The South Asia Channel

NATO Quran burning sparks massive protest in Afghanistan

NATO Quran burning sparks massive protest in Afghanistan


Fired up: NATO commander Gen. John Allen apologized Tuesday for NATO troops’ improper disposal of Islamic material, including Qurans, as over 2,000 Afghans besieged Bagram Air Force Base shouting "Death to America," and throwing Molotov cocktails and rocks toward the base (NYTLATBBCPostReutersAFPTelAP). Gen. Allen promised a full investigation into the incident, in which NATO forces reportedly began to burn the religious material unintentionally before being informed of their mistake by some of their Afghan comrades.

Gunmen dressed in Afghan police uniforms on Monday opened fire on NATO troops in a village in Kandahar Province, killing one Albanian soldier and wounding two others (AP,TelCNN). Afghan authorities are taking steps to identify and stop insurgents from infiltrating the Afghan army with a plan to deploy agents from the nation’s spy agency, the National Directorate of Security (NDS), alongside army units all over the country (WSJ). Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry announced Tuesday that Afghan police in Kunar Province had intercepted 41 Afghan children whom suspected militants were planning to smuggle over the border to Pakistan and train to be suicide bombers (CNN).

President Hamid Karzai said in an interview taped last week and aired on Tuesday that his administration talks to the Taliban "every day," but that its contact with Mullah Omar is through intermediaries (Reuters). The Taliban’s recent agreement to peace talks with the United States is reportedly generating friction between the insurgent group and its long-time allies in al-Qaeda, according to Afghan Taliban officials as well as sources close to al-Qaeda (AFP). Despite planned peace talks the conflict continues; Taliban militants said Tuesday that they had beheaded four men suspected of spying for the Afghan government in the southern province of Helmand (AFP).

Victory over violence

The Pakistani Senate on Monday voted unanimously to pass a bill making domestic violence against women and children illegal, with a penalty of at least six months in jail and a minimum fine of 100,000 rupees ($1,100) (AFPThe NewsDawn). Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rehman Malik on Tuesday revealed to parliament the results of an official investigation into the assassination of Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto four years ago, blaming former President Pervez Musharraf for denying Bhutto the highest security protection (ETDawn). And Dawn reports on the cracks between the different religious and political parties that make up the hardline Difaa-i-Pakistan Council (DPC) made apparent at its rally in Islamabad, where some party leaders were booed by supporters of other parties (Dawn).

Britain’s Court of Appeals acknowledged Monday that it is unable to secure the release of a Pakistani man originally detained by British forces in Iraq and now held by American troops at Bagram, because "the Americans are not going to play ball" (AP,Guardian). Meanwhile, Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar on Sunday flew to the United Kingdom, where she plans to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, as well as request that Britain push the United States to end drone strikes in Pakistan (DawnETThe News).

Mansoor Ijaz, the Pakistani-American businessman at the heart of the "Memogate" controversy is expected to record his testimony in London on Wednesday (DawnET). And Pakistan’s security agencies are handing almost 900 accused terrorists to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa authorities, who have called on the public to come forward as witnesses to ensure the proper prosecution of the suspects (ET).

Rickshaw riot

Members of Pakistan’s rickshaw union in the Punjab are threatening to protest the Punjab government’s decision to ban the gasoline-powered two-stroke rickshaws in favor of the more environmentally friendly natural gas-powered four-stroke rickshaws (DT). The union workers accused the government of putting environmental protection over unemployment concerns.


 Jennifer Rowland