Daily brief: Pakistan protests NATO killings

Job board: The application period for the New America Foundation National Security Studies Program Research Fellowship closes MONDAY, December 19, at 5 p.m. (NAF). Wonk Watch: Stephen Biddle, "Leaving Afghanistan to the Warlords" (Foreign Affairs). Editors’ note: Last night, the noted writer and iconoclast Christopher Hitchens died after a battle with cancer. Hitchens, who supported ...

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

Job board: The application period for the New America Foundation National Security Studies Program Research Fellowship closes MONDAY, December 19, at 5 p.m. (NAF).

Wonk Watch: Stephen Biddle, "Leaving Afghanistan to the Warlords" (Foreign Affairs).

Editors' note: Last night, the noted writer and iconoclast Christopher Hitchens died after a battle with cancer. Hitchens, who supported the war in Afghanistan and commented frequently on the country (among numerous other things), leaves behind a legion of admirers for his brilliant writing, prodigious output and principled stands on many different issues. Our thoughts are with his family.

Job board: The application period for the New America Foundation National Security Studies Program Research Fellowship closes MONDAY, December 19, at 5 p.m. (NAF).

Wonk Watch: Stephen Biddle, "Leaving Afghanistan to the Warlords" (Foreign Affairs).

Editors’ note: Last night, the noted writer and iconoclast Christopher Hitchens died after a battle with cancer. Hitchens, who supported the war in Afghanistan and commented frequently on the country (among numerous other things), leaves behind a legion of admirers for his brilliant writing, prodigious output and principled stands on many different issues. Our thoughts are with his family.

Who shot first?

Anonymous Pakistani officials in Washington briefed reporters on their investigation into the deadly U.S. assault on Pakistani positions in Mohmand that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers last month, alleging that U.S. forces fired first, and continued attacking for nearly an hour after being told they were firing on Pakistani forces (Post, AP, LAT, CSM, AFP). The officials also said that a NATO officer at a border coordination post staffed by NATO and Pakistani officers apologized for the incident, and for relaying "incorrect coordinates" about where U.S. and Afghan forces were operating (AP). Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar said Thursday that Pakistan would fight terrorism on its own terms, as at least 20 militants were reported killed in fighting in Orakzai, and other fighters targeted Pakistani security forces with grenades in Kohat (ET, AP, Dawn, Reuters). 

Pakistan’s Attorney General Maulvi Anwarul Haq said Thursday that President Asif Ali Zardari would not submit comments on the "Memogate" scandal to the country’s Supreme Court, as Dawn dug into the 81-page statement filed by Pakistani-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz (ET, Dawn, ET). Pakistani army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and intelligence head Lt. Gen. Ahmad Shuja Pasha called for an investigation into the incident, and in his statement to the court Kayani termed the affair an attempt to "hurt Pakistani national security" (Dawn, Dawn, Reuters, Bloomberg, ET). Pakistan’s High Commissioner in the United Kingdom Shamsul Hassan said Friday that Zardari would return to Pakistan from Dubai next week, as more presidential staffers have reportedly flown to the Persian Gulf Emirate, where Zardari is recovering from an unidentified health condition (ET, Dawn, Dawn).

Four stories finish off the Pakistan news: Declan Walsh has a must-read reflection on the seven years he has spent covering Pakistan (Guardian). The U.S. Senate on Thursday approved a defense authorization bill that included a freeze on $700 million in aid for Pakistan (ET). The Sindh High Court on Friday ordered Afaq Ahmed, the imprisoned head of the Mohajir Qaumi Movement – Haqiqi, freed (Dawn, ET). And public health officials in Sindh on Thursday expressed their grave concern about the spike in polio cases in Pakistan, including in Sindh (Dawn).

Investigations of investigations

A NATO report prepared by Air Force Brig. Gen. James R. Marrs has found that in at least seven instances, U.S.-trained militias known as Afghan Local Police (ALP) have engaged in various abuses, including assaults, carrying weapons improperly, and engaging in illegal taxation (NYT, Post, LAT, AP, BBC). However, the report, written in response to a Human Rights Watch study of alleged abuses committed by the ALP, still found the groups "effective" and argued that the problems with the ALP could be remedied. Bonus read: Sahr Muhammedally, "Human rights and the Afghan security transition" (FP).

Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s office said in a statement Thursday that any Taliban political office should be in Afghanistan, but that Saudi Arabia or Turkey — rather than Qatar — would be possible locations for such an office if it proves impossible to set one up in Afghanistan (AP, Reuters, NYT, BBC, AFP). Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid, meanwhile, said Thursday that the U.S.-led war effort in the country had "not achieved even one percent success" (ET).

Four Afghan civilians were killed by a roadside bomb in the southwestern province of Farah Thursday (AFP). And Gulnaz, the Afghan woman freed Wednesday after being imprisoned on "adultery" charges after reporting her rape to the police, said Thursday that she might marry her attacker — if he finds a bride for one of Gulnaz’s brothers (BBC).

Grand re-opening

Kabul’s Ghazi stadium was a public execution site under the Taliban, but on Thursday the refurbished stadium opened once more as a sports ground (AFP). Soccer’s governing body FIFA will reportedly certify the stadium soon, allowing international soccer matches to be held there.

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