May 30, 2017

Afghanistan’s Poppy Cultivation Reaches Record Levels

Now 19 of the country’s 34 provinces are opium growers, and overall production was up by almost half. (United Nations photo)

The recent United Nations study and Afghanistan’s Ministry of Counter Narcotics about a sharp increase in opium cultivation once again sets people to sigh in utter frustration. The Afghanistan Opium Survey for 2013 of the United Nations projects that the land area used for opium cultivation reached a historic high in 2013 of 516,000 acres, a 36 percent increase from ... Read More »

Ensuring the Future of Afghan Women

In Herat, Afghanistan, women line up to collect bags of split chick pea, wheat, and cooking oil being distributed by the UN World Food Program (WFP). (Photo by United Nations)

Ahead of two major transition processes – the 2014 NATO withdrawal and the forthcoming presidential elections – in the country, there are increasing concerns on the future of women’s rights in Afghanistan. While a recent report by the World Economic Forum on global gender gap indicated a considerable improvement on decreasing the gap between genders in most of countries across ... Read More »

Pakistan’s Changing Relations with Afghanistan

A Pakistani post near the border with Afghanistan. (Photo by by Talk Radio News Service, Creative Commons License)

Recently, the Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif met US President Barack Obama and discussed certain issues related to both Pakistan and Afghanistan. One of the notable statements by the Pakistani Prime Minister about Afghanistan, said, “I have assured Afghan President Hamid Karzai that we wish neither to interfere in Afghanistan’s internal affairs, nor do we have any favorites.” He also ... Read More »

Land Disputes Add to Afghanistan’s Security Woes

Semi-nomadic Kuchis say they are getting pushed off their rangeland with land rights still not clearly established in Afghanistan.
(Photo by Bethany Matta/IRIN)

Fifty years ago, Dost Mohammad’s grandfather had 1,000 sheep grazing on the family’s plot of land on the outskirts of Kunduz City, Afghanistan. The family’s livestock numbers have since decreased significantly, but then, so has the size of their land. “We keep getting pushed further and further back,” said Mohammad. “We’re also having problems bringing our sheep to Badakshan. We ... Read More »

Pakistani, Afghan Media Doubt Baradar’s Impact on Peace

(Photo via Afghanistan Times)

The release of former Taliban second-in-command Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar by Pakistan may have heightened the expectations of peace in Islamabad and Kabul. But the news media in the two countries is showing more skepticism than optimism. Pakistan released the Mullah, in his 40s, on Saturday, September 21, on the eve of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s visit to the United ... Read More »

Afghanistan’s Evolving Election Scenario

Two dispensable men: Afghanistan's Hamid Karzai and Pakistan's Pervez Musharraf at a World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland, January 24, 2008. (Photo by World Economic Forum)

Nominations for the Afghan presidency opened on September 16, 2013 and with this milestone the country formally entered the pre-election period. Over the next seven months Afghanistan will be turned into one great reality TV show, watched by the world, while the candidates practice our unique brand of politics. In the run up to nominations, the alternating announcements of electoral ... Read More »

In Afghanistan, Victory Comes From Sports, Not War

Thousands of Afghans celebrated their national football team's victory against India in Nepal, a rare sight in a country that has endured decades long war. (Photo off video stream)

Celebrations erupted across Afghanistan last week after the country’s nascent national team won the South Asian Football Federation Asian Championship in Kathmandu, Nepal, beating regional giant India 2-0. The jubilations show that Afghans, like any other nation, cherish the normal pursuits of present-day life:  peace, happiness and national preeminence. Cricket is another major sport that Afghans are fast becoming passionate about ... Read More »

Will Release of Top Taliban Leader Restore Peace?

(Photo by Helmand Blog, Creative Commons License)

As a remarkable sign of Pakistan’s new phase of cooperation with the Afghan peace process, Islamabad is to release Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, a prominent Taliban leader who was in prison in Pakistan since he was captured in 2010. The Afghan government has long urged for release of Baradar as he is considered a moderate and pro-peace figure among the ... Read More »

How South Asia Can Benefit from Central Asian Energy Boom?

Long oil train on its way to Russia transporting oil from Kazakhstan. (Photo by Duccio Aiazzi, Creative Commons License)

In a rare assembly of representatives of governments of countries in South and Central Asia, parliaments and the private sector as well as experts from China, the US and Europe sat in Islamabad on September 1 and 2 to discuss not the security challenge but the energy promise that the region offers. Read More »