Daily brief: scores killed in Pakistan plane crash
A hideous crash An Airblue passenger plane carrying more than 150 people crashed into the Margalla Hills near the Pakistani capital of Islamabad earlier today en route from Karachi, and authorities say no survivors are expected (AP, NYT, BBC, AFP, Reuters, Geo, Dawn, ET). The cause of the crash is unknown, but the Pakistani government ...
A hideous crash
A hideous crash
An Airblue passenger plane carrying more than 150 people crashed into the Margalla Hills near the Pakistani capital of Islamabad earlier today en route from Karachi, and authorities say no survivors are expected (AP, NYT, BBC, AFP, Reuters, Geo, Dawn, ET). The cause of the crash is unknown, but the Pakistani government does not suspect terrorism (AP). The full list of passengers aboard the flight is available here (Dawn). And at least 20 people have been killed in flooding following days of monsoon rains across Pakistan (ET, Dawn, The News, Dawn).
Graeme Smith has today’s must-read describing the ongoing water and hydroelectricity struggles in Kashmir (Globe and Mail).
The war over Wikileaks
Despite Pakistani anger over collusion between the Pakistani government and the Taliban alleged in the Wikileaks documents, experts in Islamabad say the U.S. and Pakistan "must work with each other" (LAT). U.S. officials have asserted that the Wikileaks documents, dated from 2004 to 2009, do not provide an accurate picture of current activities and relations, as officials point to a shift in attitudes over the last 18 months (WSJ). And Hamid Gul, the former chief of Pakistan’s intelligence services known to some as the "father of the Taliban," continues to defend against documentation that he is still involved with the insurgency, reportedly calling the Wikileaks release the "start of a White House plot" (Wash Post, FT, LAT).
The Times and Telegraph report that the Wikileaks documents disclosed the names of hundreds of Afghans credited with giving intelligence to U.S. forces and potential Taliban defectors, putting them at risk for Taliban retaliation (Times, Tel). A former senior intelligence officer commented, "It’s possible that someone could get killed in the next few days."
A criminal investigation into the Wikileaks disclosure is focusing on Pfc. Bradley Manning, the military intelligence analyst charged with giving classified material to Wikileaks earlier this year, as the Pentagon press secretary called him a "person of interest" (LAT, WSJ). Military and intelligence experts say the information appears to have been taken from SIPRNet, which hundreds of thousands of military personnel, civilian employees, contractors, and U.S. allies could have accessed.
The bomb under the bus
At least 25 Afghan civilians were killed and 20 wounded when their passenger bus drove over a roadside bomb in the Iranian border province of Nimroz early this morning (AP, AFP, Tolo, Pajhwok). Afghan officials blamed the Taliban, who denied involvement, as is common in attacks that kill civilians.
Afghan authorities have shut down the Afghan television station Imroz for allegedly broadcasting programs that harm "national unity," after the network accused leading Shia politicians in Afghanistan of working for Iran, which they deny (BBC, Tolo). Bonus read: Nasim Fekrat on Afghanistan’s not-so-free press (FP).
Grab that cash
Yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives approved some $33 billion in funding for the military in Afghanistan and $4 billion for a related surge of civilian aid to Afghanistan and Pakistan, in a 308-114 vote (AFP, Reuters, NYT, Wash Post). The legislation was passed in a voice vote by the Senate last week and now goes to U.S. President Barack Obama for his signature. The House also overwhelmingly rejected a resolution that called for the removal of all U.S. troops from Pakistan, as opponents pointed out that U.S. forces in Pakistan are engaged in humanitarian and training missions, not combat (AP, AFP).
The U.S. Navy service member believed kidnapped by the Taliban in the eastern Afghan province of Logar has been identified as Petty Officer 3rd Class Jarod Newlove, 25, an instructor at a counterinsurgency school for Afghan forces (McClatchy, ABC, LAT, AP). Helmandis who survived an alleged NATO airstrike on a town in Sangin last week have accused the alliance of deliberately targeting them, which the coalition denies along with the reports of civilian casualties asserted by the Afghan government (Guardian).
McClatchy reports that the Taliban in Afghanistan have killed on average one pro-government Afghan a day in the first six months of this year, and progress in filling key positions in the southern province of Kandahar is slow-going (McClatchy). U.S. special forces soldiers and Afghan commandos are carrying out nightly raids against suspected Taliban insurgents in the volatile Arghandab valley near Kandahar city (Reuters). And the AP reminds that the majority of Afghan soldiers deployed in southern Afghanistan are actually from the northern provinces and different ethnic backgrounds than the Pashtun south (AP).
Causing a scene
Pakistan’s six transgender tax collectors in Karachi, divided into two teams that handle 10 to 15 cases of delinquent taxpayers every day, report that some defaulters "are so wary of us that they pay the outstanding amount in the form of checks the moment they see us" (ET). The defaulters are not pleased, as one resident said, "They dance and shout at our doors, which I think is quite unethical."
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