The South Asia Channel

Daily brief: Pakistan to boycott Afghanistan summit

Job Board: The New America Foundation's National Security Studies Program is now accepting applications for a year-long research fellowship working on issues of countering domestic radicalization and violent extremism (NAF).

Regional exit

Pakistan's government announced Monday that it will not participate in an upcoming conference in Bonn, Germany on Afghanistan's future, in protest to this weekend's bombing of two border posts in Mohmand by NATO forces that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers (BBC, Tel, AP, Reuters, ET, AFP). The decision came during a meeting of Pakistan's cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, who promised in an interview with CNN Monday that there would be no more, "business as usual" with the United States following the raid (CNN, Reuters, ET, AFP/Dawn). In a briefing Tuesday Pakistani Gen. Ashfaq Nadeem called the incident a "deliberate act of aggression" by the United States, and said Pakistan was still deciding if they will cooperate with an American probe of the attack, whose results are due to be released December 23 (AP, Dawn).

Pakistan and the United States continue to dispute the events surrounding the bombing, as U.S. and Afghan officials describe a joint commando patrol near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border that came under attack from positions near or even inside the Pakistani army posts, while Pakistan has said the assault continued long after Pakistani forces identified themselves to NATO (Post, NYT, ET, BBC, AP, WSJ). President Barack Obama and other American leaders have called the incident a "tragedy" but refused to apologize (AFP/ET, Tel). The Pentagon said Monday that it would "carry on" in Afghanistan without supplies from Pakistan, which has closed its border to U.S. supplies, and Pakistan reportedly refused a request by the United Arab Emirates to review its decision to evict American personnel from the Shamsi airbase in Balochistan, which the Emirates are believed to control (AFP, ET, Dawn, AFP). 

Protests against the assault continued across Pakistan Monday, as tribal elders from Kurram, Orakzai and Kohat division offered to "take revenge" for the killings (Dawn, Dawn, Dawn). Gilani said Tuesday that he would call a joint session of Pakistan's parliament to discuss the Mohmand incident, as well as the "Memogate" scandal (Dawn).

Five stories round out the news: Police in Karachi seized a large supply of weapons in a graveyard Tuesday, while Interior Minister Rehman Malik blamed a "foreign hand" for recent sectarian violence in the city (ET, Dawn). Meanwhile, 14 militants were reportedly killed in fighting in Orakzai, and police said Tuesday that they had arrested a "high-ranking militant" in Nowshera (ET, Dawn). Issam Ahmed reports on disillusionment in Pakistani-administered Kashmir over the "autonomy" plan put in place in 2009 (CSM). And a new study in a British medical journal has found that allowing "lady health workers" to treat children with pneumonia in Pakistani homes, instead of sending sufferers to hospitals, ensures a much greater recovery rate from the illness (NYT).

Don't let me down

Yaroslav Trofimov lays out Afghan government concerns about ensuring a long-term fiscal commitment to Afghanistan at next week's Bonn conference, with officials saying the country will need $10 billion per year from donors after international forces withdraw (WSJ). Laura King looks ahead to likely trouble spots in the postwar relationship between Afghanistan and the United States, amidst signs that the United States and other nations plan to withdraw as many as 40,000 troops by the end of 2012 (LAT, AP). And the BBC reports that an Indian consortium has been awarded a $10.3 billion contract to develop three iron ore mining sites in central Afghanistan (BBC).

Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Tuesday that top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan Gen. John R. Allen had ordered American forces retrained in avoiding civilian casualties, following the deaths of six children and one adult in Kandahar province last week (AP, AFP). And Ray Rivera, Sharifullah Sahak and Eric Schmitt have a must-read on American suspicions that the insurgent Haqqani Network, working with al-Qaeda, has set up two assassination squads in Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan targeting individuals suspected of working with American forces (NYT). 

Finally, Reuters reports on how attempts by an Afghan rape victim named Gulnaz to obtain a presidential pardon for her imprisonment on adultery charges may set a precedent for helping future rape victims escape the same fate (Reuters). 

Food fight

The imam of Lahore's Badshahi Mosque is fighting a plan to develop a "food street" behind the mosque, saying in part that the street would lead to "un-Islamic activities" (DT). The new development was scheduled to open in 2010, but has been hit by a series of delays. 

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