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Adding the Ballot to the Bullet? Hezb-e Islami in transition

In a dramatic change of mind, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar recently announced that his Hezb-e Islami will participate in next year’s election to ‘defeat the enemy’ in the political arena, too. With this statement, he is relinquishing his original position that foreign troops must leave the country prior to any political accommodation between his party and the […]

The Making of Another ‘Uprising’: The ALP in Panjwayi

The US government and US media are upbeat about a new ‘uprising’ against the Taleban in its heartland in Kandahar. Such a revolt in Panjwayi district would be of particular importance given the area’s status as the birthplace of the Taleban leadership. AAN’s Borhan Osman who has travelled to the area finds, however, that what […]

Is the Taleban Insurgency a Holy or an Unholy War? An Afghan-Pakistani ulema debate

The Pakistani ulema were never particularly vocal supporters of the current Taleban’s insurgency in Afghanistan until the Afghan government approached them to talk about peace. Or at least their support had not been expressed publicly before. Then one Pakistani mulla, Maulana Tahir Ashrafi, head of the Pakistan Ulema Council, made such controversial remarks about suicide […]

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 […]

The Ulama Council: paid to win public minds – but do they?

The largest religious body in Afghanistan is the National Ulama Council, which was set up by President Karzai almost a decade ago. The president’s hope, expressed at the time, was that the council – with its 3,000 members from across the country, all of whom receive government salaries – would help him win political support […]

Living in a Minefield: Panjwayi after the US Surge

In the words of one local elder, life in Panjwayi resembles living in a minefield. The district just southwest of Kandahar city has been a major arena for the US troop surge that was ordered in 2009 by President Obama dispatching 33,000 additional troops to Afghanistan. The surge ended in September this year and was […]

The start of the US campaign 11 years on: impressions then and now

The military intervention in Afghanistan that started on 7 October 2001 with bomb attacks on Kabul and other Taleban strongholds by a US-led coalition, put Afghanistan on a new path. The Taleban was removed by force and a new government was installed with broadly defined democratic institutions. Regime changes in Afghanistan since the 1970s have […]