Daily brief: Afghanistan bans live media coverage of attacks
The end of the beginning Yesterday, Afghanistan’s Second Vice President Karim Khalili, top U.S. and NATO commander Gen. Stanley McChrystal, NATO’s civilian chief Mark Sedwill, and several other senior officials made a trip to Marjah, the site of a recent coalition military offensive in the southern Afghan province of Helmand, to address local concerns with ...
The end of the beginning
The end of the beginning
Yesterday, Afghanistan’s Second Vice President Karim Khalili, top U.S. and NATO commander Gen. Stanley McChrystal, NATO’s civilian chief Mark Sedwill, and several other senior officials made a trip to Marjah, the site of a recent coalition military offensive in the southern Afghan province of Helmand, to address local concerns with some 300 tribal elders (NYT, Wash Post, AP, McClatchy, ABC, Pajhwok). The officials received a cool welcome as major operations wrap up; local residents were worried about their poppy crops, corrupt government, and most of all security, and have been skeptical since before the operations began. The shura came on a day when six NATO service members died across the country, and one this morning (AP, AP).
Afghanistan’s spy agency announced yesterday that live media coverage of terrorist attacks in Afghanistan will henceforth be forbidden, claiming that such coverage can tactically aid the militants and bolsters their cause (AP, Reuters, BBC, AJE, Aaj). Afghan and international journalists have protested, some promising to ignore the ban, and noted that similar restrictions were placed on reporters during last August’s presidential election and were not strictly enforced. And the BBC covers the increase in Afghan teenagers seeking asylum in Europe (BBC).
Throngs of military men
Pakistani military operations continue across the country’s militant-ridden northwest tribal regions: as the Army claims again that it has taken control of the Bajauri Taliban stronghold of Damadola, a Frontier Corps commander said operations in Orakzai and the Tirah Valley are imminent, and seven militants were killed in Khyber clashes (AFP, Dawn, Dawn, Aaj). Pakistani media also provides more coverage of the Swat Valley Taliban commander, purportedly a close aide to Swat Taliban leader Maulana Fazlullah, and his accomplices who were killed or captured yesterday morning (The News, Dawn, Daily Times; AFP).
Pakistani and Taliban officials said yesterday that an al-Qaeda linked militant leader of a Chinese separatist extremist group called the Turkistani Islamic Party, Abdul Haq al-Turkistani, was killed by a suspected U.S. drone strike in North Waziristan on February 15 (AJE, Reuters, Geo). Earlier today, the Pakistani Taliban also confirmed the death of Muhammad Qari Zafar, a commander wanted in connection with the deadly 2006 bombing of the U.S. consulate in Karachi, in a drone strike last month, and promised revenge attacks (AP, BBC). For regularly updated research on drone strikes in Pakistan since 2004, visit the New America Foundation’s newly-launched database (NAF).
Dawn reports that nearly $23 million in funding has been requested from Congress to form a ‘Quick Reaction Force’ of Pakistani security forces specially trained to guard the U.S. embassy in Islamabad and consulate in Kabul (Dawn).
The day in court
Pakistani prosecutors of the five Washington, DC-area Muslim Americans arrested in Pakistan in December laid out charges, including waging war against the country and plotting attacks in Pakistan, against the men yesterday (AP, Geo). During their next hearing on March 10, the men could be indicted on up to seven charges and if convicted could face life in prison.
The forest for the trees
A tree-planting campaign in several eastern Afghan provinces was launched over the weekend in cooperation with USAID (Pajhwok). Some 4,400 farmers will plant as many as 250,000 seedlings over the course of the initiative.
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