Daily brief: Nearly $360 million lost in Afghanistan – Report

Leaky coffers The AP revealed Tuesday that according to a report prepared at the request of former top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan Gen. David Petraeus, nearly $360 million in contract money for reconstruction and combat support had been lost to the Taliban, criminal groups, and local leaders since the war in Afghanistan began ...

JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images
JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images
JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images

Leaky coffers

The AP revealed Tuesday that according to a report prepared at the request of former top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan Gen. David Petraeus, nearly $360 million in contract money for reconstruction and combat support had been lost to the Taliban, criminal groups, and local leaders since the war in Afghanistan began (AP, Politico, DT). A senior U.S. military official in Kabul told the AP that only a small percentage of the money had gone to the Taliban, and that it represented only a fraction of the $31 billion in contract payments examined by the task force that conducted the review. And an audit issued Monday by the U.S. State Department and Defense Department found that the firm DynCorps International had failed to provide nearly 60 percent of the trainers for Afghan police that it had promised in a $1 billion contract signed in December 2010 (AJE, AFP).

At least eight people were killed Tuesday evening when a bomb on a motorcycle tore through a vegetable market just as local residents were breaking the Ramadan fast in the southern Afghan province of Uruzgan (AP, TIME, AFP). In Kabul, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) announced that a 21-year-old Afghan working as a cleaner at ISAF headquarters had been shot dead within the base, and an investigation is underway to determine if he was killed by a foreign soldier (AP, Reuters). And Afghanistan's interior ministry said Wednesday that a rocket had been fired onto the grounds of the Presidential Palace in Kabul, though it failed to cause any damage (AP).

Leaky coffers

The AP revealed Tuesday that according to a report prepared at the request of former top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan Gen. David Petraeus, nearly $360 million in contract money for reconstruction and combat support had been lost to the Taliban, criminal groups, and local leaders since the war in Afghanistan began (AP, Politico, DT). A senior U.S. military official in Kabul told the AP that only a small percentage of the money had gone to the Taliban, and that it represented only a fraction of the $31 billion in contract payments examined by the task force that conducted the review. And an audit issued Monday by the U.S. State Department and Defense Department found that the firm DynCorps International had failed to provide nearly 60 percent of the trainers for Afghan police that it had promised in a $1 billion contract signed in December 2010 (AJE, AFP).

At least eight people were killed Tuesday evening when a bomb on a motorcycle tore through a vegetable market just as local residents were breaking the Ramadan fast in the southern Afghan province of Uruzgan (AP, TIME, AFP). In Kabul, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) announced that a 21-year-old Afghan working as a cleaner at ISAF headquarters had been shot dead within the base, and an investigation is underway to determine if he was killed by a foreign soldier (AP, Reuters). And Afghanistan’s interior ministry said Wednesday that a rocket had been fired onto the grounds of the Presidential Palace in Kabul, though it failed to cause any damage (AP).

Three stories round out the day: The State Department on Tuesday designated a commander from the Haqqani Network and shadow governor of Paktika province, Sangeen Zadran, as an international terrorist (State, WSJ, AFP). A C-130 cargo plane made an emergency landing Monday after colliding with a surveillance drone in eastern Afghanistan (WSJ). And a Taliban statement released online has blamed Britain’s recent riots and America and Britain’s dire fiscal outlook on their, "offensive and imperialistic policies and designs" (Tel).

Denial

The Chinese government on Tuesday rejected reports that Pakistani authorities had allowed Chinese engineers to view and take samples from a modified U.S. Blackhawk helicopter that crashed during the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, calling the claims, "baseless and preposterous" (Tel, Guardian, Reuters). Meanwhile, according to McClatchy, the United States is considering funding a massive $12 billion dam in Pakistani-administered Kashmir, in what would be the biggest U.S. civilian aid project in the country in decades (McClatchy). And investigators are concerned about the health of 70-year-old Warren Weinstein, an American aid expert who was kidnapped Saturday from his home in Lahore and suffered a severe head injury during his abduction (ET).

At least six more people have been killed in ongoing violence in Karachi, while Pakistan’s interior minister Rehman Malik on Tuesday announced the reinstatement of a 20-year-old law that would offer amnesty to anyone who turned in an illegal weapon (Dawn, Dawn). Also in Karachi, police have arrested an alleged Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) commander named Fazal Mehsud (ET). And in Khyber agency, at least 12 militants were reported killed Tuesday when a remote-controlled bomb detonated next to their convoy (Dawn).

During meetings Tuesday the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) reportedly worked out a deal for the MQM to rejoin Pakistan’s federal government, and for changes to be made in a local governance law in Sindh province (ET, Dawn). And Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari has authorized the local government in Baluchistan to open a dialogue with political parties in the restive province (DT, Dawn, ET).

Finally, Taliban fighters reportedly crossed over from Afghanistan and killed an anti-Taliban leader and his son in Bajaur Wednesday (AP). And the commission investigating the killing of journalist Saleem Shahzad spent nearly five hours Tuesday questioning senior officers from Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI) and Intelligence Bureau (IB) (ET, DT).

Movin’ on up

A team of foreign and Afghan climbers recently summited the country’s highest peak, the 24,580-foot Mount Noshaq, in the isolated but peaceful Wakhan Corridor (Tel). The expedition was designed to promote tourism in the area, which an estimated 200-250 travelers visit each year.

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