Days before the start of the holy month of Ramadan, violence had already escalated in March, taking the lives and limbs of hundreds of innocent civilians across Afghanistan. But Afghans were hoping that there would be a pause, if the Taliban honored their own words on the essence of the month of Ramadan as a period when Muslims must carry out deeds of compassion, charity, forgiveness, reconciliation, piety, and struggle against worldly greed and selfishness as a “Greater Jihad.” Unfortunately, that hope was soon dashed, as the Taliban continued escalating violence, targeting innocent civilians — including women, children, and infants — throughout Ramadan.
As of this writing, over one million people in 181 countries are confirmed to have been infected by COVID-19 (coronavirus), according to the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center. The novel pandemic has left no race, nationality, ethnicity, religion, and ideology behind, as it continues ravaging all communities without distinction. Victims include citizens of all ages, genders, and diverse socio-economic status—including world leaders and celebrities in democratic and non-democratic societies alike—across the globe.Continue reading
India and Pakistan joined the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) as full member-states in the 8-9 June 2017 SCO Summit in Astana, Kazakhstan. Before the addition of the two South Asian nations, the SCO consisted of China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan. The now eight-member SCO also has four observer-states, including Afghanistan, and six dialogue-partners, including Sri Lanka. In total and together, they constitute much of the Asian geography with a population of over three billion people.
Afghanistan has experimented with different forms of government since its emergence as a modern nation-state. From absolute and constitutional monarchies to the first republic and communist/Marxist regimes, never has Afghanistan experienced as much democratic rule as over the past 18 years since the fall of the Taliban. Even though democracy has gradually evolved with most of the Afghan state institutions still developing to deliver on the promise of democracy in a system of checks and balances, the process of institutionalization of democracy continues unhindered with the strong support of the Afghan people and commitment of the country’s leadership, including President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah.Continue reading
On June 16, the New York Times published and op-ed titled “For Peace in Afghanistan, Talk to Pakistan.” The authors are right that Pakistan’s behavior must change if Afghanistan is to attain stability, but they’re naive in thinking that what they propose will produce such change.Continue reading
Any assessment of where Afghanistan stands today needs to be put into its historical context. In doing so, it should be recalled that even before the advent of the present conflict, Afghanistan had been one of the least developed countries in the world. The country’s development was hindered by competing Russian and British empires for more than two centuries. The imperial tensions and rivalry effectively reduced Afghanistan to one of the most isolated buffer states in the world. But before the colonial era, Afghanistan had been the roundabout of the ancient Silk Road, indeed, its gateway to the north, south, east, and west for commercial and civilizational interactions.Continue reading
The Silk Road was a network of trade routes that for centuries played a central role in facilitating cultural and commercial interaction across Eurasia. The terrestrial and maritime routes of the Silk Road connected Asia and Europe, the East and West, stretching from the Korean peninsula and Japan to the Mediterranean Sea. The Afghan cities of Kabul, Balkh, Herat, Kandahar, and Bamyan constituted some of the key ancient cities through which the Silk Road passed.Continue reading