The South Asia Channel

Pakistani parliament demands end to U.S. drone strikes

Pakistani parliament demands end to U.S. drone strikes

No more: A Pakistani parliamentary commission convened Tuesday to debate the future of relations with the United States, demanding an end to drone strikes on Pakistani soil, and an apology for the deadly NATO airstrike in November that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers (APNYTReutersDawnAFPET). The commission also recommended that if and when NATO supply routes to Afghanistan are reopened, the shipments using Pakistan’s roads should be taxed. Bonus read: Teresita and Howard Schaffer, "Resetting the U.S.-Pakistan relationship" (FP).

A roadside blast killed five suspected militants on Monday in a remote area of Pakistan’s Khyber Agency (DTThe News). And Pakistan is reportedly looking to Russia to fill the financing gap that has opened up in the plans for an Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline since a Chinese bank withdrew its promise of investment (ET).

Memory loss

The lawyer for U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, who is accused of murdering 16 Afghan civilians last Sunday, said Monday that Bales "does not remember everything" from the night of the attacks (CNNAPTelAJEWSJ). Bales’ wife also released a statement, offering her condolences to the families of the victims, calling the acts "completely out of character," and asking for privacy for her family (APLATReuters). And financial records reveal that Bales was found liable for "fraud" and "unauthorized trading" while working as a stock broker before joining the military (PostTel). The Army is expected to file formal charges against Bales late this week, but a verdict could take years in a slow-moving military justice system (LATNYT).

Some residents of the villages targeted in Bales’ alleged murders used the word "they" to describe the attackers, while others report "he" was American, and much of the wider Afghan public doubts the U.S. account of a lone soldier as the perpetrator (CNNGuardian). The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Allen, is expected to argue today in testimony before the House Armed Services Committee that funding for the war should not be cut, as the United States must stay the course in Afghanistan despite recent setbacks (Post,AP). Bonus read: Douglas Ollivant, "The Afghan trust deficit" (FP).

The Afghan government has reportedly given extensions to some private security companies, ranging from a few weeks to 90 days beyond tomorrow’s deadline for all private security guards to become state-employed forces (APAFPBBC). U.S. military officials have said that the United States is offering the Afghan government some control over night raids, a move which could help overcome a key stumbling block in establishing the future of U.S.-Afghan relations (WSJReuters). Afghanistan’s vice president Mohammad Qasim Fahim pledged Tuesday that any long-term military deal with the United States would respect his country’s sovereignty (AP).

Child prodigy

Residents of Lahore can purchase a 64-page English-language book entitled "The Dangerous Pet" written by a local nine-year-old girl, Aiman Waheed (ET). Aiman describes the impressive feat with modesty, saying the "the story just went with the flow."

 Jennifer Rowland