Daily brief: suicide attack kills 17 in Waziristan
Bracing Flood waters in Pakistan’s Sindh province continued to rise over the weekend, with at least 300,000 people forced to evacuate from Shahdadkot as levees on the eastern side of the city struggled to hold up against nine feet of water, which broke through on Sunday (AP, The News, NYT, BBC, Reuters, WSJ, Times, AP). ...
Flood waters in Pakistan’s Sindh province continued to rise over the weekend, with at least 300,000 people forced to evacuate from Shahdadkot as levees on the eastern side of the city struggled to hold up against nine feet of water, which broke through on Sunday (AP, The News, NYT, BBC, Reuters, WSJ, Times, AP). Authorities say Hyderabad, Sindh’s second-largest city, is not in danger from the torrents (Dawn/AFP, Daily Times). The Indus River has flooded five to seven miles beyond its banks, and floodwaters are expected to empty into the Arabian Sea over the next few days (NYT, WSJ). Communicable diseases like malaria, scabies, and respiratory infections are spreading across the country (CNN).
In Punjab province, a flood plain "criss-crossed with canals" where the government reportedly had 48 hours notice of imminent flooding, locals have accused authorities of failing to act in time or powerful landowners of protecting their interests "at the expense of others" (NYT). Waters have started to recede in areas of Punjab, and aid groups estimate that millions of dollars are needed to help the nine million people displaced by flooding (WSJ, FT). Some 1,500 people have been killed and 2,000 injured in the last month, and thousands of people are also stranded in Baluchistan (ET, Dawn).
More than $800 million has been pledged or donated, and Pakistani officials will reportedly ask the IMF for looser terms for its $10 billion loan while it copes with the aftermath (Reuters, Independent, AP, LAT, Tel, ET, AJE). A senior U.N. official has criticized the slow response from the international community, and Pakistan has banned Islamic charities suspected of ties to militant groups from operating flood relief efforts, though they continue to offer assistance, particularly in the northwest (BBC, AFP, Times, Daily Times, WSJ, McClatchy).
Earlier this morning, as many as 17 people were killed when a suicide attacker detonated his explosives at a mosque in the main town of South Waziristan, and a bomb exploded inside a school where a group of tribal elders were reportedly meeting in Kurram agency, killing seven (Geo, AFP, AP, Geo); several members of a local ‘peace committee’ were killed in Mohmand when a remote-controlled bomb detonated at a security checkpost they were manning over the weekend (The News); and three more were killed in Karachi on Saturday (Dawn). Bonus read: Amb. Wendy Chamberlin on Karachi’s boiling melting pot (FP).
Dexter Filkins reports that seven months after Afghan Taliban number two Mullah Baradar’s capture in Karachi, Pakistani officials are now claiming his arrest, which was accomplished with the help of the CIA, was deliberately designed to break up secret talks between Baradar and the Afghan government (NYT). Other Taliban leaders who were picked up in the aftermath of Baradar’s arrest, writes Filkins, "have been released to fight again" "after receiving lectures against freelancing peace deals."
More information is emerging about the killings of two teenage boys in the eastern Punjabi town of Sialkot on August 5, which happened in front of a crowd of people that included several Pakistani police officers: authorities are reportedly becoming more convinced that the boys were innocent (AP). Fourteen people have been detained in connection with the lynching, which has caused outrage across the country; Punjab’s chief minister promised yesterday that the "murder culprits" will be arrested within three days and tried in an anti-terrorism court (ET, The News, Hindu, ET).
And a suspected U.S. drone strike outside the main town in North Waziristan killed at least four alleged militants (Geo, Daily Times, AP, AFP). It is the 52nd reported strike this year, compared with 53 in 2009 (NAF).
On Saturday, Indian security forces imposed a curfew on several cities in Indian-administered Kashmir, and on Sunday six people were hurt after Indian forces fired on stone-throwing anti-India protesters in Srinagar (AFP, AFP). More than 60 have been killed in the Valley during the last two months, including one protester who died from his injuries earlier today, and 31 Indian policemen were hurt over the weekend (AFP). The minority Sikh community in Kashmir has reportedly received a wave of threats from alleged militants telling them to convert to Islam or leave the area (ToI).
At least 21 U.S. troops, Afghan policemen, and Afghan civilians died in security incidents across Afghanistan over the weekend: a coalition airstrike accidentally killed three Afghan police officers in the northern province of Jawzjan on Friday, several civilians were killed in an airstrike in Farah that targeted insurgents, and the bodies of six Afghan policemen were found in their "station house" in Helmand (AFP, NYT, AJE, LAT). The Taliban also staged an "audacious nighttime raid" against hundreds of Afghan security guards in Helmand province late last week, killing at least 21 (NYT). And Laura King reports on the stoning deaths of a 28 year old man and a 19 year old woman who eloped in the northern Afghan province of Kunduz (LAT).
Afghan President Hamid Karzai defended his decision to disband private security companies operating in Afghanistan to Christiane Amanpour on ABC’s "This Week," a day after the Afghan government officially issued the orders to begin dismantling the firms (AP, Reuters, AFP). Karzai also admitted for the first time that he personally intervened to free one of his top political aides who was arrested on corruption charges (Wash Post, NYT). The interview transcript is available here (ABC). And on Friday, Karzai said he would allow two Western-backed anti-corruption investigative units, which were instrumental in arresting his political aide, to operate without political interference (AP, McClatchy, AFP).
Gen. David Petraeus, top commander in Afghanistan, said the Taliban’s momentum in southern Afghanistan has been reversed, and said he would offer U.S. President Barack Obama his best "professional advice" next July when the transition to Afghan control is scheduled to begin (BBC). And the AP considers the coalition offensive reportedly set for next month in Zhari district in Kandahar (AP).
And the Post has several must-read pieces focused on Afghanistan: U.S. and Afghan officials are working on a plan to slow the flow of undeclared cash leaving the country (Post), three air bases in Mazar-e Sharif, Shindand, and Camp Dwyer in Helmand are being expanded at a cost of around $100 million each, illustrating the Pentagon’s intention to keep building military facilities in Afghanistan (Post), and al-Qaeda’s role in the Taliban insurgency has been limited, as both groups have been concerned about the appearance of foreign interference in a local insurgency (Post). Bonus read: Anne Stenersen on the relationships between al-Qaeda and various Taliban factions (NAF).
Good clothes for a good cause
In a special event in Lahore called "Fashion for Flood Relief" at the Royal Palm Golf and Country Club, top Pakistani fashion designers slashed their prices and donated the proceeds to flood victims (Daily Times). Clothes, furniture, jewelry, and cosmetics all flew out the door, with nearly 60 percent of the items gone within the first hour.
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