The South Asia Channel

Daily brief: audio reveals Afghan election fraud

Phoning in corruption The Post reports on cell phone calls recorded purportedly between Afghan minister of energy and water Ismail Khan and a staff member of Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission in which Khan allegedly instructs the staffer which candidates should be named winners from the September 18 parliamentary contests (Post, AP). The final results of ...

ASIF HASSAN/AFP/Getty Images
ASIF HASSAN/AFP/Getty Images

Phoning in corruption

The Post reports on cell phone calls recorded purportedly between Afghan minister of energy and water Ismail Khan and a staff member of Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission in which Khan allegedly instructs the staffer which candidates should be named winners from the September 18 parliamentary contests (Post, AP). The final results of the election, which have been delayed due to concerns over fraud, could be announced as early as this week. Candidates and their supporters continue to stage protests in Kabul, Jalalabad, and Khost (Tolo, RFE/RL).

U.S. officials are increasingly emphasizing that the U.S. will have troops in Afghanistan until at least the end of 2014, rather than focusing on the Obama administration’s July 2011 deadline for the beginning of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan (NYT). Maj. Gen. Nick Carter, the former coalition commander of Afghanistan’s south, said that while there are some "green shoots" in the south, it won’t be until June and July of 2011 that gains can be judged sustainable (WSJ, Times). Bonus read: missed opportunities in Kandahar (FP).

And Afghan officials and foreign diplomats have reportedly agreed that the Karzai government’s order to close private security firms in Afghanistan will be carried out in stages (AP).

The drums of war

Earlier today near the Afghan border, the year’s 99th drone strike was reported in Pakistan’s North Waziristan, killing six alleged militants (CNN, AP, AFP, Geo). Pakistani security forces continue to clash with militants in the tribal agency of Orakzai, and at least 15 suspected insurgents were killed by fighter jets yesterday (ET, Daily Times, Dawn). Bonus read: the drone wars (The Atlantic).

The Pakistani government issued a statement further disapproving of U.S. President Barack Obama’s support for a permanent seat for India on the U.N. Security Council, calling it "incomprehensible that the U.S. has sought to support India, whose credentials with respect to observing the U.N. Charter principles and international law are at best chequered" (FT, Hindu). Bonus read: Ahmed Rashid, the road to Kabul runs through Kashmir (FP).

The state carrier Pakistan International Airlines is asking the Pakistani government to write off losses of $1.7 billion in order to stave off potential bankruptcy (AFP). A PIA spokesman insisted the company is capable of future profits, but analysts and officials are skeptical about the proposed bailout.

Flood watch: Yesterday, Pakistan imposed a six-month, 10 percent "flood relief surcharge" tax on Pakistanis earning more than 300,000 rupees ($3,500) per year, and a special excise duty on luxury goods will go from one percent to two percent (AFP). Finance minister Abdul Hafeez Shaikh said the measures will collect 40 billion rupees ($470 million) in revenue. 

Al-Qaeda watching

European and American counterterrorism officials tell CNN that al-Qaeda is still planning Mumbai-style attacks in Europe and possibly the U.S., and the alleged plot to launch coordinated attacks on targets in Europe earlier this fall was reportedly planned for 2010 (CNN). The Telegraph reports on al-Qaeda’s new international operations chief, Saif al-Adel (Tel).

One day you’re in

Karachi’s four-day Fashion Week kicked off yesterday in the southern port city, and flights from Lahore to Karachi are reportedly all booked up by designers and socialites (ET, Daily Times, ET). Two dozen fashion designers will display their spring/summer 2011 collections.

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