The South Asia Channel
Daily Brief: Taliban share peace “blueprint” – report
Plans for peace The Express Tribune reports on Wednesday that the Afghan Taliban has shared its "functional blueprint" of peace talks with both Pakistani officials and Dr. Nasiruddin Haqqani, the elder brother of Pakistan’s Haqqani Network leader Sirajuddin Haqqani (ET). Meanwhile, Pakistan has decided to send Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar to Kabul to discuss ...
Plans for peace
The Express Tribune reports on Wednesday that the Afghan Taliban has shared its "functional blueprint" of peace talks with both Pakistani officials and Dr. Nasiruddin Haqqani, the elder brother of Pakistan’s Haqqani Network leader Sirajuddin Haqqani (ET). Meanwhile, Pakistan has decided to send Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar to Kabul to discuss the reconciliation efforts (Reuters, ET). And the United Nations’ new special representative to Afghanistan, Jan Kubis, said Wednesday that he is encouraged by the discussions of reconciliation with the Taliban happening at all levels of the Afghan government and among private citizens in Afghanistan (AP).
France’s Foreign Minister Alain Juppe warned the French parliament on Tuesday that the country "must not give in to panic" and rush a withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, following President Nicolas Sarkozy’s threat last week to pull French forces out before the 2014 NATO withdrawal deadline (BBC, Tel, WSJ, AFP, AP). A spokesman for NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), Brig. Gen. Carsten Jacobsen, said Tuesday that 2011 was a "remarkably successful year" in terms of both progress against insurgents and the training of Afghan security forces (AFP). Jacobsen cited militants’ increased reliance on IEDs and the capture or killing of over 500 insurgents during Operations Shamshir and Knife Edge in eastern Afghanistan as evidence of ISAF’s success. However, figures released by NATO show that Taliban attacks have spiked in southern and eastern Afghanistan in recent months, and Human Rights Watch has called 2011 the country’s "most violent year ever" (CNN).
The severely strained ties between Pakistan’s civilian and military leadership appeared to be on the road to recovery Tuesday as Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani and Foreign Minister Khar met with Army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI) chief Lt. Gen. Ahmad Shuja Pasha to discuss Pakistan’s policies on Afghanistan (Dawn, NYT). Gilani on Wednesday then retracted his earlier remarks that Kayani and Pasha had acted unconstitutionally by submitting affidavits to the Supreme Court concerning the so-called "Memogate" scandal (Dawn, Reuters, ET). The judicial commission investigating "Memogate" on Tuesday refused Mansoor Ijaz’s request to record his testimony abroad, and has given Ijaz a final chance to appear before the commission on February 9, following Ijaz’s repeated delays of his visit to Pakistan on the grounds of security concerns (ET, Dawn).
Six soldiers and more than 12 militants have been killed in recent clashes in Kurram Agency (ET, Reuters). And three Shi’a Muslim lawyers were gunned down outside the city court in Karachi on Wednesday by unidentified gunmen on motorcycles (ET). The number of deaths believed to have been caused by free heart medicine prescribed by the Punjab Institute of Cardiology rose to at least 69 on Wednesday, as the Lahore High Court accepted a petition to hold the federal and provincial government responsible for the deaths (AP, Dawn).
The Indian and Pakistani ministers responsible for petroleum and natural resources, Jaipal Reddy and Asim Hussain, said Wednesday that the two countries are discussing the joint development of a natural gas field in Turkmenistan, as well as the export of diesel fuel from India to Pakistan (WSJ, Reuters). U.S. diplomatic officials reportedly met with private stakeholders in the energy industry to offer cheaper natural gas in an effort to persuade Pakistan not to pursue a gas pipeline deal with Iran (ET). Finally, the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon warned Tuesday that the U.N. Conference on Disarmament "is in danger of sinking," in part because of Pakistan’s refusal to consider a treaty banning the production of material for nuclear weapons (AFP).
A blessing or a curse?
An impoverished Afghan woman has given birth to sextuplets — three boys and three girls — despite having tried to abort the pregnancy when she found out the number of children she was carrying (Reuters). Her unemployed husband worries about the couple’s ability to care for six babies at one time, the same number of children the average Afghan woman has in an entire lifetime.