Major Amin; a few words on Pakistan, Afghanistan and China

Another BP Podcast is up. You can listen on LibsynAppleSpotify, and Stitcher (and a variety of other platforms). Probably the easiest way to keep up the podcast since we don’t have a regular schedule is to subscribe to one of the links above!

Last time we interviewed Major Amin just after the fiasco of the American withdrawal from Afghanistan. That was a relatively substantive interviey w (you can listen to it at this link: Major Amin on the age of strategic anarchy) and proved extremely popular, so there was a lot of demand to invite Major Amin back for an update. I caught up with the Major in a less than sober mood initially (some of you may have heard that recording) when he expressed his disappointment with how badly things are going in his homeland in somewhat colorful language, but at his request we have now redone this interview (the exact same questions) in a more sober tone. Enjoy.

Browncast: Major Amin on the Age of Strategic Anarchy in Afghanistan

Another BP Podcast is up. You can listen on LibsynAppleSpotify, and Stitcher (and a variety of other platforms). Probably the easiest way to keep up the podcast since we don’t have a regular schedule is to subscribe to one of the links above.

This episode was recorded over the phone, so please excuse some minor audio issues. As many of our readers know, we posted an article from Major Amin a few days ago, arguing that the US had made a brilliant strategic move out of Afghanistan (even though the disengagement has been handled poorly). In this podcast, he repeats this view and has a few salty words about this and related topics.. Enjoy.

Comments welcome.

Btw, my own random amateur views can be found at this link. 

Postscript 1: Several friends have said that they cannot take his views seriously if he thinks “lower middle class” is such an insult, etc. But I no longer use that particular filter too much. I think people can have very “problematic” AND insightful views simultaneously. If we are interested in learning (and not just in virtue signaling) then we can filter them out and still find something useful. Of course, friends will do that all the time with each other, but I admit that it is a more complicated question when we talk with strangers online, so if you feel strongly about this issue, this may not be the podcast for you.

Postscript 2: Is there anything in the podcast that I should have objected to during the conversation? I think yes, there is. I should have suggested that we cannot really say “the only good Chinese is a dead Chinese”. Other than that, I have no regrets 🙂

Afghan Conundrum

From Dr Hamid Hussain. 

“A real friend is one who takes the hand of his friend in times of distress and helplessness’.  Afghan proverb

 In September 2020, Afghan government and Taliban representatives met for the first time publicly in Qatar to start intra-Afghan dialogue.  There were lot of hurdles between the first step of signing of agreement between United States and Taliban in February 2020 and start of intra-Afghan dialogue in September 2020.

 All parties are asking Taliban for a ceasefire during intra-Afghan dialogue.  Taliban are not agreeing to this condition and violence has escalated in the last few months.  Taliban leadership is concerned that if it agrees to a ceasefire then foot soldiers and local commanders will head back to their homes.  This will weaken Taliban negotiation position and it will require some effort to re-mobilize foot soldiers.  In addition, there is also fear that hardline Taliban may break away.  The price that Taliban are paying is negative public opinion inside Afghanistan.  Large number of Afghans are angry that Taliban have signed a truce with foreign troops; the very rai-son d’etre of Taliban fight while shedding the blood of fellow Afghans with impunity. Continue reading Afghan Conundrum

Afghanistan, Next Round

From Dr Hamid Hussain

Some questions and then more questions came my way about recent events in Afghanistan. My two cents put together in the piece.

Afghanistan – Next Round Afghan Style

Hamid Hussain

“However tall the mountain is, there is a road to the top of it”.   Afghan Proverb

United States and Taliban signed an agreement in February 2020.  The agreement was to pave the way for withdrawal of US troops and integration of Taliban in Afghan political system. The next step was exchange of 5000 Taliban and 1000 Afghan government prisoners.  This also proved to be the first hurdle.  Afghan President Ashraf Ghani insisted on linking prisoner release with cease fire.  Taliban rejected it and under US pressure, Ghani released few hundred Taliban prisoners.

In the deal with US, Taliban agreed not to threaten “security of US and its allies’.  Taliban defined only Europeans as ‘US allies.  Off course they don’t consider Afghan government as US ally therefore they continued to attack government forces. On the start of the Muslim holy months of Ramazan, Ghani asked again for a ceasefire.  Taliban representative in his response called this call ‘illogical’.  Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC) also called for a ceasefire during negotiations between Taliban and Afghan government.  Taliban are not likely to agree to this.  They see attacks on Afghan security forces as a lever to extract more concessions. Taliban also want to calibrate its military operations to keep momentum of its cadres.  If they agree to a prolonged ceasefire and few months later need military operations, they may face difficulties in re-activating its own cadres.

Current violence in uneven geographically.  Violence has decreased in Taliban controlled areas in south and east and large cities.  In Taliban controlled areas, night raids by Afghan forces and air strikes by US forces and attacks by Taliban on government posts and convoys, Improvised Explosive Device (IED) attacks and target killings was the main engine of violence.  Afghan forces have stopped operations in Taliban controlled areas resulting in marked reduction of violence.  In government controlled large cities, Taliban were attacking government and civilian targets.  They have markedly reduced these attacks that resulted in reduction of violence in large cities. In some parts of eastern Afghanistan, Daesh was responsible for most attacks.  An unlikely alliance of US, Afghan forces, Taliban and local militias confronted Daesh from all sides eliminating most pockets of Daesh that contributed to marked reduction of violence. In all these areas, with reduction of violence, general public feels somewhat secure with economic activity picking up in towns and rural areas. Continue reading Afghanistan, Next Round