Daily brief: twin drones strike NW Pakistan
Event: After last week’s U.S.-Pakistan strategic dialogue, what’s next for the troubled relationship? Peter Bergen and Imtiaz Gul discuss today at 12:15pm in DC (NAF). Bombs and blasts Two separate drone strikes were reported overnight in North Waziristan, more than a week since the last strikes, bringing this year’s total to 91 compared with 2009’s ...
Event: After last week's U.S.-Pakistan strategic dialogue, what's next for the troubled relationship? Peter Bergen and Imtiaz Gul discuss today at 12:15pm in DC (NAF).
Event: After last week’s U.S.-Pakistan strategic dialogue, what’s next for the troubled relationship? Peter Bergen and Imtiaz Gul discuss today at 12:15pm in DC (NAF).
Bombs and blasts
Two separate drone strikes were reported overnight in North Waziristan, more than a week since the last strikes, bringing this year’s total to 91 compared with 2009’s 53 (AFP, AP, CP, ET, The News). Four were injured in a remote-controlled bomb blast in the northwest tribal agency of Khyber (Dawn). And at least two people were killed earlier today in southwest Pakistan after another remote-controlled bomb targeting a Pakistani police van exploded in Quetta (Dawn, The News, AFP). There have been no claims of responsibility yet.
U.S. President Barack Obama called his Pakistani counterpart Asif Ali Zardari yesterday and both reportedly agreed that "more work needed to be done" to combat militants in Pakistan (Reuters). A senior Pakistani military official said an anti-militant offensive in North Waziristan will be considered only when the other six tribal agencies are stabilized (Reuters). Obama also reportedly reassured Zardari that the upcoming visit to India does not affect the U.S.’s relationship with Pakistan (Dawn). Bonus read: C. Christine Fair on India’s interests in Afghanistan (FP).
Five people were wounded yesterday and eight today in clashes with Indian security forces in Indian-administered Kashmir, today at separatist protests marking the arrival of Indian troops in the region in 1947 (AFP, AFP, PTI, ToI). Curfews have been imposed in Srinagar, the summer capital, and other towns in the valley.
The Post reports today that escalated airstrikes and a stepped-up campaign of special forces raids have "disrupted Taliban movements and damaged local cells," but the Afghan insurgency has been resilient, with Taliban commanders who are captured or killed being replaced within a few days (Post). U.S. officials said Taliban fighters are telling each other, attributing the words to Taliban leader Mullah Omar, "The end is near," referencing the July 2011 deadline to begin U.S. troop withdrawal.
Two suicide bombers reportedly attacked the house of the intelligence chief of the western Afghan province of Farah last night, killing a guard (Pajhwok). The intelligence chief was not home at the time of the attack.
Several reports from the special inspector general for Afghanistan are in the news today: one found that the Afghan company Basirat Construction has bungled the construction of six police stations in Helmand and Kandahar so badly that the buildings may collapse, and also faults the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for oversight failures (AP, McClatchy); the second found that foreign development programs in the eastern Afghan province of Nangarhar are "incoherent" and lack coordination and local input (Post); and the third warned of insufficient training for those civilians newly deployed to Afghanistan as part of the Obama administration’s ‘civilian surge’ (Post, McClatchy). The Nangarhar report is available here (pdf) and the civilian report is available here (pdf).
The U.S. is reportedly considering the possibility of using U.S. troops to provide security for some development projects in Afghanistan as a result of the Afghan government’s ban on private security contractors (CNN). The Afghan government has just extended the deadline for closure of the firms, originally mid-December, by at least two months (AP).
Russians in Afghanistan
The former leader of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev, who pulled Soviet troops out of Afghanistan in 1989, warned NATO that victory in Afghanistan is "impossible" and commented that Obama is "right to pull the troops out" (BBC, Tel). The Russian military could be playing a new role in Afghanistan under joint plans being drawn up with NATO, the details of which officials are hopeful will be announced at a summit in Lisbon next month (Independent, Guardian, Tel, Times). Among the considered proposals are the possibilities that Russia could lend military helicopters to the Afghan Army, train Afghan pilots in Russia, allow more NATO supplies across its territory, and train Afghans in counternarcotics.
And the Guardian reports that of the civilian casualties caused by British forces in Afghanistan, two thirds involved troops from three units: the Coldstream Guards, the Royal Marines, and the Rifles (Guardian).
Cricket in Kandahar
One of Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s brothers, Mehmood, has reportedly donated 20 acres of land for the construction of a cricket stadium in Kandahar City (Pajhwok). The land is valued at $4 million, and the stadium at $6 million.
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