Daily Brief: Officials quick to explain Panetta statements

Event Notice: Please join the New America Foundation’s National Security Studies Program TODAY for an in-depth discussion with the National Defense University’s Dr. Thomas Lynch, the author of the forthcoming New America research paper, "The 80 Percent Solution: The Strategic Defeat of bin Laden’s al-Qaeda and Implications for South Asian Security" (NAF). Backpedalling U.S. and NATO officials ...

Jacquelyn Martin-Pool/Getty Images
Jacquelyn Martin-Pool/Getty Images
Jacquelyn Martin-Pool/Getty Images

Event Notice: Please join the New America Foundation's National Security Studies Program TODAY for an in-depth discussion with the National Defense University's Dr. Thomas Lynch, the author of the forthcoming New America research paper, "The 80 Percent Solution: The Strategic Defeat of bin Laden's al-Qaeda and Implications for South Asian Security" (NAF).

Backpedalling

U.S. and NATO officials on Thursday evening scrambled to clarify that U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta's statement on Wednesday did not mean that U.S. troops would give up a combat role in Afghanistan completely in 2013, but would give Afghan security forces the lead role in operations (NYTReutersAPReutersWSJAFPGuardianLAT). The Post's Greg Jaffe and Kevin Sieffe examine the myriad problems with applying the same gradual withdrawal strategy in Afghanistan as the one used by the United States to pull out of Iraq (Post). And NATO defense ministers in Brussels on Friday discussed how the member nations will pay the estimated $6 billion annual bill for Afghanistan's growing security forces after the 2014 troop withdrawal deadline (AP). Bonus read: Roger D. Carstens, "Putting the Afghans in charge" (FP).

Event Notice: Please join the New America Foundation’s National Security Studies Program TODAY for an in-depth discussion with the National Defense University’s Dr. Thomas Lynch, the author of the forthcoming New America research paper, "The 80 Percent Solution: The Strategic Defeat of bin Laden’s al-Qaeda and Implications for South Asian Security" (NAF).

Backpedalling

U.S. and NATO officials on Thursday evening scrambled to clarify that U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta’s statement on Wednesday did not mean that U.S. troops would give up a combat role in Afghanistan completely in 2013, but would give Afghan security forces the lead role in operations (NYTReutersAPReutersWSJAFPGuardianLAT). The Post’s Greg Jaffe and Kevin Sieffe examine the myriad problems with applying the same gradual withdrawal strategy in Afghanistan as the one used by the United States to pull out of Iraq (Post). And NATO defense ministers in Brussels on Friday discussed how the member nations will pay the estimated $6 billion annual bill for Afghanistan’s growing security forces after the 2014 troop withdrawal deadline (AP). Bonus read: Roger D. Carstens, "Putting the Afghans in charge" (FP).

Pakistani and Afghan officials on Thursday moved forward with plans to develop a massive gas pipeline that will run from Turkmenistan, through Afghanistan and Pakistan, and finally to India (ETThe News). Meanwhile, Tajik security officials announced Thursday that its border guards had clashed with a group of smugglers attempting to bring drugs across the border from Afghanistan on Sunday, but the group managed to escape back into Afghan territory (AP).

Sneak attack

Pakistani officials said Friday that at least seven Pakistani Frontier Corps soldiers were killed in a midnight ambush on a checkpoint in Kurram Agency by around 40 Taliban militants, 18 of whom were killed in defensive fire (APBBCDawnAFPET). And in a predominantly Shi’a area of Dera Ismail Khan District, militants blew up a girls school late Thursday night (ET).

Pakistan’s National Assembly on Thursday voted unanimously to pass a bill establishing the National Commission on the Status of Women, which will be responsible for reviewing laws concerning women and ensuring that those protecting women’s rights are enforced (DawnET). Also on Thursday, Pakistan failed to send a judicial committee to India to investigate the 2008 Mumbai attacks as planned, giving no reason for the delay when informing Indian officials (BBC).

Pakistani authorities on Thursday announced that tests had found large amounts of anti-malarial medicine in the faulty heart medicine IsoTab that caused over 100 deaths in Pakistan, and that drug factory responsible for producing the pills has been closed (AP,AFPDawn). And the brother of Osama bin Laden’s youngest widow, Yemeni Amal al-Sadah, is in Pakistan attempting to secure the release of his sister, and gave a television interview that aired on Thursday quoting his sister’s account of bin Laden’s death (Dawn).

Chaos in congress

The Punjab Assembly on Friday had to be adjourned briefly for the second time this week when assembly members from opposing parties began flinging insults at each other (The News). As soon as today’s session began, PML-Q member Samina Khawar Hayat called PPP member Shahbaz Sharif qatil-e-aala (biggest murderer), prompting assembly member Sheikh Allauddin to interrupt her, and sparking a battle of abusive language between the two representatives.

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Jennifer Rowland is a research associate in the National Security Studies Program at the New America Foundation.

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