Editor's note: The New America Foundation is seeking a full-time, entry-level research associate for the National Security Studies Program (NAF).
In a possible indication of warming relations between the United States and Pakistan, the U.S. Department of Defense notified Congress earlier this month of its intention to reimburse Pakistan $688 million for the cost of stationing 140,000 troops on the border with Afghanistan from June to November 2011 (NYT). The notification has reportedly met with little to no resistance from U.S. legislators, who have in the past balked at requests for aid to Pakistan.
Militants shot five health workers on polio vaccination drives in different parts of Pakistan on Monday and Tuesday (Reuters, Dawn). Three women were killed and man was injured in two separate attacks on health workers in Karachi on Tuesday, while another was killed on Monday, and a female health worker supervising an anti-polio campaign in Peshawar was shot in the head and wounded on Tuesday. Though no group has yet claimed responsibility for the attacks, the Taliban have in the past accused Pakistani anti-polio workers of being Western spies, and decried the campaign against polio as a Western plot to infiltrate Pakistan.
Meanwhile, militants shot and killed the director of the Balochistan provincial government's public relations arm, along with two policemen, in Quetta on Monday (ET).
The 10 young Afghan girls who were killed in an explosion on Monday are believed to have set off the landmine when one of them accidentally struck it with an axe while collecting firewood in a rural part of the eastern province of Nangarhar (NYT, Tel, AP). All of them were between the ages of 9 and 11 years.
Senior U.S. officials say that the military plans to shift away from fighting the Taliban and into an advisory role in Afghanistan in 2013, which could allow for significant reductions in the current 66,000-troop level (WSJ). The clean, new-looking Helmand Central Prison, which offers sewing, calligraphy, and jewelry-making classes to prisoners, has become a symbol of what Western aid can build in Afghanistan, but the jail's future upkeep will be difficult when the aid dries up after NATO completes its combat mission at the end of 2014 (NYT).
Since early this summer, Kabul airport officials have noticed a surge in the amount of gold being shipped out of Afghanistan aboard commercial flights, raising concern within the Afghan business community and government that money launderers are behind the trend, having found a new way to sneak cash out of the country (NYT). Carriers declare the gold, most of which is in the form of solid bars, at customs, making it legal to fly, but officials wonder where the carriers are getting such large amounts of the mineral; there is very little gold mined in Afghanistan.
Female Members of Parliament representing several of Pakistan's political parties slammed Pakistani cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan on Monday for remarks he made opposing a quota in the legislature for women (Dawn). Member of the National Assembly and of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz Anusha Rehman said, as a man who had not even been elected to parliament yet Khan had no right to contest the rights of current female MPs, and challenged him to compare his educational credentials to hers.
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