With the United States (US) winding down its war effort in Afghanistan, the future trajectories of peace and conflict in Afghanistan will have a far-reaching impact on existing patterns of jihadist militarism in South and Central Asia. The Taliban’s armed struggle to oust the US from Afghanistan had held the diverse militant movement together. The US exit from Afghanistan will test the Taliban’s organisational coherence. Simultaneously, spoiler terrorist groups like the Islamic State of Khorasan can derail the peace process through audacious attacks in a bid to lure the hardline Taliban factions opposed to peace talks. At the same time, around 8,000 foreign jihadists in Afghanistan, including Pakistanis, ethnic Uyghur Chinese and Central Asians, will look for new organisational platforms to continue their militancy. Consequently, these shifting alliances, decomposition of existing militant movements and the potential emergence of new ones are likely to create new forms of violent extremism in South Asia and beyond. Against this backdrop, this webinar will discuss the future of jihadism in South and Central Asia. Once again, will Afghanistan turn into a hub of militancy and terrorism if the intra-Afghan peace process flounders? If so, how is it likely to impact regional peace and stability in South and Central Asia?
Ahmed Rashid is a Pakistani journalist and the author of five books, including Taliban and Jihad: The Rise of Militant Islam in Central Asia, Descent into Chaos: The United States and the Disaster in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Central Asia, and Pakistan on the Brink. Rashid has been covering the wars in Afghanistan and conflicts in Central Asia and Pakistan since 1979. He is regarded as one of the world’s most renowned authorities on the region. For over twenty years (1982-2004), he was a correspondent for the Far Eastern Economic Review, the Independent (1986-1992) and the Daily Telegraph (1992-2008). Now, he writes for BBC Online, The New York Times, The Financial Times and The New York Review of Books.
Amin Saikal is Adjunct Professor of Social Sciences, University of Western Australia, and former Distinguished Professor of Political Science, Public Policy Fellow and Foundation Director of the Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies (the Middle East and Central Asia) at the Australian National University (1994-2019). He is the author of several books including Iran Rising: The Survival and Future of the Islamic Republic; Islam Beyond Borders: Umma in World Politics – co-authored with James Piscatori; Iran at the Crossroads and Zone of Crisis: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and Iraq. He is also the author of numerous articles in refereed international journals and chapters in edited volumes. He has published in major international dailies and websites, including The New York Times, International Herald Tribune, The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian; and Project Syndicate.
Dr. Shanthie Mariet D’Souza is the Founder & President of Mantraya, Visiting Faculty and Member of Research & Advisory Committee at the Naval War College, Goa; Board Director at Regional Centre for Strategic Studies, Colombo; Research Fellow at WeltTrends-Institut für internationale Politik, Potsdam, Germany; International Advisor, Nordic Counter Terrorism Network, Helsinki, Finland. She has worked with governmental and non-governmental sectors for more than a decade and conducted field based studies in Afghanistan’s various provinces. Her research interests include Transition and Prospects for long-term stabilisation of Afghanistan; Women, peace and conflict; Politics of aid, development and security in Afghanistan; Countering terrorism, insurgencies and violent extremism. She has published in various media outlets and international peer reviewed journals including Small Wars & Insurgencies , Journal of Asian Security and International Affairs , The Journal of South Asian Development and others. Her most recent published works include edited books such as Countering Insurgencies and Violent Extremism in South and South East Asia, Afghanistan in Transition: Beyond 2014? as well as co-edited books, Perspectives on South Asian Security and Saving Afghanistan.
Abdul Basit is a Research Fellow at the International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research (ICPVTR) of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore. He specialises in insurgency, terrorism and political violence in South Asia. He is also the head of ICPVTR’s South Asia desk and associate editor of the Counter Terrorist Trends and Analyses, a quarterly open-access policy journal of terrorism and political violence. He has written in refereed international journals and chapters in edited volumes. He has also published in various international dailies and media outlets, including Al-Jazeera, South China Morning Post and The National Interest.