Daily brief: British troops will leave Sangin
Friendly fire British troops in Afghanistan are planning to hand over control of Helmand’s deadly Sangin district to U.S. forces, according to British Defense Secretary Liam Fox (Guardian, AP, NYT, Times, BBC, FT, Reuters, BBC). Sangin has accounted for 99 of the 312 British troops who have died in Afghanistan (AP). The replacement of the ...
British troops in Afghanistan are planning to hand over control of Helmand’s deadly Sangin district to U.S. forces, according to British Defense Secretary Liam Fox (Guardian, AP, NYT, Times, BBC, FT, Reuters, BBC). Sangin has accounted for 99 of the 312 British troops who have died in Afghanistan (AP). The replacement of the U.K.’s 1,000 soldiers there is reportedly likely to take place this fall. Bonus AfPak Channel reads: journalist Stephen Grey’s assessment of the British campaign in Helmand ("Anatomy of a disaster"), and the British government’s response ("Hope in Helmand") (FP, FP).
A British junior officer in Sangin called the policy of "courageous restraint," introduced in order to limit Afghan civilian casualties, a "major bugbear for the British Army," and other soldiers in Helmand are also frustrated with the policy (Tel).
A NATO aircraft mistakenly fired on Afghan National Army soldiers in Ghazni province late last night, killing at least five officers at the army post in an incident the international force is investigating (AFP, AJE, LAT, AP, Reuters, NYT, Pajhwok). An Afghan defense ministry spokesman commented, "This is not the first time such an incident has happened, but we wish that at least this would be the last one."
The U.N.-backed Electoral Complaints Commission watchdog has disqualified several candidates which it alleges have ties to "armed groups" from running in Afghanistan’s September parliamentary elections (Reuters). Of the some 2,500 people standing for the Wolesi Jirga’s 249 seats, around 400 are women, and of Afghanistan’s population of 30 million, around 12.5 million will be registered to vote.
The AP profiles a town in Afghanistan’s southern Arghandab Valley where U.S. forces warned locals that they would burn down a wheat field that was believed to be strewn with mines, the villagers cleared the area and harvested the wheat themselves (AP). And Bloomberg reports on the costs and dangers to NATO’s key supply line for the Afghan war effort, which runs through Pakistan (Bloomberg).
The fight at hand
Nearly two dozen suspected militants were killed in Pakistan’s Lower Dir district yesterday, as part of a search operation in the area (Daily Times, ET). Taliban fighters have destroyed several schools in Bajaur and Peshawar (Daily Times, ET). And the Pakistani Army claims that 80 percent of Kurram has been cleared of militants since operations there began in September 2009 (Dawn, Daily Times).
In an interview with Pakistan’s Geo television network, Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed condemned suicide attacks as "illegal" and challenged India to prove JuD’s connection with the deadly 2008 terrorist attacks on Mumbai (Geo, Daily Times, Hindu). JuD is the charity front organization for the militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba. The government of Punjab has reportedly barred 23 militant organizations from operating under new names after being banned, and Hafiz Saeed has been restricted from traveling outside of Pakistan (Hindustan Times, Daily Times). Bonus AfPak Channel read: Huma Imtiaz on Punjab’s "mind-boggling support" for JuD (FP).
And the LA Times profiles the persecution of the minority Ahmadi sect in Pakistan (LAT).
For the first time in reportedly nearly two decades, the Indian Army was called in to aid police and paramilitary forces curb protests and enforce curfews in several Indian Kashmiri cities, a day after several protesters were killed when Indian security forces fired on a rock-throwing crowd (Hindu, ToI, AP, BBC, AP, AFP). More than a dozen militant groups have been fighting for Kashmir’s independence or merger with Pakistan since 1989, and more than 68,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in the conflict.
I’m not an addict
Of the 235 licensed internet clubs in Afghanistan, 85 are in Kabul, where many young Afghans while away hours chatting with friends in and outside of Afghanistan (Pajhwok). Some two million Afghans have access to the internet, according to government officials.
Sign up here to receive the daily brief in your inbox. Follow the AfPak Channel on Twitter and Facebook.
More from Foreign Policy
At Long Last, the Foreign Service Gets the Netflix Treatment
Keri Russell gets Drexel furniture but no Senate confirmation hearing.
How Macron Is Blocking EU Strategy on Russia and China
As a strategic consensus emerges in Europe, France is in the way.
What the Bush-Obama China Memos Reveal
Newly declassified documents contain important lessons for U.S. China policy.
Russia’s Boom Business Goes Bust
Moscow’s arms exports have fallen to levels not seen since the Soviet Union’s collapse.