The small port town of Gwadar, in the south-west of Pakistan, is the centre stage of the $50 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project, the Pakistan component of ther Belt and Road Initiative. Under CPEC, Gwadar is to be developed into a smart port city, and will be not only a major
Many people assume that South Asia is a sitting target for coronavirus, with potentially millions of deaths leading to an impoverished and destabilised region just around the corner. That might well happen, and the countries in the region are locking down. But there are also reasons to think that
A general rule of South Asian politics might be that every action taken by India has an equal and opposite reaction in Pakistan. This may not be strictly true, but it gives a sense of how Pakistan continues to define itself against India, and how ideas and developments in the country seem to form in
On a sunny Tuesday in the third week of January, a cargo ship named Diyala docked at Gwadar seaport, in south-west Pakistan. The enthusiastic port staff quickly unloaded the cargo. When the unloading was finished, Chinese officials operating the port, along with their Pakistani counterparts, posed
Since coming into office in 2013, the Coalition has cut aid by 17% in nominal terms and 27% adjusting for inflation. More cuts are in the pipeline, and by 2021 aid will have been subject to a real cut of 31%.
Given that the Coalition’s justification for cutting aid was the budget deficit, you
In the wake of escalating US-Iran tensions in the Persian Gulf, the geopolitical realities of the Asian region are rapidly changing. New strategic alliances are being formed as old partnerships give way.
A good example is the trouble surrounding a three-way transit agreement between Iran, India,
Over its 18-year existence, Shanghai Cooperation Organisation has mostly been in the spotlight as a forum for security cooperation, starting with the 2001 Convention that branded crimes of extremism, separatism, and terrorism as extraditable offences. The region is still facing significant security
On 2 November, the Government of India’s Press Information Bureau released two maps that show all of the former (but contested) princely state of Jammu and Kashmir as now comprising two entities: the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and the Union Territory of Ladakh. Both belong to India. All
On 26 October, the infamous caliph of Islamic State, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, who rose to prominence in 2014 when he announced the creation of the caliphate of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), was killed in Northern Syria. Two days later, Abu Hassan al-Muhajir, spokesperson and deputy of al-
The Indian government’s lockdown of the strategic and volatile region of Kashmir is entering into its third month. Thousands of troops are deployed in the valley with shoot on sight orders in place, the internet remains cut off, while mobile phones lines have only just been restored.
Increasingly, we are seeing reports that senior Indian politicians want India to obtain what New Delhi calls “Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir” (POK). It’s hard to know how seriously to take such remarks. Some Indians certainly aspire to reunify India by obtaining areas “occupied” by other
A rare image on social media of Indonesian paratroopers dropping into the troubled West Papua province this month was a stark reminder that, even in the age of 24/7 news, governments are good at keeping the cameras, and the world’s attention, away from persecuted communities.
West Papua – the
Staying true to his reputation for unpredictability, US President Donald Trump suddenly called off the Afghanistan peace negotiations with the Taliban last Saturday – a major policy decision announced, predictably, in a tweet. Trump cited continued Taliban attacks on US personnel as the reason for
The political talk in South Asia at this moment is reminiscent of the 1990s. The Taliban are returning to Afghanistan and conflict is escalating between India and Pakistan in a seething Kashmir region. There is even debate on the potential use of nuclear weapons amid India-Pakistan crises –
It is impossible to know what is actually happening in Kashmir. Since 4 August, Indian forces have effectively incarcerated the region, with people kept indoors and more than 1600 “social activists” detained. Communications to, and in, the Kashmir Valley have been severed. There have been no
The mixed reaction to the Indian government’s planned dissolution of the state of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories, which has been approved and will take place on 31 October this year, demonstrates yet again the geopolitical complexity of the western Himalaya. It is also an example of
Last month’s Oval Office meeting with US President Donald Trump was Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s first US visit since taking office in August last year. During the meeting, Trump hinted at resuming aid to Pakistan, as well as making a broader and surprising offer to mediate between
As Imran Khan’s government in Pakistan approaches the end of its first year, the country is rapidly drifting towards civil dictatorship. The arrest of opposition politicians, a crackdown on the media, and the imposition of a draconian economic policy has been the hallmark of the Pakistan
Four times Masood Azhar escaped the formal designation as an international arch-terrorist. Each time India had sought to add his name to a UN Security Council blacklist as the head of Pakistan-based militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed, China had cast a veto.
But in a sudden turn-around this month that
South Asia is integral to China’s Belt and Road vision. As an intersection point between the proposed “Silk Road Economic Belt” and the “21st Century Maritime Silk Road”, China sees South Asia as a “priority zone” for promoting its Belt and Road Initiative. It also helps that South
On Tuesday, India launched air strikes targeting what it claimed was the biggest training camp of the militant group, Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) near the town of Balakot in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. The strikes were said to be aimed at preventing an imminent attack on India and
The strike by the Indian Air Force on Tuesday against targets in Pakistan is the latest step in a delicate shadow dance between India and Pakistan.
This began after a suicide bombing of an Indian military convoy at Pulwama in Indian Kashmir on 14 February, which killed more than 40 Indian
In June last year, the top judge in Pakistan, Justice Saqib Nisar, was hearing a case about the need to build new dams in Pakistan. During the proceedings, he remarked that building dams is vital for the country’s survival. The passion of the judge for water security was encouraging, but not
The Pulwama attack was clearly calibrated to pile pressure on Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the run-up to the general election to be held in April and May 2019. The location and the target – paramilitary police deployed in Kashmir as part of an on-going effort to quell unrest that has
A suicide attack on the Indian forces in Pulwama, Kashmir that killed more than 40 security officials has set India and Pakistan – two nuclear powers – on a warpath. India has blamed Pakistan for sponsoring the attack, while Pakistan has denied any involvement, blaming India for its human
The attack on a convoy of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) on 14 February is one of the most serious single strikes against security forces in the troubled region of Kashmir. Travelling from Jammu to Srinagar in the South Kashmir Pulwama district, a vehicle laden with 350 kilograms of
The recent decision by the government of Pakistan and India to build a corridor from Indian Punjab to Kartarpur in Pakistan has raised hopes for the revival of a dialogue between the countries.
The Kartarpur corridor will be built over a 4km stretch and will enable Sikh pilgrims from India to
Instantly after returning from China this month, Pakistan’s Finance Minister Asad Umar declared that Pakistan’s balance of payments crisis to be over. He claimed that a financial bailout package provided by Saudi Arabia and China has helped Pakistan overcome its financial troubles.
Saudi Arabia was the first country Imran Khan visited after assuming office as Pakistan’s new Prime Minister. As he made the trip last month, he asked for financial help for Pakistan’s turbulent economy.
Soon after his return, it was announced that Pakistan had invited Saudi
In the last few decades, state-making projects have transformed life in the Himalaya. Infrastructure development intended for troop deployment along disputed borders has, more recently, enabled large-scale transport and extraction projects and a tourist rush in this globally influential region
The bitter legacy of the partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947 continues to be an impediment to normal relations between Pakistan and India. Proper and meaningful diplomacy between Bangladesh and Pakistan remains elusive nearly 50 years after the war of 1971. India and Bangladesh remain
National debt in Pakistan has soared past US$92 billion and its servicing costs are projected to reach 30% of the federal budget.
The current economic crisis in Pakistan poses political trade-offs between supporting economic growth, protecting domestic consumers, and meeting external obligations.
Last month, a suicide bomber in Pakistan’s Balochistan province attacked a passenger bus transporting 18 Chinese engineers from Saindak town in the southwest to Dalbandin Airport. The engineers were on their way home for a holiday after working on the Saindak Copper-Gold project.
With Imran Khan poised to form a government in Pakistan, the policy his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party will adopt towards China, especially the US$62 billion China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), is a focus of intense discussion.
China’s interests have special
The first major challenge Imran Khan will face as the next Prime Minister of Pakistan is from the opposition parties. In the general elections, his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party managed to win 115 of 272 general seats in the National Assembly. This is short of the 137 seats needed
Imran Khan’s impressive election victory in Pakistan marks the first time in country’s 70-year history that a relative outsider will govern on a democratic mandate. While he is dubbed the military’s and judiciary’s favourite candidate, Khan’s political struggle is enough reason to
On 28 June, Financial Action Task Force (FATF) put Pakistan on its “Grey List”. The country now has up to 15 months to improve its control of terror financing and money laundering, otherwise it will be placed on the FATF “Black List”.
FATF is a global body established in 1989 to
China’s huge infrastructure investments as part of its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) have the potential to change the strategic dynamics of the entire region. The BRI’s “flagship” project is the US$62 billion China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that is planned to run from one end of
Perhaps the biggest casualty of the current state of India–Pakistan relations has been Kashmir, where issues regarding territory, autonomy, and cross-border confrontations have been a long-standing flashpoint between the two countries.
Recent times have seen total disregard&
War zones and authoritative states have one thing in common: the tendency to control media and journalists.
Pakistan is neither a declared war zone nor an authoritative state, but the past few years have seen a significant rise in attacks, intimidation, and threats to media houses and journalists
According to recent reports, China may be about to construct a naval and air base near Gwadar, in west Pakistan. This would be China’s second base in the Indian Ocean and indicates that it may be moving fast to establish a network of military bases across the region.
In one of his first tweets of the year, US President Donald Trump launched a tirade against Pakistan. ‘The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years’, Trump fumed, ‘and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit’. Washington
Following US President Donald Trump's address on Afghanistan policy in August, US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said in a Senate Armed Service Committee hearing that the US is willing to work with Pakistan 'one more time' in Afghanistan. In another hearing, General Joseph Dunford, Chairman
The Trump administration's Afghanistan policy suggests that the United States will exert greater pressure on Pakistan, but no amount of US foreign assistance or coercion is likely to change Pakistan's behaviour, especially while its security establishment continues to view US
Perhaps the most notable part of President Trump's new Afghanistan 'strategy' is its treatment of Pakistan, with Trump saying out loud what was once largely debated and threatened in private:
The next pillar of our new strategy is to change the approach and how to deal with Pakistan. We can no
The forced exit of Nawaz Sharif has left Pakistan at a cross roads. The tensions between the military establishment and civil leadership that had become a feature of Sharif's third term as Prime Minister are likely to worsen.
Even before his departure on Friday, the ongoing investigation into the
This week Pakistan's Supreme Court will hear arguments as to whether Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is corrupt. The country is in turmoil with its often febrile politics turned up to boiling point. The trigger point for the Supreme Court hearing is clear. Earlier this month, the Joint Investigation
The resurgence of the extremist Islamist group Jaish-e-Mohammed in recent years is clear. Less obvious is the nature of - and motivation for - Pakistan's links with the group.
India has repeatedly blamed Pakistan for terrorist attacks in Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), as well as
Recent months have seen a proliferation of Western media commentary attesting to Pakistan’s strong economic performance.
Bloomberg columnist and economist Tyler Cowan, citing a range of factors from a strong stock market to a booming retail sector, declared Pakistan’s economy to be the most
It's been some time since I lived on Mall Road near Lahore's busy Mayo Hospital which treats most emergency cases but ambulance sirens still wake me at night, a feature now sometimes of nightmares where I see again the dead bodies and terror victims I have reported on through the years.