- By Jennifer RowlandJennifer Rowland is a research associate in the National Security Studies Program at the New America Foundation.
Brief stint: A Pakistani court has sentenced bin Laden’s three widows and two of his daughters to 45 days in prison, with credit for time already served, and a 10,000-rupee ($110) fine each for illegally entering Pakistan (Reuters, AP, AJE, ET/AFP, Dawn). In practice, this means the five women will spend a further 14 days in prison before being deported to their home countries. A federal court in Virginia on Saturday sentenced Pakistani-American lobbyist Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai to two years in prison for failing to disclose funding from the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI) while he was lobbying Congress to support self-determination for Kashmiris (AP, Reuters, ET, The News). Fai was arrested in July and accused of accepting at least $3.5 million from the ISI.
Pakistani officials said Saturday that twenty-three militants and two security forces had been killed during clashes with militants in Upper Orakzai late Thursday night and Friday morning (ET). The Pakistani military said Monday that dozens of Taliban fighters crossed the border from Afghanistan to attack border posts in Mohmand Agency, resulting in the deaths of four paramilitary soldiers and 15 militants (AP, ET, Dawn). A bomb blast at a taxi stand in Khyber Agency on Monday killed one person and injured 13 (Dawn). And a 13-year-old Pakistani boy died Saturday at a hospital in Punjab Province after setting himself on fire because his parents could not afford to buy him a new school uniform (AP).
Five people were killed Sunday night in Karachi, and at least four more were killed Monday in separate incidents of targeted killing, as well as clashes between police and residents demonstrating against police security operations in the area (ET, Dawn, DT). The federal and provincial governments agreed Sunday to give police and army Rangers permission to take down political party flags in Karachi, and take indiscriminate action against those involved in the shooting attacks (ET, DT, Dawn). President Asif Ali Zardari called a meeting of the Pakistan People’s Party core committee in Karachi on Monday to discuss the ongoing violence, which by one estimate has claimed more than 400 lives in the past three months (Dawn, DT, ET).
Zardari will make a personal visit to India to visit the shrine of Sufi Muslim saint Ajmer Sharif, marking the first trip to India by a Pakistani head of state since 2005 (AFP, AP,Tel, BBC, Reuters). The Times’ Jim Yardley reported this weekend on the role that India’s private sector plays in its foreign policy, and the particularly promising role it could play in improving the relationship between India and Pakistan (NYT).
The Afghan police officer who killed eight colleagues and one civilian on Friday, Asadullah, spent years as a Taliban fighter, beginning about four years ago when he purportedly gave the Taliban permission to kill his father, Ehsanullah, a government official in Paktika Province who had preached against jihad and the Taliban (Post). About three months ago, Asadullah returned to his village and participated in a Taliban reintegration program, promising to defend his tribe from insurgents, and then joined the local police force. The AFP’s Sebastien Berger reported Saturday on the factionalism within the Afghan government that caused the false reports last week of a massive suicide bomb plot involving Afghan security forces (AFP).
A remote-controlled bomb blast in Uruzgan Province on Sunday killed a police official who had survived 16 previous assassination attempts (AP, AFP). Consecutive bomb blasts ripped through a market in Baghlan Province on Monday, wounding 18 people, most of whom were civilians (AFP). A motorcycle bomb exploded Monday outside a police station in Kandahar city, killing one police officer and wounding two others (AP). A regional Taliban commander in Kunar Province told Al Jazeera this weekend that Afghan security forces are now the group’s primary targets (AJE).
As NATO plans its exit from Afghanistan, many local and foreign businesses are doing the same, in case the tenuous security situation collapses completely in the wake of the 2014 troop withdrawal deadline (NYT). The Afghan economy is already feeling the pain of reduced investments by businesses, as even those looking to stay are avoiding pouring money into projects with an uncertain future. Reuters has a must-read on the plight of Afghan women addicted to heroin, an increasingly common problem in Afghanistan (Reuters).
The Times’ Rod Nordland reported Saturday on two recent instances in which the actions of U.S. soldiers saved the lives of two Afghan children (NYT). Specialist Dennis Weichel died on March 22 saving a 10-year-old Afghan boy from being run over by a military vehicle, and earlier last month several teams of U.S. service members saved the life of a Taliban commander’s son, who was injured in an accidental bomb explosion at his father’s house.
Because of security concerns, no cricket match has ever been played at the Ratta Kulachi stadium in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Dera Ismail Khan District (ET). But on Sunday, locals packed the stadium with as much excitement as a cricket match sees for the first horse and cattle show in three years, cheering on the horse and dog races, and admiring the cattle.
– Jennifer Rowland