Fed up with what she felt was mismanagement at her hospital, gynecologist Homa Amiri Kakar had walked out of her job in a remote part of Afghanistan and returned to the capital. But just a week later she agreed to go back, guilt-stricken about the women she had deserted.
It's generally foolish to look for clear thought and sincere intent in anything President Donald Trump says. But a glimmer of hope emerged in his Monday comments on America's recent military ventures. "We have to start winning wars again," he declared. "We've either got to win or don't fight it at all."
Since the partition of the Indian subcontinent, Pakistan has lived in fear of the rise of ethnic nationalism in Pakistan and Afghan nationalism in Afghanistan. The elite Pakistani think tanks and power houses see these two trends as a threat to Pakistan’s geographical integrity. The fear gains credibility when viewed against the backdrop of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh)’s separation from West Pakistan (the current Pakistan) and the waves of insurgency in Pakistan by socialists, Balochs, and some Pashtun nationalists who received support from Afghanistan. Therefore, Pakistan strives to use religion as a unifying tool to undermine ethno-nationalists at home and Afghan nationalism abroad.
This week, Afghanistan lodged repeated official complaints against Pakistan’s violations of international agreements, including Pakistan’s Afghan border closings and forced repatriation of Afghan refugees. The border closings are contrary to World Trade Organization (WTO) rules, and Pakistan’s forced repatriation of refugees breaks its agreements with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Pakistan is a member of the WTO and U.N., so these actions are the latest in a series of broken promises on the issue of Afghanistan. These are confirmation that Pakistan can no longer be trusted as a negotiating partner on Afghan-related issues.
The Afghan war, now in its sixteenth year, has arguably become one of the world's most consequential conflicts. The steady stream of news from Afghanistan is as relentless as it is depressing. More important, the eerie silence in Washington, DC to discuss the future course of Afghan conflict—and America’s role in it—is deafening. President Donald Trump, now the third U.S. president to lead the Afghan mission, has called the war a “total disaster,” which the United States should abandon altogether. Trump, who has claimed to have a foolproof plan to defeat the Islamic State, has not yet discussed his strategy for fighting America’s longest war. The silence, however, does not qualify as an improvement from the policy of the Obama administration, whose excessive caution while dealing with Afghanistan and arbitrary deadlines for withdrawal of U.S. troops made the Afghan campaign more challenging.
The United States, China, Afghanistan and Pakistan may be finding themselves on the same page all over again, sooner than one would have expected, with regard to the revival of the moribund Quadrilateral Cooperative Group (QCG), their moribund initiative on regional security issues, especially the reconciliation with the Taliban.
Afghanistan and Pakistan experienced one of the most heinous stretches in their recent past this February. The Afghan Supreme Court was targeted on February 7, leaving 21 people dead including nine women. Then a suicide bombing on February 11 in Laskar Gah, the center of Helmand province, caused death and injuries to over a dozen people. In Pakistan, on the other hand, a suicide bomber attacked senior police officials in front of Punjab Assembly in Lahore during a demonstration on February 13 — 16 people, including three top police officials, lost their lives. The deadliest of all these attacks took place on February 16 in Pakistan’s Sindh province, when Lal Shahbaz Qalander Sufi shrine was targeted in the Sehwan area. That attack killed over 80 and more than twice as many were injured.
China and Afghanistan established the diplomatic relationship with each other in 1955. Ever since then, China has become one of the most important neighbors of Afghanistan, due to the fact that both sides have kept the bilateral friendly companionship since thousands of years ago.
A series of unfortunate events is fast propelling Afghanistan towards yet another flashpoint. This time, conflicting global interests, uninhibited foreign intervention and a worsening humanitarian crisis could combine to tear Afghanistan apart and open up a maelstrom populated by terrorists, heroin kings and death-dealing warlords.
The OBOR has potential to pave the way for Afghanistan’s economic development by enhancing its participation in intraregional trade through improved connectivity. This will improve its trade balance by enhancing exports, and reducing costs of imports. Increased income from trade in goods and energy can be reinvested in the infrastructural development of the country, thereby reducing its dependency on foreign assistance, and enabling sustained economic stability and growth.