Daily Brief: Afghanistan would back Pakistan in war with U.S. – Karzai

Brothers in arms Afghan President Hamid Karzai told Pakistan’s Geo Television in an interview aired on Saturday that Afghanistan would support Pakistan if it were to go to war with the United States, or any other nation, calling Afghanistan "a brother" to Pakistan (Reuters, NYT,AP, WSJ, Guardian). The interview sparked a wave of criticism from many Afghans, particularly ...

AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images
AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images
AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images

Brothers in arms

Afghan President Hamid Karzai told Pakistan's Geo Television in an interview aired on Saturday that Afghanistan would support Pakistan if it were to go to war with the United States, or any other nation, calling Afghanistan "a brother" to Pakistan (ReutersNYT,APWSJGuardian). The interview sparked a wave of criticism from many Afghans, particularly in the north if the country, who believe that Pakistan is responsible for much of their ongoing struggle with militancy. It is unclear when the interview was recorded, but its broadcast came just after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton left Pakistan, where she pushed the government to facilitate reconciliation in Afghanistan, while at the same time pressing Pakistan to take more action against insurgents (APLATPost,Reuters).

Pakistani officials have said that Pakistan made it clear to the visiting U.S. delegation that it is willing to assist the reconciliation process, but opening a front against the Haqqani Network based in North Waziristan is not an option, and that Pakistani officials and the U.S. delegation came to an agreement on the way forward in Afghanistan (DawnET). Sec. Clinton said in an interview Saturday that she urged Pakistan to use methods "besides overt military action," and to do so while it has coalition support from the other side of the border in Afghanistan (BloombergDawn). And a NATO official said Monday that Afghan and coalition forces have killed or captured 200 militants in two operations against fighters of the Haqqani Network in eastern Afghanistan (AP).

Brothers in arms

Afghan President Hamid Karzai told Pakistan’s Geo Television in an interview aired on Saturday that Afghanistan would support Pakistan if it were to go to war with the United States, or any other nation, calling Afghanistan "a brother" to Pakistan (ReutersNYT,APWSJGuardian). The interview sparked a wave of criticism from many Afghans, particularly in the north if the country, who believe that Pakistan is responsible for much of their ongoing struggle with militancy. It is unclear when the interview was recorded, but its broadcast came just after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton left Pakistan, where she pushed the government to facilitate reconciliation in Afghanistan, while at the same time pressing Pakistan to take more action against insurgents (APLATPost,Reuters).

Pakistani officials have said that Pakistan made it clear to the visiting U.S. delegation that it is willing to assist the reconciliation process, but opening a front against the Haqqani Network based in North Waziristan is not an option, and that Pakistani officials and the U.S. delegation came to an agreement on the way forward in Afghanistan (DawnET). Sec. Clinton said in an interview Saturday that she urged Pakistan to use methods "besides overt military action," and to do so while it has coalition support from the other side of the border in Afghanistan (BloombergDawn). And a NATO official said Monday that Afghan and coalition forces have killed or captured 200 militants in two operations against fighters of the Haqqani Network in eastern Afghanistan (AP).

Meanwhile, Afghanistan’s Interior Minister Bismullah Khan Mohammadi survived an attempted suicide bomb attack on his convoy Sunday in the Sayyed Khel district of Parwar Province (APCNNAFPTelReutersBBC). The would-be attacker was shot dead before he could detonate his explosive vest. And Afghanistan’s spy agency, the National Directorate of Security (NDS) denied allegations Saturday that its officers had nearly beaten a man to death while they interrogated him at a prison for 12 days earlier this month in southeastern Afghanistan (AFPNYT).

Tense moment

Pakistan forced an Indian helicopter to land on Sunday and briefly detained the crew after they crossed into Pakistani airspace over Gilgit-Baltistan (APWSJNYTET). The Indian government said the chopper strayed over the Line of Control (LoC) in bad weather, and praised Pakistan’s handling of the situation. Pakistan joined India as a temporary member of the United Nations Security Council on Friday, beating out Kyrgyzstan in general elections for the single open Asia-Pacific spot (ReutersAFPCNN,BBC). Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani cited the election result and President Karzai’s unconditional support as signs of the "effectiveness" of Pakistan’s foreign policy (Dawn). And the Chief Minister of Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir, Omar Abdullah, advised India on Saturday to have an "active engagement" with the Pakistani government, as Kashmir looks to lift a security law that has been in place since 1990 (NYTET).

Two-time parliamentarian and former first lady of Pakistan Begum Nusrat Bhutto, the widow of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) founder Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, passed away on Sunday (AFPBBCET). President Asif Ali Zardari said that everyone is welcome to the late politician’s funeral, and awarded her the title of "Mother of Democracy," as Prime Minister Gilani announced a ten-day mourning period and declared today a national holiday (ETDawn). In Peshawar, more than 1,500 Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) activists rallied on Sunday against the United States and former JI chief Qazi Hussain voiced his opposition to any changes in Pakistan’s foreign policy concerning the U.S. (ET). Many former residents of North Waziristan now living in Peshawar have reportedly been too afraid to return home since they were forced to leave during the Pakistan Army’s 2007 campaign against militants there (ET).

A man set himself on fire outside of Pakistan’s parliament building Monday in an apparent suicide attempt borne out of despair over his unemployment and poverty (Dawn). The event came as Prime Minister Gilani sent a message to Pakistanis to do all they can to fight hunger, poverty, disease and violence in honor of the 66th annual United Nations Day (Dawn). The death toll from dengue fever reached 274 in Punjab Province Monday (ET). And an audit of the Balochistan Education Department revealed the embezzlement of around Rs17.7 million ($200,000) during the 2009-2010 fiscal year (ET).

Tackles and tries

Afghanistan’s first national rugby team got its start in May of this year, but the members are already hoping to join the Asian Rugby Football Union next month (Reuters). They lost a recent match to the "reigning British army champions," but "we’re not afraid of the big boys because we’re Afghans," one young player said, "we compete very hard."

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

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