Top U.S. general says Afghan war “on track”

Going as planned: The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Allen, testified before the House Armed Services Committee on Tuesday that the mission in Afghanistan is "on track," and that the relationship between NATO and Afghan forces "remains strong" (Post, AP, Politico, AJE, LAT, CNN, NYT). Gen. Allen also told lawmakers that he will not be advising any further troop reductions ...

Alex Wong/Getty Images
Alex Wong/Getty Images
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Going as planned: The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Allen, testified before the House Armed Services Committee on Tuesday that the mission in Afghanistan is "on track," and that the relationship between NATO and Afghan forces "remains strong" (PostAPPoliticoAJELATCNNNYT). Gen. Allen also told lawmakers that he will not be advising any further troop reductions until late this year, after 22,000 "surge" forces are withdrawn in September.

Many Afghan villagers living near the site of the recent massacre of 16 civilians have told reporters they think the shootings were in revenge for a roadside bomb earlier this month that injured several U.S. troops (AP). The locals say following the explosion, U.S. troops lined them up against a wall and promised to make them pay. Meanwhile, the lawyer for Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, who was accused of carrying out the attacks and is likely to be charged with homicide on Thursday, has said there is little forensic evidence against his client (CNNAPReutersCNN).

French police were engaged Wednesday in a standoff with a man suspected of murdering seven French citizens -- including three children -- who spent a considerable amount of time in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and claims links to al-Qaeda (NYTAPWSJAFPCNN). The man has been identified as Mohammad Merah, a French citizen of Algerian origin who "wanted to avenge the Palestinian children and take revenge on the French army because of its foreign interventions," according to French Interior Minister Claude Gueant.

Going as planned: The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Allen, testified before the House Armed Services Committee on Tuesday that the mission in Afghanistan is "on track," and that the relationship between NATO and Afghan forces "remains strong" (PostAPPoliticoAJELATCNNNYT). Gen. Allen also told lawmakers that he will not be advising any further troop reductions until late this year, after 22,000 "surge" forces are withdrawn in September.

Many Afghan villagers living near the site of the recent massacre of 16 civilians have told reporters they think the shootings were in revenge for a roadside bomb earlier this month that injured several U.S. troops (AP). The locals say following the explosion, U.S. troops lined them up against a wall and promised to make them pay. Meanwhile, the lawyer for Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, who was accused of carrying out the attacks and is likely to be charged with homicide on Thursday, has said there is little forensic evidence against his client (CNNAPReutersCNN).

French police were engaged Wednesday in a standoff with a man suspected of murdering seven French citizens — including three children — who spent a considerable amount of time in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and claims links to al-Qaeda (NYTAPWSJAFPCNN). The man has been identified as Mohammad Merah, a French citizen of Algerian origin who "wanted to avenge the Palestinian children and take revenge on the French army because of its foreign interventions," according to French Interior Minister Claude Gueant.

And Afghanistan’s intelligence agency, the National Directorate of Security (NDS), issued a statement Tuesday rejecting a report published over the weekend by human rights groups claiming that the abuse of detainees continues unabated in Afghan prisons (AP).

Round and round

Aitzaz Ahsan, the lawyer for Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, argued before the Supreme Court on Wednesday that Gilani never refused to follow court orders to send a letter to Swiss authorities requesting they reinstate a corruption case against President Asif Ali Zardari (ETDawnThe News). Instead, Ahsan claims Gilani has specified that he cannot follow the orders while Zardari is president, because he enjoys immunity granted to him by Pakistan’s constitution.

Pakistani security forces reportedly killed five militants during an operation in Kurram Agency early Wednesday morning (DawnThe News). The Taliban faction led by Mullah Nazir confirmed on Tuesday the death of three senior commanders in a March 13 U.S. drone strike, promising revenge and claiming that the group’s numbers are now in the thousands (ET).

The World Bank on Tuesday approved $1.1 billion in loans to Pakistan to increase the electricity provided by Tarbela Dam, and improve the efficiency of irrigation systems in the Punjab (ETAFP). And the brother of Osama bin Laden’s youngest widow, Amal al-Sadah, filed a petition Tuesday in the Islamabad High Court challenging the charges of illegal entry into Pakistan recently brought against al-Sadah and her five children (DawnThe News).

Boozy proposition

A member of Sindh’s provincial parliament suggested Wednesday that alcohol be made as easily available as soft drinks are in Pakistan (ET). His reasoning is that Pakistan’s law allowing only non-Muslims to sell or consume alcohol exacerbates preexisting sectarian divides.

 Jennifer Rowland

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

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