The South Asia Channel

Daily brief: Petraeus wants more time in Afghanistan

Slow and steady ISAF commander Gen. David Petraeus and other military officers are publicly and privately pushing to limit troop reductions starting in July 2011, in order to allow time for U.S. forces to fully pursue a broad counterinsurgency policy — from raids and targeted killings to improving governance and population protection (NYT, TIME). U.S. ...

SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images
SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images

Slow and steady

ISAF commander Gen. David Petraeus and other military officers are publicly and privately pushing to limit troop reductions starting in July 2011, in order to allow time for U.S. forces to fully pursue a broad counterinsurgency policy — from raids and targeted killings to improving governance and population protection (NYT, TIME). U.S. forces expect increased fighting this fall around Kandahar, where Special Forces are engaged in an active campaign to target Taliban commanders inside the city while other forces will eventually clear the city’s outlying districts (Reuters, AP). Rajiv Chandrasekaran has a must-read dispatch from Kandahar detailing a land dispute that demonstrates the stark divide between Kandahar’s government and its people (Wash Post).

Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s reaction to an investigation of Afghanistan’s largest money-transfer business, the New Ansari Exchange, continues to strain the relationship between Karzai and his American interlocutors and has limited the reach of anti-corruption bodies mentored by U.S. federal agencies (WSJ). And the worsening insurgency and security situation throughout Afghanistan is threatening to derail the upcoming scheduled parliamentary elections, seen as necessary to show that the central government can function independently of the United States (NYT).

An ISAF operation in southeastern Afghanistan near Pakistan’s border has reportedly killed 20 fighters linked to the Haqqani Network (Dawn). In eastern Afghanistan a crowd of 300 protesters chanted anti-U.S. slogans in response to claims that NATO forces killed innocent civilians, a claim NATO denied (AP). Pentagon officials are worried about the impending disclosure of additional documents from WikiLeaks (Wash Post). And Gen. James Mattis was sworn in yesterday as the new commander of the U.S. Central Command, the post that oversees American military operations in the Middle East, Afghanistan and Pakistan (WSJ, AP, AFP).

Rising water

New flood warnings threatened to push the devastation further into Punjab and Sindh provinces, as the industrial city of Hyderabad braces for the coming inundation (Dawn, Bloomberg, ET). Key Pakistani crops such as wheat, sugarcane, cotton and tobacco have been damaged in the flooding, and nearly 500,000 tons of wheat and sugar are believed destroyed (BBC, Dawn, Reuters). Pakistanis affected by flood and surging food prices began observing the normally-festive month of Ramadan yesterday, and a leading religious scholar said that destitute Pakistanis could fast later in the year if need be (AP, Guardian). And Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, whose government has been severely tested by the flooding, will make his first tour of affected areas today (Reuters, AP, Dawn).

The U.N. launched a $460 million appeal for donations to Pakistan yesterday, in order to provide aid over the next 90 days; currently $150 million has been pledged, but the U.N. says Pakistan needs at least $300 million more (NYT, UN, AP, Tel). The United States has stationed a Marine expeditionary ship, the U.S.S. Peleliu, off the coast of Karachi, and the ship’s 19 heavy-lift helicopters will replace the six currently on loan from U.S. efforts in Afghanistan (AP, NYT, AFP, Reuters, ET). The United
States raised its pledge to Pakistan to $72 million, and the swift aid response from the United States is reportedly creating goodwill in Pakistan (Dawn, Wash Post).

In a briefing for Pakistani journalists a senior ISAF officer stated that the "command and control" operations for the Afghan Taliban are based in the Pakistani city of Quetta (ET). And a Shi’a man was killed in apparent ethnic violence in Karachi, as Karachi police announced that nearly 1,000 people have been killed in the city in the last seven months (ET, Dawn).

Three vets, one leg, one mountain

Three veterans from three U.S. wars — Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan — summited Tanzania’s Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in Africa, with one catch: all are amputees, and of the three only one still has a leg (AP, BBC). The three took six days to do the climb along a specially-planned route, in order to prove that amputees can still lead active lives in spite of their injuries.

It has come to the author’s attention that a CNN piece quoted in yesterday’s brief inaccurately portrayed a twitter message from WikiLeaks. The piece quoted WikiLeaks as referencing Amnesty International, where in reality the message referenced the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC). The actual quote reads, "Research note: AIHRC is primary [sic] funded by the occupying forces of Afghanistan."

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