Daily brief: Obama encourages India, Pakistan talks

Obama in India During his visit to India, U.S. President Barack Obama encouraged talks between India and Pakistan, and noted that Pakistan’s progress in combating militants has not been "as quick as we would like" (McClatchy, Times, FT, Tel, Hindu, The News, AJE, WSJ). Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari accused India of rejecting "peace overtures" ...

Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images
Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images
Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images

Obama in India

During his visit to India, U.S. President Barack Obama encouraged talks between India and Pakistan, and noted that Pakistan's progress in combating militants has not been "as quick as we would like" (McClatchy, Times, FT, Tel, Hindu, The News, AJE, WSJ). Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari accused India of rejecting "peace overtures" earlier this year (AP). In Mumbai on Saturday, Obama faced tough questions from students asking why he has not declared Pakistan a "terrorist state," his opinion of jihad, and regional instability (WSJ, NYT, FT, AJE, Post).

Obama administration officials reportedly do not expect the president to press India on disavowing the Cold Start doctrine, which senior U.S. military commanders say is fueling tension and which Indian officials deny exists (NYT). Cold Start is a "plan to deploy new ground forces that could strike inside Pakistan quickly in the event of a conflict."

Obama in India

During his visit to India, U.S. President Barack Obama encouraged talks between India and Pakistan, and noted that Pakistan’s progress in combating militants has not been "as quick as we would like" (McClatchy, Times, FT, Tel, Hindu, The News, AJE, WSJ). Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari accused India of rejecting "peace overtures" earlier this year (AP). In Mumbai on Saturday, Obama faced tough questions from students asking why he has not declared Pakistan a "terrorist state," his opinion of jihad, and regional instability (WSJ, NYT, FT, AJE, Post).

Obama administration officials reportedly do not expect the president to press India on disavowing the Cold Start doctrine, which senior U.S. military commanders say is fueling tension and which Indian officials deny exists (NYT). Cold Start is a "plan to deploy new ground forces that could strike inside Pakistan quickly in the event of a conflict."

An incomplete review for the director of national intelligence about David Coleman Headley, who has pleaded guilty to terrorism charges related to the deadly 2008 Mumbai attacks, has found at least five cases in which U.S. agencies were warned about his possible involvement with Pakistani militants, and that his ties are "more numerous and specific" that previously believed (Post). And in spite of a warning that he had extremist sympathies, the Drug Enforcement Administration reportedly sent Headley, an occasional DEA informant, to Pakistan several months after the September 11, 2001 attacks (NYT). It’s unclear what he was supposed to do there.

Drones, spies, and infighting

Two suspected U.S. drone strikes were reported in North Waziristan on Sunday (AJE, BBC, The News, ET, AFP, Geo, AP). Some 100 people reportedly watched militants execute three men they accused of spying for the U.S. near Miram Shah, the main town in North Waziristan, yesterday (Geo). And the LA Times reports that fighters from the Haqqani insurgent network, largely concentrated in North Waziristan, are moving into Kurram, further north in the tribal regions, and demanding the right to cross in and out of Afghanistan at will (LAT).

The death toll from Friday’s suicide attack on a mosque in Darra Adam Khel rose to 68, and a grenade attack at a mosque in Suleman Khel, near Peshawar, later in the day killed four (WSJ, The News, ET). Rahimullah Yusufzai reports that the Darra blast may have been the result of infighting between the pro-government militant commander Momin Afridi and the anti-government, Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan-allied Tariq Afridi, who was allegedly behind the attack (The News). Bonus read: all calculus, no answers (FP).

On Saturday in Karachi, some 200,000 mourners attended the funeral of Imran Farooq, the MQM founder who was killed in London in September (Dawn/AFP, ET, AP). There have been no claims of responsibility, and authorities are still investigating the murder.

Flood watch: The AP sent correspondents to northern, southern, and central Pakistan to assess the situation three months after floods devastated the areas, finding varying degrees of success in recovery efforts (AP). Some 2,000 people were killed and more than 20 million affected.

Flashpoint

Two people were killed Saturday when stone-pelting protesters in Shopian, a town in Indian-administered Kashmir, overturned a truck (AFP). Stone-throwers have now allegedly killed four people since June; Indian security forces have reportedly killed 111 in clashes with demonstrators. Bonus read: Kashmir’s protests go digital (FP).

Cleaning house

The former commerce minister of Afghanistan will reportedly be indicted within the next two weeks for allegedly overcharging the Afghan government by almost $20 million in fuel (AP). Amin Farhang denied the allegations, commenting, "If I had all that money I wouldn’t be sitting in Kabul. I would escape to somewhere else." Some two dozen current and former Afghan government officials, including the current mining minister, will also reportedly be indicted by Afghan prosecutors in coming weeks (WSJ).

Failed Afghan parliamentary candidates and their supporters continue to protest the results of the September 18 contests, calling for another vote, a recount, or investigations, during demonstrations in Kabul on Sunday (NYT, Pajhwok, AFP, Reuters). The Afghan Independent Election Commission reportedly found tens of thousands of uncounted ballots from 20 provinces in a warehouse, and will add those to the tally, though the new ballots are not expected to result in significant changes (Post, Pajhwok). The U.N.-backed Electoral Complaints Commission is investigating nearly 1,100 part-time election workers for possible involvement in fraud (Reuters).

The Taliban claimed that an Afghan National Army soldier shot two coalition service members and defected to the insurgency last week in Sangin in Helmand province, and coalition officials are investigating (LAT, AP, McClatchy). The bodies of five more of the Afghan policemen who went missing last week in the Khogyani district of Ghazni province after a Taliban attack on their base, suggesting they did not willingly defect as some initial reports suggested (Post, AP). In Kandahar, unknown gunmen shot down a senior prison official on Sunday (Pajhwok). The Times of London visited the mayor of Kandahar, Ghulam Hayder Hamidi, who "[shook] with violent rage" as he yelled at a police captain who had been found guilty of spying for the Taliban (Times).

Island talks

Representatives from Hezb-i-Islami Gulbuddin insurgent group, the Afghan government, the Haqqani network, and the Quetta shura are all reported to have participated in a round of peace talks in the Maldives over the weekend (Tolo). Saudi Arabia is said to have halted its efforts to mediate between the Afghan government and the Taliban because the latter has so far refused to give up its ties with al-Qaeda (AP).

U.S. defense secretary Robert Gates and chairman of the joint chiefs Adm. Mike Mullen said earlier today that Afghan security forces will be ready to assume responsibility by 2014 (AP). The military officials are hopeful NATO will endorse the 2014 timeline at this month’s alliance conference in Lisbon. However, a review by the NATO Training Mission Afghanistan reportedly finds that attrition and a lack of mid-level leadership trouble the Afghan security forces (WSJ). And the NYT considers how Obama has the opportunity to reshape the leadership of the Pentagon in light of upcoming retirements and terms ending (NYT).

Alissa Rubin has the weekend’s must-read describing the stories of several Afghan women who have attempted suicide via self-immolation (NYT). Two more stories finish out the weekend’s news: the Taliban sent a rambling open letter to the U.S. Congress calling for a fact-finding delegation to be dispatched to Afghanistan, "apparently ignorant of the fact that representatives and senators visit Afghanistan all the time" (WSJ); and NATO wants Canada to keep hundreds of trainers in Afghanistan after the country’s troops are scheduled to withdraw next years (Post).

Yes, coach

Four British cricket coaches are training 16 aspiring Afghan cricketers, including eight girls, in street 20 cricket in Kabul (Tolo). The hope is that the 16 will spread the game across Afghanistan, according to one of the British coaches.

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