Daily brief: NATO tankers attacked in Pakistan

The troubled relationship Up to 20 suspected militants reportedly armed with rocket launchers and assault rifles set fire to dozens of NATO oil tankers in the southern Pakistani city of Shikarpur, in a major attack in Sindh (Reuters, AFP, AP, ET, FT, Pajhwok). Attacks on NATO supply lines in northwest Pakistan, where the Pakistani government ...

MIKE CLARKE/AFP/Getty Images
MIKE CLARKE/AFP/Getty Images
MIKE CLARKE/AFP/Getty Images

The troubled relationship

Up to 20 suspected militants reportedly armed with rocket launchers and assault rifles set fire to dozens of NATO oil tankers in the southern Pakistani city of Shikarpur, in a major attack in Sindh (Reuters, AFP, AP, ET, FT, Pajhwok). Attacks on NATO supply lines in northwest Pakistan, where the Pakistani government has kept the Torkham checkpoint to Afghanistan closed for a second day in protest of NATO helicopter strikes inside Pakistan, are more common (AFP, LAT, McClatchy, WSJ, Post, NYT, AP).

American officials, observing that Pakistan closed just one of several supply routes to Afghanistan, said Pakistan may want to limit the fallout from this incident, and a Pentagon spokesman said there was no "immediate impact" of the closure (NYT, LAT). The Journal has the clearest account of the differing Pakistani and NATO versions of what happened yesterday in Kurram, when NATO helicopter fire 600 feet inside Pakistan left three Frontier Corps troops dead (WSJ).

The troubled relationship

Up to 20 suspected militants reportedly armed with rocket launchers and assault rifles set fire to dozens of NATO oil tankers in the southern Pakistani city of Shikarpur, in a major attack in Sindh (Reuters, AFP, AP, ET, FT, Pajhwok). Attacks on NATO supply lines in northwest Pakistan, where the Pakistani government has kept the Torkham checkpoint to Afghanistan closed for a second day in protest of NATO helicopter strikes inside Pakistan, are more common (AFP, LAT, McClatchy, WSJ, Post, NYT, AP).

American officials, observing that Pakistan closed just one of several supply routes to Afghanistan, said Pakistan may want to limit the fallout from this incident, and a Pentagon spokesman said there was no "immediate impact" of the closure (NYT, LAT). The Journal has the clearest account of the differing Pakistani and NATO versions of what happened yesterday in Kurram, when NATO helicopter fire 600 feet inside Pakistan left three Frontier Corps troops dead (WSJ).

During his reportedly tense meeting yesterday with CIA chief Leon Panetta, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari conveyed his disapproval of the NATO incursion and asserted Pakistan’s sovereignty (McClatchy, The News, Dawn). The recent increase in tensions between the U.S. and Pakistan has worried the Obama administration, and some U.S. officials are reportedly considering the effects of a change in government in Pakistan (Post).

Protests and politics

After last month’s 22 reported drone strikes in northwest Pakistan, tribesmen in four main towns of North Waziristan staged protests yesterday and criticized both the U.S. and Pakistani governments (Dawn/AFP). A newly-released public opinion poll of Pakistan’s tribal areas found that more than three-quarters of FATA residents surveyed oppose the drone strikes (AP, NAF). In Orakzai, Pakistani security forces claim to have killed 600 militants in ongoing military operations, and say some 15 percent of the agency is still being cleared (The News).

Former Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf is launching his new political party, the All Pakistan Muslim League, today from London, where he has been living since 2008 (BBC, Dawn, AP, Reuters, The News). The party must be registered in Pakistan before the 2013 elections, and analysts say his return to Pakistan would be "mired with obstacles" (AP, BBC).

Flood watch: A U.N. helicopter delivering relief supplies to flood victims in Pakistan crash landed earlier this morning in Dadu, Sindh, wounding three (AP, AFP). The World Bank has approved $400 million in credit for Pakistan to aid in reconstruction, and the European Commission has decided to more than double its humanitarian aid to the crisis, to $205 million (Reuters, AFP).

Bin Laden watch

A new 11-minute tape from al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden calls for the creation of a relief body to aid Muslims harmed from natural disasters and wars, expresses concern about the victims of climate change and floods in Pakistan, and offers Eid congratulations (AP, AFP, BBC, CNN, ET). The last bin Laden tape was in March.

Bin Laden was also reportedly involved in the recently disclosed plot to target European cities: NPR writes that he allegedly sent a message via couriers to al-Qaeda affiliates and allies saying he would like to see a Mumbai-style attack in at least three countries, the U.K., Germany, and France (NPR). The British brothers who are believed to be, along with eight Germans, at the heart of the plotting, reportedly have family ties in Pakistan’s Jhelum district in Punjab, and one of them, Abdul Jabbar, is said to have been killed by a drone strike last month (Tel, AP, Guardian). German police say as many as 220 Germans have traveled to Pakistan and Afghanistan for militant training (Tel). Some of the initial intelligence about this plot reportedly comes from a German of Afghan descent, Ahmed Sidiqui, an alleged member of the al-Qaeda linked militant group the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, who is currently being held at Bagram in Afghanistan (CNN, NPR).

Corruption and violence

Mahmood Karzai, brother to Afghan President Hamid Karzai and shareholder in the troubled Kabul Bank who is reportedly under investigation in the U.S. for tax evasion and racketeering, will repay the bank $1 million in loans with interest (AJE). A USAID audit released yesterday found that a U.S. contractor in Afghanistan, Development Alternatives Inc., may have paid militants more than $5 million for security arrangements via local subcontractors (LAT, FP).

Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission has released partial poll results from the September 18 parliamentary contests for 20 provinces, and expects to release partial results for eight more tomorrow (Tolo).

Fifteen suspected militants were killed in a NATO airstrike in Kunar earlier today, and three insurgents and a civilian were killed in Zabul when the roadside bomb they were planting went off prematurely (Pajhwok, Pajhwo
k
). Five NATO soldiers were killed yesterday in southern Afghanistan, and the coalition announced that it has detained 438 militants over the last month, and captured a Taliban leader in the Kandahar district of Zheri (AP, AP). The Times of London, in a feature story on Operation Dragon Strike in Kandahar, quotes Lt. Col. Peter Benchoff, commander officer of a battalion in Kandahar, on the importance of Zheri: "The Taliban command in Pakistan have said that if they lose Zheri they’ll be forced out of Kandahar" (Times).

Blooming beautiful

Some 250 different types of flowers are grown in Herat, an Afghan province bordering Iran, which imports the blooms (Pajhwok). There are at least 20 flower nurseries in Herat.

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