The South Asia Channel
3 U.S. soldiers killed on Sunday are first NATO combat deaths this month
Bonus read: "The stargazer," Jeffrey E. Stern (AfPak). First August combat deaths Three American soldiers were killed in Paktia province on Sunday, the first NATO combat deaths this month (AP, BBC, Pajhwok, Reuters, VOA). As per International Security Assistance Force policy, neither the nationalities of the fallen troops nor the reason for their deaths was ...
Bonus read: "The stargazer," Jeffrey E. Stern (AfPak).
First August combat deaths
Three American soldiers were killed in Paktia province on Sunday, the first NATO combat deaths this month (AP, BBC, Pajhwok, Reuters, VOA). As per International Security Assistance Force policy, neither the nationalities of the fallen troops nor the reason for their deaths was revealed in the official statement, but a U.S. official told Reuters the soldiers were American. The deaths bring the number of foreign troops killed in 2013 to 103, 78 of which were from the United States.
In an interview with the Associated Press on Saturday, Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the U.S. commander of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), stressed that signing the stalled Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) was needed to "send a loud and clear signal…that the U.S. and international community is going to remain committed to a stable, peaceful and unified Afghanistan" (AP). He added that the BSA would also indicate to the Afghan Taliban that "they can’t wait us out." The BSA will determine the size and scope of the U.S. mission that remains in Afghanistan past December 2014 and while formal negotiations on its terms have been on hold, several U.S. and Afghan officials have said informal talks have been ongoing and the security pact should be ready for signature soon (VOA).
At least 22 people died in Afghanistan over the weekend, primarily in the Shakardara district of Kabul province, as flash floods submerged cars, destroyed homes, and wrecked havoc on farms in several Afghan provinces (BBC, CNN, Pajhwok, Reuters, RFE/RL). According to Ghulam Farooq, an official with the Afghanistan Natural Disasters Management Authority, flooding also occurred in Kapisa, Maidan Wardak, Paktika, and Parwan provinces. Many of those who died in Shakardara are thought to be women and children who were in the area, known for its vineyards and apple orchards, to celebrate Eid ul-Fitr.
Three Chinese workers were found dead in a Kabul apartment on Friday under what can only be described as "mysterious circumstances," and one of the housemates is still missing (NYT, RFE/RL). According to Afghan police, the killings were the result of an argument between the workers and several Afghans, and the victims include two Chinese prostitutes. While prostitution is not unheard of in Afghanistan, according to the New York Times, there is no evidence the workers were involved in the sex trade. It is still unclear what the argument was about, when the workers were killed, and if they were specifically targeted. Two other Chinese men were abducted from the apartment at gunpoint, but one was able to escape and is being questioned by police to determine what exactly happened.
Fighting in Kashmir
One Pakistani civilian was killed in the Battal section of Kashmir on Monday when Indian troops fired across the Line of Control, further escalating a week of rising tensions in the disputed territory (AFP, Dawn, Reuters, RFE/RL). Pakistani officials said the shelling was unprovoked, but Indian officials said they were responding to "unprovoked firing" from the Pakistani side that injured one Indian border guard on Sunday (RFE/RL). The troops from the two nuclear-armed countries have been firing upon each other intermittently for about a week. Bonus read: "Fear Stalks Villages on Kashmir Border," Sameer Yasir (NYT).
After rioting in several towns in the Indian-controlled portion of Kashmir left two people dead on Friday, Indian forces placed the area under a curfew on Sunday and have been marching through the streets to discourage protests (BBC, NYT). Arun Jaitley, a leader of India’s Bharatiya Janata Party, flew to the region on Friday to assess the situation but was not allowed to leave the airport. He has since returned to Delhi.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai spoke to Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif over the weekend to exchange Eid greetings, and accepted Sharif’s invitation to visit Pakistan, Karzai’s first to the country in more than a year and a half (Dawn, ET). According to Afghan and Pakistani officials, the visit is expected to occur on August 26 and while a comprehensive agenda is still being worked out, any conversations between the two countries will likely focus on fighting terrorism and the stalled Taliban peace talks.
According to the Pakistani Army’s initial report of the Dera Ismail Khan jailbreak on July 30, police and jail authorities keep the military in the dark about the attack, telling officials that the militants were inside the jail, when in fact they had already left the facility (ET). Four policemen were arrested on Sunday for negligence during the brazen assault that freed nearly 250 prisoners (Dawn).
Paiwand social media summit
On September 22 and 23, Afghanistan will hold its first national social media summit, bringing together over 200 of the country’s most active social media users (Pajhwok). The Paiwand summit will focus on networking and community building between the users, and will include speeches from prominent domestic and international social media experts. The summit will be simultaneously translated in Dari, Pahto, and English, and will be broadcast live on Radio Nawa, Radio Killid, Saba TV, and several online streaming sources. Registration for the event opened on Monday.
— Bailey Cahall