The South Asia Channel

Afghan Defense Minister resigns

Afghan Defense Minister resigns

New post: William Byrd, "Keeping each other honest in Afghanistan — will it work?" (FP)

Heading out

Afghan Minister of Defense Abdul Rahim Wardak resigned on Tuesday after parliament voted this weekend to dismiss him, though President Hamid Karzai had asked Wardak to stay on in an acting role until a replacement could be found (Reuters, AP). The new leader of the NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) Joint Command, Lt. Gen. James Terry, said in an interview Tuesday that the dismissal of two top Afghan security officials will not affect the transfer of control of the country’s security to Afghan forces (NYT). Parliament also voted to remove Interior Minister Bismullah Khan Mohammadi, but he has so far remained in his position.

A man suspected of being an insurgent, who had been arrested but then released by Afghan authorities, detonated a remote controlled bomb on the side of a road near Kabul on Tuesday, killing eight civilians in a minibus (NYT, AP, VOA). Police say the attacker was standing in plain sight when he detonated the bomb, and may have been targeting a different vehicle carrying employees of the Defense Ministry that was behind the van with the civilians.

Foreign entrepreneurs who have made a living serving Westerners in Afghanistan for the past decade are gearing up to leave the country along with NATO troops by the end of 2014 (Reuters). The outflow of wealthier foreign customers has also caused rent to drop, and the World Bank predicts that GDP growth after NATO’s pullout will be half of what it was in 2010/2011.

Brothers at odds

A clash between rival Taliban factions in North Waziristan on Tuesday left one militant dead and two injured, while three suspected militants were killed during a police operation at a Peshawar market (ET, Dawn).

Pakistani mango producers are halting exports to the United States just a year after the item was first allowed — with much publicity — into the U.S., because compulsory irradiation of the fruit in the United States made their profit margins too small (AFP). Pakistan has its own irradiation plants, but they do not meet U.S. standards.

Lone riders

Driving with a passenger behind you on a motorbike – or pillion riding – will be banned in Karachi from August 8-11, during which time many Shi’a Muslims will hold a procession in observance of the martyrdom of Hazrat Ali (ET). Carrying weapons in public will also be banned for those 4 days, as security is tightened ahead of the event.

— Jennifer Rowland