraf was. So far the discussion seems to center around targeted missile strikes from UAV’s, but that hardly seems like an adequate response to what’s basically a hostile local […]

Last June, local “auxiliary” police in southern Afghanistan, fighting alongside Dutch troops, helped repel a major Taliban assault on the lush Chora Valley. In the aftermath of the fighting, the Dutch commander singled out the local cops for praise. “Their morale is very high,” said Lt. Col. Gino Van Der Voet. But now NATO commanders in Afghanistan have decided to end local police training, fearing that cops in remote areas — most of whom once fought for tribal warlords — might one day turn their weapons against Kabul and the U.S.-led coalition. The change in policy perhaps signals a shift […]

From the TV footage coming out of Nepal these days, it is easy to forget that the Himalayan nation is struggling to build a viable democracy. Almost every day since mid-March, when anti-Chinese protests erupted in Tibet and other countries, images of Nepali police beating Tibetan demonstrators have been beamed around the world. Nepal’s major political parties and former Maoist rebels have promised to build an open and inclusive state after years of turmoil. The people are preparing to vote April 10 for a new assembly that would write a new constitution embodying a federal democratic republic. Yet barely two […]