- By Jennifer RowlandJennifer Rowland is a research associate in the National Security Studies Program at the New America Foundation.
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Afghanistan Deputy Foreign Minister, Jawed Ludin, said Wednesday that Afghan officials in Kabul "are in a bit of a state of shock at once again being confronted by the depth of Pakistan’s complacency" toward peace negotiations with the Taliban, and that Afghanistan is ready to move forward on the talks without Pakistani involvement (Reuters). Pakistan is widely seen to be a key player in the peace talks because of its historical ties to militant groups and the presence of many top insurgent leaders on Pakistani soil.
In a separate (but perhaps intentionally timed) interview with the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, President Hamid Karzai’s chief of staff Abdel Karim Khurram said that a recent trilateral summit with Pakistani and British leaders in England last month "demonstrated the interfering but delusional tendency of some in Pakistan who choose to ignore Afghanistan’s sovereignty…and continue to want to…re-exert control in Afghanistan through armed proxies" (WSJ). Khurram said the Afghan government has rejected as unacceptable the preconditions for moving forward on Taliban negotiations outlined by Pakistan at the U.K. summit.
And the Afghan military has cancelled a visit by eleven Afghan National Army officers to Pakistan, where they were schedules to take part in an exercise in the southwestern city of Quetta (Reuters). Officials said the trip was cancelled due to unacceptable Pakistani shelling" of Afghanistan’s eastern mountains.
In a move on the Pakistani side that is sure to compound the deterioration of bilateral relations, the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI) said in a report presented to the Pakistani Supreme Court on Tuesday that the Afghan government is providing "strong support" to the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan and its affiliated militant groups, known collectively to Pakistani officials as TTS (NBC). The report argued that the "recent nexus of TTS with Afghan government is likely to enhance the terrorist activities" in Pakistan’s tribal regions at the border with Afghanistan.
The cost of war
ISI officials also said that 49,000 Pakistanis have lost their lives since 9/11 in terrorist attacks and military operations against Taliban insurgents (ET). Over 24,000 people were killed between 2001 and 2008, while another 25,000 have died between 2008 and the present day.
A 2-day joint Afghan-NATO operation to rescue to captured Afghan soldiers ended Tuesday night in the eastern Afghan province of Logar with more than 20 insurgents killed, including a local Taliban commander (AP).
Too cool for bills
Now that we’re all familiar with the Pakistani officials who have failed to pay their electricity bills (some for as long as five years), we won’t be surprised by the list of politicians who also refuse to pay their telephone bills (ET). Topping the list are household names like Interior Minister Rehman Malik, leader of the opposition Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, and Awami National Party chief Asfandyar Wali.
– Jennifer Rowland