All Posts (26)

Developments in Afghanistan

Peace and Reconciliation

The US Special Representative Khalilzad held consultations with the Afghan government in Kabul at the beginning of April. After his meetings, he tweeted on April 1, “We discussed the urgency of making progress on intra-Afghan dialogue.” Speaking to Radio Liberty, he said, “There is a chance that the Afghans may not reach an agreement including the Taliban and the non-Taliban, then preparations will also be needed for the…

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Overview - May 2019

Pakistan:

• Economy
• Cabinet reshuffle- Finance Minister resigns
• Terror attacks
• State targets Pashtun Tahafuz Movement
• Pakistan-India relations
• Pakistan-China relations
• Pakistan-Iran relations

Afghanistan:

• Peace and Reconciliation
• Taliban announce spring offensive…

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Developments in Pakistan

Economic turmoil continues

In its World Economic Outlook, the IMF has projected that in the absence of further adjustment policies, growth in Pakistan would remain subdued at about 2.5% till 2024, with continued external and fiscal imbalances weighing on confidence. It forecast Pakistan’s growth rate at 2.9% and 2.8% for the current and next fiscal years respectively as against World Bank’s forecast of 3.6% and 2.7% respectively for the two years. The Fund…

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Developments in Pakistan

Economic uncertainty continues

Taking note of deterioration in Pakistan’s economic outlook and external position, Standard & Poor Global Ratings lowered Pakistan’s sovereign credit rating from “B” to “B-“. The agency cited diminished growth prospects as well as elevated external and fiscal stresses. However, it maintained the rating outlook at “stable” in the expectation that Pakistan would secure sufficient funding to meet its external financing…

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Developments in Afghanistan

Peace and Reconciliation Moves

In a sign of divisions within Afghanistan, a number of Afghan leaders, including former President Karzai participated in a Russia-engineered meeting in Moscow with the Taliban in early February, which was organized by the “Council of the Afghan Diaspora in Russia” and was dubbed as political drama by the Afghan foreign ministry. It would be recalled that the Taliban have strongly resisted the American demand for a dialogue with the…

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Overview - April 2019

Pakistan:

• Economy
• Pakistan at the Financial Action Task Force
• No consensus on continuation of military courts
• Pakistan India relations worsen
• Pakistan-China relations
• Pakistan-Saudi Arabia
• Pakistan-Iran

Afghanistan:

• Peace and reconciliation moves
• SIGAR report on…

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The Indo-Pak relationship that has remained in free fall over the last few years reached a crisis point when in one of the worst terror attacks on February 14, at least 40 CRPF personnel were killed and many injured in the Pulwama district of Jammu and Kashmir. A vehicle laden with explosives rammed into one of the buses in a CRPF convoy that was carrying troops from Jammu to Srinagar. Pakistan…

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India received widespread support of the international community in the condemnation of the Pulwama attack, with some influential countries calling upon Pakistan to take action against terror groups.  Barring the Chinese call to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries and a proforma condemnation of the Balakot strike by the OIC Contact Group, Pakistan received no…

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Developments in Pakistan

Supreme Court extends its jurisdiction to “Gilgit-Baltistan”

Delivering a judgment on January 17 on a set of petitions challenging the Gilgit-Baltistan Order, 2018 and Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment…

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Developments in Afghanistan

Peace and Reconciliation efforts 

The US Special Representative, Zalmay Khalilzad continued his hectic diplomacy in the region. Following the December meeting between him and the Taliban at Abu Dhabi,  in which the representatives of Saudi Arabia, UAE and Pakistan had also participated, it was expected that the next one would be held in Saudi Arabia in January. However, it did not take place. A subsequent proposal to hold the meeting…

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Overview - February 2019

Pakistan

• Status of “Gilgit-Baltistan”
• Blasphemy Law- acquittal upheld
• Proposed extension of term of military courts
• Pakistan at the Financial Action Task Force
• Indo-Pak relations 

Afghanistan: Peace and Reconciliation
• Presidential election
• Results of Parliamentary election
• India and Afghanistan

 …

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Developments in Pakistan

Accountability Process

An accountability court pronounced its judgment on December 24 in the two pending corruption cases against the former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who had been out on bail from his imprisonment in yet another case decided in July, 2018. He was convicted and sentenced to seven years imprisonment in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills case, but acquitted in the Flagship Investments case and was lodged at Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat jail to…

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Developments in Afghanistan

New date for Presidential Election

Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission (IEC) announced at the end of December that the Presidential election, scheduled to be held on April 20, 2019, would instead take place on July 20, 2019. A statement issued by the Presidency said that the IEC had decided the new date after consultation with all stakeholders and “in view of technical problems and to avoid past mistakes..” It further stated that the…

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Overview - January 2019

Pakistan

• ‘Accountability’ bandwagon continues to roll
• Economic concerns mount
• 8th meeting of the CPEC Joint Cooperation Committee held in Beijing
• Army warns Pashtun Tahafuz Movement
• President Trump writes to PM Imran Khan for help with Afghan peace

Afghanistan: 

  • Presidential Election delayed
    • New Ministers for Defence and Interior appointed
    • Government announces…
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Developments in Afghanistan

Peace and reconciliation moves

Russia hosted a meeting on Afghanistan in Moscow on November 9 to which it had invited representatives of the Taliban, Afghanistan, US, India, Iran, China, Pakistan and the five Central Asian Republics. Initially scheduled to be held in September, the meeting was postponed because of Kabul’s insistence on an Afghan-led peace process. Afghanistan was represented by members of the High Peace Council and the US by a diplomat from its…

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Developments in Pakistan

Blasphemy protests

Widespread protests, spearheaded by the radical Sunni-Barelvi party Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), broke out following the Supreme Court decision on October 31 to acquit Asia Bibi, a Christian woman, of the charge of blasphemy and overturn the death sentence awarded to her by the lower courts. She had been incarcerated since 2009 on the blasphemy charge. TLP called for mutiny against the army leadership and assassination of the judges. PM Imran…

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Overview - December 2018

Pakistan: 

• The blasphemy issue rocks Pakistan again
• Pakistan struggles with yet another balance of payments crisis
• PM Imran Khan visits China
• War of words between President Trump and PM Imran Khan
• Opening of the Kartarpur Corridor

Afghanistan: 

• Peace and reconciliation efforts continue
• Geneva Conference on Afghanistan held on 27th and 28th November
• Violence continues to rock…

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Developments in Afghanistan

Internal Security: Continued terrorist attacks and Taliban military activity meant that any initiatives spoken about for another Eid ceasefire in August would generate cynicism. Nevertheless, the upcoming elections scheduled for October and the US Taliban discussions underway are also factors to be kept in view in the context of President Ghani’s offer for a fresh ceasefire coinciding with Eid ul Azha. Major attacks with significant numbers of casualties were reported from…

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Developments in Pakistan

External:

United States: The US Secretary of State stepped into the debate on Pakistan’s external financing debate in the course of a TV interview in end July while expressing the desire “to engage with the new Pakistani leadership in a mutually beneficial relationship”. Replying to a question the Secretary also said “we will be watching what the IMF does. There’s no rationale for IMF tax dollars — and associated with that, American dollars that are…

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Overview - August 2018

Pakistan: The national and provincial assembly elections on 25th July, their results and thereafter the process of post-election adding up of numbers and government formation have obviously predominated over all other narratives. The results, although less close than had been anticipated, nevertheless threw up usual surprises of the major victors and also losers. They are also revealing in terms of some long term trends howsoever speculative. The challenges before the…

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About the Author

Mr. Sharat Sabharwal joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1975. After serving in various positions in the Permanent Mission of India to the UN in Geneva and the Indian Missions in Madagascar, France and Mauritius, he was Director/Joint Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi from 1990 to 1995. The positions held by him subsequently have been Deputy High Commissioner of India in Pakistan (1995-99), Deputy Permanent Representative of India to the UN in Geneva (1999-2002), Ambassador of India to Uzbekistan (2002-2005) and Additional Secretary/Special Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs (September 2005-March 2009).

Mr. Sabharwal was High Commissioner of India to Pakistan from April 2009 to June 2013.

He was appointed Central Information Commissioner in November, 2013 and served in this position till September, 2017.
Mr. Sabharwal has been Deputy leader/member of the Indian delegations to the UN General Assembly, the erstwhile UN Commission on Human Rights, International Labour Conference and World Health Assembly. He was also the Deputy Leader of the Indian delegation to the International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent held in Geneva in October 1999 and member of the Indian delegation to the World Conference against Racism, held in Durban in September 2001.

Mr. Sabharwal holds a post graduate degree in Political Science. He speaks English and French besides Hindi, Urdu and Punjabi.

Mr. Sabharwal has been an author at the Indian Express, The Hindu, India Today, The Tribune and The Wire.