The South Asia Channel

First NATO trucks cross Pakistani border

First NATO trucks cross Pakistani border

The Rack: Dexter Filkins, "After America: Will civil war hit Afghanistan when the U.S. leaves?" (New Yorker).

At long last

The first trucks carrying NATO supplies crossed from Pakistan to Afghanistan at the Chaman border crossing on Thursday, after a seven-month blockade of the ground routes (NYT, AP, CNN, AFP, Reuters, BBC). Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar agreed to reopen the supply lines after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called her on Tuesday, and said she was "sorry for the losses suffered by the Pakistani military" (NYT, LAT). The Post reports that even with the opening of land routes across Pakistan, the U.S. military will still have to rely on northern supply lines through Central Asia to withdraw some of the 90,000 troops and massive amounts of equipment currently stationed in Afghanistan (Post). The winding roads through northern Afghanistan present a dangerous and costly journey, and are vulnerable to the political considerations of several authoritarian Central Asian leaders.

While Pakistani truck drivers welcomed the development, opposition politicians called the move a "humiliation" for Pakistan, and the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) threatened to attack the NATO trucks destined for Afghanistan (DT, The News, CNN, AFP, AP). A new CNN analysis of U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan highlights the lesser-known campaign of attacks against the Taliban, and finds that they are taking a substantial toll on the group (CNN).

Indian Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai said Thursday at the conclusion of a two-day meeting with Pakistani Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani that India has given Pakistan detailed evidence that Pakistan militants were involved in the devastating 2008 Mumbai attacks, and that Pakistan should prosecute those militants, while Jalani denied any state role in the attacks and asked for more evidence from India (AP, BBC, AFP, ET, Reuters). The talks covered a range of issues, but were dominated by discussions of new information provided by Sayed Zabiuddin Ansari, who was recently arrested in New Delhi and is believed to have been a key player in the attacks.

A Pakistani mob on Wednesday took a man accused of desecrating the Quran from a police station outside Bahawalpur in Punjab Province, and then beat and burnt him to death as hundreds looked on (BBC, AP). Thousands of people had swarmed the police station to demand that police immediately kill the victim, who police said appeared to be mentally unstable.

Unfriendly fire

In the latest of the so-called "green-on-blue" attacks, an Afghan soldier opened fire on American soldiers at a small NATO base in the central Afghan province of Wardak, injuring five before fleeing the scene (NYT, AP, LAT).

Oil and gas tankers exploded at a depot on the outskirts of Kabul on Wednesday, killing three and injuring more than 80, as well as demolishing stores and homes in the vicinity (NYT). Police said they were still unsure as to whether the blasts had been terrorism-related or accidental.

Movin’ up in the world

Afghanistan’s national cricket team is set to play a one-day international (ODI) match against Australia ahead of Australia’s series against Pakistan on August 27 (Gulf News). The match is only Afghanistan’s second ODI, and will be played at the United Arab Emirates’ Sharjah Stadium, which has served as Afghanistan’s "home" ground for the past two years because of security threats at home.  

– Jennifer Rowland