The South Asia Channel

35 killed in Pakistani Taliban attack on military base

Editor's note: Two new papers commissioned by the New America Foundation's National Security Studies Program from leading Pakistani economist Mohsin Khan and leading Indian economist Nisha Taneja find that trade between India and Pakistan could be some 10 to 20 times larger than its current level, providing both countries with unprecedented growth opportunities and the chance to improve bilateral relations as well. To read more, click here.

Audacious attack

Taliban militants killed at least nine Pakistani soldiers, four paramilitary officers, and ten civilians in an attack on a military base in he Lakki Marwat District of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province on Saturday (NYT, AP, CNN, Reuters, Guardian, AJE). A spokesman for the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) said the attack was intended to avenge the deaths of two Taliban commanders in U.S. drone strikes. Twelve militants were also killed in the battle sparked by the attack.

In a video released on Sunday, TTP spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan expressed the group's willingness to engage in peace talks with the Pakistani government, but only if three specific politicians - Nawaz Sharif, Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman, and Ameer Syed Munawar Hassan -- act as guarantors in the negotiations (Dawn). The three officials are the leaders of Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz, Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), and Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) respectively. 

Bonus read: Peter Bergen, "Should we still fear al Qaeda?" (CNN).

Trilateral talks

Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari arrived in the United Kingdom on Sunday for talks with British Prime Minister David Cameron that were expected to focus on how Afghan forces will hold off the Taliban once most NATO troops have withdrawn at the end of 2014 (AP, Tel, BBC). Cameron said later that Karzai and Zardari had agreed to "an unprecedented level of [bilateral security] cooperation."

Also on Sunday, Afghan police raided a residential building in central Kabul, where they arrested six men and seized suicide vests, assault rifles, and over 50 hand grenades (AP). Taliban militants managed to carry out two large-scale attacks in the Afghan capital last month. An Afghan government official said Sunday that a family of five had been killed by a roadside bomb in Helmand Province on Saturday night.

U.S., Afghan, and other officials have told the Associated Press that members of the Taliban are in contact with representatives of 30 to 40 different countries, many of whom have different ideas about how to move forward with peace negotiations, which is stalling efforts to restart talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government (AP). Additionally, relations between the three primary parties -- the United States, Pakistan and Afghanistan - are marred by distrust, which has made coming to an agreement on peace talks extremely difficult.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey said in joint interviews on Sunday that they expect the United States to have a long-term military relationship with Afghanistan, which should include leaving troops there after the NATO combat mission ends in 2014, as well as training Afghan security forces and supplying aid (NYT). Panetta cited the commitment to "an enduring presence" made by NATO heads of state at a summit in Chicago last year.

Modern methods

Forced to pay a bribe to an official in Punjab Province? Text it in (AP). A program instituted by the Punjab Information Technology Board last year allows residents of Punjab to text or call in reports of corruption, such as being forced to hand over a bribe in order to get simple administrative things done, like registering property, filing a police report, or even getting permission to visit relatives in the hospital.



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