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  • Difficulties of Regional Cooperation for Afghanistan: An Alternative Interpretation

    This article addresses the question of why regional cooperation among Afghanistan’s neighbours has been so difficult despite these countries’ common concerns. To answer this question, Afghanistan is conceptualised as placed at the core of overlapping regions: South Asia, the Middle East, Central Asia and, through China’s influence, East Asia. Over the past decade, interactions among different regions ‘through’ Afghanistan have increased, and overlap has intensified.

    March 2015

    ZARB-e-AZB: Phony War or Paradigm Shift

    For all the grandstanding by the Pakistan army and the civilian government that Op Zarb-e-Azb was going to be against all kinds of terror groups based in NWA, no such thing seems to be happening. Clearly, this operation has been launched keeping an eye on the post-2014 situation in Afghanistan.

    July 31, 2014

    American Strategy in Afghanistan: Dilemmas, Miscalculations and Outcomes

    The war on terror, often described as ‘the longest war’ or ‘the wrong war’, is approaching its pinnacle. In this context, 2014 has been the centre of gravity while formulating strategies, framing policies and executing actions to ensure an honourable exit for the international forces led by the United States from Afghanistan.

    May 2014

    For Now, it is Ballot over Bullet in Afghanistan

    It is not merely about change in leadership; it is about ushering the country into a ‘decade of transformation’. The most immediate challenge before the incumbent government and the relevant election and security institutions is to sustain and strengthen the people’s engagement in the process.

    April 18, 2014

    Balaji DK asked: What could be the impact of the withdrawal of the US forces from Afghanistan on the US-Saudi Arabia relationship?

    Rumel Dahiya replies: There would be no direct impact on the US-Saudi Arabia relationship simply because the issue of the withdrawal of the US forces from Afghanistan is not central to the relationship. Broadly, US presence in the region has been viewed by Saudi Arabia approvingly. US has been seen as a balancer and security provider to the monarchies in the Gulf and a bulwark against Iranian hegemony after the 1979 revolution. 9/11 attacks wrong footed the Saudis since many of those involved in planning, financing and executing the attacks were Saudi nationals. It did not help that the Taliban regime was recognised and supported by the Saudis at that time. The latter made amends subsequently and supported US in its Global War on Terrorism (GWOT), but US has not been comfortable with Saudi assertiveness in the region and taking American support for granted since that limits US options. Now the issues troubling the Saudis are thawing of the US-Iran relations and US disinclination to get directly involved in local conflicts in West Asia; particularly in Syria. US withdrawal from Afghanistan has its own logic and will impact different players differently. The way the withdrawal strengthens or weakens Iran's or to an extent Pakistan's position, may have a marginal and indirect impact on the US-Saudi relationship but nothing more than that.

    Posted on April 11, 2014

    Early Trends in Afghan Elections: Abdullah Leads the Show

    According to a poll survey, 29 per cent supported the candidacy of Ashraf Ghani, a former World Bank expert, who is one among the three probable candidates President Karzai is supposed to favour. Abdullah Abdullah, runner up in 2009 Presidential poll and former foreign minister, came second with 25 per cent. The rest of the candidates, including Abdul Rab Rasoul Sayaaf, polled under 10 per cent.

    March 12, 2014

    Pakistan on the Brink: The Future of Pakistan, Afghanistan and the West by Ahmad Rashid

    There is immense strategic interest in the Af-Pak region. The US has spent over half a trillion dollars in Afghanistan and perhaps billions in Pakistan. NATO has spent money and sacrificed lives in Afghanistan. India, China, Russia and Iran have given large packages of aid and invested in the country. What will be the future of these trillion dollars of expenditure, huge investments and diplomatic efforts in the Af-PaK region? Ahmad Rashid offers a disturbing answer. Pakistan is on the brink of collapse, Afghanistan is in the midst of a civil war, and the Americans are pulling out.

    January 2014

    A Year-end Security Review of Southern Asia

    It has been a year of unstable regional security with the endless conflict in Afghanistan, Pakistan’s half-hearted struggle against the remnants of the al Qaeda, Sri Lanka’s inability to find a lasting solution to its ethnic problems and Nepal’s new found inclination to seek neutrality between India and China.

    December 31, 2013

    The Afghan Game: Interests and Moves

    In Afghanistan, the third Great Game is still on. The end of US–NATO combat operations in Afghanistan by the end of 2014 will be read by many as ‘Obama’s Vietnam’, but the retention of a small number of troops and several military facilities by the US in that country will be a source of worry for countries such as Russia, Iran and Pakistan who are concerned about US motives and moves in regard to the region, especially Central Asia’s energy resources which are already a target of international competition.

    November 2013

    India and China: Exploring Partnership in Afghanistan

    India and China: Exploring Partnership in Afghanistan

    In this final part of the Policy Paper series, P Stobdan deliberates that if India and China make a calibrated move for working together in Afghanistan, the outcome could be more harmonizing than conflicting. So when India reviews its post-2014 Afghan policy, the China factor should not be seen in a zero-sum perception for many in the West may press India playing a countervailing role to China.

    December 02, 2013