Archive for the ‘Regional’ Category

South Asia Book Reviews, Part 3

A review essay by Teresita C. Schaffer of five books about South Asia: Afghanistan: A Cultural and Political History, by Thomas Barfield; The Other War: Winning and Losing in Afghanistan, by Ronald E. Neumann; Decoding the New Taliban: Insights from the Afghan Field, by Antonio Giustozzi; Asymmetric Warfare in South Asia: The Causes and Consequences of the Kargil Conflict, by Peter R. Lavoy; and Making Sense of Pakistan, by Farzana Shaikh.

Antonio Giustozzi has put together a remarkable collection of essays on the Taliban. But do not open this book with the expectation that it will make the Afghan tangle simple or clear. On the contrary, its real contribution is that it complicates the mental models we have of Afghanistan’s tribes, the Taliban movement, and their relationships with the Afghan government, its Western friends and Pakistan.

Originally published by the International Institute for Strategic Studies in the October-November 2010 issue of Survival. Read the entire essay.

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A Difficult Road Ahead: India’s Policy on Afghanistan

Teresita Schaffer and Arjun Verma analyze India’s policy on Afghanistan:

Following the decision by U.S. president Barack Obama in December 2009 to announce that the United States will begin to reduce its presence in Afghanistan by July 2011, the region has taken this as a signal of U.S. disengagement. India’s goals are a dismantled Afghan Taliban; an inclusive, democratic state with normal relations with India; and better transport and economic ties through Afghanistan into Central Asia. India has been a major contributor of economic aid, but has been kept at arm’s length on security issues. As Afghan president Hamid Karzai pursues reconciliation efforts with militants and Pakistan attempts to tilt this process in its favor, New Delhi must recalibrate its strategic calculus in Afghanistan.

First published in the CSIS South Asia Monitor series on August 1, 2010. Afghanistan India

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Sri Lanka: Talking Past Each Other

Sri Lanka’s victory over the LTTE in May 2009, which should have been a moment of opportunity as well as triumph both for the country and for relations with the United States, is in danger of leading to a downward spiral. Sri Lanka and the United States have sharply different priorities and are talking past each other. The result is not just a sour bilateral relationship in which the U.S. has little impact on the Sri Lankan policies it finds most objectionable, but an adjustment in Sri Lanka’s regional policies that could affect Indian Ocean security.

 

See full text of Teresita Schaffer’s article dated July 2010.

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Closing Argument: Neighbourhood Watch

An article by Teresita C. Schaffer on the relationship between Afghanistan and its neighbors.

The debate over the end game in Afghanistan heated up after US president Barack Obama’s December 2009 West Point speech and the London Conference in late January 2010. Two out of four major potential elements of a strategy are getting headlines: the military approach to counter-insurgency and the ‘civilian surge’, including both economic aid and support for better governance. A third, the issue of whether, and under what circumstances, to reintegrate or include current Taliban personalities in the final government, is highly controversial. But policymakers in the United States and other NATO countries need to start paying more attention to the fourth: the relationship between Afghanistan and its neighbours, which could undo whatever gains Afghanistan achieves internally. Addressing the neighbourhood needs more than a handy formula; it will require continuing and sustained diplomatic effort.

Originally published by the International Institute for Strategic Studies in the June-July 2010 issue of Survival. Read the entire article.

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South Asia Book Reviews, Part 2

A review essay by Teresita C. Schaffer of five books about South Asia: In the Graveyard of Empires: America’s War in Afghanistan, by Seth G. Jones; Seeds of Terror: How Heroin is Bankrolling the Taliban and Al Qaeda, by Gretchen Peters; India: The Emerging Giant, by Arvind Panagariya; Bangladesh and Pakistan: Flirting with Failure in South Asia, by William B. Milam; and India and Counterinsurgency: Lessons Learned, edited by Sumit Ganguly and David P. Fidler.

William Milam, who served as US ambassador to Bangladesh and Pakistan, has looked at both countries side by side in an attempt to understand why both have had such troubled politics and such uneven economic performance. Three themes dominate the book: the problem of the army and politics, the challenge of instituting democratic governance (as distinguished from democratic elections), and the difficulty of defining what Islam means in both countries’ national life and identity.

Originally published by the International Institute for Strategic Studies in the October-November 2009 issue of Survival. Read the entire essay.

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Triumphalism and Uncertainty in Post-Prabhakaran Sri Lanka

An article by Elizabeth Laferriere and Teresita C. Schaffer on the political climate in Sri Lanka following the death of Velupillai Prabhakaran.

The decision of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to lay down their arms and the May 19 death of their leader Velupillai Prabhakaran at the hands of the Sri Lankan army marked the end of 25 years of intermittent bloody conflict that had convulsed the island. President Mahinda Rajapaksa started his victory speech in Tamil promising the countryís beleaguered minorities peace and assuring them that only the LTTE were considered enemies. The deep suspicions resulting from decades of conflict and the triumphalist atmosphere in Colombo, however, raise doubts about the prospects for conciliation. The government is not talking about constitutional change, much less about the federalism desired by the Tamil community. Rajapaksa is likely to use this moment of triumph to institutionalize his heroic status through new elections. The window of opportunity for creating a new political consensus extending to the country’s non-Sinhalese communities could be fleeting.

Originally published in the Center for Strategic & International Studies‘ South Asia Monitor on July 1, 2009. Read the entire article.

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South Asia Book Reviews, Part 1

A review essay by Teresita C. Schaffer of five books about South Asia: Reconciliation: Islam, Democracy and the West, by Benazir Bhutto; Descent Into Chaos: The United States and the Failure of Nation Building in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Central Asia, by Ahmed Rashid; Crossed Swords: Pakistan, Its Army, and the Wars Within, by Shuja Nawaz; The Madrassah Challenge: Militancy and Religious Education in Pakistan, by C. Christine Fair; and Islamist Militancy in Bangladesh: A Complex Web, by Ali Riaz.

Reconciliation lays out, with almost desperate passion, Bhutto’s vision of Islam, marked by judicious reason, compassion, gentleness, and above all toleration for the world’s diversity. In what she terms ‘the battle within Islam’, she comes down resolutely on the side that favours democracy, moderation and finding common cause with the West. She bolsters this argument with a lengthy discussion of the historical and religious meanings of ‘jihad’, which she believes should properly be defined as ‘struggling in the path of God’. Tracing the history of Islamic thought, she stresses that Islamic thinkers and rulers were ahead of their times in their early sensitivity to women’s rights and potential. One chapter is devoted to Islam and democracy, with a series of brief descriptions of how different Islamic countries have dealt with their peoples’ democratic strivings.

Originally published by the International Institute for Strategic Studies in the October-November 2008 issue of Survival. Read the entire article.

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Election Roadmap Important For Bangladesh’s Return to Democracy

An article published February 18, 2008 in the Financial Express on Howard B. Schaffer’s visit to Dhaka, and his thoughts about democracy in Bangladesh.

Former US Ambassador to Bangladesh Howard B Schaffer said in Dhaka Sunday he strongly supports the roadmap for holding free and fair election timely to return the country to democracy, reports UNB.

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India and Pakistan—Still Moving Forward

An article by Teresita C. Schaffer on peace developments between India and Pakistan.

Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh’s decision to host a dinner on September 14 in New York for Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf made headlines, but the event did not provide the same visible boost for the peace process as their 2004 meeting. However, their dialogue is still moving ahead. The most encouraging development in the past six months is the start of discussions between Kashmiris and the governments of both India and Pakistan. There has been modest progress on the rest of the India-Pakistan agenda. These developments provide a backdrop for quiet diplomacy. A few missteps along the way are inevitable, but the two national leaders are learning about one another’s sensitivities and taking the process seriously.

Originally published in the Center for Strategic & International StudiesSouth Asia Monitor on October 1, 2005. Read the entire article.

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India, Pakistan and Kashmir: Of Buses and People

An article by Teresita C. Schaffer on India’s and Pakistan’s decision to start a bus service between the separated parts of Kashmir, and the resulting rejuvenated peace talks between the countries.

The agreement on the basic arrangements for starting bus service between Srinagar, capital of Indian-administered Kashmir, and Muzaffarabad, capital of the Pakistan-administered part, came as a badly needed tonic to an India-Pakistan dialogue that was in danger of petering out. The agreement balanced the needs of both sides. Pakistan got its way on the knotty question of travel documents: rather than passports and visas, travelers will carry entry permits, to be issued within each side’s part of Kashmir and apparently approved by the other side. India succeeded in opening travel to all citizens, rather than restricting it to residents of Jammu and Kashmir.

Originally published in the Center for Strategic & International StudiesSouth Asia Monitor on April 1, 2005. Read the entire article.

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