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

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

At the recent Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Summit in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani discussed the threats posed by “destructive change” and the countless opportunities offered by “creative change” in the Eurasian landscape and its emerging continental economy. He told his counterparts that “our greatest common project is the revival of the Silk Roads,” whose main gateway is Afghanistan, connecting Central and South Asia and the Middle East.

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