Daily brief: Afghan jirga backs Taliban talks

Jirga, day three The some 1,600 delegates at Afghanistan’s jirga — including 300 women — reportedly strongly back negotiations with Taliban insurgents as part of a path to peace, as the conference ends its third and final day in Kabul (The News, Pajhwok, AP, BBC, Pajhwok, Reuters). Delegates, who split into 28 small groups that ...

Chris Hondros/Getty Images
Chris Hondros/Getty Images
Chris Hondros/Getty Images

Jirga, day three

The some 1,600 delegates at Afghanistan's jirga -- including 300 women -- reportedly strongly back negotiations with Taliban insurgents as part of a path to peace, as the conference ends its third and final day in Kabul (The News, Pajhwok, AP, BBC, Pajhwok, Reuters). Delegates, who split into 28 small groups that report back to the jirga's chairman, observed that "sustained support" from Islamabad and Tehran is crucial to stability in Afghanistan (Pajhwok); that young Afghans have a role to play in achieving peace (Pajhwok); and that removing Taliban leaders from U.N. blacklists could pave the way for face-to-face talks between the Afghan government and those insurgents who renounce ties to al-Qaeda (Pajhwok). The jirga has recommended that the Afghan government form a commission to lead efforts to negotiate with the Taliban, and as expected endorsed Afghan President Hamid Karzai's peace plan (AFP, Reuters, AP).

Britain's Times and Telegraph report that the family of Bill Shaw, the former British Army officer imprisoned in Kabul after being convicted of trying to bribe Afghan officials for the release of two impounded vehicles, is very anxious about conditions in the Pul-e-Charki jail (Times, Tel). Shaw was sentenced to two years in prison in April, and is appealing his case.

Jirga, day three

The some 1,600 delegates at Afghanistan’s jirga — including 300 women — reportedly strongly back negotiations with Taliban insurgents as part of a path to peace, as the conference ends its third and final day in Kabul (The News, Pajhwok, AP, BBC, Pajhwok, Reuters). Delegates, who split into 28 small groups that report back to the jirga’s chairman, observed that "sustained support" from Islamabad and Tehran is crucial to stability in Afghanistan (Pajhwok); that young Afghans have a role to play in achieving peace (Pajhwok); and that removing Taliban leaders from U.N. blacklists could pave the way for face-to-face talks between the Afghan government and those insurgents who renounce ties to al-Qaeda (Pajhwok). The jirga has recommended that the Afghan government form a commission to lead efforts to negotiate with the Taliban, and as expected endorsed Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s peace plan (AFP, Reuters, AP).

Britain’s Times and Telegraph report that the family of Bill Shaw, the former British Army officer imprisoned in Kabul after being convicted of trying to bribe Afghan officials for the release of two impounded vehicles, is very anxious about conditions in the Pul-e-Charki jail (Times, Tel). Shaw was sentenced to two years in prison in April, and is appealing his case.

In eastern Afghanistan, a "degraded" insurgency has turned from direct attacks to more suicide and roadside bombings, according to the U.S. commander there (AFP). And Afghanistan’s corrupt police still pose a threat to the south of the country (Tel).

Zeroing in

The Post’s big story today is that the Obama administration has expanded the use of Special Operations Forces, which are now deployed in 75 countries compared with 60 in early 2009, and "have a lot more access" to the White House, which is "talking publicly much less but…acting more," according to a U.S. military official (Wash Post). Obama has reportedly allowed "things that the previous administration did not," said another military official; there are currently some 13,000 Special Operations Forces deployed overseas, about 9,000 of which are evenly split between Iraq and Afghanistan, though commanders would reportedly like to move beyond war zones.

After last week’s attacks on Ahmadi mosques in Lahore left nearly 100 members of the minority sect dead, an Ahmadi leader in the United States called for more protection from Pakistan for the community (AFP). As Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rehman Malik promised a vague "crackdown" on banned militant groups, elders of the Wazir tribe in South Waziristan promised to raise a lashkar to force Mehsud militants from their areas, and as many as 40,000 residents of Frontier Region Peshawar have fled out of fear of a major military operation there following an increased militant presence (AP, Reuters/Dawn, ET).

Earlier today, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani met at NATO’s headquarters in Brussels and vowed to expand and strengthen their political ties (AFP). Gilani is meeting with EU leaders today (AP).

"If I have a chance, I’ll make a team of retired people too."

Afghanistan is fielding the country’s first national cricket team — for women, writes Abigail Hauslohner (Time). The 15-member team, consisting mostly of women with little prior cricket experience and facing financial, political, and logistical difficulties, practices in a district some 12 miles west of Kabul on a makeshift cricket pitch smoothed over by a borrowed tractor.

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