Daily Brief: Pakistan firm on Bonn conference boycott
Job Board: The New America Foundation’s National Security Studies Program is now accepting applications for a year-long research fellowship working on issues of countering domestic radicalization and violent extremism (NAF). No dice Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani Wednesday rejected a personal plea from Afghan President Hamid Karzai to reconsider Pakistan’s decision to boycott the ...
Job Board: The New America Foundation's National Security Studies Program is now accepting applications for a year-long research fellowship working on issues of countering domestic radicalization and violent extremism (NAF).
Job Board: The New America Foundation’s National Security Studies Program is now accepting applications for a year-long research fellowship working on issues of countering domestic radicalization and violent extremism (NAF).
Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani Wednesday rejected a personal plea from Afghan President Hamid Karzai to reconsider Pakistan’s decision to boycott the upcoming Bonn, Germany conference on Afghanistan, despite an Afghan government statement Tuesday that it was "optimistic" about Pakistan’s participation (AP, Dawn). Gilani said the boycott came about because Pakistan does not want "the land of our brother country, which is like a twin, to be used against Pakistan," and that he places Pakistan’s security over that of Afghanistan. Also on Wednesday, Pakistan’s Director-General of Military Operations (DGMO), Maj. Gen. Ishfaq Nadeem, stepped up the accusations in his account of the raid, implying that NATO forces deliberately attacked the Pakistani border posts even after receiving word that their targets were friendly, while preliminary U.S. military reports claim that the Taliban deliberately lured NATO forces into the accidental attacks (AJE, Tel, Reuters, ET, Dawn, AP). Some Afghan officials have alleged that Pakistan is exaggerating the severity of the attack to distract from its oft-criticized efforts against militants in the country’s border region (Post).
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the incident "tragic," on Wednesday, and voiced regret that Pakistan had pulled out of the Bonn conference, a sentiment echoed by German Prime Minister Angela Merkel, who said the deadly attack "should not distract" from the importance of the conference (AP, Reuters, AFP, BBC). The U.S. State Department also said Tuesday that Pakistan’s participation is "absolutely critical," but did not apologize for the incident (AFP, AP). At Pakistan’s request, the United States is reportedly preparing to vacate the Shamsi Airbase in Balochistan, but U.S. government officials are downplaying any impact this may have on "operations" — widely believed to mean drone strikes — against militants in the region (ET). And in a close call Wednesday, an incident involving heavy artillery fire between NATO and Pakistani forces across the Pakistani border with Afghanistan’s Paktika province was defused with no casualties sustained on either side (NYT).
A remote controlled bomb blast on Wednesday killed a "peace committee" leader and wounded two others in Pakistan’s northwestern Hangu District (ET). Meanwhile, 12 suspected militants were killed Wednseday by security forces in Kurram Agency (Dawn). In the country’s south, a suspected suicide bomber was killed in the outskirts of Quetta when his explosives detonated prematurely, while a lecturer at the University of Balochistan was shot and killed by armed men in a suburban Quetta neighborhood (ET, ET).
Several Pakistani cable television companies removed BBC World News from their programming on Tuesday following the BBC’s airing of the second installment of the documentary "Secret Pakistan," which the Cable Operators Association of Pakistan has called "anti-Pakistan propaganda" (ET, ET). Pakistani media regulators are considering summoning BBC representatives to explain the content of the documentary, which questions Pakistan’s efforts against the Taliban. And finally, a United Nations report released Tuesday demotes Pakistan from a "medium human development country" to a "low human development country," and notes that almost half the country’s population lives without basic education and health care (ET). Bonus read: Michael Kugelman, "Aiding without abetting" (FP).
Ray of light
A survey carried out by the Afghan Health Ministry in 2010 — the most comprehensive to date — showed that compared to a 2009 World Health Organization study, Afghan life expectancy is now significantly higher, infant mortality rates have been cut by 50%, and more Afghan women are likely to survive childbirth (AP, BBC). The report attributes the figures to dramatic improvements in the country’s healthcare over the past decade, but notes that Afghanistan still lags behind its South Asian neighbors in several health-related areas.
The chairman of the Steel Authority of India (SAIL), the Indian consortium that received the rights to develop a massive iron ore mine in Afghanistan, said Wednesday that SAIL plans to invest $11 billion to build a steel plant capable of producing 6 million tons per year (Reuters, WSJ). However, the group has said it will need assistance from both the Indian and Afghan governments for the project.
CNN’s Tim Lister has a must-read on how the United States is using alternative routes to move supplies into Afghanistan, as the border crossings with Pakistan remain closed after this weekend’s friendly fire incident (CNN).
Are you ready for some football?
Pakistani-American businessman Shahid Khan is set to buy the National Football League’s (NFL) Jacksonville Jaguars, pending approval from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell (AFP). Khan, who moved to the United States from Pakistan in 1950 at the age of 16, also plans to buy a house in Jacksonville to be able to manage the team from there.
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