- By Jennifer RowlandJennifer Rowland is a research associate in the National Security Studies Program at the New America Foundation.
CIA Director and former commander of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan David Petraeus resigned on Friday, citing an extramarital affair, with a woman authorities identified as his biographer Paula Broadwell (NYT, Reuters, AP). Petraeus was a four-star general who is recognized as the architect of the U.S. counterinsurgency strategy in Iraq, and after a subsequent tour in Afghanistan he took up the post of director of the CIA on June 30, 2011. Bonus read: Peter Bergen, "How Petraeus changed the U.S. military" (CNN).
A member of the Afghan National Army identified as Mohammad Ashraf shot and killed a British soldier during an allies soccer match in Helmand Province on Sunday, in what appears to be the latest insider attack on NATO forces by their Afghan counterparts (Tel, AP, AP, NYT, AFP, BBC). Ashraf fled the scene, but was tracked down and arrested after two more exchanges of gunfire. U.S. Army first lieutenant Zach Camp was wounded in an insider attack in August, and now briefs soldiers preparing to deploy to Afghanistan on preparing for and dealing with the outbursts of violence from their Afghan allies (AP).
The pre-trial hearing for Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, who is accused of murdering 16 Afghan civilians in March, continued Friday night with the testimony via video link of victims and relatives of victims of Bales’ alleged rampage in Kandahar Province (NYT, AP, AP, LAT). The witnesses painted a grisly picture of an attacker wearing a headlamp who continued to shoot his victims while neighbors begged him to stop, and the discovery of a pile of burned bodies in one of the homes.
A roadside bomb killed six people in a minibus in Khost Province on Sunday, including a mother and father bringing their newborn baby home (AP). Three other civilians were killed when their vehicle struck a landmine on the road between Helmand and Kandahar Provinces, and two civilians were killed when they stepped on a landmine in Kandahar. Afghan President Hamid Karzai landed in India on Sunday evening for a visit aimed at encouraging Indian business leaders to invest in Afghanistan (AP, Reuters).
Pakistani Member of Parliament Ahmedah Bugti survived an assassination attempt in Balochistan Province on Friday as a bomb planted in his shoe outside of a mosque exploded while he put his shoes back on after prayers (AFP). Bugti was seriously wounded, while 12 other bystanders received non-life threatening injuries. Five Pakistani civilians were killed on Sunday in South Waziristan by shelling from across the border that is believed to have come from members of the Afghan National Army (ET).
Bangladeshi Foreign Minister Dipu Moni on Friday asked Pakistan for an apology for alleged war crimes perpetrated by the Pakistani Army during the 1971 war, in response to which the Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar reportedly said it is time to "bury the past" (AFP). Indian authorities, meanwhile, have reportedly asked the Pakistani government for voice samples of the seven suspected Mumbai attackers, so that Indian investigators can try to match them with their own voice samples from the 2008 attacks (Dawn).
The Pakistani government is reevaluating its ban on the video sharing site YouTube, which was blocked two months ago in response to an anti-Islam film that sparked riots across the Muslim world (Post). Pakistani citizens are agitating for access to the site, so authorities are looking at ways to filter content rather than block the site outright.
Afghanistan’s struggling artist
Living in Pakistan as a refugee of the Taliban regime of the 1990s, Afghan painter Abdul Wasi Hamdard produced some 10,000 pieces of oil paintings and watercolors, and became one of Afghanistan’s most famous young artists (NYT). After returning to Afghanistan in 2001, Hamdard enjoyed moderate success with the purchase of his works mainly by foreigners, but he has struggled to find an audience more recently as security has continued to deteriorate and foreigners begin to leave the country.
– Jennifer Rowland