The South Asia Channel

New U.S. commander in Afghanistan confirmed

Next in line

The Senate Armed Services Committee confirmed Gen. Joseph Dunford as the United States' new top commander in Afghanistan on Thursday, where Gen. Dunford declined to specify how many U.S. troops will remain in Afghanistan after December 2014, but said that 1,000 would be insufficient (AP, CNN, Reuters, Post). Gen. Dunford also said he has not been involved in recent discussions about the future of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, but said their main missions would likely be counterterrorism and advising Afghan security forces.

Regression?

Pakistan on Thursday carried out its first execution in four years, with the hanging in Mianwali of former soldier Muhammad Hussain, who was sentenced to death in 2009 for fatally stabbing one of his superiors (Dawn, LAT, ET, BBC). International human rights groups decried the execution as a step backward since an unofficial moratorium on capital punishment was implemented in 2008, but Pakistani officials said that policy applied only to the civilian justice system, not military courts.

Pakistani authorities suspended cell phone service in Karachi and Quetta between 10 AM and 6 PM local time in an effort to prevent sectarian attacks against Shi'a Muslims at the start of their holy month of Muharram (Bloomberg, Dawn). Police in Karachi said that 500 people have been killed in the port city since September in mostly sectarian attacks.

Meanwhile, police in Lahore said they foiled a large-scale terrorist plot on Friday, arresting two active Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) members and seizing a massive amount of explosives (ET, Dawn). And a bomb blast in Balochistan killed two Frontier Corps personnel on Friday (ET).

Any publicity is good publicity

Representatives of Pakistan's only beer-maker, Murree Brewery, have announced that their beer could be found on shelves in the United States and Dubai as early as next year, following an explosion in their popularity that began this summer (Reuters). It was in June that Bruce Willis' and Demi Moore's daughter was caught drinking underage in New York with a can of Murree's beer.

-- Jennifer Rowland

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images