The South Asia Channel
Daily brief: Afghan governor killed in bombing
Threats on the ground The governor of Kunduz province in northern Afghanistan was killed along with at least 14 others earlier today when a "massive bomb" detonated at the Shirkat mosque in neighboring Takhar (AP, Reuters, BBC, Pajhwok). There were no immediate claims of responsibility, and authorities believe the governor, Mohammad Omar, was the target ...
Threats on the ground
The governor of Kunduz province in northern Afghanistan was killed along with at least 14 others earlier today when a "massive bomb" detonated at the Shirkat mosque in neighboring Takhar (AP, Reuters, BBC, Pajhwok). There were no immediate claims of responsibility, and authorities believe the governor, Mohammad Omar, was the target of the blast.
The Senate Armed Services Committee issued a scathing report yesterday after a year of investigation into Pentagon security contracts in Afghanistan, finding evidence of "private security contractors funneling U.S. taxpayer dollars to Afghan warlords and strongmen linked to murder, kidnapping, bribery as well as Taliban and other anti-coalition activities" (NYT, LAT, Post, BBC, AFP, AP, AJE, WSJ, Guardian). The report also slams the military’s lack of oversight of the "thousands of Afghans it indirectly pays to guard its installations" (Post). The Senate report is available here (SASC-pdf).
A dispute between the U.S. and the Afghan government over a proposed investigation, including an audit, of the troubled Kabul Bank has stalled a $120 million credit line from the IMF, a relatively small but symbolically important amount (Post).
And while Afghan and Western officials insist that the Taliban in Kandahar are "getting an absolute arse-kicking" in the latest coalition military operation there, "the seeds of an entrenched guerrilla war" have "tied down" coalition forces in Marjah, the area in neighboring Helmand province that was the site of a major offensive earlier this year (Times, AP).
Attack on a Sufi shrine
At least eight people, including two children, were killed and 65 wounded yesterday in a Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan-claimed double suicide bombing at the landmark Sufi shrine to Abdullah Shah Ghazi in Karachi, sparking angry mobs of protesters in the aftermath (AP, Geo, Daily Times, Dawn, AJE, ET, AFP, Times, BBC). One of the suicide bombers has reportedly been identified as Naseebullah from Dir (ET). Pakistani authorities have closed all other shrines in the city for security reasons, and Karachi is said to be quiet today (AP).
Pakistan’s army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has ordered an investigation into a video which allegedly shows men in Pakistani military uniforms executing blindfolded men in civilian clothes (Post, ET). Pakistan continues to keep the Torkham checkpoint closed to NATO supply lines, though McClatchy reports that militants "cross from Pakistan into Afghanistan with nary a second look from border officials" (McClatchy).
A top Pakistani diplomat who is close to Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari alleged that the recent U.S. travel alert about potential terrorist attacks in western Europe linked to Pakistan was politically motivated, and some European officials dismissed reports of a coordinated attack in Britain, Germany, and France as "nonsensical" (Guardian, AFP). CNN reports that a Turkish jihadist website announced that an Iranian-German militant from Hamburg who was suspected of involvement in the Europe plotting was killed by a U.S. drone strike in North Waziristan this week (CNN).
Interpol notified its members yesterday that India has issued arrest warrants for five Pakistani citizens, including two current Pakistani Army officers, for alleged involvement in the 2008 Mumbai attacks (AP, PTI). The "red corner notices" were reportedly issued on the basis of information gained from the interrogation of David Coleman Headley, the American who pleaded guilty earlier this year to involvement in planning the attacks.
Flood watch: The Pakistani government’s response to the country’s devastating floods continues to be criticized by the U.S. and other international aid donors, who are concerned that the country’s leaders have yet to produce a "reconstruction plan" for the 20 million Pakistanis affected (McClatchy). A senior Western diplomat commented, "We are committed to helping Pakistan but Pakistan has to help itself."
Then you may take me to the fair
Earlier this week, an international agricultural fair featuring rugs, dairy, handicrafts, fruits, and other products opened in Kabul (Tolo). An Afghan official said the last ten fairs have had some half a million visitors.