The relationship between Sufism and Sikhism dates back to the time of Guru Nanak (1469-1539), who led a modest life of profound, spiritual devotion, focused on building bridges of love, tolerance, co-existence, and harmony among peoples of diverse faiths and socio-economic status. So immersed in piety and teaching his disciples to live spiritually, honestly, and harmoniously was the Guru, that many of his Muslim contemporaries, especially Sufis, called him a true Muslim.Continue reading

The Trump administration has recently been encouraged to consider a plan using private military companies (PMC) to maintain security in Afghanistan. According to Blackwater founder Erik Prince, the plan’s primary external supporter, such a force would include 5,500 personnel and a 90-plane ready-to-use air force. Aside from saving American soldiers’ lives, it would cost the U.S. treasury $10 billion per year instead of the current $40 billion. In terms of command structure and composition, the personnel would be embedded within existing Afghan security forces as advisors and the air-force would drop bombs when directed by the Afghan government.Continue reading

The world annually celebrates Refugee Day in late June, an event that helps raise awareness about the plight, courage, and resilience of the world’s refugees. By contrast, internally displaced persons have no day of their own. It is time for this discrepancy to change.Continue reading

In “How to Bring Peace to Afghanistan” (Op-Ed, June 16), Stephen J. Hadley and Moeed Yusuf are right that Pakistan’s behavior must change if Afghanistan is to attain stability. But they are naïve in thinking that what they propose will produce such change.Continue reading

In a recent New York Times op-ed, “What Trump Needs to Learn from Vietnam,” David Elliot draws lessons from America’s experience in Vietnam for Afghanistan. His opinion follows those of a few others, who have similarly argued over the past 16 years that Afghanistan has slowly turned into America’s Vietnam, a quagmire, from which the United States must disengage. While studying the complexity of Vietnam War remains interesting for academics and policymakers, it offers no relevant lessons for international engagement in Afghanistan.Continue reading

Recently, this author was invited to a track 1.5 China-Afghanistan-Pakistan symposium on “Tackling Terrorist Threats, Jointly Safeguarding Regional Security” in Beijing. The rare trilateral symposium was welcomed by the three sides as a good opportunity to exchange views and to offer tangible, policy and operational solutions for the consideration of their respective governments to help them address jointly the intertwined threats of terrorism, extremism, and criminality in the region. The discussions were so constructive on the seminal role, which major regional stakeholders can play to stabilise Afghanistan, that the absence of an Indian delegation was needfully felt around the table.Continue reading

What is the main purpose of the Kabul Process for Peace and Security Cooperation?

President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah re-launched the Kabul Process in June 2017. The principal purpose of the process is to ensure an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned, inclusive peace process where we are fully in the driver’s seat to address the multiple dimensions of ongoing war and violence in Afghanistan. But we know this is impossible without results-driven regional and international cooperation. Since its re-launch, the Kabul Process has been recognized as an overarching platform, under which all other peace initiatives and efforts take place to support Afghanistan in our quest for genuine, lasting peace. Because the success of the process hinges on sincere regional cooperation, we continue to call on our neighbors and partners in the region to develop measures necessary to end violence and to forge sustainable peace in Afghanistan. Doing so, we strongly believe, should create positive dividends for the entire region. Continue reading

Reviving and building connectivity across the Eurasian landmass based on the commercial networks of the ancient Silk Road underpins one of the key economic goals of the Asian continent. Asian nations will stand to gain the most from increased trade, commerce and investment along the Silk Road when it is reconnected through transport infrastructure. Moreover, increased connectivity would dramatically enhance multifaceted human interaction, bringing Asian nations together to address such global challenges as terrorism and climate change that firmly stand in the way of sustainable development.

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Syria, North Korea, and Yemen have largely dominated headlines. But Afghanistan also remains in the global conscience. If anything, the much-needed international focus on the campaign against the Taliban has outlined how difficult the fight has become, despite our steady military gains. Frustrated with what many are mistakenly calling a quagmire, international commentators either advocate for a quick-fix peace deal to withdraw from Afghanistan or engaging in a more intense military campaign. The latter is an understandable response, but even so, it is far from a complete remedy.

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The land Afghans call home is diversely populated, geographically landlocked, politically and economically undeveloped, and unfortunately located in a predatory neighborhood where at least one of its neighbors sees its raison d’être as being partly dependent on instability in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, other state and nonstate actors — such as extremists, terrorists, and drug traffickers — have exploited Afghanistan’s vulnerabilities to their advantage, and they will continue to do so alone or together in common self interest. Continue reading