Daily brief: Pakistan escapes major quake damage

Quake shakes Pakistan A massive earthquake of magnitude 7.2 shook Pakistan early this morning, centered 30 miles west to the closest town of Dalbandin and some 200 miles southwest of the Baluchistan capital of Quetta, and reverberated across the country and region (WSJ, AP, Geo, AJE, Reuters, ET, Reuters, Guardian, Tel). Few casualties and little ...

BANARAS KHAN/AFP/Getty Images
BANARAS KHAN/AFP/Getty Images
BANARAS KHAN/AFP/Getty Images

Quake shakes Pakistan

A massive earthquake of magnitude 7.2 shook Pakistan early this morning, centered 30 miles west to the closest town of Dalbandin and some 200 miles southwest of the Baluchistan capital of Quetta, and reverberated across the country and region (WSJ, AP, Geo, AJE, Reuters, ET, Reuters, Guardian, Tel). Few casualties and little damage were reported, though aftershocks were felt from Dubai to Delhi.

Yesterday in North Waziristan, Taliban fighters fired rockets at a security camp on the outskirts of Razmak, killing three Pakistani soldiers, and a suspected U.S. drone strike targeted a militant compound in Datta Khel near the Afghan border (AFP, The News/AFP, AFP, PTI). Today, a bomb near a school in Peshawar killed one (BBC, ET).

Quake shakes Pakistan

A massive earthquake of magnitude 7.2 shook Pakistan early this morning, centered 30 miles west to the closest town of Dalbandin and some 200 miles southwest of the Baluchistan capital of Quetta, and reverberated across the country and region (WSJ, AP, Geo, AJE, Reuters, ET, Reuters, Guardian, Tel). Few casualties and little damage were reported, though aftershocks were felt from Dubai to Delhi.

Yesterday in North Waziristan, Taliban fighters fired rockets at a security camp on the outskirts of Razmak, killing three Pakistani soldiers, and a suspected U.S. drone strike targeted a militant compound in Datta Khel near the Afghan border (AFP, The News/AFP, AFP, PTI). Today, a bomb near a school in Peshawar killed one (BBC, ET).

Newsweek has a must-read about the late Obama administration envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Amb. Richard Holbrooke, and his "lonely mission" amid conflicts with other American officials (Newsweek).

Allies, elections, and operations

After weeks of protests against rising fuel prices in Afghanistan, the Karzai government’s office said yesterday that Iran will reportedly release all Afghanistan-bound fuel tankers within the next four days, ending a six-week Iranian blockade (Pajhwok, LAT). Afghan president Hamid Karzai is reportedly flying to Russia tomorrow to discuss fuel (Tolo). Finnish president Tarja Halonen made an unannounced visit to northern Afghanistan, where Finland has 180 troops (AFP). And after yesterday’s news that the U.S. wanted to raise the goal size of the Afghan security forces by around 24 percent, European allies and the Afghan government expressed concerns about how to pay for the increase and the plan has been put on hold (WSJ).

A day after Karzai ally and Afghan attorney general Mohammed Ishaq Aloko said he hoped the special court appointed by Karzai to investigate fraud in the September 2010 parliamentary elections would toss out the results, the panel delayed the opening of parliament by a month (NYT, AP). Though the head of the panel, Sadiqullah Haqiq, said the five-member court has the power to overturn results, Afghan electoral law names it "the ultimate arbiter of such issues and the Independent Election Commission as the body to declare final results" (AP). Karzai is believed to be displeased with the new parliament. 

The Post describes the recent Operation Godfather in Garmsir district of Helmand province in southern Afghanistan, which "seemed a surreal departure from the past year of brutal violence and fighting" in the area (Post). A U.N. official warned that Takhar and Kunduz in northern Afghanistan are at risk of a return to opium cultivation because of a rising insurgency there, and American and Afghan forces are renewing an attempt to reduce the drug business (WSJ, Reuters). Between $100 million and $400 million in drug money reportedly goes to the Taliban.

An Afghan journalist was targeted by an acid attack on his way home from work in Kabul last night, possibly in retaliation for his claims in a recent book that Iran was involved in the assassination of Afghan resistance leader Ahmad Shah Massoud (Pajhwok, AP, Pajhwok, Tolo). Earlier this morning, 13 people were killed when a rickshaw drove over a roadside bomb in Paktika, and an IED in Zabul killed four border police officers (AP).

Winter wonderland

Tolo News is currently featuring a photo essay of images of Afghanistan in winter, from snow-covered mountains to frozen lakes to barren trees (Tolo). Temperatures drop well below freezing during the winter months (Reuters).

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