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Saturday 15 December 2018

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FILE: Asia Bibi

On October 31, Pakistan’s Supreme Court acquitted Aasia Bibi, a Christian woman who had been on death row for nearly a decade on blasphemy charges. It was a milestone decision in a country where the law is often unkind to religious minorities. Islamist hardliners took to the streets to protest the decision, and eventually, they signed an agreement with the government that ensured that her case would be reviewed.

Bibi reportedly is out of prison but remains in Pakistan, where her life is in danger, while arrangements are sought for her to get asylum abroad. This latest episode of the AfPak File podcast discusses the Supreme Court’s landmark decision, and what the consequences are and will be for Pakistan.

Panelists included Mehr Tarar, an author and columnist; Madiha Afzal, a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution and author of a new book on extremism in Pakistan; Ahmad Shah Azamy, a reporter with RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal; and Michael Kugelman, deputy director and senior associate for South Asia with the Asia Program at the Wilson Center. Muhammad Tahir, media manager for RFE/RL in Washington, DC, moderated the discussion.

AfPak File Podcast- The Aasia Bibi Case: Significance and Implications
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The views expressed in this podcast do not necessarily reflect the views of RFE/RL.

FILE: Taliban celebrate ceasefire in the eastern province of Nangarhar in June.

As the United States seeks to wind down the longest war in its history in Afghanistan, talking to the Taliban about an eventual end to fighting has emerged as the preferred course in Washington and elsewhere.

In recent months, we have seen the appointment of a U.S. special envoy to carry this process forward while the Taliban and the Afghan government engaged in a brief ceasefire in June. Most of Afghanistan's neighbors have also extended rhetorical support to the peace process.

In recent days, five former Taliban detainees at Guantanamo Bay have joined the Taliban’s political office in Doha. This comes on the heels of the news that Mullah Baradar, one of the Taliban’s founding leaders, has been released from prison in Pakistan after nearly a decade in captivity. These moves have spurred the hopes of some observers that momentum is now building to launch a peace process with the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Is reconciliation any less elusive than it has been for the past 17 years? What will it take to bring the Taliban to the peace table when its strong battlefield performance gives it little incentive to stop fighting?

This latest episode of the AfPak File podcast series, jointly produced by RFE/RL and the Wilson Center, discusses these questions and more with Michael Kugelman, the Wilson Center’s senior associate for South Asia; Marvin Weinbaum, director of Afghanistan and Pakistan studies at the Middle East Institute; and Abubakar Siddique, editor of RFE/RL's Gandhara website. Muhammad Tahir, media manager for RFE/RL in Washington, D.C., moderates the discussion.

AfPak File Podcast: Gauging The Prospects Of Talking Peace With The Taliban In Afghanistan
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The views expressed in this podcast do not necessarily reflect the views of RFE/RL.

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