- By Jennifer RowlandJennifer Rowland is a research associate in the National Security Studies Program at the New America Foundation.
Event Notice: The Last Refuge: Yemen, Al-Qaeda, and America’s War in Arabia. TODAY, December 5, 2012, 12:15-1:45 PM (NAF).
Talks and more talks
The Obama administration has reportedly begun pushing for a restart of peace negotiations with the Afghan Taliban, despite resistance within the U.S. military to relying on Pakistan to play a pivotal role in such negotiations (Post). Pakistan recently released several Taliban militants from prison in an effort to encourage the Taliban to enter peace talks with the Afghan government, but the militant group has shown no interest in negotiating with the Americans since it cut off talks in March.
Meanwhile, the U.S. government is also negotiating with the Afghan government over the terms of a bilateral security agreement that would lay out the U.S. role in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of combat forces by the end of 2014 (Post). But while Afghan officials demand the nation’s complete sovereignty be respected, U.S. officials worry that fulfilling this demand could leave U.S. troops and trainers vulnerable to abuse by the Afghan court system.
At least 375 Shi’a Muslims have died in Pakistan this year in sectarian attacks, and over 100 of those have been members of the Hazara minority that is targeted almost daily and often in broad daylight (NYT). Hazaras say the government does little to protect them, but even the official efforts to prevent attacks on Shi’as during their holy month of Muharram recently failed; 50 Shi’a Muslims were killed earlier this in attacks claimed by the Pakistani Taliban.
Mirroring the rise in sectarian attacks against Shi’a Muslims, Pakistan’s Hindu community has also been increasingly persecuted, often in the form of vandalizing or even demolishing Hindu temples (BBC).
Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik called on Tuesday for Afghanistan to arrest and hand over Pakistani Taliban commander Maulvi Fazlullah, whose fighters Pakistan accuses of launching attacks on Pakistani soldiers stationed along the Afghan-Pakistan border (Dawn).
The Pakistani Taliban is now accepting applications from those interested in writing for the group’s quarterly propaganda magazine (Tel). Terrorism analysts say the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has set up a new Facebook page with this message: "Pen is mightier than the sowrd (sic). Now you have a chance to use this mighty weapon. Would you like to be a writer for Ahyah-e-Khilifat [Sign of the Caliphate]?"
– Jennifer Rowland