The South Asia Channel

Daily brief: NATO airstrike kills 4 Afghan civilians

Picking up the pieces A day after the first militant attack on a U.S. mission in Pakistan since 2006, U.S. and Pakistani investigators are puzzling over how six Pakistani Taliban militants armed with suicide vests, two car bombs, machine guns, and rocket propelled grenades managed to launch a sophisticated, deadly assault on the U.S. consulate ...

A Majeed/AFP/Getty Images
A Majeed/AFP/Getty Images

Picking up the pieces

A day after the first militant attack on a U.S. mission in Pakistan since 2006, U.S. and Pakistani investigators are puzzling over how six Pakistani Taliban militants armed with suicide vests, two car bombs, machine guns, and rocket propelled grenades managed to launch a sophisticated, deadly assault on the U.S. consulate in Peshawar (Dawn/AFP, AFP, NYT, Wash Post, McClatchy, BBC, The News). The U.S. expressed "great concern" over yesterday’s attack, which left six Pakistanis dead, and the United Nations has closed its offices in Peshawar today and tomorrow for security reasons. Earlier this morning, Pakistani police killed two suspected suicide bombers on the outskirts of Peshawar (AP).

Clashes between the Pakistani military and militants in Orakzai continue, as helicopter gunships targeted extremist strongholds in Miangano, Kalay, and Handara, and some 235 militants have been killed since the operations began several weeks ago (Daily Times, Reuters). The Journal discusses State Department lawyer Harold Koh’s legal defense of U.S. drone strikes in northwest Pakistan, writing that CIA officials claim between 400 and 500 suspected militants have been killed in the strikes since January of 2009, and only 20 civilians (WSJ). Pakistan’s Daily Times reports that "indigenously developed" drones were seen flying over the northeastern Pakistani city of Sargodha yesterday (Daily Times).

Karen DeYoung reports that the Pakistani Army’s alleged ‘extrajudicial killings’ in the country’s northwestern Swat Valley threatens U.S. aid, which requires Congress to certify that Pakistan is adhering to human rights norms (Wash Post). And the German magazine Der Spiegel profiles some of the nearly 100 Germans who have migrated to North and South Waziristan, both frequently targeted by drone strikes, in the last several years seeking life in the combat zone (Spiegel). For more on the militant pipeline between the West and Pakistan, click this recent paper by investigative reporter Paul Cruickshank (NAF).

Taxi driver

The Pakistani-born U.S. citizen and cab driver in Chicago who is accused of sending money in an attempt to aid al-Qaeda yesterday pleaded not guilty (AP, ToI, Bloomberg). Prosecutors allege that Raja Lahrasib Khan wired $950 to Pakistan last November and accepted $1,000 in unmarked bills from an undercover agent, promising it would be sent to Pakistan to purchase weapons, and Khan could face up to 15 years in prison on each charge.

Air power and politics

A NATO airstrike on a residence in the Nahr-e Saraj area of Afghanistan’s southern Helmand province earlier today killed four suspected insurgents and four civilians who were inside the compound unbeknownst to security forces, who were reportedly being fired upon from inside (AFP, AP, ISAF, Pajhwok). Two men, a woman, and a child were killed, and NATO is investigating (Reuters). And yesterday, a Baghlan provincial councilwoman was shot in the leg and abdomen in the latest instance of an attempted targeted assassination by militants, and NATO forces killed 10 militants in a firefight in Nangarhar (AP). Before dawn this morning, a NATO-Afghan offensive in Badghis left 27 Taliban fighters dead in the western province (AP).

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs described Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s recent threat to join the Taliban if the West keeps pressuring him to reform as "genuinely troubling" yesterday, though Karzai told CNN that he has no intention of breaking with the United States and said he just wanted to "make sure we all understand as to where each one of us stands," while Afghan lawmakers agreed that Karzai’s threat didn’t seem serious (CNN, LAT, Pajhwok, AP). Some analysts assess that Karzai’s recent anti-Western rhetoric is designed to shore him up at home after an abrupt recent visit by U.S. President Barack Obama (AP). The Afghan president’s trip to Washington on May 12 is still on.

A love for the ages?

The much-discussed marriage between the Indian tennis star Sania Mirza and Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Malik might be postponed from April 15 after an Indian woman claiming to be his first wife recently came forward (ToI, Bloomberg, CNN). Malik says he wed the first wife over the phone in 2002, but claims the union isn’t valid because the photos he was sent before their telephone marriage were not actually of her, and they’ve never met.

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