Daily brief: Karzai confirms Taliban “contacts”
"Unofficial personal contacts" with the Taliban According to a transcript of an interview that will be broadcast tonight at 9:00pm EST between CNN’s Larry King and Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Karzai confirmed that his government has had "unofficial personal contacts" with the Taliban "for quite some time" (CNN, CNN, AP, AFP, BBC). He also called ...
"Unofficial personal contacts" with the Taliban
"Unofficial personal contacts" with the Taliban
According to a transcript of an interview that will be broadcast tonight at 9:00pm EST between CNN’s Larry King and Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Karzai confirmed that his government has had "unofficial personal contacts" with the Taliban "for quite some time" (CNN, CNN, AP, AFP, BBC). He also called allegations that he is manic depressive "rather funny." On Saturday, Karzai flew to Kandahar to meet with 200 tribal elders in Arghandab district and told them it is their "duty to protect [their] areas" after coalition operations end (AP, Pajhwok). The Karzai government’s recently formed High Peace Council has elected former Afghan president Burhanuddin Rabbani as its chief (CNN, Pajhwok, AP). A Taliban spokesman reiterated the group’s lack of interest in talks. Bonus read: in defense of Hamid Karzai (FP).
The British aid worker who was kidnapped about two weeks ago in Afghanistan’s eastern Kunar province was killed over the weekend during a U.S. special forces rescue mission (Times, McClatchy, LAT, BBC, Independent, Tel, AP). Initial reports suggested that Linda Norgrove was killed when one of her captors detonated explosives nearby, but British prime minister David Cameron said Gen. David Petraeus had contacted him earlier this morning to say she may have died because of a grenade thrown by the U.S. troops trying to rescue her (Guardian, AP, BBC, CNN). An investigation is underway.
Over the weekend, a suicide car bomber detonated his explosives near a NATO convoy in eastern Khost’s Mandozai district, killing a child; five members of a family were killed in a roadside bombing in Paktia; and two NATO service members were killed in another roadside bombing in southern Afghanistan, while four Italian troops died in Farah (AP, AJE). At least 20 Taliban fighters were killed in two separate incidents in Paktika (Pajhwok).
Afghanistan’s Electoral Complaints Commission has received 4,149 complaints of fraud and irregularity in the country’s September 18 parliamentary contests, more than half of which could affect the final outcome if proven (AFP, Reuters). Twenty-five current Afghan lawmakers are among the accused.
Opening the border
Ten days after closing the border to protest a NATO helicopter strike in Pakistani territory, Pakistani authorities have reopened the Torkham checkpoint for NATO traffic, and are reportedly considering imposing a tax of NATO trucks because of the damage they have caused to Pakistani highways (CNN, Post, BBC, ET, Tel, AFP, NYT, Dawn). At least 150 NATO tankers were destroyed in militant attacks during the closure, including 29 that had stopped at a roadside restaurant about 120 miles east of Quetta on Saturday (AP). Bonus read: the real question about Pakistan’s border closure (FP).
Though German officials have played down the imminence of potential threats from militants in Germany who are said to have received training in Pakistan, German authorities are stepping up efforts to investigate alleged terrorist activities (WSJ). CNN reports that three members of a group of militants who left Germany last year to seek training in Pakistan have returned, and several others still living in the tribal regions are believed to be linked to the Europe plot (CNN, Spiegel).
Two suspected U.S. drone strikes were reported on Friday and one on Sunday in North Waziristan (CP, AP, ET, CNN, AP, CNN, BBC, The News, AFP). There have been 31 reported strikes in northwest Pakistan in the last 41 days (NAF). Unidentified militants destroyed three primary schools in the tribal area of Mohmand over the weekend (Geo). Pakistani officials arrested two men linked to ongoing targeted killings in the southern port city of Karachi, and said they were planning an attack on an Ahmadi mosque in the city (ET).
Watching: the Royal Courts of Justice have started an inquiry into the 7/7 attacks in London to examine the issue of preventability, notably whether MI5 could have done more to stop the attacks, which left 52 dead (NYT).
Sun Maid Afghanistan
Afghanistan accounts for three percent of the world’s raisin production, and raisin farmers are working with Mercy Corps and Fullwell Mill, a British food producer, to bring Afghan raisins to Britain under the Tropical Wholefoods brand (NYT). Fullwell Mill also works with almond growers in northwest Pakistan to supply almonds to Ben & Jerry’s.
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