Daily brief: Afghan Central Bank governor flees, resigns

The Shelf: Released today — the fully updated, paperback version of Peter Bergen’s The Longest War: The Enduring Conflict Between America and Al-Qaeda. Flight The governor of Afghanistan’s Central Bank, Abdul Qadeer Fitrat, announced his resignation Monday from the United States, saying that his life "was completely in danger" in Kabul due to his investigation ...

SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images
SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images
SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images

The Shelf: Released today -- the fully updated, paperback version of Peter Bergen's The Longest War: The Enduring Conflict Between America and Al-Qaeda.

Flight

The governor of Afghanistan's Central Bank, Abdul Qadeer Fitrat, announced his resignation Monday from the United States, saying that his life "was completely in danger" in Kabul due to his investigation into the Kabul Bank scandal, where nearly $900 million was allegedly given out in bad loans, including to senior officials and relatives of Afghan president Hamid Karzai (NYT, Reuters, WSJ, FT, BBC, AJE, AFP, Tel, Bloomberg). In his resignation letter and comments Fitrat blamed officials for interfering in his investigation into the Kabul Bank, while a presidential spokesman called his departure "treason" and said Fitrat would be prosecuted as part of the investigation (Reuters, Bloomberg).

The National Journal reports that top U.S. and NATO commander Gen. David Petraeus is planning to "thin out" U.S. forces in Afghanistan, shifting troops from secure areas to trouble spots like the country's east (National Journal). The city of Lashkar Gah will be the first site of a security transition in Afghanistan's volatile south (WSJ, CNN). Two senior officials charged with managing the war, Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute and Maj. Gen. Frederick Hodges, are set to leave their posts in the coming weeks and months (National Journal). And Greg Jaffe reflects on the four years defense secretary Robert Gates has spent at the helm of the Pentagon, as he prepares to retire (Post).

The Shelf: Released today — the fully updated, paperback version of Peter Bergen’s The Longest War: The Enduring Conflict Between America and Al-Qaeda.

Flight

The governor of Afghanistan’s Central Bank, Abdul Qadeer Fitrat, announced his resignation Monday from the United States, saying that his life "was completely in danger" in Kabul due to his investigation into the Kabul Bank scandal, where nearly $900 million was allegedly given out in bad loans, including to senior officials and relatives of Afghan president Hamid Karzai (NYT, Reuters, WSJ, FT, BBC, AJE, AFP, Tel, Bloomberg). In his resignation letter and comments Fitrat blamed officials for interfering in his investigation into the Kabul Bank, while a presidential spokesman called his departure "treason" and said Fitrat would be prosecuted as part of the investigation (Reuters, Bloomberg).

The National Journal reports that top U.S. and NATO commander Gen. David Petraeus is planning to "thin out" U.S. forces in Afghanistan, shifting troops from secure areas to trouble spots like the country’s east (National Journal). The city of Lashkar Gah will be the first site of a security transition in Afghanistan’s volatile south (WSJ, CNN). Two senior officials charged with managing the war, Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute and Maj. Gen. Frederick Hodges, are set to leave their posts in the coming weeks and months (National Journal). And Greg Jaffe reflects on the four years defense secretary Robert Gates has spent at the helm of the Pentagon, as he prepares to retire (Post).

The L.A Times looks at problems facing a peace deal with the Taliban, and notes that U.S. envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan Amb. Marc Grossman spends nearly all of his time working towards such an arrangement (LAT). And as Afghanistan’s security forces ramp up recruitment, the Times delves into concerns over preventing infiltration from insurgents (NYT).

Four stories close out the Afghanistan news: International forces announced that they have apprehended an Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan commander in the northern city of Kunduz, who was reportedly disguised as a woman at the time of his arrest (AP). The group Refugees International blames the the U.S. military in part for the flight of nearly 250,000 people from their homes, saying increased airstrikes and night raids have destroyed property and forced tens of thousands to move (AP). A former guard with the security firm Blackwater, Justin Cannon, was sentenced to 30 months in prison Monday for the 2009 killing of an Afghan (AFP, AP, Reuters). And in the aftermath of Osama bin Laden’s death, militant sympathizers have taken to posting "hit lists" of potential targets in Internet forums (Reuters).

Political divorce

For the second time this year, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) has withdrawn from Pakistan’s governing coalition as well as leadership positions in the province of Sindh, citing concerns that the "autocratic" Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP)-led government had rigged elections in Pakistani-controlled Kashmir (WSJ, ET, Dawn, Reuters, Bloomberg, DT, CNN, ET, Dawn). While the PPP may attempt to woo the MQM back, the former still maintains its majority in parliament (Dawn).

The tally from two drone strikes yesterday in South Waziristan has risen to at least 21 suspected militants, though some sources have reported militant casualties as high as 27 in the attacks (AJE, Reuters, ET, DT, Geo, BBC, AFP, AP). Unidentified gunmen on Monday killed Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) commander Shakirullah Shakir, the spokesman for the group’s training unit for suicide bombers, east of the North Waziristan town of Miram Shah (AP, AFP, ET). A leading Pakistani nuclear scientist, Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy, has told the Telegraph that he is concerned about the risk of nuclear materials and installations being attacked or seized by militants (Tel). And a U.S. State Department report on human trafficking released Monday highlighted the use of children by Pakistani militant groups as spies, fighters and suicide bombers (Dawn).

An inquiry into the killing of Pakistani journalist Saleem Shahzad has begun, while the government commission investigating the raid that killed bin Laden will reportedly start work July 5 (BBC, ET, ET).  Meanwhile, Pakistan’s minister for minority affairs has called for an investigation into the killing of former minorities’ minister Shahbaz Bhatti (ET).

Finally, a hand grenade was thrown into a tea shop in the Lyari area of Karachi Monday night, killing one and wounding at least 19 (ET, Dawn). And two NATO oil tankers were set ablaze Monday in Baluchistan (Dawn).

Make music, not war?

The Tribune last week interviewed Pakistani Sufi musician Salman Ahmad, who is traveling around the world promoting his music, a message of world peace, and his memoir released last year, "Rock’n’Roll Jihad" (ET). Ahmad is in talks to record an album with legendary British musician Peter Gabriel.

Sign up here to receive the Daily Brief in your inbox. Follow the AfPak Channel on Twitter and Facebook.

More from Foreign Policy

An illustration shows George Kennan, the father of Cold War containment strategy.
An illustration shows George Kennan, the father of Cold War containment strategy.

Is Cold War Inevitable?

A new biography of George Kennan, the father of containment, raises questions about whether the old Cold War—and the emerging one with China—could have been avoided.

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on the DISCLOSE Act.
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on the DISCLOSE Act.

So You Want to Buy an Ambassadorship

The United States is the only Western government that routinely rewards mega-donors with top diplomatic posts.

Chinese President Xi jinping  toasts the guests during a banquet marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on September 30, 2019 in Beijing, China.
Chinese President Xi jinping toasts the guests during a banquet marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on September 30, 2019 in Beijing, China.

Can China Pull Off Its Charm Offensive?

Why Beijing’s foreign-policy reset will—or won’t—work out.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar chairs a meeting in Ankara, Turkey on Nov. 21, 2022.
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar chairs a meeting in Ankara, Turkey on Nov. 21, 2022.

Turkey’s Problem Isn’t Sweden. It’s the United States.

Erdogan has focused on Stockholm’s stance toward Kurdish exile groups, but Ankara’s real demand is the end of U.S. support for Kurds in Syria.