India: Jostling for Geopolitical Control in Afghanistan

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Editor’s note: This article was originally published by openSecurity on 27 March 2014.

There is increasing anxiety among stakeholders as US forces prepare for a drawdown in Afghanistan by the end of 2014. The international community, including the United States, is still groping in the dark when it comes to Afghanistan’s future. As such, they have somewhat ignored India, which, in fact, will be pivotal in solving the Afghan dilemma. Instead, the west and regional stakeholders have focussed on Pakistan as the major player in post-2014 Afghanistan.

Pakistan has been accused of supporting the Afghan Taliban and of providing sanctuary to them inside Pakistan in order to maintain strategic depth and influence within Afghanistan. Furthermore, Pakistan has been charged with supporting the Afghan Taliban and their affiliate, the Haqqani network, in order to counter India in Afghanistan, as well as of sending militant groups such as Laskhar-e-Taiba into Indian-administered Kashmir. Pakistan has denied these accusations. » More

Pakistan’s Political Renaissance

General Raheel Sharif, Chief of Army Staff of Pakistan

General Raheel Sharif, Chief of Army Staff of Pakistan. Photo: FSCEM45212/Wikimedia Commons

LAHORE – Pakistani institutions are evolving rapidly. With executive authority increasingly in the hands of elected representatives, rather than dispersed among various competing institutions, the political establishment has been revitalized – and it has taken three important steps toward strengthening democracy and the rule of law. Is Pakistan, a country long prone to military coups, finally developing a well-functioning political system?

On November 27, Pakistani President Mamnoon Hussain – acting on the prime minister’s advice, as the constitution dictates – announced that General Raheel Sharif would succeed General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani as Chief of Army Staff, even though Sharif was not among the military establishment’s favored candidates. Unlike Kayani – who has directed the Directorate-General of Military Operations and the Inter-Services Intelligence (Pakistan’s spy agency) – Sharif has not served in any of the positions that typically prepare someone to lead Pakistan’s best-funded and most influential institution. » More

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Resilient Pakistan?

Pakistan on a map

Pakistan. Photo: smlp.co.uk/flickr.

ISLAMABAD – Since mid-December, Pakistan has experienced political and economic volatility that is extraordinary even by Pakistani standards. The fragile political structure that began to be erected following the resumption of civilian government in 2008 is now shaking.

A key source of this unrest is Tahirul Qadri, a Toronto-based Muslim cleric who arrived in Lahore in early December. Ten days later, he addressed a mammoth public meeting at the city’s Minar-e-Pakistan grounds, where, a year earlier, the cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan had launched what he not very appropriately termed a political tsunami. » More

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Why Should Distributing the Polio Vaccine in Pakistan lead to Death?

US Army Capt. administring a vaccine to a Pakistani child, 2006. Photo: US Military/Wikimedia Commons

The huge rise in militancy across Pakistan (pdf) is also creating a number of hazards for aid workers. On New Year’s Day gunmen on motorbikes ambushed and killed six female aid workers and a doctor in Khayber-Pakhtunkhwa province. It marked the latest in a series of attacks on polio vaccination charity workers.

On December 18, five female aid workers were killed as they were administering polio vaccinations. The following day another polio supervisor was killed along with her driver in north-western town of Peshawar. » More

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Is Pakistan’s Paranoia Pushing it Into a Nuclear War with India?

The flags of India and Pakistan. Photo: Jack Zalium/flickr

The possibility of a nuclear war between Pakistan and India grows every day. If the Pakistanis do not bring under control the terrorist groups in the country and resolve the conflicts with India, it is not a matter of if it will happen, but when.

There have been few achievements to celebrate in the sixty-five year history of Pakistan and that has made the success of the nuclear program central to the national identity. This is especially true for the military that receives a quarter of the budget and is the only strong national institution.

Development of the weapons started in January of 1972 by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, when he was the Minister for Fuel, Power and Natural Resources. The decision to go nuclear came after a disastrous military defeat in 1971 by India. Bangladesh with Indian assistance separated from Pakistan. » More

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