The South Asia Channel
Daily brief: car bomb hits outside NATO base in Kandahar
The spring offensive A car bomb exploded earlier today in the parking lot of a Canadian civilian-military base used by provincial reconstruction teams in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar, and no casualties were reported (AFP, CP, AP, AJE, Pajhwok, Canwest). Though there have been no claims of responsibility yet, there has been a string ...
The spring offensive
A car bomb exploded earlier today in the parking lot of a Canadian civilian-military base used by provincial reconstruction teams in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar, and no casualties were reported (AFP, CP, AP, AJE, Pajhwok, Canwest). Though there have been no claims of responsibility yet, there has been a string of high-profile Taliban attacks on NATO targets in Kandahar in recent days. Fighting between Afghan forces and Taliban militants from Pakistan is ongoing in eastern Nuristan (AP, BBC).
The Times and the Journal describe Taliban intimidation campaigns in different parts of Afghanistan, as Alissa Rubin writes that militants in Khost have been demanding money given to local residents by development initiatives and Yaroslav Trofimov reports that villagers in Kandahar have been attacked for "talking to" coalition forces (NYT, WSJ). The Post reports that before the provincial governor became "America’s best hope for reforming Kandahar’s cutthroat political system," he was fired from his job with a USAID contractor for minor allegations of corruption and mismanagement (Wash Post). Some claim Tooryalai Wesa favored his tribe and family, though a U.S. official commented, "I don’t think he’s corrupt. We could do worse."
The Red Cross in Afghanistan has given first aid training to more than 70 Taliban fighters last month, which prompted a leading Kandahari government official to say the militants "did not deserve to be treated like humans" (Guardian, Tel, AP, BBC). NATO and the Red Cross both defended the training, which included basic first aid and providing medical equipment.
The U.S. soldier who blew the whistle on several of his colleagues for alleged drug use and possible involvement in the unlawful deaths of three Afghan civilians sometime between January and March was "beaten within an inch of his life" in retaliation (AFP). At least ten service members deployed to Kandahar last summer are being investigated.
Times Square and conspiracy theory
Pakistani authorities have reportedly detained a tenth person in connection with Faisal Shahzad’s failed attempt to car bomb Times Square, the owner of a computer parts store in Islamabad who allegedly served as the go-between for Shahzad and the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (CNN). Last week when National Security Adviser Gen. James Jones and CIA Director Leon Panetta visited Pakistan, they presented Pakistani officials with photographs of militants suspected of helping Shahzad and a detailed chart of connections between the would-be bomber and the TTP (LAT). Pakistani officials initially denied any TTP links, though now appear to be recognizing the militant group’s role.
Sabrina Tavernise notes that in Pakistan, where "conspiracy theory is national sport…[and] the main players — the United States, India, and Israel — change positions depending on the ebb and flow of history," some lawyers believe a nameless but powerful U.S. "think tank" was responsible for Shahzad’s attempted attack (NYT). One result of Pakistan’s "narrative of national victimhood that is a nearly impenetrable barrier to any candid discussion of the problems" there is that nearly all U.S. policy toward Pakistan is conducted in secret — which reinforces the issue.
The law of unintended consequences
Pakistan’s ban on Facebook has had at least two unintended results: first, a businessman who produces American flags and paraphernalia has seen a bump in sales as Pakistanis take to the streets to burn them in protest of the social networking site (AFP); and Pakistan’s interior minister, Rehman Malik, has jumped on the Twitter bandwagon (Reuters). @SenRehmanMalik now has 445 followers.