The Other Side of the Amu Darya: Tajik and Afghans, neighbours apart

Despite pushes from the West and economic needs, Afghan-Central Asian economic cooperation has not taken off, yet. The people of Tajikistan, for example, are not very interested in or even prejudiced towards their southern neighbours, as they concentrate on their troubles with their former Uzbek brothers. The Tajik government and the other more or less authoritarian […]

Can Kabul Carry Two Melons in One Hand? Afghanistan and Iran sign strategic cooperation document

Almost unnoticed by the international media, Afghanistan and Iran have signed a “Strategic Cooperation Agreement” during President Karzai’s recent trip to Tehran. The document includes provisions on bilateral military, intelligence and economic cooperation. The sequence indicates importance; the agreement is mainly a security agreement. However, it also contains ideas for a number of trilateral extensions […]

Trouble at the Goshta Gate: New tensions and old wounds along the Durand Line

For almost two weeks now, tensions have been running high again at the Durand Line, the Afghan-Pakistani border not recognised by Kabul officials. Afghan troops have removed Pakistani border installations they perceived to be on their territory, security forces from both sides have exchanged fire and both governments have filed protests. Among Afghans, the issue […]

Return of the Muslim League: Pakistan after the Election

Pakistan elected its new parliament on 11 May 2013. The tiger – as many in the media have titled – has roared again: according to preliminary results, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) that used the tiger as its election symbol is way ahead of all its rivals but still short of an absolute majority. As […]

Before Pakistan’s Election: “The democratic process needs more time”

Simultaneous with the publication of our new briefing paper about the Pakistani parliamentary election next week, we publish a blog based on an email interview with its author, Ann Wilkens, a former Swedish Ambassador to Pakistan and Afghanistan. She says that the election may result in a shift from centre-left to centre-right although its outcome […]

Afghanistan’s vain attempts at wooing Pakistani Islamists for peace

The recent assertion by Pakistan’s chief cleric, Tahir Ashrafi, about the permissibility of Taleban’s suicide attacks was completely the opposite of what Afghanistan had been looking for. Indeed, Kabul has had difficulties in mobilising religious leaders to speak against suicide attacks. A long sought conference of ulama from Afghanistan and Pakistan aimed at delegitimising militancy […]

Qatar, Islamabad, Chantilly, Ashgabad: Taleban Talks Season Again? (amended)

There has again been movement in the positions marking the landscape of ‘reconciliation’ or, more precisely, of contacts and possible negotiations with the Taleban seem to be moving again. A track II meeting, labelled as ‘intra-Afghan’ talks, was held in France and, before that, the so-called ‘HPC roadmap’ leaked, indicating a more active role of […]

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