A Pakistani Honor Guard at the Army’s Martyr’s Monument, Rawalpindi, Pakistan, Jan. 21, 2010 (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Jerry Morrison).

Last week, Pakistan agreed to send ships to help enforce a U.N.-approved arms embargo against Houthi rebels in Yemen, but declined a request by Saudi Arabia to send attack aircraft or troops to join the Saudi-led coalition there. In an email interview, Ayesha Siddiqa, an independent security analyst in Pakistan, discussed Pakistan’s military capabilities. WPR: What are the Pakistani military’s size, training priorities, capabilities and operational strengths? Ayesha Siddiqa: The Pakistani military is a volunteer force and the seventh-largest military in the world. It is primarily dedicated to conventional warfighting. There are 617,000 active duty personnel in the Pakistani military, […]

Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj shakes hands with North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Su Yong, New Delhi, India, April 13, 2015 (AP photo by Manish Swarup).

Last week, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Su Yong was in New Delhi for talks with Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj on North Korea’s nuclear program and to request additional humanitarian assistance. In an email interview, Ankit Panda, an associate editor at The Diplomat, discussed India’s ties with North Korea. WPR: How extensive are India’s ties with North Korea, and what are the main areas of cooperation? Ankit Panda: India and North Korea do not have the closest relationship by any means, though New Delhi remains a reliable partner and an important source of exports and aid for Pyongyang. India […]

A Pakistani police officer walks pasts billboards showing pictures of Chinese President Xi Jinping, Pakistan’s President Mamnoon Hussain and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Islamabad, Pakistan, April 19, 2015 (AP photo by Anjum Naveed).

When Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Pakistan this week, the reception was something to behold. The welcoming committee greeted him in midair, with eight Pakistani fighter jets in formation solemnly escorting the Chinese leader’s plane from the moment he crossed into Pakistani airspace. It was one more dramatic element underscoring the significance of a visit during which both sides were remarkably unrestrained in their exuberance. Islamabad was dotted with photographs of Xi and signs proclaiming that “Pakistan-China friendship is higher than mountains, deeper than Oceans, sweeter than honey, and stronger than steel.” Xi reciprocated, declaring that he feels as […]

Afghan security personnel gather at the site of a suicide attack, Kabul, Afghanistan, April 10, 2015 (AP photo by Rahmat Gul).

Most days in March, pairs of young men mounted Honda 125 motorbikes to ride out of a mud-walled compound in the town of Muslimbagh, in Pakistan’s province of Baluchistan. Turbans wrapped around their faces to ward off the dust, they headed for the Afghan border, 50 miles away. These young men, recruits from the marginalized Pashtun communities of the borderlands, were riding off to be fighters for the Taliban. Most of their peers who have not taken up arms toil as casual laborers for the meagerest of pay. By joining a dilgai, or Taliban armed group, the young Pashtun men […]

Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani is welcomed by Indian President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, New Delhi, India, March 25, 2015 (photo from the website of the Prime Minister of India).

In late March, Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, became the first head of state from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to visit India since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took office last year. The visit came at a time when India is looking to renegotiate its long-term gas contracts with Qatar, given the opening up of other sources of supply around the world. Qatar is still India’s primary liquefied natural gas supplier and also hosts 600,000 Indian nationals, most of whom work as migrant laborers, which in recent years has led to India extending security guarantees to its […]

Afghan women attend a literacy course supported by the United Nations Children’s Fund, Bamyan, Afghanistan, April 29, 2008 (U.N. photo by Sebastian Rich).

When Afghanistan’s new president, Ashraf Ghani, met with U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House in late March, he suggested that “one day we’ll see an Afghan woman president.” His remarks came only a few days after a scene of horror had unfolded in Kabul. A 27-year-old Afghan woman and theology student named Farkhunda had been tortured in an ordeal that lasted for two hours. Hundreds of people watched, including the police, who stood by without intervening. The enraged crowd accused her—falsely, as it turned out—of having burned a Quran. They ultimately set her on fire and tossed her […]