Daily Brief: U.S. Open to Haqqanis in Peace Deal

Wonk Watch: Christian Dennys and the Peace Training and Research Organization, "Moving Toward Transition: A Survey of Opinion Leaders in Southern Afghanistan as the United States Begins Its Drawdown" (NAF). Room for discussion U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told Reuters on Tuesday that the United States remains receptive to a peace deal in Afghanistan ...

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

Wonk Watch: Christian Dennys and the Peace Training and Research Organization, "Moving Toward Transition: A Survey of Opinion Leaders in Southern Afghanistan as the United States Begins Its Drawdown" (NAF).

Room for discussion

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told Reuters on Tuesday that the United States remains receptive to a peace deal in Afghanistan that includes the militant Haqqani Network, which has been blamed for several recent high-profile attacks in the country (Reuters). Sec. Clinton added that Afghan and coalition forces would continue fighting Haqqani Network and other militants while they see if "some of the groups or their leaders are willing to break with others" to participate in talks. Meanwhile, Maj. Gen. Michael Krause, the deputy chief of staff for NATO's International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF), said yesterday that, for the first time, Taliban attacks in Afghanistan are trending down -- attack figures have been lower in the past two months than they were during the same time period last year (AFP). Maj. Gen. Krause also said that ISAF had intercepted a communication from the Taliban's "inner shura" admitting that their summer campaign to take back the southern provinces of Kandahar and Helmand had "utterly failed."

Wonk Watch: Christian Dennys and the Peace Training and Research Organization, "Moving Toward Transition: A Survey of Opinion Leaders in Southern Afghanistan as the United States Begins Its Drawdown" (NAF).

Room for discussion

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told Reuters on Tuesday that the United States remains receptive to a peace deal in Afghanistan that includes the militant Haqqani Network, which has been blamed for several recent high-profile attacks in the country (Reuters). Sec. Clinton added that Afghan and coalition forces would continue fighting Haqqani Network and other militants while they see if "some of the groups or their leaders are willing to break with others" to participate in talks. Meanwhile, Maj. Gen. Michael Krause, the deputy chief of staff for NATO’s International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF), said yesterday that, for the first time, Taliban attacks in Afghanistan are trending down — attack figures have been lower in the past two months than they were during the same time period last year (AFP). Maj. Gen. Krause also said that ISAF had intercepted a communication from the Taliban’s "inner shura" admitting that their summer campaign to take back the southern provinces of Kandahar and Helmand had "utterly failed."

Afghan police said Tuesday that a remote-detonated bomb blast killed six police officers and one tribal elder in Kandahar (AP,). And four Afghans working for a French aid organization who were kidnapped Monday, were released yesterday by their captors (APAFP). The organization’s director in Afghanistan has said the captors were part of the Taliban and that the release of her employees was "thanks to local elders mediating."

Cash strapped

The AP’s Chris Brummitt reports today on a shift within the Pakistani Taliban away from receiving funding from established donors and toward the use of street crime such as robberies, kidnapping and extortion to raise money (AP). The criminal fund-raising efforts are reportedly delegated to a group within the Pakistani Taliban created specifically for this reason, called the "Black Night" group. Speaking at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said that "the situation in Pakistan is likely to remain volatile" and that solving problems in Pakistan is "vital for a secure Afghanistan" (ET).

Two people were killed yesterday when unidentified gunmen set a NATO oil tanker on fire in the Pakistani province of Balochistan (AFP). Also yesterday, Pakistani police recovered NATO supplies originally destined for coalition troops in Afghanistan that had been stolen and kept in a warehouse in Peshawar (ET). In Karachi, Rangers arrested a total of 31 people on Tuesday, some of whom are Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) party activists reportedly being held for questioning on suspicion of forcing markets and shops to close on Monday (ETET). Police believe two more suspects arrested today were involved in 26 murders in the city (ET). And Aasia Bibi, a Christian woman sentenced to death last year for blasphemy, has reportedly been tortured by a Lahore jail warden who found illicit items in her cell (ET).

The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said Tuesday that floods in Pakistan this year have damaged about 3.7% of the country’s total crop area, and that more than 2.75 million people in the flood-affected areas are in immediate need of food aid (ET/Reuters). A report by the Sindh Culture Department adds that the heavy rains have severely damaged many of the province’s historical and archeological sites (Dawn). And Pakistani health officials say that dengue fever has infected around 12,000 people and claimed 202 lives in the past two months alone, while unofficial tallies are even higher (CNNET).

Three stories round out the news in Pakistan: The University of Karachi yesterday conferred an honorary doctorate degree on Interior Minister Rehman Malik, a decision that received condemnation from professors and students at the university, who say that Chancellor Ishratul Ebad Khan did not consult the syndicate of teachers as the university’s rules require (ET). Pakistan Railways reportedly shut 156 of 206 trains yesterday because of a fuel shortage (Nation). And parliamentarian Sherry Rehman today introduced a draft bill to increase the transparency of the Pakistani government by improving the public’s access to information (ET).

Frightfully bad

Novice film director Omar Khan has sought to fix Pakistan’s shortage of respectable horror films with his debut production Zibakhana (ET). Khan says the use of dance routines and themes of romance in Lollywood horror movies weakens the intended "horror" in them.

Jennifer Rowland is a research associate in the National Security Studies Program at the New America Foundation.

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