Publication in Economics, Politics and Public Policy in East Asia and the Pacific


‘Maximum pressure’ on India’s relations with Iran

Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif speaks with the media on the sidelines of a security conference in New Delhi, India, 15 January 2020 (Photo: Reuters/Alasdair Pal).

Author: Muhsin Puthan Purayil, University of Hyderabad

The current foreign policy dynamics between India and Iran are being shaped by the ongoing US–Iran strategic confrontation. It illustrates the weakness of India’s policy of strategic balancing between Iran and the United States. Read more…

Afghan political turmoil threatens US–Taliban peace deal

An Afghan National Army (ANA) soldier stands guard at a checkpoint outside Bagram prison, ahead of the release of 100 Taliban prisoners, north of Kabul, Afghanistan, 8 April, 2020 (Photo: Reuters/Mohammad Ismail).

Author: Amin Saikal, Canberra

Since its consolidation in the mid-18th century, Afghanistan has had a unique historical journey. It is the only country in the world that has been invaded by all three major powers of the last two centuries — Great Britain, the Soviet Union and the United States. Earlier this year, political rivals Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah added to Afghanistan’s history of vexing distinction by declaring two parallel presidencies and plunging the country into a serious political crisis. This not only threatens to derail the US–Taliban peace agreement signed on 29 February, but it also endangers Afghanistan’s endurance as a functioning state. Read more…

The muffled sound of peace drums in Afghanistan

An Afghan National Army soldier inspects passengers at a checkpoint in Khogyani district of Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, 23 February (Photo: Reuters/Parwiz).

Author: Sajjad Ashraf, Singapore

A seven-day ‘reduction in violence’ deal between the United States and the Afghan Taliban took effect on 21 February. During this time, the two antagonists will refrain from attacks and military operations to facilitate a peacemaking process that may — if successful — lead to the signing of an agreement on 29 February. But this would be just one of many steps that must be taken to bring peace to Afghanistan. Read more…

Smarter strategies for sharing South Asia’s rivers

A fisherman stands as he checks his fishing net along the Indus River, Hyderabad, Pakistan, 11 June 2017 (Photo:Reuters/Akhtar Soomro).

Author: Ashok Swain, Uppsala University

South Asia is facing severe water scarcity. As the region’s population grows and its economies develop, a lack of sustainable water development strategy is leading to increasingly acute water shortages.

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Talking with the Taliban

Members of a Taliban delegation, led by chief negotiator Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar (C, front), leave after peace talks with Afghan senior politicians in Moscow, Russia 30 May 2019. (Photo: Reuters/Evgenia Novozhenina).

Author: Nishank Motwani, Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit

The Afghan Taliban are clear about their goal in the ongoing 18-year conflict — total power, not shared power. From their first emir, Mullah Mohammad Omar, to current leader Mullah Hibatullah Akhundzada, the Taliban’s leadership has been transparent about its objectives: monopolising power, expelling international military forces, dissolving Afghanistan’s security apparatus, and implementing their puritanical version of Islamic rule across the country. Read more…

Pakistan is ready for stability in Afghanistan

Participants gather before a conference with attendance of Taliban representatives arranged by the Afghan diaspora in Moscow, Russia, 5 February 2019. (Photo: Reuters/Maxim Shemetov)

Authors: Yelena Biberman and Jared Schwartz, Skidmore College

The Afghan government has an unexpectedly ardent advocate in current peace negotiations between the United States and Taliban—Pakistan. This surprising supporter has been providing sanctuary to the Taliban, thereby placing a pricey bet on its alleged proxy’s recapture of Afghanistan following a US withdrawal. The Taliban’s refusal to negotiate with the government in Kabul is a major obstacle to the peace process. But Pakistan is now pressuring the Taliban to meet with Afghan officials.

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India needs to keep its friends close and its rivals closer

Chinese President Xi Jinping shakes hands with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the G20 Summit in Hangzhou, China, 4 September 2016 (Photo: Reuters/Damir Sagolj).

Author: Deepa Ollapally, George Washington University

Despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘neighbourhood first’ policy, India has witnessed some serious and surprising diplomatic setbacks in its near region in the recent past. That this has happened with friends and rivals alike should be a cause for concern for New Delhi. Read more…

Can Pakistan facilitate Afghan peace?

Officials from Afghanistan, Pakistan, the United States and China met to set a date for the first direct talks with the Taliban since a previous round in the peace process broke down last year, Kabul, Afghanistan, 23 February 2016 (Picture: Reuters/Omar Sobhani)

Author: Sajjad Ashraf, Islamabad

Afghanistan remains in a state of turmoil. Its instability is a regional issue, with Pakistan bearing the major brunt. Caught between several regional and extra-regional players seeking to extend their influence in Afghanistan, Pakistan could bring these parties to the negotiating table and pave the way for a positive regional environment. Read more…

Was 2017 a ‘win’ for accountability in Pakistan?

Supporters of Imran Khan, chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) political party, cheer to celebrate the Supreme Court decision to oust former prime minister Nawaz Sharif during a rally in Islamabad, Pakistan, 30 July 30 2017 (Photo: Reuters/Caren Firouz).

Author: Imtiaz Gul, CRSS

If 2016 was significant for an over 50 per cent decline in terror-related fatalities in Pakistan, 2017 will be remembered for a controversial judicial ruling that threw a third-time prime minister out of office. Read more…

Has Trump any real option in Afghanistan?

A captured Taliban insurgent is presented to the media after he was arrested with car explosive devices in Kabul, Afghanistan, 15 October 2017 (Photo: Reuters/Omar Sobhani).

Author: Frédéric Grare, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

On 21 August 2017, after months of hesitation and much against his own instincts, US President Donald Trump announced a new strategy for Afghanistan and South Asia. Recognising that ‘a hasty withdrawal would create a vacuum that terrorists, including ISIS and al Qaeda, would instantly fill’, Trump announced a condition-based — as opposed to time-bound — approach designed to prevent the resurgence of terrorist sanctuaries. Read more…

Afghanistan’s security a victim of regional rivalries

Afghan security forces inspect the exterior of a car after a suicide bomb blast in Gardez, Paktia Province, Afghanistan, 18 June 2017 (Photo: Reuters/Samiullah Peiwand).

Author: Sajjad Ashraf, NUS

Afghanistan and Pakistan continue to spar over terrorist acts committed in each other’s territory. Common ethnicity and similar terrain provides a convenient route for fugitives to escape from one country to the other. Dismantling terrorist networks in the region will not be successful without formal cooperation between Afghanistan and Pakistan. But how can such a settlement occur when the strategic interests of other powers, such as India, favour pitting one against the other? Read more…

Can India be a game changer in Afghanistan?

An Afghan policeman inspects a building used by insurgents after an operation near the Indian consulate in Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan, 5 January 2016. (Photo: Reuters/Anil Usyan).

Author: Frédéric Grare, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

In an interview on 3 May 2017, former president of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai strongly attacked US policy in Afghanistan and, once again, asked India to do more in his country. Read more…

Will Trump make South Asia great again?

A member of Hindu Sena, a right-wing Hindu group, celebrate Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's victory in the US elections, in New Delhi, India, 9 November 2016. Reuters/Cathal McNaughton)

Author: Abdul Basit, RSIS

Unites States National Security Adviser H. R. McMaster embarked on his maiden visit to South Asia on 16 April 2017. McMaster’s trip to the region is part of the on-going consultation process ahead of finalising the Trump administration’s South Asia policy. Read more…

Getting regional trade right in Central Asia

A container is loaded on to the first Chinese container ship to depart after the inauguration of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor port in Gwadar, Pakistan 13 November 2016. (Photo: Reuters/Caren Firouz)

Authors: Nasir Iqbal, BISP and Saima Nawaz, COMSATS

The Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) was founded in 1985 to provide members with a platform to discuss ways to improve development as well as promote trade and investment opportunities. Around 462 million people — 6.2 per cent of the world’s population — live within the 10 member states of Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Read more…

Does China have itself to blame for the trans-nationalisation of Uyghur terrorism?

Paramilitary policemen stand in formation as they take part in an anti-terrorism oath-taking rally, in Kashgar, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, China, 27 February 2017. (Photo: Reuters/Stringer).

Author: Michael Clarke, ANU

On 15 February, three ’knife wielding’ Uyghur ‘terrorists’ attacked a residential compound in Pishan township, Khotan Prefecture, in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), killing five people. Immediately after this attack, Chinese authorities conducted mass anti-terrorism ‘oath-taking rallies’ on 16 and 17 February in the regional capital, Urumqi, and the major southern cities of Kashgar and Khotan. Read more…