Asia-Pacific

Afghanistan – Another Viet Nam?

There are several points of similarity between the war in Afghanistan and the war in Viet Nam. The Taliban, like the North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong, proved to be formidable tacticians and fighters. They managed to contain a far better equipped opponent and mount effective counteroffensives; access sufficient domestic and foreign funding to pay their fighters and support their families; build a formidable intelligence network; and acquire necessary technical capabilities in areas such as repair and maintenance of small arms.

Afghanistan – a Turning Point?

Headlines in the press, live TV and internet coverage of the chaos at Kabul airport following the American withdrawal from Afghanistan has generated an impression around the world of an American foreign policy debacle, belittling the supremacy of American military power.

The Future of Food & Water Systems in Pakistan & Central Asia?

An intense monsoon season in Pakistan means the country’s food system faces the challenge of both extreme floods and extended droughts. In an effort to address these challenges through cross-sectoral collaboration, Dr. Mohsin Hafeez, IWMI’s Country Representative for Pakistan and Regional Representative for Central Asia, convened a regional dialogue in advance of the UN Food Systems Summit (which is scheduled to take place at the United Nations, September 23) .

Biden’s Revenge: Fueling ‘Madness of Militarism’ in Afghanistan

Joe Biden provided a stirring soundbite days ago when he spoke from the White House just after suicide bombers killed 13 U.S. troops and 170 Afghans at a Kabul airport: “To those who carried out this attack, as well as anyone who wishes America harm, know this: We will not forgive. We will not forget. We will hunt you down and make you pay.”

Taliban’s Quest for Legitimacy – and a Seat at the United Nations

When the Taliban captured power back in 1996, one of its first political acts was to hang the ousted Afghan President Mohammed Najibullah in Ariana Square in Kabul. The newly-installed government played a triple role: judge, jury and hangman, all three rolled into one.

Data Platform Helps Pacific Island Countries Collect, Analyse and Act on Information

Do you know if midwife services are available at the Saupia Health Centre in Paunangisu, on the island of Efate in Vanuatu, in the Pacific Islands? I do, and I’ve never been within 1,000 kilometres of the facility — I found the information online within seconds thanks to a data platform called Tupaia.

Closed Borders and Hostile Receptions Await Afghan Refugees

Whether desperately trying to get a place on the last evacuation flights out of Kabul or trekking to the borders with neighbouring Pakistan and Iran, tens of thousands of Afghans are fleeing their country once more. Events are unfolding at speed. The Taliban are establishing a central government in the capital to fill the void of the collapsed western-backed administration, but they do not control all the country as the protracted civil war enters a new stage. The UN refugee agency UNHCR says that in its “worst case scenario” it is preparing for around 500,000 new refugees in the region by the end of this year. As with many past estimates that could prove optimistic.

The Taliban Win: The Aftermath in Afghanistan and in the World

Some years ago, on a piece on the Afghan crisis I had written that Mullah Omar’s face bore no resemblance to that of the impossibly beautiful, albeit mythical, Helen of Troy. Yet it too had caused the launch of a thousand ships (airships to be more precise), just as Helen’s had done in Homer’s epic tale, the Iliad. Like Troy in that ancient narrative, Afghanistan of the present times was swarmed with invaders who could also be seen as the counterparts of those Greeks- the Americans and their NATO allies. This war lasted for double the time of the Trojan episode, twenty years instead of ten. At its end it led to a reverse situation, victory of the Trojans, in this case, of the Taliban. Though the Greeks destroyed Troy by the ruse of a gift of the Wooden Horse, eventually a Trojan warrior, Aeneid, sailed to southern Mediterranean and laid the foundation of the Rome and its empire. The Greek epoch ultimately yielded to the Roman age, and the annals of geopolitics of that time took a completely new turn. Will the impact of the Afghan war be the same? Shall we see a power transformation in a new paradigm from what we have at the present time? Will American predominance make way for a risen China, now or in the future?

After Afghanistan, War’s Idealists Must Accept Defeat

As the Western occupation of Afghanistan has come to an end, TV news is broadcasting harrowing scenes of death and destruction, citizens in fear, allies abandoned, and dreams dashed.

Cook Islands Entrepreneur Develops Hydroponics Greenhouse to Boost Local Food Production

Finding ways to be smarter producers of food was a priority in small island developing states (SIDS) before the outbreak of Covid-19. Now the ideas of farmers and entrepreneurs, such as Piri Maao in the Cook Islands, are being avidly sought by governments and development bodies, which are keen to drive resilience and recovery as the pandemic moves into its second year.

Advancing the Rights of Women Manual Scavengers in India

Manual scavenging is a caste-based profession that leads to discrimination and atrocities against those engaged in it. Generations of families from marginalised communities in India have been forced to continue in this profession because of social ostracism and a lack of alternatives.

Pacific Community Warns of Threat to Education Retention in the Wake of COVID-19

Before the pandemic, many Pacific Island countries grappled with low numbers of students completing secondary education. Now experts in the region are concerned that the closure of schools to contain the spread of COVID-19, and the economic downturn, will lead to even more students dropping out of education early.

Crisis in Afghanistan: All Eyes on Central Asia

The political and human catastrophe in Afghanistan is threatening to boost autocratic tendencies in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. With the withdrawal of US and coalition forces from Afghanistan and the rapid takeover by the Taliban, neighbouring Central Asian countries are once again at the focus of international attention.

Haunting Photos of Bangladesh’s COVID Pandemic

Documentary photographer and filmmaker Mohammad Rakibul Hasan has documented the health crisis in Bangladesh over the past several months. In these haunting images, Hasan brings to life the conditions in which many patients are being treated in poor conditions exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

As Climate Disaster Migration Rises, Girls Get Married Off

When 11-year-old Mitali Padhi hugged her childhood friends to say goodbye, she felt a deep-seated foreboding.

Resilience in a Riskier World

Over the past two decades, the Asia-Pacific region has made remarkable progress in managing disaster risk. But countries can never let down their guard. The COVID-19 pandemic, with its epicentre now in Asia, and all its tragic consequences, has exposed the frailties of human societies in the face of powerful natural forces. As of mid-August 2021, Asian and Pacific countries had reported 65 million confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 1 million deaths. This is compounded by the extreme climate events which are affecting the entire world. Despite the varying contexts across geographic zones, the climate change connection is evident as floods swept across parts of China, India and Western Europe, while heatwaves and fires raged in parts of North America, Southern Europe and Asia.

The Tragedy of Afghanistan: Is there a Way Forward?

The desperate scenes at Kabul airport of Afghans trying to flee and the image of the US Airforce flight taxying down the runway with people scrambling to climb on, is an image that will be etched on our minds forever.

Smartphone App Helps Fijians to Grow and Eat Healthier Food

A smartphone app in Fiji is helping users to not only eat better but to help grow food that will contribute to a more nutritious diet.

Afghanistan – What Will Happen Now?

As I write this, India has just celebrated the 75th anniversary of its independence from British rule (Pakistan celebrated it a day earlier). But there is little cause for celebration. A dark shadow looms over both countries, indeed over much of the world as well.

Woman Farmer Shows Way as Small Island Developing State Battles Pandemic’s Impacts

A woman farmer in Samoa is using innovation and technology to overcome economic hardship as the Pacific Island nation seeks ways to adapt to the challenges resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Parliamentarians Determined to Reach ICPD 25 Goals

Politicians from Asia and Africa shared activism anecdotes demonstrating their determination to meet ICPD 25 commitments. They were speaking at a hybrid conference held simultaneously in Kampala, Uganda, and online.

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