The 10-year old war in Afghanistan has reached a hazy stage as the U.S. announced a quicker withdrawal of troops, with NATO countries soon to follow. The South Asian region will undergo another makeover, hopefully opening doors for New Delhi and Islamabad.
Five young Pakistani fishermen, held in a Mumbai jail, received a pleasant visit from a rather unusual couple of citizens - 18-year-old Ria Mirchandani and 80-year-old Sarla Kripalani. In this realm of diplomacy, the citizens of India and Pakistan are taking action.
Although the Indo-Pakistan foreign secretary talks did not grab all the headlines, bilateral relations have seen notable developments. The former single-minded approach to discuss terrorism was modified, in turn allowing both nations to progress in terms of friendly and nuclear confidence building measures.
The execution of Osama Bin Laden has led to a decline in international military presence in Afghanistan, opening the door for developmental agencies and regional actors to play a more active role. Can India take advantage of this critical juncture and work towards achieving peace in Afghanistan?
Even ardent supporters of Pakistan are unable to explain to Washington, and indeed the rest of the world, how Osama Bin Laden lived in a mansion with the Pakistani military and ISI as his neighbours. The implications on US-Pak relations are likely to be heavy.
Osama Bin Laden’s death may not have an immediate effect on Al Qaeda’s ability to conduct operations nor may it deter the ‘democratic’ protests of the Arab Spring. Pakistan though, will now have to answer to global questioning and may reshuffle its stance with the Taliban and other terrorist groups.
The circumstances involved in the execution of Osama bin Laden make clear the connections between the Pakistan military and the Taliban-Al Qaeda. Will it finally slow the U.S. descent down the Wahabi-friendly trail?
Pakistan is unlikely to collapse anytime soon, but the imbalance of power between its civilian and military branches needs to be addressed if it is to become an effective modern state. Washington must stop coddling Pakistan’s military and instead work patiently to support the country’s civilian authorities.
Although notoriously well-known for conflict today, Afghanistan’s history with India is outlined by language, architecture and politics. Many Afghans reside behind entrepreneurial establishments and universities in Northern India, giving us a glimpse of that historical connection between the two countries.