Afghanistan: Sharif and Ghani meet in Islamabad, rekindling diplomacy

On Saturday, Afghan president Ashraf Ghani and Pakistani president Nawaz Sharif met for a conference in Islamabad, marking a rekindling of relations between the two adversarial countries. Sharif pledged that he would support President Ghani to bring peace to Afghanistan. Former President Hamid Karzai notoriously blamed Pakistani policy and leaders for the entirety of Afghanistan’s…

Afghan President Visits China to Discuss Trade and Security Cooperation

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani arrived in Beijing yesterday to begin meetings with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping. The recently inaugurated Ghani’s first official trip abroad as Afghanistan’s leading statesman will consist primarily of talks on the future of relations between the two countries. Ghani has made explicit his desire to strengthen relations with Afghanistan’s eastern…

Afghanistan: Opium yields at all-time high

Despite over $7.6 billion in expenditures by the United States to prevent opium cultivation in Afghanistan, crop yields have risen to their highest levels during the harvest this year. Cultivation of the poppy is a “significant” source of revenue for local Taliban groups, according to the new report released by the UN Office on Drugs…

Afghanistan Easing Relations with Pakistan

Pakistani National Security Advisor Sartag Aziz paid a short visit to new Afghan President Ashraf Ghani over the weekend, with future meetings set up between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Ghani forthcoming, an apparent sign of detente. A formal invitation was extended from Sharif to Ghani to arrange a meeting to ‘share his vision’ for…

Afghanistan: Bilateral Security Deal to be signed next week

US Administration officials have announced that they expect the long-debated Bilateral Security Agreement, which will allow US forces to remain in Afghanistan after the end of 2014, to be signed by incoming president-elect Ashraf Ghani next week. Officials said the document would be official signed within “days” of his Monday inauguration. The deal allows some…

Afghanistan: Ghani Rejects Unity Government

The outcome of the Afghan presidential elections appears destined to be delayed, at least in the near-term.  Despite recent statements made by both candidates to the contrary, a resolution to the oft-delayed elections seems unlikely to arrive soon, as Ashraf Ghani recently declared that any “two headed government” cannot be tolerated. The negotiations for an…

Afghanistan: Vote Audit Finished, Results Uncertain

An external audit of votes cast during Afghanistan’s presidential elections has finally been completed. The audit, which took into consideration an estimated 8 million suspicious ballots, took nearly seven weeks and was the source of much conflict throughout. Both leading candidates, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani, abandoned the audit the its neared its completion, albeit…