The South Asia Channel

Daily Brief: Karzai opens Loya Jirga with demands

The Rack: John Villasenor, "The Drone Threat to National Security" (Scientific American). Lion’s den Afghan President Hamid Karzai opened a four-day Loya Jirga, or grand council, Wednesday in Kabul in front of some 2,000 delegates by consistently referring to Afghanistan as a "lion," albeit an "old and sick" one, that desires a partnership with the ...

SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images
SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images

The Rack: John Villasenor, "The Drone Threat to National Security" (Scientific American).

Lion’s den

Afghan President Hamid Karzai opened a four-day Loya Jirga, or grand council, Wednesday in Kabul in front of some 2,000 delegates by consistently referring to Afghanistan as a "lion," albeit an "old and sick" one, that desires a partnership with the West, but not "parallel government structures" (APReutersNYTAFPPost,Guardian). Bonus read: Khalid Mafton, "Afghan views on the Loya Jirga" (FP).

The capital city saw extensive security measures ahead of the Jirga, as nearby houses were searched, roads leading to the event closed, extra checkpoints set up, and roving security forces deployed to protect the participants (BBCNYTAPAFP). Bonus read: Scott Worden, "The law and politics behind Afghanistan’s "traditional" Loya Jirga" (FP).

Separately Wednesday, NATO officials said three of their troops had been killed in fighting in southern Afghanistan, but did not provide any further detail (AP).

Strike force

A suspected U.S. drone strike on two compounds in Pakistan’s South Waziristan killed at least 16 alleged militants late Tuesday night, the deadliest such strike in three months (APAFPCNNETBBC). Earlier on Tuesday, militants killed one Pakistani soldier and injured another in a rocket attack on an army checkpoint in the Ladha region of South Waziristan (AP). And on Wednesday, militants attacked another military checkpoint in Kurram Agency, again killing one soldier and wounding a second, and sparking retaliatory raids on militant hideouts that killed over 20 militants (ET). In Mastung, Balochistan, armed men attacked and torched a NATO container truck destined for Afghanistan on Tuesday (ET). And despite persistent violence, schoolgirls in the northwest Pakistan town of Swabi have not been deterred by the Taliban bombing of their school, but instead listen to lectures in a grassy courtyard while their classrooms are being rebuilt (Reuters).

In a significant step toward bolstering India-Pakistan economic relations, a two-day meeting in New Delhi between Indian Commerce Secretary Rahul Khullar and his Pakistani counterpart Zafar Mahmood concluded Tuesday with a timeline for putting into action Pakistan’s most favored nation (MFN) status for India (ET). Meanwhile, Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani on Tuesday called his recent meeting with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the Maldives "very successful" (The NationDawn). In anticipation of next month’s Bonn Conference on Afghanistan, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle is expected to arrive in Islamabad Thursday for talks with Pakistani civilian and military leaders aimed at gaining their support for a sustainable strategy for the region (ET).

Although former Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, who resigned from the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) on Tuesday, has not yet announced a new political affiliation, the Sindh chapter of Pakistan’s Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI) has said Qureshi will attend PTI leader Imran Khan’s rally on November 27 to announce that he is joining Khan’s party (ET). And the PPP reportedly plans to formally deny Qureshi’s allegations that he was forced to resign as Foreign Minister in January because he did not want to give CIA contractor Raymond Davis diplomatic immunity (Dawn).

In the wake of a match-fixing scandal resulting in the jailing of three Pakistani cricketers, Chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board, Zaka Ashraf, has set up a vigilance division to identify and punish corruption, as well as educate Pakistani cricket players about the definition of illegal match-fixing (Tel). And a Chinese resident of San Francisco, Xun Wang, pleaded guilty Tuesday to conspiring to ship high-performance epoxy coatings from a paint distributor in China to Pakistan’s Chashma II nuclear reactor without the proper approval (AP).

Party foul

A hip-hop dance crew from Chicago, the FEW Collective, currently on a tour through Pakistan, was briefly arrested in Rawalpindi on Wednesday for allegedly taking sensitive photographs and video footage of the Benazir Bhutto International Airport (ET). The group was detained and interrogated for about an hour before being asked to delete the photographs and footage, then released.

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