The South Asia Channel

Taliban launch coordinated attack on coalition air base

The Rack: New America Foundation Fellow Anand Gopal, "Serious Leadership Rifts Emerge in Afghan Taliban" (CTC)

Bold attack

Early on Sunday, suicide bombers attacked the joint U.S.-Afghan air base at Jalalabad, detonating three car bombs near the entrance and sparking a firefight that lasted over two hours, resulting in the deaths of the nine attackers, four Afghan guards, and at least four civilians who were caught in the crossfire (AP, BBC, NYT). Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid quickly released a statement claiming responsibility for the attack, during which the insurgents were reportedly dressed in coalition uniforms.

On Saturday, a suicide car bomber appearing to target police headquarters in the southern Afghan province of Uruzgan detonated his explosives before he reached the gates of the facility, killing three civilians and wounding six others (AP). Pakistan's Foreign Ministry announced Friday that the country would release more Taliban prisoners, following a visit from Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmay Rasool, though no details on how many militants would be released and when (AP, AFP, Post). The Express Tribune reported Monday that Pakistani officials have set "preconditions" for the release of some top Taliban militants, including the former deputy Taliban commander Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, but will not do so until all players - including the United States - are on board with Baradar's release (ET).

The focus of debates within the Obama administration over how many U.S. soldiers to keep in Afghanistan after combat troops are withdrawn by the end of 2014 is risk assessments that try to predict whether too few troops would leave the nascent Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) vulnerable to Taliban attacks, or too many troops would prolong ANSF dependence on foreign support (AP). U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has so far refused to put a number on how many troops the United States will keep in Afghanistan, but military advisors have reportedly laid out options ranging from a 6,000-troop presence to a 15,000-troop presence.

U.S. President Barack Obama will meet with Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borisov on Monday at the White House to discuss Bulgaria's role in the NATO-led campaign in Afghanistan (AP).

Deadly drones

A suspected U.S. drone killed three people in Sheen Warsak, South Waziristan on Saturday, reportedly killing a Yemeni militant and two others in the second attack on the same area in less than a week (AP, AFP). A bomb blast tore through a police van travelling in the outskirts of the northwestern city of Peshawar on Monday, killing two officers and wounding two others (AP).

Heavy snow near the Line of Control with India in Pakistan-administered Kashmir triggered landslides on Friday that killed at least 15 people - nine soldiers and six civilians (AFP). Three people are still missing.

Three people were shot dead in Balochistan on Sunday, and a religious leader was killed in Karachi on Monday, sparking protests by his supporters (ET, ET). Pakistani Hindus protested in the streets of Karachi on Sunday after a Hindu temple was reportedly demolished by authorities, despite a court order issued just before the demolition protecting the temple from being knocked down (WSJ, Dawn).

Girl power

Female students once again outnumbered male students with regard to public medical school admissions in the province of Punjab for the 2012-2013 school year (Dawn). 63.3 percent of the students admitted to Punjab medical colleges were female, and only 36.7 were male, an example of a continued trend in Pakistan of women choosing medical degrees at a higher rate than men.

-- Jennifer Rowland