Daily brief: Afghanistan marks 10 years of war

Event notice: The New America Foundation will host former federal prosecutor and terrorism expert Ken Ballen TODAY from 12:15pm – 1:45pm for a discussion of his new book, Terrorists in Love: The Real Lives of Islamic Radicals (NAF). A somber anniversary Today marks the 10th anniversary of the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan, as a number ...

TAUSEEF MUSTAFA/AFP/Getty Images
TAUSEEF MUSTAFA/AFP/Getty Images
TAUSEEF MUSTAFA/AFP/Getty Images

Event notice: The New America Foundation will host former federal prosecutor and terrorism expert Ken Ballen TODAY from 12:15pm - 1:45pm for a discussion of his new book, Terrorists in Love: The Real Lives of Islamic Radicals (NAF).

A somber anniversary

Today marks the 10th anniversary of the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan, as a number of news outlets reflected on the past decade and what the future may hold for the troubled country, as international forces look towards withdrawal (AP, Guardian, AFP). U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told NATO defense ministers Thursday that the organization's timeline for the transition to Afghan security control was on schedule, while the Post reports on the U.S. military's shifting goals as troop numbers are set to begin dropping (Reuters, Post). And Declan Walsh explains how the political situation has changed in Afghanistan, as the Afghan government and United States seek a solution to the conflict (Guardian). Bonus read: 10 Years of War - An FP Roundtable (FP).  

Event notice: The New America Foundation will host former federal prosecutor and terrorism expert Ken Ballen TODAY from 12:15pm – 1:45pm for a discussion of his new book, Terrorists in Love: The Real Lives of Islamic Radicals (NAF).

A somber anniversary

Today marks the 10th anniversary of the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan, as a number of news outlets reflected on the past decade and what the future may hold for the troubled country, as international forces look towards withdrawal (AP, Guardian, AFP). U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told NATO defense ministers Thursday that the organization’s timeline for the transition to Afghan security control was on schedule, while the Post reports on the U.S. military’s shifting goals as troop numbers are set to begin dropping (Reuters, Post). And Declan Walsh explains how the political situation has changed in Afghanistan, as the Afghan government and United States seek a solution to the conflict (Guardian). Bonus read: 10 Years of War – An FP Roundtable (FP).  

In an interview Friday with the BBC, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said that the Afghan government and NATO had not provided adequate security for Afghans, but also accused Pakistan of supporting militant groups (BBC). Karzai also reiterated previous vows to step down from the presidency in 2014. Former commander of American and NATO forces in Afghanistan Gen. Stanley McChrystal told an audience at the Council on Foreign Relations Thursday that the United States had a "frighteningly simplistic" view of Afghanistan at the outset of the conflict that had not improved much, and that international forces were only half-way to accomplishing their goals in the country (AP, BBC, Tel). And the German officer who helped plan out the German army’s role in Afghanistan, former General Inspector Harald Kujat, said that the international mission in Afghanistan had failed, and that the Taliban would return to power months after coalition forces leave the country (Der Spiegel).  

Hundreds of Afghans marched peacefully through the streets of Kabul Thursday calling for the withdrawal of international forces (AP). The Journal reports that infighting between clans of the Shinwari tribe — once considered a U.S. ally in the fight against the Taliban — are complicating efforts to bring security to Nangarhar province (WSJ). And C.J. Chivers notes the break in fighting in September in the volatile eastern Afghan province of Paktika, as the Taliban and the Haqqani Network called a temporary truce to allow villagers to harvest pine nuts, a major seasonal activity in the region (NYT).  

Also today, Afghanistan has asked for nearly $150 million in international aid to alleviate a crippling drought across 14 provinces that could endanger several million people (BBC). And the International Monetary Fund (IMF) announced Thursday that it had reached an agreement with Afghanistan to provide a $129 million loan, after saying the country had made "important progress" on reform efforts following the collapse of the Kabul Bank (Reuters).   

Presidential warning   

U.S. President Barack Obama said at a news conference Thursday that Pakistan is "hedging" in Afghanistan, and was involved with "unsavory characters" in the country, a reference to suspected links between Pakistan’s government and security services and insurgent organizations such as the Taliban and Haqqani Network (NYT, WSJ, Dawn, ET, Reuters). Obama suggested that these links could damage the potential for a long-term partnership between the United States and Pakistan, "if we don’t think that [Pakistan is] mindful of our interests" in the region (NYT). The chairman of Pakistan’s Senate Foreign Affairs Committee said Friday that the comments would fuel anti-Americanism and damage stabilization efforts in Afghanistan (Reuters). And in remarks at the U.S. Military Academy Thursday, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates said that "there’s little question in my mind that [the Haqqani Network receives] support and protection from the ISI," referring to Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (AP).      

The commission investigating the killing of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in May has recommended that Dr. Shakil Afridi, a Pakistani physician accused of helping run a vaccination program designed by the CIA to confirm bin Laden’s presence in the city of Abbottabad, be charged with "high treason" (BBC, AP, CNN, AJE, ET, Guardian, ABC). While the commission’s recommendation is not binding, Afridi faces a possible death sentence if the government pursues the charges. Jane Perlez has a must-read on Pakistan’s turn towards China following the bin Laden raid, and China’s reticence about providing Pakistan with greater support (NYT). And Dr. Zaheer Ahmed, a man charged with working for the ISI in order to influence American policy on the disputed region of Kashmir, has reportedly died in Islamabad of a stroke (AP).     

Pakistan’s Supreme Court Thursday placed heavy blame for the violence in Karachi on the country’s political parties, highlighting in particular the role allegedly played by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) (BBC, Dawn, ET). The court also concluded that the politicization of the city’s police forces helped contribute to the spiraling violence. Meanwhile, opposition figure Nawaz Sharif campaigned in Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari’s hometown of Nawabshah in Sindh province, and called the current government Pakistan’s, "most corrupt" (ET, ET). Also in Karachi, paramilitary Rangers arrested the leader of the religious party the Sunni Tehreek as well as two dozen others, following the group’s protest over the death sentence handed down against slain Punjab governor Salman Taseer’s killer Mumtaz Qadri (Dawn).  

Five stories round out the news: Pakistani army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani called on Afghanistan Thursday to crack down on militant groups staging cross-border attacks into Pakistan (ET, Dawn). In Balochistan, two bodies were found Thursday that reportedly bore signs of torture and multiple bullet wounds (ET). Former Pakistani dictator Pervez Musharraf said Thursday that India was trying to make an "anti-Pakistan Afghanistan" (Dawn). The match-fixing trial continues in London for former Pakistani cricket captain Salman Butt and fast-bowler Mohammad Assif (AFP, Guardian). And an increased use of pesticides in Pakistan’s Punjab to counter dengue fever is also leading to an outbreak of rashes and other reactions (ET).   

The other side of war 

Kabul is currently playing host to its first Autumn Human Rights Film Festival, showcasing films by Afghan and other directors (Reuters). Fifty films are being screened at the festival, which has taken organizers several years to plan and put together. 

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