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For years, Chinese and Pakistani leaders have described their relationship as “sweeter than honey.” Pool photo by Parker Song, via Getty Images

For years, Chinese and Pakistani leaders have described their relationship, forged by a common rivalry with their neighbor India, as “sweeter than honey”. But the Pakistani Army’s view of the relationship with China appears to be souring — and diverging from the political leadership’s.

Last month, after Prime Minister Imran Khan declined  the Biden administration’s invitation to its Summit for Democracy, the Pakistani television news anchor Kamran Khan posted a video on social media denouncing the “wrong decision”, one he declared was made at China’s behest. (China was not invited to — or happy about — the summit.) The journalist lamented that, with that move, the prime minister had “put Pakistan openly in China’s lap”.…  Seguir leyendo »

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan speaks at news conference on Oct. 26. (Rahmat Gul/AP)

Imran Khan has always portrayed himself as the savior of Pakistan. He has often claimed that a country borrows a lot only if its leaders are corrupt. Pakistanis still remember him saying that he would rather kill himself than beg for loans.

But that isn’t how he’s acted since he became prime minister in 2018. In the three years since then, he’s broken all previous records on borrowing ($40 billion). Now, his opponents are callously demanding that he should honor his words and end his life because he has surrendered the financial sovereignty of Pakistan to the International Monetary Fund. Khan appointed a former IMF official as the head of the central bank, and now the IMF has drastically curtailed the Pakistani government’s control over the bank as well.…  Seguir leyendo »

It’s Time for a U.S.-Pakistan Policy Reset

For decades, U.S. policy toward Pakistan has been predicated on America’s goals in Afghanistan. Pakistan both helped and hindered the U.S. war on terror, making for a notoriously dysfunctional relationship. Now the United States is out of Afghanistan, and the relationship is on shaky footing. It’s time to reimagine it.

The United States must treat Pakistan as a country in its own right, not as a fulcrum for U.S. policy on Afghanistan. That starts with America disentangling itself from the close military relationship with Pakistan.

A reset won’t be easy: Resentment is rife. America sees Pakistan’s support for the Taliban as one reason it lost in Afghanistan; Pakistan sees the Taliban insurgency it faced at home as blowback for partnering with America next door.…  Seguir leyendo »

Pakistan's Gen. Ameer Abdullah Khan Niazi, second from left, signs the surrender document as chief of India's Eastern command Gen. Jagjit Singh Aurora, left, looks on, surrounded by other commanders in Dacca (now Dhaka), Bangladesh, on Dec. 16, 1971. (AP)

Today, Dec. 16, we commemorate the end of the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 — a war that ultimately transformed what was originally known as East Pakistan into the independent nation of Bangladesh. Pakistan, ruled at the time by its dictatorial president Gen. Yahya Khan, reacted to a growing movement for autonomy in Bengali-dominated East Pakistan by sending in the troops. That prompted intervention by India, which ultimately helped the increasingly rebellious Bengalis to break away from rule by Islamabad.

The human cost of the war was huge. But perhaps no survivors have suffered a sadder fate than the children who were born as the result of sexual violence committed by members of the Pakistani military: the so-called war babies, whose existence has been long ignored or suppressed by both Bangladesh and Pakistan.…  Seguir leyendo »

Pakistani news channels live telecast of Pakistan's former prime minister Nawaz Sharif addressing an opposition parties meeting in Islamabad, Pakistan, on Sept. 21. (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed)

An independent judiciary is one of the crucial pillars of any genuine liberal democracy. Here in Pakistan, a new scandal has ignited a firestorm of controversy precisely because it is reminding us that our judicial branch can make no claim to independence. Our country’s senior judges have intervened in politics again and again throughout history.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan has disqualified sitting prime ministers many times. The judges even decreed the hanging of one prime minister during the reign of a military dictator. There was no public outcry against the judiciary’s dubious actions back then. But society is changing.

On Nov.…  Seguir leyendo »

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan in Islamabad in March 2020. (B.K. Bangash/AP)

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan seems more willing to talk to terrorists blamed for killing thousands of Pakistanis, including security personnel and schoolchildren, than sit down with his political opposition.

He was absent from a five-hour, closed-door special meeting of the parliamentary committee on national security on Monday because he probably didn’t want to shake hands with his nonviolent rivals. Why is he digging a big hole for himself?

Chief of Army Staff Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa and Lt. Gen. Faiz Hameed, the director general Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), have informed parliamentarians from the government and the opposition that the new Taliban regime in Afghanistan was facilitating talks with the banned group Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).…  Seguir leyendo »

Las políticas climáticas son políticas sociales

La cantidad de días al año en que la temperatura supera los 50 °C (122 °F) se duplicó desde la década de 1980 y nunca antes había ocurrido en tantos sitios. Este calor extremo tiene un efecto dramático sobre la salud de las personas, los animales y el ambiente. Según un informe reciente del Banco Mundial sobre la migración climática, durante los próximos 30 años, 216 millones de personas podrían tener que desplazarse debido al aumento de las temperaturas, la escasez del agua y la caída en la productividad de los cultivos. Se verán obligadas a abandonar sus comunidades y sustento para buscar mejores alternativas.…  Seguir leyendo »

Pakistani protesters in Karachi, September 2001 Photograph: STR/Pakistan/Reuters

Not too long ago, Pakistan and Afghanistan were called Af-Pak: two countries joined at the hip, doomed to live and die together. You didn’t get to choose your neighbours, we were told. Geography, we were taught, was our destiny.

There was a lot of talk about geostrategic significance – which was the Pakistan military’s way of saying there were great advantages to be derived from our unfortunate neighbours.

More than four decades ago, our leaders insisted we had to help the Afghan mujahideen fight the Soviets because that would help us ward off communism in our own country. Having lived most of my life in Pakistan, I have probably come across half a dozen communists – and even they never agreed with each other.…  Seguir leyendo »

Malala Yousafzai is interviewed ahead of the Cricket World Cup opening party along The Mall in London on May 29, 2019. (Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP)

A new law could mark the beginning of the end for Pakistan’s hard-won media freedoms.

In 2009, I set out to broadcast a live show direct from the Swat Valley in northern Pakistan — right after the government had signed a peace deal with the Pakistani Taliban, which controlled the area at the time. But only a few hours before the show, one of my reporter friends, Musa Khan Khel, was gunned down by unknown people in Taliban territory. That evening I led a rally to protest his death. One of the people who came was an 11-year-old blogger by the name of Malala Yousafzai.…  Seguir leyendo »

A Pakistani army post on the border with Afghanistan in the Khyber district of Pakistan on Aug. 3. (Anjum Naveed/AP)

Many profound ramifications of America’s exodus from Afghanistan are competing for attention. Among the top challenges, Pakistan’s future stands out. For decades, Islamabad has recklessly pursued nuclear weapons and aided Islamist terrorism — threats that U.S. policymakers have consistently underestimated or mishandled. With Kabul’s fall, the time for neglect or equivocation is over.

The Taliban’s takeover next door immediately poses the sharply higher risk that Pakistani extremists will increase their already sizable influence in Islamabad, threatening at some point to seize full control.

A description once applied to Prussia — where some states possess an army, the Prussian army possesses a state — is equally apt for Pakistan.…  Seguir leyendo »

El verdadero fracaso es Pakistán

Solo hay un aspecto positivo sobre el hecho de los talibanes hayan restablecido el Emirato Islámico de Afganistán a días del aniversario 20 de los ataques terroristas a EE.UU. del 11 de septiembre de 2001: servirá como recordatorio de por qué hace dos décadas hubo que invadir el país y derrocar al gobierno talibán.

Cuando cerca de 3000 personas son asesinadas en tu propio suelo en una operación planificada y ordenada por un grupo terrorista conocido desde un país cuyo gobierno se niega a cooperar para llevar ante la justicia a esa organización y a su líder, no hay buenas opciones.…  Seguir leyendo »

People arriving from Afghanistan make their way at the Friendship Gate crossing point at the Pakistan-Afghanistan border town of Chaman, Pakistan, on Monday. (Stringer/Reuters)

Pakistan’s prime minister, Imran Khan, said Monday that Afghanistan has broken the “shackles of slavery”, as the Taliban returned to power following a dramatic collapse of the Afghanistan government over the weekend. But what does a new Taliban regime actually mean for neighboring Pakistan?

The U.S. government — along with many Afghans — has long been frustrated by Pakistan’s perceived logistical support for the Taliban. This issue has strained Pakistan’s relationship with the United States. Observers in Kabul and Washington have also held that Pakistan’s security establishment considers a Taliban victory in Afghanistan to be in Pakistan’s strategic interest.

Officials in Pakistan have continued to deny these allegations, declaring their opposition to any forceful takeover of power in Afghanistan.…  Seguir leyendo »

Suhail Shaheen, Afghan Taliban spokesman and a member of the negotiation team gestures while speaking during a joint news conference in Moscow on July 22. (Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP)

The Taliban is playing a shrewd diplomatic game. Even as its fighters advance throughout Afghanistan, they are working to assuage the anxiety of countries across the region. They have conducted talks with the Iranians, the Russians, and the countries of Central Asia. They’ve reassured the Chinese that they have no intention of challenging Beijing’s atrocities against its Muslim minorities. And they have told anyone who will listen — including the Americans — that a Taliban government would not let the soil of Afghanistan to be used as a base for operations against third countries.

That looks like a smart strategy — yet we’ve just seen a striking departure from this pattern.…  Seguir leyendo »

India mira al oeste

Los últimos gestos conciliatorios del gobierno nacionalista de la India en su flanco occidental despertaron el comprensible interés del mundo. Pero el cálculo del primer ministro Narendra Modi es bastante sencillo. Frente a la agresión continua de China en la frontera septentrional de la India y un probable resurgimiento talibán en Afganistán, parece prudente una mejora de las relaciones del país con su vecino occidental (Pakistán).

Estas últimas semanas, se habló de la existencia de conversaciones extraoficiales secretas entre funcionarios de seguridad indios y pakistaníes (facilitadas por los Emiratos Árabes Unidos) con el objetivo de aliviar las tensiones bilaterales. La tregua que se acordó en febrero de 2021 en la «línea de control» que separa a las fuerzas indias y pakistaníes en la disputada región de Cachemira se viene respetando desde entonces, lo que permitió una atmósfera de relativa normalidad en la zona.…  Seguir leyendo »

Kaneez Sughra, wife of kidnapped Pakistani journalist Matiullah Jan, shows a photo of her husband to journalists in Islamabad, Pakistan, on July 21, 2020. (Anjum Naveed/AP)

Sachal is a 3-year-old Pakistani boy. Lately he has spent long hours sitting outside a court in Islamabad with his grandmother, waiting to hear news of the father who was snatched from him when he was just a few months old. Sachal’s father, the journalist and poet Mudassar Naaru, suddenly disappeared when the family was on holiday in August 2018. He hasn’t been heard from since. Sachal’s mother, Sadaf, who led a brave and determined search for answers, passed away last month. The pain of the past three years was too much for her to bear, contributing to a fatal heart attack.…  Seguir leyendo »

Pakistani women hold placards in Karachi, Pakistan, on June 26. (Shahzaib Akber/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

I was 6 years old when I had my first encounter with sexual violence.

I was out on a shopping trip with my mother and an aunt at a cacophonous stretch of stalls in the heart of Lahore, Pakistan’s cultural capital. For a brief, dizzying moment in the chaotic souk, I found myself alone on one side of a wall of orange silk rolled out by a shopkeeper, the silver beads and sequins on the fabric throwing off light like a thousand swirling disco globes. Strange hands were suddenly all over my body and my crotch. Then, just as suddenly, the cloth was lowered and the hands disappeared.…  Seguir leyendo »

Imran Khan Urges a New U.S.-Pakistan Bond

The U.S.-Pakistan relationship is at a watershed moment. The two countries have been locked in an uneasy embrace for the last 20 years, with the United States providing much-needed support to Pakistan in exchange for Islamabad’s assistance in the war on terror. While it hasn’t been smooth (see Pakistan’s harboring of militant groups and U.S. drone strikes that killed Pakistani civilians), the relationship has more or less endured.

With U.S. forces leaving Afghanistan by Sept. 11, Pakistan faces urgent questions. What strategic clout does it have now? Where does it fit in the great power confrontation between the United States and China?…  Seguir leyendo »

A Pakistani customer looks at a book by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai at a bookstore in Islamabad, Pakistan, on March 30. (B.K. Bangash/AP)

In Pakistan — a country where 86 percent of women over the age of 25 are married — citizens on Twitter and politicians are panicking over what they see as a threat to the institution of marriage. This follows remarks made by 23-year-old Pakistani Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai in a recent interview with British Vogue. She expressed doubts about whether she would ever marry, and that she didn’t understand why people had to marry.

The comments by the activist, known by her first name, were probably misinterpreted and blown out of proportion. But the battle to change unequal structures of marriage has a longer history within Pakistan, and globally.…  Seguir leyendo »

Pakistani journalists and members of civil society take part in a demonstration to condemn attacks on journalists, in Islamabad, Pakistan, on May 28. (Anjum Naveed/AP)

For some elements in Pakistan, it is not enough that I have been taken off the air. They want to see me behind bars. Last month, I was banned from appearing on the talk show I have hosted for two decades, “Capital Talk,” on Geo News. I was also stopped from writing my column in Pakistan’s most popular Urdu-language newspaper, Jang. Now I face the prospect of sedition charges. The maximum punishment under the law is life imprisonment.

My apparent crime was a speech I gave at a protest in solidarity with journalist Asad Toor last month. On the night of May 25, three unidentified men entered Toor’s apartment, tied him up and tortured him.…  Seguir leyendo »

El monstruo talibán de Pakistán

Al difunto director de la poderosa Agencia de Inteligencia Inter-Servicios (ISI) de Pakistán, el teniente general Hamid Gul, le gustaba hacer alarde de que cuando se escribiera la historia de Afganistán, quedaría registrado que la ISI, con la ayuda de Estados Unidos, derrotó a la Unión Soviética. Y luego, agregaba disimuladamente, los historiadores dirían que la ISI, con la ayuda de Estados Unidos, derrotó a Estados Unidos.

El alarde de Gul no era el tipo de bravata vacía por las que se conoce a los militares cuando cuelgan el uniforme y recuerdan su pasado como algo más glorioso de lo que podrían garantizar los detalles.…  Seguir leyendo »