The South Asia Channel

Marc Grossman steps down as envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan

Event Notice: Please join the New America Foundation's National Security Studies Program for a discussion with Patrick Tyler about his new book, Fortress Israel, TODAY, November 28, 2012, from 12:15pm - 1:45pm (NAF).

Stepping down

U.S. Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan Marc Grossman has resigned from his post, effective December 14, and will be replaced temporarily by his deputy David Pearce (Post, AFP, The News). And U.S. military officials at the Pentagon say they plan to present President Barack Obama by the end of year with recommendations on how many troops to keep in Afghanistan (Bloomberg).

A report commissioned by the International Monetary Fund into the Afghan government's investigation of the massive Kabul Bank fraud has found that President Hamid Karzai and his top advisors have been instructing prosecutors on whom to charge in the case and whom to leave out (NYT, AP). Karzai's direct role in the investigation is particularly troubling because many of those involved in the fraud were close associates of the president.

Four U.S. servicewomen, including two who won Purple Hearts in Afghanistan, are suing the Defense Department over a policy that prohibits women from engaging in direct combat (AFP, NYT, LAT, McClatchy, CNN, Reuters). The women are represented by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which is arguing that the ban on women in combat on the sole basis of their gender is unconstitutional.

Military might

The Pakistani military said Wednesday that it had successfully test-fired a medium-range ballistic missile capable of carrying a nuclear or conventional warhead over a distance of 810 miles (AP).

The 17 people in Lahore who died over the weekend after consuming Tyno cough syrup were found to have been killed by blood clots in the heart, according to initial post-mortem reports (ET). But a test of the medicine itself found no toxic ingredients, and officials have said that the deaths occurred because people ingested it with other substances or in large quantities in order to get high.

Picture this

The Election Commission of Pakistan on Tuesday registered 19 new political parties, bringing the total number of parties to 216 (DT). The problem is not the sheer number of parties, though; rather the ECP has run out of approved party symbols, with just 171 distinct symbols available for the different parties.

-- Jennifer Rowland

AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images