Daily Brief: India, Afghanistan sign strategic pact
New deal Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday signed a strategic partnership agreement — Afghanistan’s first such agreement — which promises Indian training of Afghan security forces, as well as an increase in trade and cultural relations (WSJ, NYT, Post, AFP, BBC, AP). Five months in the making, the pact was finalized during Karzai’s ...
Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday signed a strategic partnership agreement — Afghanistan’s first such agreement — which promises Indian training of Afghan security forces, as well as an increase in trade and cultural relations (WSJ, NYT, Post, AFP, BBC, AP). Five months in the making, the pact was finalized during Karzai’s two-day trip to India, a country that has been one of Afghanistan’s largest funding sources since 2001, having given nearly $2 billion in aid (Post). The move is likely to further alienate Pakistan from its neighbors, exacerbating tensions caused by Afghan accusations of Pakistani support for militants who have recently launched high-profile attacks within Afghanistan (NYT, AP, Reuters, ET). Karzai on Wednesday said that the pact is not meant as an aggressive move toward Pakistan, which he called "a twin brother," while terming India "a great friend" (ET,BBC, Reuters, AP).
The deputy head of Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security (NDS), Mohammad Yasin Zia, said Tuesday at a press conference that Pakistan has refused to cooperate in the country’s investigation into the killing of former Afghan President and High Peace Council leader Burhanuddin Rabbani, and had refused to arrest Taliban leaders in Pakistan (AFP, AP, McClatchy). Zia said, "We want [the Taliban leaders] arrested and handed over to us. We have all their photos, home addresses and even their contact numbers. Our requests [to Pakistan] are very clear, but they are not helping us." Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar and its ambassador to Afghanistan both rejected the claims and reaffirmed their support for the investigation, but recriminations between the two countries continue to demonstrate their deteriorating relationship (ET,AP, Reuters). Meanwhile, Reuters’ Zhou Xin reports that China’s intentions in Afghanistan are tied more to economic desires than to political motivations, meaning that many Chinese politicians wish to avoid taking on a military role in Afghanistan’s future (Reuters).
The head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) operations for South Asia said on Tuesday that health care is out of reach for many Afghans, often because "roads are mined or blocked by checkpoints, so that people carrying the sick and wounded to hospital face long delays, sometimes with tragic consequences"(AFP, AP). The AP’s Kathy Gannon has a must-read on the dire circumstances many Afghans find themselves in ten years after the beginning of the war, while the Guardian reports that British soldiers in Afghanistan have been accused of nearly 100 incidents of killing or wounding Afghan civilians between January 2005 and March 2011 (AP, Guardian).
NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said Wednesday that it killed a senior commander of the Haqqani Network, known only by the single name Delawar, in an air strike near the Afghan border with Pakistan (ET, Reuters). The United States blames the militant Haqqani Network for the recent attack on the U.S. embassy in Kabul, and various representatives of the U.S. government have alleged links between the group and Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI). Finally, Alissa J. Rubin reports on the Taliban’s control over cellphone towers in parts of Afghanistan, which adds significantly to their leverage over the population (NYT).
Members of the Pakistan Muslim League-Q (PML-Q) on Tuesday quit the Pakistani federal cabinet over disagreements with the leading Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), while members of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) are holding an internal meeting today to decide whether to rejoin the PPP (ET, Dawn, Dawn). Politicians throughout the Pakistani government on Tuesday condemned the brutal sectarian attack on a bus in Balochistan that left 13 dead, and some members of Pakistan’s National Assembly called for the resignation of the Interior Minister and Balochistan Chief Minister because of the incident (ET, Dawn).
A spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad on Tuesday told Dawn that American military aid to Pakistan has been suspended, but not cut off, and is conditional upon Pakistan’s "cooperation" in the U.S. fight against terrorism in the region (Dawn). This comes as Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari met with the United Kingdom’s shadow Foreign Secretary Douglas Alexander, demanding recognition for Pakistan’s sacrifices in combating militant groups while also pledging to continue fighting extremism (ET). And the deputy commander of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Maulvi Faqir Mohammad, downplayed his statement Tuesday that he welcomes talks with the Pakistani government, saying he does not think they are possible until NATO’s withdrawal in 2014 (BBC).
Officials announced on Tuesday that Pakistan’s power crisis was over after the government released funds to energy providers, but while violent protests subsided in the Punjab demonstrators continued to riot against massive scheduled power cuts in other parts of the country (ET, Dawn, Dawn).
As the death toll from dengue fever in Lahore reached 160 Wednesday, health workers worry about the potential for a devastating outbreak of the disease in Karachi (ET, ET). And UNICEF official Mohamed Cisse told an audience at the inauguration of Pakistan’s first family care facility for HIV/AIDS that the care and counseling the center will provide is "desperately needed" in Pakistan (Dawn).
"Some enjoy offices by swimming pools"
Since 9/11, Islamabad’s Olympic-level swimming facility has not been used not by the country’s top athletes, but by government employees — most recently Pakistan’s Inter-Provincial Coordination Ministry (IPC) (Dawn). The ministers and staff now use the building’s changing rooms as offices.
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