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Opinion: Doomed to disagree

BOSTON — It’s been clear for years that Pakistan and the United States are not in full agreement about the nature of the extremist threat or the war in Afghanistan. The U.S. is at war with the Taliban because it once harbored Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda gang. But in Pakistan’s view, the Taliban was a useful creation to bring stability to warlord-torn Afghanistan after the Soviets left, and it might be useful again once the Americans leave, as every other foreign power has done after trying and failing to subdue the Afghans by force. 

What's new in Af-Pak? History you haven't read

The more things change on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, the more they seem to stay the same … the same as in the 1870s. The latest news from Waziristan — the reputed death by U.S. drone strike of Baitullah Mehsud, West Asia’s Public Enemy No. 2 — doesn’t generate as much optimism as, perhaps, it should. Those Anglo-Saxons active earlier in the region, British colonial forces, killed many Mehsuds over the years, but without, it seems, changing all that much.

The coming war for water

SRINAGAR, Kashmir — Atop the disputed Baglihar Dam in the mountains of Kashmir, the Chenab River roars like a 747 as its silvery waters churn the dam's massive turbines and boil out over the ravine in a tremendous, spiraling white waterfall. The air is moist, and a massive cloud of mist floats downstream toward the roadway, where moments ago a dozen busloads of soldiers headed for posts along India's border with Pakistan have rumbled across a narrow bridge.

A heaven on earth? Not so much

SRINAGAR, Kashmir — From the shores of Srinagar's Dal Lake, once described as heaven on earth, the water looks dull and brackish. The storied houseboats that were the summer playgrounds of India's British colonizers are lined up across what from this vantage appears to be a weed-choked pond, no larger than a football field.

The stones of Srinagar

SRINAGAR, India — In Srinagar's Lal Chowk, or “red corner,” a hotbed of social unrest in a city that many residents believe to be occupied by a hostile Indian military, 26-year-old “Mohammad” is primed for the next call to action. A handsome, muscular youth with a beard that would pass muster in Kabul and incongruously gelled hair, he has been a stone pelter — what locals here call the young men who engage in rock-chunking skirmishes with the police and security forces nearly every Friday — since he was 15 years old.

Funding the Pakistani Taliban

MARDAN, Pakistan — Standing in the lush plains of Mardan in the Northwest Frontier Province, the rugged and arid mountains that enclose the Peshawar valley on all sides may appear farther than they actually are. A few dozen miles to the north and west in the mountains, the Pakistan army has been engaged in a bloody battle with Taliban militants for years over the control of territory.

Inside the Taliban

Today GlobalPost Executive Editor C.M. Sennott begins a series of radio reports from Afghanistan and Pakistan titled "Inside the Taliban" to be aired over the next four days on The World, a co-production of the BBC World Service, PRI and WGBH Boston.

Funding the Afghan Taliban

KABUL — It is the open secret no one wants to talk about, the unwelcome truth that most prefer to hide. In Afghanistan, one of the richest sources of Taliban funding is the foreign assistance coming into the country. Virtually every major project includes a healthy cut for the insurgents. Call it protection money, call it extortion, or, as the Taliban themselves prefer to term it, “spoils of war,” the fact remains that international donors, primarily the United States, are to a large extent financing their own enemy.

'Princess of Swat' holds court

ISLAMABAD — When Zebunisa Jillani visits the camps established for Swat refugees in Islamabad, her face becomes etched with sorrow and pain at seeing the suffering around her. For this 56-year-old, the story of Swat is the story of her life. 

Taliban leaders report progress in secret talks with the US and Afghanistan

KABUL — Moderate leaders of the Taliban say they have quietly and steadily made progress in third-party talks between the active Taliban insurgency and representatives of the Afghan and U.S. governments. Two Taliban leaders — who held high-ranking positions in the now-deposed Taliban government and who are directly involved in the talks — say they’ve recently established a framework of an agreement through the shuttle negotiations. They say the process has included contact with the spiritual leader of the Taliban, Mullah Mohammad Omar.
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