Central Asia, Russia

Russia and Eurasia

This month sees the launch of Black Wind, White Snow by Charles Clover, former Moscow FT Bureau chief. Bijan Omrani, Editor of the Asian Affairs Journal, attended a speech by Clover this week at Pushkin House in London to mark the book’s release.

What reasons can be given for Vladimir Putin’s belligerence? How is it that he has chosen to steer Russia away from liberalism back towards authoritarian rule? A reasonable observer might rightly conclude that his decisions are driven by little more than short-term self-interest. Yet, this has not stopped Putin from attempting to present his policies as guided by a profounder philosophy. His irredentism, so he would own, is not drawn from the petty-minded desire of an ex-KGB man to restore the broken dream of the Soviet Union. His vision, he would say, is grander, timeless, almost mystical; of Russia, as he said in a speech in 2013, as a “civilizational state” responsible for the preservation of the peoples of “Eurasia”.

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Afghanistan, Tajikistan

Following the Heroin Trail of Tajikistan

Malgosia Skowronska is a graduate of the War Studies Department of King’s College London, and the producer of Narkomen, an independent film on the problems faced by heroin addicts in Tajikistan.

The day comes to an end. The sun had almost gone down behind the surrounding peaks of the Pamir Mountains. Mirzo, with his slow and exhausted voice, lets me know that he no longer had the strength for conversation, for memories. He needs another dose. Mirzo, like many from his village of Porszniev, situated deep in the mountainous region of Tajik Badakhshan, has been struggling with heroin addiction for almost two decades.

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Mirzo with his mum in their house in Porshniev. Photo: Malgorzata Skowronska

Heroin took its toll. Mirzo talks about his youth, about his friends and classmates, among whom only a handful have managed to escape addiction. “Once, 30-40% of young people in the village took heroin. Most of them are already gone. They even did not live half of their life.” He counts everyone one by one: three sons of the neighbour, two doors down another three brothers, he and his younger brother. The list of those affected by addiction seems to have no end.

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India, Pakistan

Climate Change: Co-operation in South Asia

Prateek Joshi, a post-graduate international relations student at the South Asian University in New Delhi, reports on the recent visit of a retired Pakistani Defence Secretary to India, and his call for South Asian co-operation against the threat of climate change. 

South Asian politics, whose dominant narrative is India-Pakistan relations, witnessed a unique idea of possibility of cooperation among the South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation (SAARC) States. It was a retired senior Pakistani Army officer speaking in New Delhi on the crucial role governments and even militaries could play to address the challenges presented by Climate Change. On 8th March, 2016, The South Asian University (a SAARC nations’ project), New Delhi, organized a lecture “Climate Change and Security Implications: A Global Perspective” by Lieutenant General Tariq Waseem Ghazi, the former defence secretary to the Government of Pakistan.

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