Daily brief: Afghan peace jirga delayed

Rock the vote Yesterday was the first day for would-be Afghan parliamentarians to register to run for election in this September’s contest (BBC, AFP). A spokesman for Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission said that dozens of candidates turned up to register. The peace jirga with some 1,500 of Afghanistan’s tribal elders and other community leaders scheduled ...

Majid Saeedi/Getty Images
Majid Saeedi/Getty Images
Majid Saeedi/Getty Images

Rock the vote

Rock the vote

Yesterday was the first day for would-be Afghan parliamentarians to register to run for election in this September’s contest (BBC, AFP). A spokesman for Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission said that dozens of candidates turned up to register.

The peace jirga with some 1,500 of Afghanistan’s tribal elders and other community leaders scheduled for early May has been pushed back several weeks because of Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s travel schedule and because it overlaps with another period of candidate registration for the September elections (AFP).

NATO has backed away from its previous claim that a car fired on by NATO soldiers on Monday night in Khost contained two "known insurgents" after the family of the victims protested that the four people in the car were unarmed civilians driving home from a volleyball game (AP, NYT, AFP). In a recent poll commissioned by the military, 44 percent of residents of Kandahar surveyed said that the greatest danger on Kandahar’s roads comes from coalition convoys — the same ranking as roadside bombs (WSJ).

Intelligence and security in Pakistan

Three security personnel and one civilian were killed yesterday when a Kurram-bound military convoy drove over a remote-controlled roadside bomb in Hangu, in northwest Pakistan (The News, Dawn). The Daily Times describes how targeted killings of pro-government people in the Swat Valley could indicate a resurgence of the Swat Taliban, whose leader Maulana Fazlullah is still at large (Daily Times). And the London Times speaks with several people across Pakistan’s tribal regions who remain unconvinced of the Pakistani government’s assistance in eradicating militancy (Times). A former Pakistani Army officer observed, "The Taliban may not be as visible as they were before but they are still there."

The wife of a former Pakistan intelligence officer who was kidnapped with two other men in late March by a group calling itself the ‘Asian Tigers’ has accused the CIA of ordering the abduction, which the U.S. embassy in Islamabad flatly denied (Tel). Khalid Khawaja, now a human rights activist, was abducted along with Col. Imam, who used to work with the CIA in the 1980s to train anti-Soviet Afghan fighters, and a journalist, Asad Qureshi (Dawn).

U.S. interrogators have had access to the captured second-in-command of the Quetta Shura Taliban, Mullah Baradar, for the last month, and say his interrogations are producing useful intelligence (Reuters). Pakistan has been leading Mullah Baradar’s interrogation, and a U.S. official in Kabul speculated that the militant leader’s arrest was part of Pakistan’s plan to ensure a "principal position in a negotiated settlement" in Afghan reconciliation talks.

An energy crisis

Pakistan’s energy crisis continues and Dawn’s front page describes measures recently agreed upon by the federal and provincial governments to reduce the country’s demand for energy: turn off power for two days a week for the next six months; advance clocks by an hour; close businesses at sunset; and other measures (Dawn, ET, Geo, Daily Times). Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Yousuf Raza Gilani, who is profiled in the LA Times, will reportedly announce the implementation of some of the proposals on Thursday, after the two-day energy conference in Islamabad wraps up (LAT).

Sabrina Tavernise reports on the actions of a student group at the University of Punjab aligned with Pakistan’s oldest and most powerful Islamist party, Jemaat-e-Islami, writing that "The university’s plight encapsulates Pakistan’s predicament: an intolerant, aggressive minority terrorizes a more open-minded, peaceful majority, while an opportunistic political class dithers, benefiting from alliances with the aggressors" (NYT). And Pakistan has denied renewed claims that five young American Muslims from the DC area arrested in Pakistan late last year on terrorism charges have been tortured in Pakistani custody (CNN).

The press club of Kandahar

Kandahar’s Press Club was recently inaugurated in the southern Afghan provincial capital, in a ceremony attended by journalists, human rights workers, and other members of civil society (Pajhwok). The press club refused donations from the Afghan government and international community in order to maintain reporting objectivity.

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