- By Jennifer RowlandJennifer Rowland is a research associate in the National Security Studies Program at the New America Foundation.
Event notice: CIA veteran and New America fellow Philip Mudd will discuss his new book, Takedown: Inside the Hunt for Al Qaeda, on MONDAY, April 15, 2013, 1:00-2:30PM (NAF).
Bonus read: Peter Bergen and Jennifer Rowland, "Syria rebel group’s dangerous ties to al-Qaeda" (CNN).
A U.S. Special Operations raid targeting Hajji Janan, a Taliban weapons dealer, in Uruzgan Province on Sunday night resulted in the death of Janan’s brother Khiraullah Janan, who is also the brother-in-law of Mohammed Qaseem, an aide to Karzai and a powerful figure in Karzai’s Popalzai tribe (NYT). According to NATO, the U.S. soldiers only shot Khiraullah after being fired upon by "insurgents," but the provincial governor and police chief say both men were innocent, and they intervened to secure Hajji Janan’s release soon after the international forces took him into custody.
A district police chief and two of his fellow policemen were killed late Wednesday night in a roadside bombing (Pajhwok, AP). And another roadside bomb killed one civilian and wounded two others in Helmand Province on Thursday.
Out of a population of 35 million, over a million Afghans are now believed to be addicted to drugs, giving it the highest proportion of drug addicts in the world (BBC). Afghanistan produces 90 percent of all the opiate drugs in the world, but for many years it was not a consumer. Afghanistan’s 40 percent unemployment rate and decades of war are partially to blame for the increasing number of addicts.
Hearts and minds
Having pushed the Taliban out of some areas of the tribal regions bordering Afghanistan, the Pakistani Army is now working to provide services, improve infrastructure, and support the local economy in order to win the support of a population that has long been isolated from the rest of the country (AP). The Army loosened the Taliban’s hold on South Waziristan, where their development efforts are now focused, in a massive operation in 2009 that displaced hundreds of thousands of people, only about 15 percent of whom have been allowed to return. The Army only allows residents back into their villages as fast as they are able to rebuild them.
Meanwhile, in the nearby Tirah Valley, the Army continues its fierce battles with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and allied militant groups, with at least one soldier and 15 militants killed in the fighting on Thursday (Reuters, Dawn). And a candidate for a seat in the Sindh provincial assembly with the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, Fakhrul Islam, was shot and killed outside his home in Hyderabad on Thursday (ET, Dawn).
Like the weather
For some Pakistani politicians, there’s no shame in switching parties based on who appears to be leading the polls (AFP). Arbab Khizer Hayat has done it 14 times. Politics is not about ideas, but about power," he says. "When politicians see a party becoming popular they want to join it."
— Jennifer Rowland