Daily brief: Petraeus to testify today

The Rack: Fasih Ahmed, "The incredible Sherry," Newsweek Pakistan. In the spotlight Top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan Gen. David Petraeus is set to testify before Congressional committees this week, and will reportedly state that while the Taliban’s momentum "has been arrested in much of the country and reversed in a number of important ...

Pete Souza/The White House via Getty Images
Pete Souza/The White House via Getty Images
Pete Souza/The White House via Getty Images

The Rack: Fasih Ahmed, "The incredible Sherry," Newsweek Pakistan.

In the spotlight

Top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan Gen. David Petraeus is set to testify before Congressional committees this week, and will reportedly state that while the Taliban's momentum "has been arrested in much of the country and reversed in a number of important areas," gains could be jeopardized if the State Department and USAID do not get adequate levels of funding (AP, LAT, AP, AFP). In his first formal assessment to Congress since assuming command last summer, Petraeus is expected to face tough questioning about corruption in the Karzai government and Pakistan's ongoing unwillingness to rout extremists along the border with Afghanistan.

The Rack: Fasih Ahmed, "The incredible Sherry," Newsweek Pakistan.

In the spotlight

Top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan Gen. David Petraeus is set to testify before Congressional committees this week, and will reportedly state that while the Taliban’s momentum "has been arrested in much of the country and reversed in a number of important areas," gains could be jeopardized if the State Department and USAID do not get adequate levels of funding (AP, LAT, AP, AFP). In his first formal assessment to Congress since assuming command last summer, Petraeus is expected to face tough questioning about corruption in the Karzai government and Pakistan’s ongoing unwillingness to rout extremists along the border with Afghanistan.

Petraeus is scheduled to speak today before the Senate Armed Services Committee at 9:30am EST, and tomorrow before the House Armed Services Committee at 10:00am EST and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at 2:30pm EST (closed briefing).

The New York Times reports that the first troops to leave Afghanistan this summer will be engineers and support troops, rather than combat soldiers (NYT). And a new poll finds that 64 percent of Americans surveyed last week believe the war in Afghanistan is not worth fighting, up from 44 percent in late 2009, as field commanders are reportedly asking for more troops (Post, ABC). The full poll results are available here (ABC-pdf).

A remotely detonated bomb has killed a local provincial official from Laghman province, and a bombing in Nangarhar left a school principal dead this morning (AP, Pajhwok, Pajhwok). Five children, mainly shoeshine boys, were reportedly killed in the Taliban suicide attack that left 37 dead yesterday in Kunduz, where more than 100 people have been killed in at least 11 insurgent attacks since the start of the year (NYT, WSJ, Post). And Afghan president Hamid Karzai reportedly assured a group of parliamentarians that the special court he ordered set up to investigate fraud in the September 2010 parliamentary elections would be disbanded by the end of the week (Pajhwok). MPs have called the court unconstitutional.

Making moves?

A Pakistani official told Dawn that the federal government has ordered the disaster management agency in Pakistan’s tribal regions to prepare a contingency plan to deal with the likely uprooting of as many as 500,000 people in North Waziristan following a possible military operation there, though the government has not laid out a timeline for the completion of the plan (Dawn). Two Pakistani policemen were killed in clashes with gunmen this morning in Mardan, and a NATO tanker was set on fire in Baluchistan (ET, ET).

Dawn also notes that though "there are hardly any evident markers to judge progress in dialogue on affairs of spy agencies," sources say the CIA and the ISI, Pakistan’s intelligence services, are likely to reach a breakthrough in their troubled relationship in the coming days (Dawn). Raymond Davis, the CIA contractor who shot and killed two Pakistani men in Lahore in late January, is due to be arraigned on murder charges tomorrow (The News). Bonus read: spy games (FP).

Long weekends

Afghan officials have extended the policy of Thursdays off, originally brought in late last year to cut down on air pollution in Kabul, for another three months (Pajhwok). Pajhwok adds that the extra day off has made no noticeable difference in air quality in the Afghan capital.

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