The South Asia Channel

U.S. declares Afghanistan major, non-NATO ally

New Posts: Omar Samad, "Handle with care: A fragile Afghanistan in Tokyo" (FP); Melanne Verveer and Donald Steinberg, "Keeping faith in Afghanistan" (FP); Sean Mann, "Polio eradication held hostage in Pakistan" (FP).     Special status U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced Saturday in Kabul that the United States has made Afghanistan a major, non-NATO ...

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/GettyImages
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/GettyImages

New Posts: Omar Samad, "Handle with care: A fragile Afghanistan in Tokyo" (FP); Melanne Verveer and Donald Steinberg, "Keeping faith in Afghanistan" (FP); Sean Mann, "Polio eradication held hostage in Pakistan" (FP).    

Special status

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced Saturday in Kabul that the United States has made Afghanistan a major, non-NATO ally, a status that guarantees Afghanistan access to U.S. military training, military supplies, equipment loans, and financing for those loans (NYT, Bloomberg, AP). Afghanistan joins 14 other countries with major non-NATO ally status, including Japan, Argentina, Australia, and Israel, but is by far the least developed and least likely to be able to defend itself and maintain internal security.

Following Saturday’s announcement, Sec. Clinton and Afghan President Hamid Karzai traveled separately to a conference in Tokyo, where international donors pledged $16 billion in development aid to Afghanistan through 2015 on Sunday, with up to 20% of that money dependent upon Kabul’s reduction of corruption (WSJ, Post, NYT, AP, Reuters, Tel). The $4 billion per year is slightly above the World Bank’s estimate that $3.9 billion will be needed to keep the Afghan economy afloat after NATO’s withdrawal in 2014.

A video depicting a Taliban fighter in Afghanistan’s Parwan Province executing a young woman accused of adultery has sparked outrage both inside and outside of the country (Reuters, CNN, NYT, Tel). In the three-minute video, a militant identified by some as the woman’s husband shoots her several times at close range, after which a cheer goes up from some 150 men watching nearby. Afghan President Hamid Karzai joined NATO officials on Monday in condemning the murder, and ordered the arrest of the executioner (CNN).

Six U.S. troops were killed Sunday by a roadside bomb in the eastern Afghan province of Wardak (AP, Reuters). In addition to the six U.S. soldiers, at least 16 Afghan civilians, five policemen, and two other NATO service members were killed in bomb blasts and clashes throughout Afghanistan on Sunday (AP, LAT, Reuters). The New York Times’ C. J. Chivers published a must-read on Friday about the blow being dealt to Afghan security forces as NATO troops withdraw from Afghanistan and leave ground troops to defend themselves with very little air support (NYT).

Major strike

A U.S. drone strike on a compound in Pakistan’s North Waziristan Agency killed at least 19 people on Friday (NYT, ET, AP, Reuters, Guardian, CNN, The News). The attack reportedly targeted a Taliban commander named Rahimullah, who is said to be a close aide of the militant commander Hafiz Gul Bahadur, but the identities of the victims are still unknown.

Gunmen on motorcycles opened fire at a roadside restaurant in the remote town of Turbat, Balochistan on Friday, killing 18 people reported to be smugglers travelling to Europe through neighboring Iran (AP, CNN). On Monday, gunmen killed six Pakistani soldiers and a policeman in an attack on a military camp in central Punjab Province, as thousands of hardline Islamists marched nearby to protest the reopening of NATO supply lines to Afghanistan (NYT, AP, Reuters). It remains unclear whether any of the protesters, some of whom were armed, were responsible for the attack. The protesters marched under the banner of the Defense of Pakistan Council, an umbrella organization for many of Pakistan’s hardline political and religious parties (CNN, AP, AJE, ET, Dawn).

Pakistani police on Saturday seized millions of dollars worth of ancient Buddhist relics that smugglers were attempting to sneak out of the country to sell on the black market (AP, BBC).

Beer for the diplomacy win?

Pakistan’s 152-year-old Murree Brewery, a holdover from the British colonial era, has stayed alive thanks to a small cadre of foreign visitors and Pakistani Christian consumers (LAT). And a recent government decision to allow alcohol exports could not only boost Murree’s profits, but also improve relations with neighboring — and alcohol-imbibing — India.

— Jennifer Rowland

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