Stories by Sahar Khan

Expert Voices

Modi eyes electoral opportunity in India-Pakistan conflict

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses his supporters during Sankalp Rally at Gandhi Maidan on March 3, 2019 in Patna, India.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses his supporters on March 3 in Patna, India. Photo: Parwaz Khan/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

In the wake of reciprocal attacks in February between India and Pakistan, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has not responded favorably to Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s offer for talks, raising questions about Modi's Pakistan policy and whether he might want to go to war.

Between the lines: India is gearing up for a general election in April and May, and despite losses in key states, Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) remains a front-runner — something Modi does not want to change. One of his objectives with the Balakot attack was to show the Indian public that he is the leader with the necessary political will to fight terrorism emanating from Pakistan.

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.