Daily brief: deadly suicide attacks plague northwest Pakistan
The bombs of October A double suicide bombing struck a mosque and police facilities in Peshawar, the capital of the Northwest Frontier Province, this morning, killing up to 12 and wounding at least 15 (AFP, Reuters, BBC, Guardian, Financial Times). Reports indicate that one of the bombers was a woman, a rare occurrence in Pakistan ...
The bombs of October
A double suicide bombing struck a mosque and police facilities in Peshawar, the capital of the Northwest Frontier Province, this morning, killing up to 12 and wounding at least 15 (AFP, Reuters, BBC, Guardian, Financial Times). Reports indicate that one of the bombers was a woman, a rare occurrence in Pakistan (AP). The attacks form the latest part of a two-week rash of violence that has killed some 160 people across the country, in an attempt to demonstrate the militants' reach and their desire to target Pakistan's security forces (Washington Post).
Pakistani jets bombed suspected Pakistani Taliban targets in South Waziristan, striking near the villages of Ladha, Makeen, Nawaz Kot, and Sararogha, reportedly killing 20 militants (CNN). Pakistan's military blames Waziristan-based militants for the attacks that have rocked the country and reached into Pakistan's heartland over the past several days.
The bombs of October
A double suicide bombing struck a mosque and police facilities in Peshawar, the capital of the Northwest Frontier Province, this morning, killing up to 12 and wounding at least 15 (AFP, Reuters, BBC, Guardian, Financial Times). Reports indicate that one of the bombers was a woman, a rare occurrence in Pakistan (AP). The attacks form the latest part of a two-week rash of violence that has killed some 160 people across the country, in an attempt to demonstrate the militants’ reach and their desire to target Pakistan’s security forces (Washington Post).
Pakistani jets bombed suspected Pakistani Taliban targets in South Waziristan, striking near the villages of Ladha, Makeen, Nawaz Kot, and Sararogha, reportedly killing 20 militants (CNN). Pakistan’s military blames Waziristan-based militants for the attacks that have rocked the country and reached into Pakistan’s heartland over the past several days.
Once friends, now foes
The recent wave of attacks shows a disturbing level of cooperation between the Pakistani Taliban, al Qaeda, and Punjabi extremist groups formerly linked to Pakistan’s military and intelligence apparatus (New York Times). In today’s must-read, Jane Perlez describes the difficulty the Pakistani military and public are facing with the fact that formerly government-supported groups, like the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Jaish-e-Mohammed, now seem to be targeting the state itself. Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik called Thursday’s violent and intricate attacks the start of a "guerrilla war" by the Taliban (Wall Street Journal).
Meanwhile, a senior Afghan official alleged that the Pakistani intelligence services still provide support to the Taliban in Afghanistan (Telegraph). The official stated bluntly that American and British officials know of the support, but are afraid to confront Pakistan’s government with the information.
Beyond mountains, more mountains
In an outcome that one Afghan official called "stunning," Afghanistan’s Electoral Complaints Commission is expected to announce in coming days that a runoff election will be necessary to settle the tainted August 20 presidential balloting (Washington Post). After a careful investigation, incumbent Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s totals from the election reportedly dropped to about 47 percent, below the 50 percent needed to avoid a second round of elections, and even Afghanistan’s ambassador in Washington, Said Jawad, admitted that a runoff was "likely" (New York Times, BBC, Los Angeles Times).
While a runoff election could restore much-needed credibility to the Afghan government, it must take place by early November or the onset of winter would make voting impossible and could plunge Afghanistan into dangerous uncertainty until the spring. Ambassador Jawad’s remarks, made at the United States Institute of Peace yesterday, can be heard here (USIP).
Uncertainty over the legitimacy and reliability of Karzai’s government represents "one of the really great problems that we have to solve," according to Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan (Washington Post). Levin, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, is a vocal proponent of deploying thousands of military trainers to Afghanistan instead of combat units to accelerate the growth and deployment of Afghan security forces. He has recently emerged as a powerful voice in the debate over U.S. President Barack Obama’s Afghanistan policy (Christian Science Monitor, Wall Street Journal).
Up in arms
Adding to his list of headline-making statements yesterday, Amb. Jawad boldly claimed that Obama will announce the deployment of 40,000 U.S. soldiers to Afghanistan soon (Financial Times). Such a large deployment fits with the public statements from several high-ranking American officers, including top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan Gen. Stanley McChrystal, but is contrary to what some leading Democrats are advocating, including Vice President Joseph Biden. The Obama administration will reportedly announce its decision on troops by the last week of October or the first week of November (Politico).
The top commander of Canada’s 2,800 soldiers based in Kandahar called the situation in Afghanistan "serious" and "a major emergency" in an interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Company (AFP). And the ISAF commander for southern Afghanistan has called for 10,000-15,000 additional international forces as well as additional Afghan forces to secure the volatile region, especially the restive Taliban strongholds in Kandahar and Helmand provinces (AFP). While the U.K. recently pledged hundreds of additional troops for Afghanistan, French President Nicolas Sarkozy told Le Figaro newspaper that his country "will not send one more soldier" to Afghanistan (CNN, Le Figaro–in French).
While the debate over troop deployments rages in Washington, the commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars sharply criticized Obama’s lengthy review of U.S. strategy and options in Afghanistan (Reuters). The commander, Thomas Tradewell Sr., argued for more troops and said that "indecision" on the part of the government will embolden extremists and lead to more attacks on American forces.
Hark! I hear the pen eternal
Obama quietly signed the Kerry-Lugar bill into law Thursday, tripling aid to Pakistan over the next five years despite objections from Pakistan’s military and many politicians (AP, Geo TV, BBC, Dawn, CNN). The signing came after hurried consultations between Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman, and Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi. Kerry and Berman released a written statement with the bill, stating plainly that the aid package does not place new conditions on Pakistan and does not seek to compromise Pakistani sovereignty (Reuters).
The nearer enemy
Turkish police arrested as many as 50 men linked to al Qaeda in simultaneous operations across nine provinces in the country yesterday (Hurriyet, VOA, AP). The police claim that many of the men, supposedly part of the Islamic Jihad League, trained in Afghanistan and planned to strike U.S., NATO and Israeli targets in Turkey and Germany. Police separately arrested six individuals in connection with the 2003 bombings that killed 60 at two Turkish synagogues, an HSBC bank branch and the British consulate in Istanbul (Reuters).
The U.S. Treasury Department Thursday froze the assets of a German citizen linked to al Qaeda (Reuters, AP). German investigators claim the man, Bekkay Harrach, received training at an al Qaeda camp and has been an al Qaeda member since 2007. And an Australian court convicted five Muslim men arrested in 2005 for stockpiling explosives and plotting a terrorist attack in the country (BBC, AFP, AP).
The AP has a detailed profile on Mustafa al-Yazid, the relatively obscure Egyptian who runs al Qaeda’s operations in Afghanistan and is suspected to have given instructions to Najibullah Zazi, accused of plotting major bombings in the United States (AP)
Despite the fact that his team was cleared of match-fixing charges, Pakistan’s cricket captain Younus Khan resigned from his post Tuesday (BBC). Khan said he was offended by allegations of match-fixing after an underwhelming loss in the ICC Champions Trophy tournament, even though the allegations did not target specific players. If Khan does not rescind his decision, the Pakistani Cricket Board will decide October 19 whether or not to accept his resignation.
Editor’s note: today’s AfPak Channel Daily Brief was prepared by Andrew Lebovich, a research associate at the New America Foundation, and Katherine Tiedemann.
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