Daily brief: Pakistani troops missing on Afghan border

The fluid border Dozens of Pakistani Frontier Corps soldiers have gone missing after a cross-border attack by Taliban fighters based in Afghanistan on a security checkpost in Pakistan’s Mohmand tribal agency earlier this week (BBC, AJE, ET, Guardian, Daily Times). Reports are mixed as to the fate of the troops; a Taliban spokesman told the ...

MASSOUD HOSSAINI/AFP/Getty Images
MASSOUD HOSSAINI/AFP/Getty Images
MASSOUD HOSSAINI/AFP/Getty Images

The fluid border

Dozens of Pakistani Frontier Corps soldiers have gone missing after a cross-border attack by Taliban fighters based in Afghanistan on a security checkpost in Pakistan's Mohmand tribal agency earlier this week (BBC, AJE, ET, Guardian, Daily Times). Reports are mixed as to the fate of the troops; a Taliban spokesman told the BBC the group was holding soldiers on both sides of the border, but Zabiullah Mujahid, another spokesman, denied any involvement in kidnapping the security forces to The News (The News). Afghan authorities report that 10 Pakistani soldiers have "wandered" into Afghanistan's Kunar province over the past few days, and have been turned over to the Pakistani consulate in Jalalabad (ET).

The Taliban executed a 28 year old man in Datta Khel, North Waziristan, yesterday, in the second reported instance of such Taliban justice in the last few weeks (Daily Times). At least ten Pakistani soldiers and nearly 40 militants were killed yesterday in fierce fighting yesterday in Bajaur, a tribal agency in northwestern Pakistan where the army has twice declared victory (Nation, Dawn, Daily Times, The News, AFP, AP). Bonus read: militancy and conflict in Bajaur by BBC journalist Rahmanullah (NAF).

U.S. military officials have reportedly presented their Pakistani counterparts with detailed evidence about the involvement of the North Waziristan-based Haqqani network in recent attacks on U.S. interests in Afghanistan (Reuters). Pakistan's wish list of military equipment totals $2.5 billion and includes new helicopter gunships and other "lift" (The News). Bonus read: inside the Haqqani network (NAF).

The fluid border

Dozens of Pakistani Frontier Corps soldiers have gone missing after a cross-border attack by Taliban fighters based in Afghanistan on a security checkpost in Pakistan’s Mohmand tribal agency earlier this week (BBC, AJE, ET, Guardian, Daily Times). Reports are mixed as to the fate of the troops; a Taliban spokesman told the BBC the group was holding soldiers on both sides of the border, but Zabiullah Mujahid, another spokesman, denied any involvement in kidnapping the security forces to The News (The News). Afghan authorities report that 10 Pakistani soldiers have "wandered" into Afghanistan’s Kunar province over the past few days, and have been turned over to the Pakistani consulate in Jalalabad (ET).

The Taliban executed a 28 year old man in Datta Khel, North Waziristan, yesterday, in the second reported instance of such Taliban justice in the last few weeks (Daily Times). At least ten Pakistani soldiers and nearly 40 militants were killed yesterday in fierce fighting yesterday in Bajaur, a tribal agency in northwestern Pakistan where the army has twice declared victory (Nation, Dawn, Daily Times, The News, AFP, AP). Bonus read: militancy and conflict in Bajaur by BBC journalist Rahmanullah (NAF).

U.S. military officials have reportedly presented their Pakistani counterparts with detailed evidence about the involvement of the North Waziristan-based Haqqani network in recent attacks on U.S. interests in Afghanistan (Reuters). Pakistan’s wish list of military equipment totals $2.5 billion and includes new helicopter gunships and other "lift" (The News). Bonus read: inside the Haqqani network (NAF).

U.S. embassy officials reportedly met with Gary Faulkner, the Osama bin Laden hunter, in Islamabad earlier today (AP). Faulkner has not yet been charged with any crimes in Pakistan.

Patience, grasshopper

During yesterday’s Congressional hearings, Gen. David Petraeus emphasized his support for the Obama administration’s July 2011 timeline in Afghanistan, while playing down the significance of the year-end review President Barack Obama will receive about conditions there and calling the war a "roller coaster ride" (NYT, Wash Post, LAT, Reuters, Times, AFP, AJE). In a separate hearing, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Adm. Mike Mullen and Defense Secretary Robert Gates also sought to reassure lawmakers that the war effort is on track, and Adm. Mullen stressed the importance of operations in southern Afghanistan, saying, "As goes Kandahar, so goes Afghanistan" (NYT, AP, NPR). Experts and current and former officials are reportedly concerned that the U.S. does not have a coherent political strategy for the future of Afghanistan (McClatchy).

The Journal reports on a new Afghan-led coalition initiative that would allow insurgents to keep their weapons for protecting their communities, instead of laying down arms in order to sign on to a government peace plan (WSJ). The British general who directs NATO’s reintegration efforts said the plan reflects a "moral dilemma" because the coalition would have to rely on former militants to provide security in some parts of Afghanistan.

Three more U.S. soldiers have been charged with murdering three Afghan civilians in Kandahar earlier this year, and could face a maximum sentence of life in prison or the death penalty if convicted (AJE, CNN). Earlier this month, two other U.S. soldiers were charged over the same three alleged killings; all came from the same U.S. Army Stryker Brigade, which deployed to Afghanistan last summer.

$3,000,000,000,000?

After this week’s splash that Afghanistan may have a trillion dollars of untapped mineral resources, the country’s mining minister now claims, based on "geological assessments and industry estimates," that the deposits may be worth three times that (AP). Wahidullah Shahrani is off to the U.K. next week to try and attract international investors.

Earlier this morning in Afghanistan’s southeastern Ghazni province, a Taliban spokesman claimed responsibility for a suicide car bombing on a district police headquarters that wounded four Afghan cops (AP). Three NATO soldiers have been killed across the country in the last day, pushing the total number this month to 31, and five Afghan soldiers were killed in roadside bombs in Ghazni and Zabul (AFP, AP, Pajhwok). Taliban fighters have reportedly kidnapped a tribal elder from northern Kunduz who represented the province in the national jirga this month, saying his fate would be decided by the local Taliban council (Pajhwok). The current acting interior minister, reports Pajhwok, has assessed that nine of Afghanistan’s 364 districts can be considered "safe," while the rest face some degree of security threat (Pajhwok).

And ABC interviews Abdul Salam Zaeef, a member of the Taliban, at his home in Kabul, on reconciliation, the Obama administration, and the U.S. presence in Afghanistan (ABC).

"Vuvuzela" in Dari?

Afghan soccer/football fans are eagerly watching the World Cup, Pajhwok writes (Pajhwok). The Afghan news agency spoke with fans of Brazil and Argentina before the World Cup kicked off last week, one of whom changed his daily schedule to accommodate watching the matches.

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