Michael Kugelman

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Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina flashes the victory symbol after casting her vote in Dhaka on December 30, 2018.

On December 30, Bangladesh's government was reelected in a landslide. According to the country's Election Commission, the Awami League (AL)-led ruling coalition won an astounding 288 out of the 300 parliamentary seats up for grabs. The political opposition has understandably alleged massive rigging, rejected the results, and called for new elections.

The disputed election outcome could plunge Bangladeshi politics, already poisoned by bitter and often violently expressed partisanship, into a new and dangerous era.

The opposition has every reason to be furious. For several years, the AL has engaged in a systematic campaign to undercut the opposition, if not dismantle it altogether.…  Seguir leyendo »

To many in Pakistan, Qamar Javed Bajwa is an unknown soldier. Yet on Tuesday, he'll become arguably the country's most powerful person when he's sworn in as its next army chief.

Testimonials about Bajwa are overwhelmingly positive. Those who know him say he's a proponent of strong civil-military relations -- the main reason, according to one account, why Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, a man who has often sparred with the army, selected Bajwa for the job.

He's not seen as reflexively hostile to India, and he once served under an eventual Indian Army chief while on a United Nations mission in Congo.…  Seguir leyendo »

It's safe to say that India-Pakistan relations are nearly on a war footing.

Saber rattling has been near constant in recent weeks after terrorists -- from Pakistan, according to India -- stormed an Indian military base in India-controlled Kashmir and killed 18 soldiers. India's home minister denounced Pakistan as a "terrorist state." Pakistan's defense minister threatened nuclear war.

Then came Thursday, when India claimed to have carried out a "surgical strike" across the border into Pakistan-controlled Kashmir. The operation, according to the Indian government and military, targeted terrorist "launch pads" and killed several dozen militants. New Delhi's detailed (and perhaps exaggerated) account said the operation lasted four hours.…  Seguir leyendo »

Back in December 2014, Taliban terrorists attacked a school in Peshawar, Pakistan, killing 151 people, most of them students. It was the deadliest attack in Pakistan's terrorism-tortured history, and prompted some Pakistanis to describe it as their 9/11.

National leaders, meanwhile, described the massacre as a turning point in the nation's approach to terrorism. They vowed to crack down more robustly against all terrorists in Pakistan -- not just those, like the Pakistani Taliban (TTP), that strike in Pakistan, but also those like the Haqqani Network that strike only in neighboring countries.

To an extent, Pakistan did indeed intensify its campaign against terrorism.…  Seguir leyendo »

With the war in Afghanistan heating up, thousands of Afghan refugees are fleeing their country. But Iran and Pakistan, which house most of the Afghan refugees from previous cycles of violence, are increasingly unwelcoming. So the new exodus has begun to flow toward Europe, already inundated with Syria’s refugees.

Yet these Afghans have attracted little attention from Western policy makers; they do not seem to recognize the Afghans’ desperation, and the challenges their flight poses for Afghanistan, its neighbors and Europe. For Afghans, it is a recurring nightmare. Like previous exoduses going back to the 1970s, this one is stripping the country of precisely the professionals who are vital to its future as a modern state.…  Seguir leyendo »

President Obama, who is visiting India this weekend, and India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, have both described their countries as natural partners. That may be true. But they cannot achieve a deep and strategic partnership until the United States deals more forthrightly with Pakistan, New Delhi’s neighbor and nemesis.

In other words, Washington must do more to address India’s anxieties about Pakistan. But there is a conundrum. Washington should also not harm its delicate and distrustful relationship with Islamabad.

Yes, Pakistan harbors jihadist groups that threaten and kill Americans. But it also sits astride the Middle East and Asia, boasts a large and young population, and enjoys deep friendships with China and Saudi Arabia.…  Seguir leyendo »

The outcome of India's national election — a resounding triumph for the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party — has put the United States in an awkward position.

The BJP's Narendra Modi will soon be India's prime minister. In 2005, Washington revoked his U.S. visa, citing a law banning visits by foreign officials responsible for egregious violations of religious freedom. Modi, the chief minister of Gujarat state, had been accused of not doing enough to stop deadly communal riots in 2002 that left at least 1,000 people dead, most of them Muslims.

Predictably, Washington and New Delhi are abuzz about the implications of the BJP's victory for the U.S.-India…  Seguir leyendo »

Pakistan’s military continues to cast a long and often dominant shadow over the state. So when President Obama meets with Pakistan’s new prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, on Wednesday, he should use the occasion to bolster the civilian government’s role relative to the military.

Pakistan, ruled by the military for half of its 66-year life, has taken steps toward democracy, but the process is far from complete.

In March, for the first time, a democratically elected government completed a full term. It transferred power to the current administration, led by Mr. Sharif, whose Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party won elections in May.…  Seguir leyendo »

Countless threats stalk the Pakistani government, from militants in the tribal regions near Afghanistan to a backward economy teetering on collapse. In recent weeks, the focus has been on the Haqqani network, fundamentalist fighters along the border who have longstanding ties to Pakistani intelligence and have conducted deadly attacks on American troops and officials in Afghanistan.

Yet Pakistan also faces another, less publicized, challenge — from a banned Islamist organization that does not mount spectacular attacks but is nonetheless insidious. The group, Hizb-ut-Tahrir, is part of an international Islamist movement that promises to establish a caliphate through a bloodless revolution led by elite recruits.…  Seguir leyendo »