Daily brief: Pakistan charges 7 over Mumbai attacks
In criminal court On the eve of the one-year anniversary of the terrorist attacks that left more than 160 dead in Mumbai last November, Pakistani prosecutors have indicted seven men, including the alleged mastermind Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, in criminal court with plotting and helping carry out the attacks (BBC, Times of India, AP, AFP). The men — ...
In criminal court
On the eve of the one-year anniversary of the terrorist attacks that left more than 160 dead in Mumbai last November, Pakistani prosecutors have indicted seven men, including the alleged mastermind Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, in criminal court with plotting and helping carry out the attacks (BBC, Times of India, AP, AFP). The men — accused members of the Lashkar-e-Taiba extremist group purportedly behind the attacks, which targeted hotels, a train station, and an Orthodox Jewish center — have all pleaded not guilty.
Mumbai, India’s financial and entertainment capital, remains vulnerable a year after the 26/11 attacks, though some improvements have been made, with inadequate training and resources for Indian police topping the list of concerns (Washington Post). No senior members of the police force were reprimanded or fired in the wake of the attacks, and nearly all the political officials who quit in the aftermath are back on the job or have been promoted (New York Times). And the infrastructure of Laskhar-e-Taiba is still more or less intact (Foreign Policy).
Earlier today, suspected Taliban militants attacked a NATO fuel tanker supplying the international war effort in Afghanistan on the ring road outside the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar, destroying the truck, though no fatalities have been reported (AFP). And though the Pakistani military offensive in South Waziristan is going on six weeks in duration and has reached into other tribal agencies where militants are believed to have fled, no major Taliban leaders have been reported captured or killed (McClatchy). In a rare mention of civilian casualties in the conflict, officials said that six were killed during clashes in Khyber (BBC, Reuters).
And in an attempt to address its other insurgency, Pakistan yesterday revealed a package of reforms aimed at giving Baluchistan, Pakistan’s largest and poorest province, more control over its natural resources, which separatists argue are exploited by richer provinces (AFP, Reuters). Hundreds of Pakistanis have died in insurgent violence in Baluchistan since separatist rebels began an uprising in 2004, and Baluch opposition leaders have roundly rejected the reforms package, calling it “peanuts” (Reuters, The News, Dawn).
U.S. President Barack Obama told a news conference yesterday that it is his “intention to finish the job” in Afghanistan, even as speculation grows stronger that he will send some 30,000 additional U.S. troops to the war-torn country (New York Times, Reuters, AP, AFP, BBC, Independent). Obama said he “is confident” that the American public, which has grown increasingly skeptical about the war, will “be supportive” after hearing a “clear rationale for what we’re doing there” in his 40-minute public address, reportedly slated for December 1 (McClatchy, USA Today, Washington Post). And indeed, David Sanger and Scott Wilson both correctly assess that Obama has a tricky task ahead delivering multiple messages to different audiences about his strategy in the next week (New York Times, Washington Post).
Commanders in Afghanistan say they plan to funnel the majority of the expected new troops to the insurgency-riddled south of the country, focusing in particular on Kandahar City, the capital of the Kandahar province, the Taliban’s main base of power (Wall Street Journal, AP). Coalition forces are also reportedly planning to dispatch thousands of U.S. soldiers to secure major roads that pass through Kandahar City to Pakistan and the rest of Afghanistan; the approach would also likely be extended to the neighboring Helmand province. More helicopters are needed for the proposed campaign, as well (McClatchy).
Julian Barnes has a fascinating profile of Maj. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s “most important adviser” and U.S. intelligence chief in the country (Los Angeles Times).
Two critical difficulties facing Western and Afghan forces in Afghanistan are “flipping” one-time insurgents and turning them into allies, and the danger from roadside bombs, the number one killer of U.S. forces in the country (AP, Los Angeles Times). And in an effort to improve Afghanistan’s troubled police force, the Interior Ministry announced earlier today that it is boosting police salaries between one- and two-thirds to help combat corruption and improve recruitment (AP).
A political challenge comes from the U.K., whose defense secretary Bob Ainsworth yesterday took the “unprecedented” step of publicly criticizing Obama for the time it has taken him — going on three months — to reach a decision about how to move forward in Afghanistan (Telegraph). Though Downing Street attempted to play down Ainsworth’s remarks by issuing a statement supporting Obama’s deliberations, the defense secretary is the first U.K. government official to express his criticism in a public forum.
And the Afghan Taliban’s reclusive one-eyed leader Mullah Omar has issued a message timed to the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha instructing Afghans to cut off relations with the “stooge administration” in Kabul (AP, The News, AFP).
Alongside Karachi Fried Chicken
The popular Western fast food chain Hardee’s has opened its first restaurant in Pakistan (AP). There are more than 200 Hardee’s in the Middle East, and the company that owns the chain is optimistic that its “strong brand awareness in the region” will cross into Pakistan.
Editor’s note: The AfPak Daily Brief will be off tomorrow and Friday. Happy Thanksgiving!
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ZULFIQAR KHAN/AFP/Getty Images
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