Stories by Sahar Khan

Expert Voices

Zalmay Khalilzad will try to pave way for Taliban talks with Afghanistan

Former US Ambassador to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad speaks before Republican US Presidential hopeful Donald Trump speaks about foreign policy
Zalmay Khalilzad speaks about foreign policy at the Mayflower Hotel on April 27, 2016, in Washington, DC. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

On September 5, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirmed that Zalmay Khalilzad will join the State Department as President Trump’s special adviser on Afghanistan. His main mission will be to facilitate talks between the Afghan government and Taliban.

The big picture: Appointing Khalilzad as a special advisor indicates that the Trump administration is serious about an Afghan-led peace process, and about maintaining its hardline approach toward Pakistan. But what remains unclear is how the Pakistani government, now led by first-time prime minister Imran Khan, will work with Khalilzad.

Expert Voices

Why the Taliban should accept Afghanistan's ceasefire offer

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani listens to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during a press conference at the Presidential Palace in Kabul
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani listens to Secretary of State Pompeo at the Presidential Palace, in Kabul, on July 9, 2018. Photo: Wakil Kohsar/AFP via Getty Images

After a particularly violent summer, Afghanistan's president, Ashraf Ghani, proposed a three-month ceasefire with the Taliban this past Sunday, to begin on Monday. It follows a first ceasefire implemented during Eid al-Fitr, in June, which saw both Afghan security forces and Taliban insurgents refrain from attacks.

The big picture: The Taliban have not officially accepted or rejected Ghani’s offer. But if the Taliban want its demands — which include a U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan and direct talks with the U.S. — met, the group needs to increase its legitimacy. Accepting Ghani’s ceasefire is a low-cost opportunity to do so.

Expert Voices

Pakistan elections jeopardized by violence, military involvement

Rescue worker preparing to transport the injured and dead to a hospital after a suicide bombing in Pakistan.
Rescue worker transporting the injured and dead to a hospital after a suicide bombing on July 13, 2018, against the Balochistan Awami Party killed at least 130. Photo: Muhammad Arshad/Pacific Press via Getty Images

Violence is increasing ahead of Pakistan's general elections this Wednesday. Throughout July, attacks on political candidates have killed more than 150 people and injured scores more.

Why it matters: Pakistan’s National Counter Terrorism Authority has issued a warning to vulnerable candidates, and the army announced that it will pledge 350,000 security personnel, but the increase in violence still spells trouble for election day. Although the military has stepped in for security purposes, it is also involved in intimidation.

More stories loading.