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The endgame in Afghanistan: Darker clouds gather

The last time I wrote about Afghanistan, I tried to offer a balanced look at the arguments for both pessimism and modest optimism regarding Afghanistan’s future after the U.S withdrawal. Since then, the omens for the mountainous South Asian country have grown darker, with Afghan forces suffering major losses, significant desertions, and the Taliban expanding its influence and control. There are still a few unknowns, but the ones supporting hope are declining in number and credibility. Taliban commanders...

SOUTH ASIAN BRIEF

A DIFFICULT MOMENT FOR U.S.-AFGHAN RELATIONS

 

Welcome to  South Asia Brief.

The highlights this week: Afghanistan’s leadership meets U.S. President Joe Biden at the White House at a crucial moment, experts warn of a third coronavirus wave in India, and the Financial Action Task Force reviews Pakistan’s efforts to curb terrorist...

Reports

ASEAN struggles to end Myanmar impasse as week o...

Association of Southeast Asian Nations foreign ministers met online on Monday, with the drawn-out crisis in Myanmar high on the agenda. A meeting that was supposed to last two hours went on for five, according to Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi, who said the discussion...

Afghanistan: Ghani blames ‘abrupt’ US exit for w...

Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani has blamed the country’s deteriorating security on the United States deciding “abruptly” to withdraw its troops. Presenting his security plan before Parliament on Monday, Ghani said the situation in the war-torn nation will be “under control within six months”, adding that...

Indian, Chinese armies set up hotline in eastern...

The Indian Army and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) on Sunday established a new hotline in the eastern sector to enable local commanders from both sides to speak directly and resolve differences on the ground, officials familiar with the development said. The hotline has...

Six months after Myanmar coup, battle for diplom...

In Myanmar’s commercial capital Yangon, people are scrambling for hospital beds and looking for oxygen for their COVID-hit family members and friends. Bodies are piling up in cemeteries. With economic desperation and a deadly virus ravaging the population, neither the military, despite its de facto...

SAM Special

Sri Lanka plugs into BJP line to bridge “trust deficit” with India

Sri Lanka appears to be anxious to plug into Bharatiya Janata Party’s “Hindutva” line to close the “trust deficit” in its relationship with India. A set of proposals to bridge the trust gap, which was submitted to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa by the Sri Lankan High Commissioner-designate to India Milinda Moragoda recently, stresses the importance of cultivating Sri Lanka’s Buddhist and Hindu ties with India, while leaving out Islamic ties altogether. Moragoda’s stress on the efficacy...

Issues

How India and Pakistan can build on the recent c...

Peace is a fragile plant that needs constant nurturing. This is especially true when two neighbours with a disturbed relationship attempt mutual reconciliation of differences. When their endeavours are weak, lack sincerity or lose momentum due to mutual suspicion, the plant dies. A new seed...

Pak-Saudi bilateral relation is back on track?

Pakistan and Saudi Arabia enjoy a decades-old and warm bilateral relationship that has survived many jolts. Bilateral relations between them strained since April 2015 when Pakistan refused to send its military troops to Yemen and decided to remain neutral in the proxy war between Saudi...

Bangladesh “in crisis” on freedom of expression...

Freedom of expression in Bangladesh is "in crisis", says Article 19, a British human rights organisation in its latest report. The Global Expression Report 2021 ranked Bangladesh 133th out of 161 countries in terms of freedom of expression. Bangladesh is at the bottom among the...

Why a post-US Afghanistan poses a litmus test fo...

Whether because of hubris or naiveties, it seems there are some lessons global hegemons rarely learn. One is that certain corners of the world not for taking – like Afghanistan. As President Joe Biden ends a forlorn 20-year effort at nation-building, the United States joins a line...

Editor`s Choice

India’s Covid-19 tsunami

India’s Covid-19 tsunami

It is humbling when a columnist must retract his words soon after penning them. Just two months ago, after India rushed millions of doses of...
Quad lacks moral authority in South China Sea

Quad lacks moral authority in South China Sea

At the virtual summit of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue held on March 12, the Quad leaders reiterated their firm commitment that the rules-based international order...
Indonesia seeks to broker Taliban peace deal in Afghanistan

Indonesia seeks to broker Taliban peace deal...

Former Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla said he has traveled to Afghanistan and Qatar several times in recent months to help broker a peace deal...

Focus

Coronavirus child brides: Bangladesh teens forced into marriage during pandemic downturn

Sharolika Parvin, a 16-year-old from Kurigram, a border district in Bangladesh, enjoyed playing football and took part in tournaments at a national level. Three years ago, she was even named the best player in the Bangamata Gold Cup primary school football tournament. But now, her dreams of graduating from the local college and playing national-level football have all but evaporated. Sharolika’s parents married her off to a 17-year-old motor mechanic earlier this year. Her new...
If the United States … couldn’t win the war from inside Afghanistan after 20 years, how would America do it from bases in our country?
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, writing in a Washington Post op-ed that Pakistan will not provide bases to U.S. military personnel to conduct counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan.