Daily Brief: Roadside bomb kills 21 Afghan wedding-goers
No one said it would be easy Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s strategy review of US and NATO efforts in Afghanistan has been delayed from its original mid-August deadline and "will not offer specific resource requests or recommendations," according to a Pentagon spokesman (Agence France Presse). The announcement comes after chatter that the general would request more ...
No one said it would be easy
No one said it would be easy
Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s strategy review of US and NATO efforts in Afghanistan has been delayed from its original mid-August deadline and "will not offer specific resource requests or recommendations," according to a Pentagon spokesman (Agence France Presse). The announcement comes after chatter that the general would request more troops for the Afghan theater, a hot button political issue in many countries.
Coalition forces in Afghanistan have unveiled "stringent" plans to lock down movement and control traffic on election day, August 20 (Agence France Presse). To deal with security concerns caused by the increase in Taliban violence ahead of the election, allied forces will deploy some 300,000 soldiers to "safeguard polling day."
An Afghan government threat assessment map from April, a modified version of which was published by Reuters yesterday, shows that some 40% of Afghanistan is classified as being at high risk for insurgent attacks, with 13 districts under total Taliban control (Reuters). CNN published a detailed analysis of the map the day before the Reuters story (CNN).
The insurgency may have spread and intensified since the map was made, with the advent of the summer fighting season and pre-election violence; an example is the roadside bomb yesterday in Sangin, Helmand that killed at least 21 Afghan civilians on their way to a wedding (Dawn and Quqnoos).
Karzai the ringmaster
This weekend’s New York Times Magazine features a long, detailed profile of Afghanistan’s current president Hamid Karzai by Elizabeth Rubin that sketches his byzantine history in Afghan politics (New York Times). Karzai, up against two of his former cabinet ministers in the August 20 election, has embraced a "big-tent, forgive-and-forget approach" to maneuver through decades of tribal politics, tricky alliances, and crossed allegiances.
A kinder, gentler spy agency?
Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI), long accompanied by descriptors like "notorious" and "secretive," has started opening up to western journalists in the past several months (The Guardian). Although the spy agency is trying to improve its image by being more transparent, "it’s not a total glasnost" and correspondents must still separate fact from propaganda.
Pakistan’s justice system is rife with corruption, intimidation, and a lack of modern forensics (New York Times). One judge who has tried over 90 terrorism cases and once had to be moved abroad to escape militant threats after a guilty verdict lamented that the system is "almost completely broken; a revolution will be required to fix it."
Try not to set the night on fire
The Pakistani province of Punjab has banned the sale of fireworks ahead of an Islamic holiday, Shab-e-Baraat, a ‘night of reverence and fervor’ during which Muslims pray for forgiveness and ask for blessings (Daily Times). There is no evidence that Taliban militants have ever tried to use traditional firecrackers as weapons.
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