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  • Russia's Growing Afghan Re-Engagement

    The historical baggage weighing on the Russo-Afghan relationship is apparently in the process of being jettisoned. The two countries have been cautiously reaching out and engaging each other for quite some time now. Afghan President Hamid Karzai's state visit to Moscow on 20–21 January 2011 – the first by an Afghan head of state in more than two decades – could be perceived as a major step forward.

    July 2011

    The Evolving Politics of Taliban Reintegration and Reconciliation in Afghanistan

    The subject assumes significance in view of the politics evolving around the idea of negotiating peace, especially with the Taliban, as the West plans to withdraw bulk of their troops by 2014. Though often regarded as flawed, ill-timed, regressive, wobbly, dangerous and unworkable, the idea has nevertheless come to dominate the discourse on the Afghan war. However, principal Afghan opposition forces and networks operating from Pakistan continue to publicly rebuff and mock at the government's initiative.

    September 2011

    Istanbul Conference on Afghanistan: A Feeble Attempt at a Regional Solution

    It will not be fair to assess the success or failure of the Conference at this stage. The fact that there was an attempt to forge regional cooperation on Afghanistan was a positive but feeble step.

    November 04, 2011

    Rabbani Assassination: An Assertive Taliban and America’s Dilemmas

    With Burhanuddin Rabbani’s assassination, the reconciliation process with the Taliban is dead.

    September 22, 2011

    The Other South Asia

    Though Pakistan and Afghanistan still continue to be embroiled in religious and ethnic conflict, the rest of South Asia appears keen to check and go beyond such tendencies.

    June 20, 2011

    Afghanistan: An idea anticipating peace

    In a positive movement, ISAF’s peace enforcement operation over time will have to shift to peacekeeping. Thinking through the idea of UN-SAARC hybrid peacekeeping mission now could help catalyse the peace process eventually.

    June 06, 2011

    Raviteja asked: Is it right time to move out of Afghanistan in this crucial time for the US?

    Vishal Chandra: It is more about the US priorities at various levels as defined by the current administration. After the elimination of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden by the American commandoes in Pakistan, it remains to be seen as to how the US deals with the Pakistani establishment in times to come. The prospect of the US further expanding its operations within Pakistan cannot be ruled out even if the NATO starts withdrawing its forces later this year. In my personal opinion, the US is not going to withdraw lock, stock and barrel from the Afghanistan-Pakistan region. Even the process of withdrawal of forces will be a long-drawn affair taking at least four to five years. The pace of American withdrawal will depend also on the ground situation in Afghanistan; threat perceptions among the Western countries; and the preparedness of the Afghan National Security Forces.

    Raviteja asked: Was India getting enough recognition for her efforts in Afghanistan?

    Vishal Chandra replies: Yes, the Indian contribution to Afghan reconstruction has been appreciated and recognised by the Afghan people. India has been the only regional country carrying out development projects based on local community participation across the country. Indian projects are not confined to a particular region or to a relatively peaceful province in Afghanistan. They are not driven by commercial interests either. It would not have been possible for India to complete several of its projects thus far without the goodwill of the Afghan people and support from the Afghan government. Even in most adverse of circumstances and despite several constraints, India continues to assist in rebuilding Afghan capacities. In fact, Indian projects are a model when it comes to carrying out reconstruction activity in an in-conflict situation. It would be unfortunate if the situation deteriorates to a point where it may not be possible for India sustain its presence in Afghanistan.

    India to Stay Relevant in Afghanistan

    The underlying message of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit is to convey to Pakistan, the US and the others that India has strategic interests in Afghanistan.

    May 12, 2011

    Afghan Reconciliation Falling Through

    Various reports on ‘Progress Toward Security and Stability in Afghanistan’ produced by the US Department of Defense, 2010 (in coordination with some other departments) have struggled to paint an optimistic picture of the Afghan situation, to maintain the morale of the troops. However, a tacit admission that the Afghan War is not going anywhere can be deciphered from the cautious language used in these reports.

    May 2011