Daily brief: NATO set for Afghan discussions at Lisbon

NATO summit begins NATO leaders are gathering in Lisbon today and tomorrow in a summit being billed as one of the most important in the alliance’s history, and on the agenda is expected to be an endorsement of plans for a gradual NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan, with an "aspirational" timeline for Afghan forces to assume ...

DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images
DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images
DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images

NATO summit begins

NATO leaders are gathering in Lisbon today and tomorrow in a summit being billed as one of the most important in the alliance's history, and on the agenda is expected to be an endorsement of plans for a gradual NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan, with an "aspirational" timeline for Afghan forces to assume control by 2014 (Reuters, AFP, Tel, Guardian, AJE). The LAT considers messages to different audiences from the conference: "To a war-weary European constituency: There's an exit strategy. To a conflicted American public, whose troops are bearing the brunt of rising battlefield casualties: Things are going better militarily, but it will still take some time. To Afghan President Hamid Karzai: Please watch what you say. And to the Taliban: Don't get your hopes up" (LAT). Karzai is scheduled to address the summit tomorrow, and he and U.S. President Barack Obama are set to meet on the sidelines (BBC, Pajhwok).

Rajiv Chandrasekaran has today's must-read describing the U.S.'s recent focus on operations that over the last two months "have been more intense and have had a harder edge" than any time since 2001, despite the overall counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan (Post). In October, U.S. and NATO used 1,000 bombs and missiles, more than any single month since 2001, and a contingent of heavily armored M1 Abrams tanks, each weighing 68 tons and powered by jet engines, are reportedly being fielded by U.S. Marines in the southwest.

NATO summit begins

NATO leaders are gathering in Lisbon today and tomorrow in a summit being billed as one of the most important in the alliance’s history, and on the agenda is expected to be an endorsement of plans for a gradual NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan, with an "aspirational" timeline for Afghan forces to assume control by 2014 (Reuters, AFP, Tel, Guardian, AJE). The LAT considers messages to different audiences from the conference: "To a war-weary European constituency: There’s an exit strategy. To a conflicted American public, whose troops are bearing the brunt of rising battlefield casualties: Things are going better militarily, but it will still take some time. To Afghan President Hamid Karzai: Please watch what you say. And to the Taliban: Don’t get your hopes up" (LAT). Karzai is scheduled to address the summit tomorrow, and he and U.S. President Barack Obama are set to meet on the sidelines (BBC, Pajhwok).

Rajiv Chandrasekaran has today’s must-read describing the U.S.’s recent focus on operations that over the last two months "have been more intense and have had a harder edge" than any time since 2001, despite the overall counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan (Post). In October, U.S. and NATO used 1,000 bombs and missiles, more than any single month since 2001, and a contingent of heavily armored M1 Abrams tanks, each weighing 68 tons and powered by jet engines, are reportedly being fielded by U.S. Marines in the southwest.

The FT reports that 13 people have been assassinated in Kandahar City in the last six weeks, compared with six during a similar period in May and June, and distrust between Afghan soldiers and police and U.S. troops continues to hinder cooperation (FT, Post). A panel of 29 aid agencies has released a report asserting that the Afghan government can "barely access one third of the country" and that growing violence is negatively impacting aid work (Tel, ReliefWeb).

At yesterday’s packed congressional hearing with special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction Arnold Fields, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri) said she doesn’t think he is "the right person for this job," and Sen. Scott Brown (R-Massachusetts) told Fields to "zero in on the Taliban, find out how they are getting our money" (AP, CNN). Fields defended his performance, saying that his office wasn’t fully funded until 2009 and noting the difficulty of hiring staff to work in a conflict zone.

Gunfire in Lahore

Late last night, as many as eight unidentified gunmen reportedly opened fire near an Ahmadi mosque in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore, creating panic but causing no casualties (PTI, ET, Dawn/agencies). The minority Ahmadi sect has been targeted by militants in the past, with more than 90 killed in twin attacks on mosques in Lahore in May of this year. 

A Turkish-owned ship-based power plant will reportedly begin supplying energy-starved Pakistan with electricity next month and generate 230 megawatts for the national power grid (AP). Pakistan’s energy demand outstrips its supply by roughly 5,000 MW, and power outages can last 16 hours a day in some areas.

A suspected U.S. drone strike killed a handful of alleged militants in North Waziristan earlier today (Dawn, AP, AFP, ET). And Jane Perlez describes ethnic conflict in Karachi, writing that of Sindh’s 168 provincial assembly seats, just two are held by the Pashtun nationalist party the ANP (NYT). Some five million of Karachi’s 18 million residents are Pashtun.

Taking out the trash

Late last month, 300 workers with 13 garbage trucks undertook a drive to clear the Kabul River of garbage in order to shift 50 tons of trash to areas outside the Afghan capital (Pajhwok). Kabul produces some 2,500 sq m of trash every day.

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