The Rack: Michael Hastings "The Rise of the Killer Drones: How America Goes to War in Secret," (Rolling Stone)
Unwelcome: NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Friday that Pakistan is not invited to the May 21-22 NATO summit on Afghanistan in Chicago, joining India, China, and Russia on the list of countries who will not be attending (ET, Dawn). U.S. officials had previously said they hoped Pakistan would reopen the NATO ground supply routes to Afghanistan before attending the summit. The Pakistani cabinet will meet next Tuesday to discuss the reopening of ground routes, following an almost six-month blockade of the NATO supplies (AFP).
The Pakistani military said Thursday that it had successfully test-fired a short-range missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead, the second such test by Pakistan in two weeks (AP). Four children were killed by mortar fire in the Bara region of Khyber Agency as they heeded the military's warning to flee the area before soldiers launch a large-scale operation to clear it of militants (ET, Dawn).
The Indian Supreme Court on Thursday allowed 82-year-old Pakistani microbiologist Khalil Chishti, who was convicted in January 2011 of murder in the Indian town of Ajmer, to travel to his home country for a six-month stay on humanitarian grounds (ET,Dawn, BBC). Indian and Pakistani defense secretaries are to hold talks on the disputed Siachen Glacier on June 11-12 in Islamabad (AFP). And British Prime Minister David Cameron and Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani agreed in London on Thursday to improve trade relations between their two countries, and repatriate Pakistanis living illegally in Britain (Dawn, ET).
Taliban militants dressed in Afghan police uniforms blew themselves up on Thursday after being caught trying to sneak through a security checkpoint in the Yayakhil District of Paktika Province, killing two civilians and three policemen (AP). The Afghan Local Police, who are trained by American Special Forces, are being lauded for killing two of the six militants and preventing them from getting to the government offices they were targeting (NYT).
In Helmand Province, a roadside bomb killed seven civilians, and a subsequent explosion killed another civilian and a member of a local pro-government militia as they approached the scene to help (AP). And in Kunar Province on Friday, a man dressed in an Afghan army uniform opened fire on NATO troops, killing one service member (AP, NYT, NAF). A flash flood swept through a mountainous region of the northern Afghan province of Takhar on Friday, killing at least 27 people in the second major flash flood seen in northern Afghanistan this week (AP).
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey told a news conference on Thursday that the U.S. government is taking all possible measures to locate Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who has been held captive by insurgents since his capture in Paktika Province in June 2009 (NYT).
A nine-year-old Afghan beggar named Gran became a local celebrity last month when local traders ordered him to bathe, and discovered a birthmark on his chest that looks like the map of Afghanistan (Tel). Fortune quickly followed fame for Gran, as the Helmand Chamber of Commerce gave the boy's family a $1,450 grant, a scholarship to finish school, and a plot of land to build a house.
-- Jennifer Rowland