Following the announcement of a new South Asia strategy in August 2017, the Trump administration has laid out significant policy goals in the region, including preventing the Taliban insurgency from winning ground in Afghanistan, deepening the U.S. strategic partnership with India, and forcing a shift in Pakistan’s security strategies towards its neighbors. Does the U.S. have the necessary leverage and influence over key policy makers in South Asia needed to accomplish its policy goals?

The U.S. has curtailed aid and imposed new penalties on Pakistan over terrorist sanctuaries, committed additional U.S. advisory troops to Afghanistan to shore up the Afghan security services, and called on India to increase its investments in Afghanistan and take on a more active role as a U.S. partner in the region. Thus far the Taliban have ruled out talks with the Afghan government, Pakistani officials have rebuffed administration demands, and the long-term alignment of U.S. and Indian interests remains uncertain. Does the U.S. have the means to change the calculations of the major players in the region, given their own conflicting goals and priorities?

Join the U.S. Institute of Peace for a forward-leaning conversation as experts discuss the future of the U.S. role in South Asia and opportunities for the U.S. to mold decisions by Afghan, Pakistani, Indian and Chinese players to best achieve American interests. Engage in the conversation on Twitter with #USSouthAsia.


Anish Goel
Senior Fellow, New America Foundation

Robert Hathaway
Public Policy Fellow, Wilson Center

Tamanna Salikuddin
former Senior Advisor, U.S. State Department

Jay Wise 
Jennings Randolph Fellow, U.S. Institute of Peace

Moeed Yusuf, Moderator
Associate Vice President, U.S. Institute of Peace

Related Publications

Measuring Peace and Violent Extremism

Measuring Peace and Violent Extremism

Friday, March 16, 2018

By: Belquis Ahmadi; Eliza Urwin

Policymakers and practitioners have often engaged in a top-down approach in the design of programs to counter violent extremism in Afghanistan. This top-down approach relies heavily on the insights of religious leaders, elders, politicians, and other elites while failing to incorporate...

Violent Extremism

For an Afghan Peace, Work with China

For an Afghan Peace, Work with China

Thursday, March 15, 2018

By: David Rank; USIP Staff

Defense Secretary James Mattis said in Kabul March 13 that, for U.S. policy in Afghanistan, “victory will be a political reconciliation” that includes the Taliban. Mattis’ statement sustains the public focus on an Afghan peace process following separate proposals for negotiations last month by the Taliban and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. If the United States is to maximize the chances of ending this 16-year war, it needs urgently to pull China into the process, according to David Rank, who headed both the U.S. Embassy in Beijing and the State Department’s Office of Afghanistan Affairs during a 27-year diplomatic career.

Peace Processes; Reconciliation

U.S. Presses Taliban to Accept Afghan Peace Talks

U.S. Presses Taliban to Accept Afghan Peace Talks

Friday, March 9, 2018

By: USIP Staff

The senior U.S. diplomat for South and Central Asia, Ambassador Alice Wells, urged Afghanistan’s Taliban to take up last week’s offer by President Ashraf Ghani to hold direct peace negotiations. “It is a positive sign” that the Taliban have not rejected Ghani’s proposal, Wells said—and a planned regional conference in Tashkent this month should reinforce international pressure for the insurgent movement’s acceptance of peace talks.

Peace Processes

View All Publications