The South Asia Channel

Afghan security forces to be reduced after 2014

Planning ahead: Afghan Defense Minister Gen. Abdul Rahim Wardak said Tuesday that the number of Afghan security forces will likely be reduced to 230,000 from their peak strength of 352,000 following the NATO withdrawal in 2014 (NYT). The projected number is based on a "conceptual model" of army, police, and border-protection troops that will be able ...

SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images
SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images

Planning ahead: Afghan Defense Minister Gen. Abdul Rahim Wardak said Tuesday that the number of Afghan security forces will likely be reduced to 230,000 from their peak strength of 352,000 following the NATO withdrawal in 2014 (NYT). The projected number is based on a "conceptual model" of army, police, and border-protection troops that will be able to defend Afghanistan, but will also be sustainable when foreign aid drops.

Gen. Wardak and Afghan Interior Minister Gen. Bismillah Khan Mohammadi were in Washington for meetings with U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin E. Dempsey at the Pentagon (PostAP,). Gen. Wardak expressed Afghanistan's appreciation for the U.S. effort in Afghanistan, and argued that the continued presence of U.S. troops beyond 2014 will not only support the country's security, but will "give the right message" to the Afghan population and to insurgents. The U.S. and Afghan officials also discussed measures to stop the increasing occurrence of so-called "green on blue" attacks, such as better drug testing and background checks (WSJ).

A spokesman for the eastern province of Laghman was killed Wednesday when his motorcycle struck a roadside bomb, and a NATO service member was killed by a separate roadside bomb in Afghanistan's south (AP). The Taliban claimed responsibility Tuesday for twin suicide bombings that killed at least 18 people, a sign that the insurgent group could be ramping up their expected spring offensive (CNNNYT).

Planning ahead: Afghan Defense Minister Gen. Abdul Rahim Wardak said Tuesday that the number of Afghan security forces will likely be reduced to 230,000 from their peak strength of 352,000 following the NATO withdrawal in 2014 (NYT). The projected number is based on a "conceptual model" of army, police, and border-protection troops that will be able to defend Afghanistan, but will also be sustainable when foreign aid drops.

Gen. Wardak and Afghan Interior Minister Gen. Bismillah Khan Mohammadi were in Washington for meetings with U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin E. Dempsey at the Pentagon (PostAP,). Gen. Wardak expressed Afghanistan’s appreciation for the U.S. effort in Afghanistan, and argued that the continued presence of U.S. troops beyond 2014 will not only support the country’s security, but will "give the right message" to the Afghan population and to insurgents. The U.S. and Afghan officials also discussed measures to stop the increasing occurrence of so-called "green on blue" attacks, such as better drug testing and background checks (WSJ).

A spokesman for the eastern province of Laghman was killed Wednesday when his motorcycle struck a roadside bomb, and a NATO service member was killed by a separate roadside bomb in Afghanistan’s south (AP). The Taliban claimed responsibility Tuesday for twin suicide bombings that killed at least 18 people, a sign that the insurgent group could be ramping up their expected spring offensive (CNNNYT).

Dwindling hope

Pakistani rescue workers continue to search for 138 people buried since Saturday in a massive avalanche on the Siachen Glacier, where they were posted at a military outpost in disputed northern Kashmir (AJEDawnAFP). The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has demanded an inquiry into the conditions endured by soldiers on Siachen, where more troops have died in avalanches, crevasses, and harsh weather conditions than in battle (Tel). And environmental experts say the military presence there is also accelerating the melting of the glacier, while waste from the outposts has found its way into nearby water supplies (AFP).

The Post’s Michele Langevine Leiby reported Tuesday on Pakistan’s wide use of its "public order" law, Section 144, which allows the government to step in and stop any activity it deems threatening to public safety or order (Post). Section 144 was imposed last week in the northern province of Gilgit-Baltistan during an outbreak of sectarian violence, but it can also be used to ban activities like hookah smoking and political demonstrations.

After weeks of stalled discussion, the Pakistani parliament is reportedly close to an agreement on its review of bilateral relations with the United States, in which lawmakers have offered to reopen NATO supply routes to Afghanistan on the condition that drone strikes inside Pakistan are halted completely (ETDawnDT). However the hardline Jamiat-i-Islam-F and the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz parties have "serious concerns" about the recommendations, and have refused to participate in further proceedings.

Pakistan’s Supreme Court has taken up the investigation into M/s Berlix Lab International’s illegal import of 10,000 kilograms of ephedrine, which was allegedly used to make an addictive drug known as the poor man’s cocaine, and sold on the illegal drug market for $7 billion (ETDTDawn). The Supreme Court on Tuesday issue a notice to Musa Gilani, the son of Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, for his alleged role in the drug scandal, but the accused reportedly flew out of the country before his name could be placed on the Exit Control List (ECL) (ET). 

Wild wear

The third day of Pakistan Fashion Week finally showcased the ready-to-wear clothing that the event was supposed to focus on, with many designers expertly meshing traditional Pakistani styles with contemporary fashion design (ET). Designer Ahmed Bham found success in going out on a limb, encouraging men to add feminine florals and soft colors to their suiting.  

 

 Jennifer Rowland

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

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