Ahmed Rashid is the author of Pakistan on the Brink: The Future of America, Pakistan, and Afghanistan and several books on Afghanistan and Central Asia. He lives in Lahore.
 (September 2016)


ISIS: The Cornered Beast

An explosion near the Mosque of the Prophet, Medina, Saudi Arabia, July 4, 2016

Claiming more than three hundred lives, most of them Muslim, the attacks by ISIS in Turkey, Bangladesh, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia have created pandemonium. Since the early months of this year, ISIS has suffered a series of defeats. But the real lesson is that it will take much more than military victories to defeat ISIS.


Sy Hersh and Osama bin Laden: The Right and the Wrong

A wax figure of Osama bin Laden, Międzyzdroje, Poland, September 2008

The Killing of Osama bin Laden

by Seymour M. Hersh
During the past few years, the CIA’s claim to having successfully tracked down Osama bin Laden through extensive intelligence work has come under scrutiny by a small group of skeptics. Seymour Hersh, the widely admired investigative journalist who uncovered the My Lai massacre in 1969, is perhaps the most insistent and vocal among them.

The Fierce Pressures Facing Pakistan

Pakistani Shiite Muslims protesting a suicide bomb attack on a Shiite mosque in Peshawar with portraits of the victims, February 20, 2015. At least twenty-three people were killed in the attack on February 13, for which the Taliban claimed responsibility.

The Struggle for Pakistan: A Muslim Homeland and Global Politics

by Ayesha Jalal

The Army and Democracy: Military Politics in Pakistan

by Aqil Shah
No one should be surprised to read that in Pakistan the army has taken charge, established military courts, derailed democracy, brought television and other media under military control. Nor should one be surprised to learn that foreign policy and national security were being directly run by the army. Many similar situations have occurred in Pakistan since 1958, when the army first came to power in a gradual coup, declared martial law, and ruled for a decade. The country has for years been under partial military rule, outright martial law, or military authority disguised as presidential rule. But the arrangement that has evolved over the last six months is the strangest so far.

Pakistan: Worse Than We Knew

A pro-Taliban rally in Quetta, the capital of Pakistan’s Balochistan province, circa 2002

The Wrong Enemy: America in Afghanistan, 2001–2014

by Carlotta Gall
For forty years Pakistan has been backing Islamic extremist groups as part of its expansionist foreign policy in Afghanistan and Central Asia and its efforts to maintain equilibrium with India, its much larger enemy. Now Pakistan is undergoing the worst terrorist backlash in the entire region.

Why, and What, You Should Know About Central Asia

An Uzbek patrol in the Fergana Valley, on the Uzbekistan–Kyrgyzstan border, 2002

The Chinese Question in Central Asia: Domestic Order, Social Change and the Chinese Factor

by Marlène Laruelle and Sébastien Peyrouse

Great Games, Local Rules: The New Great Power Contest in Central Asia

by Alexander Cooley
Central Asia has reached a turning point and what comes next really worries it. Will the Taliban return to conquer Afghanistan and open the way for the Central Asian Islamist groups that are closely linked to al-Qaeda and have increased their forces while based in Pakistan? Will populist riots reminiscent of the Arab Spring sweep through the region? Will the weaker states, lacking economic resources, become hostage to China or Russia? Will the most important regional organization help them overcome instability or will it continue to help them avoid making serious reforms?


Pakistan: The Army Steps In

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and army chief General Raheel Sharif, Islamabad, Pakistan, August 14, 2015

The suicide bomber who killed seventy-two people on Easter Sunday in a park in Lahore, Pakistan has drawn condemnation from around the world. Far less noted, however, has been the attack’s devastating effect on relations between Pakistan’s army and civilian government, which threatens to bring further instability to the country’s Punjab heartland.

Afghanistan: Threatening News

The Tolo TV news studio, in Kabul, Afghanistan, October 18, 2015

At least seven people were killed when, January 20 in Kabul, a suicide bomber drove a car laden with explosives into a minibus taking forty journalists and staff of Afghanistan’s Tolo TV home after a day at the office. With the Tolo TV massacre, public patience for President Ashraf Ghani is running out.

From Mumbai to Paris

Police searching for a suspect of the Paris attacks in Brussels, Belgium, November 16, 2015

Much of the ISIS playbook in Paris—the meticulous planning, the selection of soft targets, the multiple simultaneous attacks by different teams used to create a sense of chaos in the streets, the mayhem created—was inspired by the extremist group LET’s attack in Mumbai in 2008. LET’s most important innovation in jihadi warfare is the use of mass attacks on civilian targets.

Can Afghanistan Hold On?

Afghan National Police on patrol in Kunduz Province, Afghanistan, November 2009

For the new Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour, the current Afghan offensive is a shrewd political move. Now, the entire Afghan state is threatened. The government in Kabul has already lost most of its popular support, and may not survive another major victory by the Taliban—especially if a large Afghan city is captured.