Karzai slams NATO mission as Afghan war enters its 13th year
The Rack: "Ending the War in Afghanistan – How to Avoid Failure on the Installment Plan," Stephen Biddle (Foreign Affairs). Twelve years on As NATO forces marked the 12th anniversary of the Afghan war on Monday, Afghan President Hamid Karzai gave a blistering interview to the BBC, calling the international effort "one that has caused ...
The Rack: "Ending the War in Afghanistan – How to Avoid Failure on the Installment Plan," Stephen Biddle (Foreign Affairs).
Twelve years on
As NATO forces marked the 12th anniversary of the Afghan war on Monday, Afghan President Hamid Karzai gave a blistering interview to the BBC, calling the international effort "one that has caused Afghanistan a lot of suffering, a lot of loss of life and no gains, because the country is not secure" (BBC). Karzai’s words come as representatives for the two countries are trying to restart negotiations over the stalled Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) that would determine the size and scope of the U.S. mission after most combat troops withdraw at the end of next year. In describing the agreement, Karzai said it "has to suit Afghanistan’s interests and purposes. If it doesn’t suit us, and if it doesn’t suit them, then naturally we will go separate ways."
While Karzai has been critical of the United States and the NATO mission in the past, Stephen Biddle, a defense policy expert at the Council on Foreign Relations, told Al Jazeera America that the tone of the interview makes it "fairly clear that he’s even more frustrated with us now than he’s been in the past" (AJA). Many Afghan observers saw Karzai’s interview as a form of political posturing for the outgoing president, and former NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said they were "unfair" (BBC). Neither the coalition nor the United States has responded to the interview.
Despite Karzai’s comments, Marie Harf, a U.S. State Department spokeswoman, told reporters later Monday night that Washington remains hopeful that a security agreement can be concluded soon with Kabul (Pajhwok, RFE/RL). Harf confirmed that discussions between the two sides were ongoing and that the two sides continue to make progress. Karzai also announced that a Loya Jirga (grand assembly) would be held in November to discuss the content of the BSA and determine if it should be signed (Pajhwok, RFE/RL). Both Harf’s and Karzai’s comments come one day after the New York Times reported that U.S. officials were preparing to suspend the negotiations in the coming weeks, should no breakthrough emerge.
Naresh Vijay Vig, a spokesman for the Indian Army, told reporters on Monday that India killed seven Pakistani fighters over the weekend and that fighting is ongoing near the contested Line of Control in Kashmir (NYT). According to Vig, Indian troops and "infiltrators" have been engaged in "controlled firing" for the past two weeks, and five Indian soldiers have been injured. The gun battle has been described by India’s Defense Ministry as a "Border Action Team" maneuver, a reference to a specific unit within the Pakistani army. A spokesman for the Pakistani military denied any involvement in the incident.
Doctors Without Borders, a France-based humanitarian organization, posted a statement on its website on Friday saying that it has still not received authorization from the Pakistani government to enter the areas of Balochistan most affected by the September 24th earthquake (Dawn). The press release goes on to say that the organization’s staff has been ready to deliver medical and humanitarian assistance to the Awaran district for more than a week, and urged the government to allow them to enter the region. Adrees Mehsood, a spokesman for Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), said that the assistance wasn’t needed as the NDMA had already provided food, shelter, medical care, and other goods to the entire Awaran population. He added that international aid organizations were not allowed to carry out relief efforts because the Pakistani government had not sought their help.
Last Thursday, Provincial Information Minister Sharjeel Memon banned instant messaging and Internet telephone services, including Skype, in Sindh province for the next three months, citing security reasons (Dawn, Reuters). While Memon did not specifically say how closing the networks would improve security, provincial security services said militants and other armed groups are using them to plan attacks, particularly in Karachi, the provincial capital, which has been plagued by violence for months. It is not clear if Pakistan’s other provinces will follow suit, or if the ban can even be enforced. The ban comes less than a week after Freedom House listed Pakistan near the bottom of its "Freedom on the Net 2013" report.
"I am Malala"
On the heels of her in-depth interview with the BBC, Malala Yousafzai released her memoir on Tuesday, detailing her interests, her home in Pakistan’s Swat Valley, and the Pakistani Taliban attack that made her an international figure (AFP, AJA). Titled "I am Malala," the book was written with British journalist Christina Lamb and details Yousafzai’s life before and after the October 2012 attack. According to an Associated Press review, it "reveals a girl who likes ‘Ugly Betty’ and the cooking show ‘MasterChef,’ worries about her clothes and her hair, but also has an iron determination that comes from experience beyond her 16 years" (AP). And it’s that determination, both before and after the attack, which has made her one of the youngest contenders for the Nobel Peace Prize – to be announced on Friday.
— Bailey Cahall
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