Taliban open letter to Trump urges Afghan withdrawal

  • 15 August 2017
  • From the section Asia
Afghan soldier secures a military base after overnight clashes with Taliban militants in Khakriz district, Kandahar, Afghanistan, 26 July 2017 Image copyright EPA
Image caption The US is deciding whether to bolster its Afghan effort, as the security situation deteriorates

As the White House mulls its next move in conflict-hit Afghanistan, the Taliban offer their advice in an open letter to the US president.

Donald Trump is, as the world knows, happy to talk about all sorts of things, but one area where he has maintained his silence is American policy in Afghanistan.

His military advisers concede that America's longest-ever war has reached a stalemate and have advised that he increase troop numbers to break it.

In the past, Mr Trump has hinted that his instinct is to cut America's losses and begin to pull back from the conflict. Meanwhile, the world awaits a decision.

We were told the White House would make its call by mid-July, but there has been silence. Then last week, Mr Trump announced he was "getting very close" to deciding on a strategy.

Read full article Taliban open letter to Trump urges Afghan withdrawal

Independence: Do Indians care about the British any more?

  • 13 August 2017
  • From the section India
Theresa May is welcomed to the Sri Someshwara Temple in Bangalore on 8 November 2016 Image copyright Getty Images

Seventy years since India gained its independence from the British Empire, the UK is seeking a closer trading relationship. But what do modern Indians think about the British?

I have an intimate family connection to the independence movement in India.

Read full article Independence: Do Indians care about the British any more?

The Maldives: Political turmoil threatens the 'island paradise'

  • 10 August 2017
  • From the section Asia
The island of Dunikolu in the Republic of Maldives in the Indian Ocean. Image copyright Science Photo Library

Are you dreaming of a holiday in the Maldives?

You may want to choose another fantasy destination after the British Foreign Office told tourists to be aware that some political demonstrations in the capital, Male, have led to violence. It did add, though, that most trips there are trouble-free.

Read full article The Maldives: Political turmoil threatens the 'island paradise'

Why Indian army defended Kashmir 'human shield' officer

  • 31 May 2017
  • From the section India
Man tied to front of car
Image caption Farooq Ahmad Dar says the army decision puts him in "danger"

If you want to know why India has courted international controversy by awarding a medal to an army officer who tied a civilian to the front of a jeep, you need to understand what is really happening in Indian-administered Kashmir.

What happened?

On 9 April, a Kashmiri man called Farooq Ahmed Dar was trussed to the spare tyre at the front of a jeep and driven on a five-hour journey through several villages at the head of an army convoy.

Read full article Why Indian army defended Kashmir 'human shield' officer

Can Afghan military turn the tide in Taliban fight?

  • 25 April 2017
  • From the section Asia
US Defence Secretary James Mattis arrives by helicopter at Resolute Support headquarters in the Afghan capital Kabul on 24 April 2017 Image copyright AFP
Image caption James Mattis flew in as Afghanistan's two top military leaders stood down

US Defence Secretary James Mattis was filmed beside an open cargo door as he flew in to Kabul on Monday. It was a glamorous image, but he could scarcely have flown into the country on a less auspicious day.

In the morning both Defence Minister Abudullah Habibi and the Army Chief of Staff Qadam Shah Shahim had handed in their resignations in the wake of the Taliban attack on an army base outside Mazar-e Sharif on Friday. It was the deadliest single attack on a military installation in the entire 16-year history of the Afghan conflict.

Read full article Can Afghan military turn the tide in Taliban fight?

The election where no-one came to vote

  • 16 April 2017
  • From the section India
Kashmiri protestors clash with Indian security forces near a polling station in Srinagar on April 9, 2017. Image copyright AFP
Image caption Protesters have been attacking polling centres in Indian-administered Kashmir

Eight people died and more than 100 were injured in Indian-administered Kashmir in a highly contentious by-election over the weekend. Separatist leaders called for voters to boycott the polls and protestors attacked more than 150 polling centres.

On Thursday India attempted to re-run the disrupted ballots. There was massive security in place.

Read full article The election where no-one came to vote

Trafficked babies, black money and India's values

  • 9 December 2016
  • From the section India
People walk past replica prints of the demonitised 500 and 1000 rupee notes as part of a street art exhibition in Mumbai Image copyright INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP/Getty Images

We all know that the price of something doesn't always indicate its true value, but prices can still be very revealing.

Two very different sets of prices demonstrate that in India this week.

Read full article Trafficked babies, black money and India's values

IR8: The miracle rice which saved millions of lives

  • 1 December 2016
  • From the section India
Mr Subba Rao harvesting the first IR8 harvest Image copyright IRRI
Image caption Mr Subba Rao harvesting the first IR8 harvest

Last week I received a very unusual invitation indeed. It was to a 50th birthday party in a swanky Delhi hotel, but the party was for a plant: a strain of rice known only by its initials, IR8.

A celebration for an angry rice variety; who could refuse?

Read full article IR8: The miracle rice which saved millions of lives

Modi's money medicine: Kill or cure?

  • 22 November 2016
  • From the section India
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi Image copyright Getty Images

This week will be decisive for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's audacious experiment in tackling tax evasion and corruption in India.

Two weeks ago he gave the world's seventh biggest economy four hours notice that he was going to cancel 86% of its cash - $220bn (£176bn) in total.

Read full article Modi's money medicine: Kill or cure?

Gates's advice for the world's most cash-strapped nation

  • 18 November 2016
  • From the section Asia
Bill Gates was interviewed by the BBC's Justin Rowlatt Image copyright Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation,

The world's richest man is visiting the world's most cash-strapped nation.

In an address to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his cabinet on Wednesday, Bill Gates said: "The bold move to demonetise high value denominations…is an important step to move away from a shadow economy to an even more transparent economy."

Read full article Gates's advice for the world's most cash-strapped nation