Daily brief: Bonn conference on Afghanistan opens
We can work it out The United States and numerous other countries pledged continued economic and political support to Afghanistan after 2014 during today’s conference at Bonn, on the 10-year anniversary of the first Bonn conference, which laid the groundwork for a post-Taliban Afghanistan (AP, Tel, AFP, CNN). Afghan President Hamid Karzai asked the nearly ...
We can work it out
We can work it out
The United States and numerous other countries pledged continued economic and political support to Afghanistan after 2014 during today’s conference at Bonn, on the 10-year anniversary of the first Bonn conference, which laid the groundwork for a post-Taliban Afghanistan (AP, Tel, AFP, CNN). Afghan President Hamid Karzai asked the nearly 1,000 delegates for financial support through the next decade, as the German newspaper Bild, citing German intelligence reports, suggested this weekend that Karzai plans on staying in power past the end of his second term in 2014 (Tel, BBC, Post, Reuters, AFP, Tel). Many observers and Afghans were skeptical this weekend about the prospects that real progress would be made at the conference, as Pakistan reiterated its pledge to boycott (McClatchy, BBC, WSJ, DW, AJE, Reuters, AFP, Dawn, AFP, ET, Reuters, DW). Bonus read: Bonn, 10 Years On – an FP Roundtable (FP).
The conference takes place as the American and Afghan governments continue to negotiate a long-term partnership agreement, one the Times suggests today is being delayed as Afghanistan pushes for an end to controversial "night raids" by Special Operations Forces (NYT). Julian Borger reports that NATO forces are planning a two-year push into eastern Afghanistan, including aggressive efforts to target militant sanctuaries and perhaps even Special Forces raids across the border into Pakistan (Guardian). And the Monitor follows a detachment of Marines after an offensive into Helmand’s Kajaki Valley (CSM).
Iran claims it shot down an RQ-170 stealth drone this weekend, as American forces said the drone may have been an aircraft that disappeared over Afghanistan near the border with Iran last week (Post, Guardian, WSJ, LAT, CNN). Iranian officials have not yet produced evidence of the drone, known informally as the "Beast of Kandahar."
Three stories round out the Afghanistan news: The Telegraph reports that nearly 350 Afghan women remain imprisoned for "moral crimes," about half of the country’s female prison population (Tel). Thirty Pakistanis are still being detained at the prison at Bagram, out of nearly 2,400 inmates (Dawn). And the AP reveals that as many as 2.6 million people are at risk of hunger as Afghanistan’s north faces its worst drought in decades (AP).
It’s not you, it’s me
President Barack Obama telephoned his Pakistani counterpart President Asif Ali Zardari Sunday to express his "condolences" for the deaths of 24 Pakistani soldiers last week in a U.S. airstrike in Mohmand, an attack that Obama told Zardari was not deliberate (CNN, Guardian, WSJ, AFP, ET). Pakistan has reportedly refused to take part in a joint investigation of the incident, as the Telegraph on Saturday spoke to Pakistani officials who said Pakistani officers who approved the strike were given incorrect target coordinates by their American interlocutors (Tel, NYT, CBS/AP, ET, Reuters, WSJ, Tel). U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter told a Pakistani TV station this weekend that U.S. personnel were leaving Shamsi airbase in Balochistan (AP, Dawn, ET, DT). Karen DeYoung and Karin Brulliard discuss the succession of Pakistan-U.S. crises this year, while the Tribune reports that Pakistan will likely "redraw" it’s anti-terrorism relationship with the United States (Post, ET, Tel). Bonus read: Daud Khattak, "Calling Pakistan’s boycott bluff" (FP).
Pakistani-American "citizen diplomat" Mansoor Ijaz, who is at the center of the "Memogate" scandal that has shaken Pakistan’s civilian government, claimed this weekend that Zardari and former Pakistani Ambassador to the United States Husain Haqqani knew in advance of the U.S. raid to kill Osama bin Laden on May 2 and even gave the raid a "green light" (Daily Beast, ET, CSM). Both Haqqani and the White House denied Ijaz’s claims, while Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik said this weekend that Ijaz was trying to "destabilize Pakistan" (Dawn, ET, ET). And former senior investigator and police officer Tariq Khosa, Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry’s choice to head the judicial investigation into the "Memogate" incident, declined Friday (ET). Bonus read: Peter Bergen and Andrew Lebovich, "What’s behind the furor in Pakistan?" (FP).
The AP reports that the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has splintered in recent years, and is now short on cash and split between 100 different groups (AP). Security is being beefed up in Pakistan in advance of the upcoming Shi’a holy day of Ashura, usually marked by large processions that have been attacked in the past by Sunni militants (ET, Dawn, ET, Dawn, ET). And a Pakistani-born Virginia man, Jubair Ahmad, pleaded guilty Friday to producing and uploading a propaganda video on behalf of the militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba (AP, Reuters, AFP, DT).
Five stories finish off the weekend: Pakistani film star Veena Malik is threatening to sue the Indian edition of FHM magazine, after they ran nude photos purportedly of Malik with "ISI" tattoed on her arm, photos that caused an uproar in Pakistan and that Malik says were doctored (BBC, WSJ, AP, ET). Pakistan has called on Australia to sell it uranium after the country’s parliament lifted a ban on selling to India this weekend (BBC). Pakistani Finance Minister Hafeez Shaikh said this weekend that the Pakistani government has spent nearly Rs1 trillion ($1.1 billion) in the last four years to cover electricity subsidies and the losses suffered by the country’s state-run power companies (Dawn). The United Nations said this weekend that a secret American effort to obtain Osama bin Laden’s DNA through a fake vaccination drive has hurt efforts to eradicate polio in Pakistan, making it harder for health workers to operate in key areas (WSJ). And Pakistan has issued 25 hunting permits for the rare Houbara bustard, which can only be hunted by falcons, to notables from the Arabian Peninsula (Dawn).
An unusual effort to bring stability to Afghanistan is being led by the Wildlife Conservation Society, which is training Afghans to preserve their unique environment and many of the rare species that live there (NYT). Afghanistan sits at the juncture of three distinct "biogeographic regions" and nearly 80 percent of Afghans rely on natural resources to survive.
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