In October 2009, President Obama signed the Kerry-Lugar-Berman (KLB) Act into law, thereby authorizing $7.5 billion in civilian assistance to Pakistan.
More than two years later, however, KLB has seemingly produced more acrimony than aid.
With only a relatively small percentage of KLB aid released, and with that aid having a minimal public impact, many Pakistanis complain that Washington's promise of expanded development aid rings hollow. Meanwhile, with the United States mired in economic malaise, many Americans are increasingly uneasy about sending any tax dollars to a nation they believe sheltered Osama Bin Laden and maintains links with other anti-American militants.
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The monsoon rains have historically brought mixed fortunes to Pakistan. While they help spur the cultivation of crops, changing demographics and population distribution have given rise to recurring catastrophes the rains leave in their wake. As Pakistan suffers from another cycle of floods in both rural and urban areas, recent weeks have seen the explosion of a dengue fever epidemic in central Punjab. In the past two weeks alone, more than 6,000 cases have been reported, with the majority occurring in Lahore. At least 40 deaths have now also been reported. The extent of the epidemic is such that schools in Punjab have been closed for the last ten days.
Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne viral infection. While most cases present with non-specific symptoms such as fever and muscle aches, in about 1 percent of cases, the disease progresses to a more dangerous condition called "dengue hemorrhagic fever." In this condition, the normal human clotting process becomes deranged, resulting in spontaneous bleeding in patients, leading in some cases to death. In the appropriate context, dengue can be diagnosed without the help of any advanced laboratory tests. However, treatment options are limited only to supportive measures, such as providing anti-fever and pain medication, as well as using transfusions to combat platelet deficiency, though no "cure" or vaccine exists.
Dengue fever epidemics have become a cyclical nightmare in Pakistan over the last several years. The infection was quite rare in South Asia before the turn of the century, but starting in the last decade, dengue epidemics have become a regular occurrence, usually peaking in September and October. As the population in Pakistan grows or people move around in search of economic opportunity or safety from militant violence, settling in many places into overcrowded urban slums on the outskirts of cities like Lahore.
These slums are hotbeds of contamination, given that the proliferation of these ramshackle neighborhoods outpaces that of adequate infrastructure development. With hygienic practices already poor, they grow worse in such settings, where public sanitation is often subpar. The best measure to prevent dengue can be by halting the reproduction of mosquitoes or preventing mosquito bites. Mosquitoes reproduce in stagnant water, and unless widespread measures are taken to drain such collections or fumigate mosquito-prone areas, the insects continue to proliferate, helping spread infections.
The current armed conflict in Pakistan has also been a key driver of disease. The plains of Punjab provide a home to millions of internally displaced refugees who have moved away from the war-torn northeastern and tribal regions, bringing with them an increase in disease. Furthermore, war itself is known to be one of the most potent fomenters of infectious disease: Studies have shown that "complex emergencies" can cause a several-fold increase in infection rates.
But aside from these direct environmental factors fueling the spread of dengue, another potential cause of the infection's appearance might well be climate change. Like most other infections spread by an intermediary organisms (like mosquitoes), dengue transmission increases with atmospheric temperature and humidity, since higher temperatures and moisture optimize mosquito breeding.
Complicating this problem further is emerging evidence that Pakistan's mosquitoes are developing resistance to insecticide that is used to eliminate them.
Unfortunately, many of the factors contributing to dengue outbreaks, from poor hygiene and sanitation to climate change, are risk factors common to most infectious diseases. If no major changes occur, Pakistanis could be exposed to a host of epidemics, such as measles, pneumonia, and cholera.
One important reform would be to empower public health specialists to develop overarching strategies to reduce factors leading to transmission. However, the medical community in Pakistan is focused on other things, with young doctors in Punjab on strike for long periods of time this year protesting low wages. Given that there is such resentment among trainees, who form the backbone of the clinical work force, it is likely that these protests are also adversely affecting the response to the current epidemic, as there are fewer doctors available to try and stem the crisis.
Since neither cure nor vaccine exists for dengue fever, prevention is the only option to control the human and economic cost of the epidemic. While the local media has criticized the government's response, one has to consider that they are over whelmed by several public health crises spanning the length and breadth of the country simultaneously, such as the widespread floods, ongoing polio transmission and rampant malnutrition. Nevertheless, improving hygiene and sanitation, in addition to helping better-manage public infrastructure development and population growth, remain the only long term solutions for preventing dengue, and other infections, from breaking out.
Haider Warraich, MD, is a research fellow at Harvard Medical School. He is a graduate of the Aga Khan University in Karachi, Pakistan, and the author of the novel, Auras of the Jinn.
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Pakistan-watchers tend to focus on political and security issues. But they need to start thinking as well about the economy, the outlook for which is grim over the next several years. Some of Pakistan's problems were spawned by the epic floods of the summer of 2010, but most have resulted from the long-standing failure of the Pakistani government to invest in its people, or from more mundane mismanagement of vital sectors, such as energy. Pakistan's economic problems will weigh especially on the urban population, adding to the country's political woes. It is the impact on the towns and cities - 36 percent of Pakistan's people, but growing at 3.5 percent a year, three times the rate of the rural areas - that presents the most acute political danger.
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This week, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari put the fight against polio at the forefront of his domestic agenda, announcing emergency measures to vaccinate 32 million children at risk of the disease. Pakistan is one of four countries in the world to continue to suffer serious incidences of the disease, and this new attention to polio eradication shows how far the world has come in battling the disease, while also showing the serious challenges standing in the way of eliminating it forever.
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Pakistan marked the start of 2011 with a series of events that signal another year of turmoil. In the span of little more than a week, Pakistan's governing coalition fell apart and then reunited in equally dramatic fashion, a secular-minded provincial governor was assassinated, and progress on critical economic reforms was rolled back, putting more than $3 billion in IMF funds in jeopardy. Within days, U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden arrived unannounced in Islamabad, offering his assurances of sustained U.S. support. The turmoil illustrates two hard realities for U.S. policy in Pakistan. First, despite commitment from Pakistan's technocratic economic team, its leaders have yet to find a way around the political roadblocks standing in the way of urgently needed economic reforms. And second, the deep pockets of the United States' civilian program in Pakistan-in the form of $1.5 billion a year in development assistance-don't seem to contain the leverage to push those reforms through.
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The floods in Pakistan in 2010 were massive. The rains affected the length of Pakistan, maximally impacting the provinces of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KPK), Punjab, and Sindh as well as parts of Baluchistan. Flooding displaced more than 20 million people and covered about one fifth of Pakistan's arable lands -- an area roughly equal to the U.S. eastern seaboard. This flood affected more people than the 2005 Kashmir earthquake, Hurricane Katrina (2005), Hurricane Nargis (2005), the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004, and the 2010 Haiti earthquake combined. Irrigation systems were destroyed, crops ruined, and seed stockpiles devastated. More than six million heads of livestock (including poultry) were killed. Yet, amazingly, only 1,985 people perished while another 2,946 were injured.
Given the population density of the affected regions, the poor infrastructure, and the baseline level of poverty, these figures are astonishingly low. In spite of the physical destruction, the fact that fewer than 2,000 Pakistanis died suggests that the Pakistani government did something very well last summer. Amidst numerous ongoing internal security crisis, political challenges and shortfalls of international assistance, Pakistani agencies continue to manage this crisis well despite the serious challenges that remain.
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When the recent floods of Pakistan started rampaging through the northwestern parts of the country, they were initially overshadowed by Pakistan's worst airline disaster in history when a plane crashed into Margalla hills adjacent to Islamabad. Now again, the floods that took 1,600 lives; affected 20 million more; inundated 62,000 square miles (the size of England), including 3.2 million hectares of agricultural land; snatched a million heads of livestock; and damaged or destroyed 2 million homes, 7,000 schools, and 514 health facilities have again been forgotten, this time presumably by the goldfish-esque attention span of global stakeholders. However, while the floods may have receded from newspaper front pages and television headlines, the floods' actual impact seems to have much greater staying power.
Barely hidden beneath the surface of Pakistan's worst flooding in living memory were the geopolitical stakes shaping both the justifications for official Western assistance and how aid was delivered to victims of the disaster. The perverse result may be a further restricting of the ability of humanitarian aid workers to assist the Pakistani population in the most volatile areas of the country.
I have just returned from Pakistan where I visited flood zones and discussed with Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) staff the relief effort and its implications for humanitarian aid in the country. While the primary responders to this crisis have been the communities themselves, MSF has 1,200 Pakistani and 135 international staff providing assistance in 15 locations throughout the country.
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In Pakistan, lurking behind every failure is a foreign hand and every problem seems to spin into a wild conspiracy theory. The flood crisis is different. Like the 2005 Kashmir earthquake, it was a natural disaster. No one is to blame for the deluge that affected 20 million people, inundated a fifth of Pakistan's farm land and destroyed any hope of economic growth. The worry is that the humanitarian and reconstruction efforts could provide yet another opportunity for the government, army, private sector and international community to fail Pakistan's poorest. In fairness, no one entity is equipped to address the overwhelming challenge alone. The civilian government is too fractious and under-resourced; the army is conducting a heroic rescue effort but its primary mission is security; the private sector can lend support and innovation but it is not structured to lead a national effort; and finally, no one wants Pakistan to fall into receivership to the international community.
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The scale of the calamitous floods experienced in Pakistan after the monsoonal rains this year has quite clearly been beyond the capacity of an administratively and financially drained state. But instead of concentrating on the flooding itself, the media and political analysts have instead concentrated on revelations made about Pakistan's apparent double game in Afghanistan and on criticizing the government severely after President Zardari made the politically unwise decision to leave Pakistan after the onset of the flood for a state trip to Europe. The disaster wreaked by the floods has also been analyzed through the lens of terrorism and corruption, rhetoric that is commonly used when talking about Pakistan, taking away the focus from the flood and the vulnerability of Pakistan's population.
This vulnerability is both physical and institutional. Much of the death and destruction that has ensued since the floods began could have been prevented if the institutions responsible for the provision of security (the Pakistani government and the irrigation department in particular) had responded more effectively to the crisis. An uncritical media has reproduced not only stereotypical depiction of hazards and disasters as natural but, in this particular case, has contributed to vulnerability by creating a particular depiction of Pakistan, its people and government. Furthermore, vulnerability of the Pakistani state needs to be examined at yet another level and that is the dependency of the government on foreign aid and its alliance with the United States for its sustenance.
The lack of capacity and expertise of the Pakistani government was made apparent by the mismanagement of the national disaster and the unsatisfactory response to provide relief to the flood-affected areas. There has been a complete lack of initiative taken by the Pakistani government towards natural disaster management and relief, whether after the Kashmir earthquake in 2005, Cyclone Yemyin in 2007, an earthquake in Ziarat district in Baluchistan in 2008, or the current flooding. The ordinance that had led to the creation of the National Disaster Management Authority had lapsed when the floods occurred. Hence, the government was incapable of launching a coordinated relief effort because provincial and district-level counterparts declared that the federal government should not interfere in provincial matters. On top of this, it is important to recall that Pakistan has one of the world's most complex irrigation systems, and the irrigation department's complete ineptitude at managing the flood waters was also the result of years of neglecting the maintenance of irrigational headworks and barrages located on river Indus.
Additionally, Pakistan's problems with democracy and governance were highlighted through the exposure of its ineffective citizen-state relationship, one primarily based on patronage and clientelism. Political parties in Pakistan have only been active in the electoral context; they have served to aggregate potential winners instead of interests, and politicians tend to buy the support of constituencies through direct compensation during elections (such as through patronage jobs and localized rather than national investment). In the context of the flood it rapidly became obvious that legislators elected to be the conduits for the communication of societal interests to the state were unable to perform this function in the non-electoral context. A common complaint heard in most of the flood-affected areas was that the people had no access to their political representatives or government institutions in their time of need.
The government's ineffective response also drew attention to the imbalance in between the civil and military spheres in Pakistan. The military as an institution was better organized and equipped to reach the flood-affected areas to carry out rescue and relief efforts. This not only underscored the inability of the civilian government to provide basic social services to the people in times of crisis, but also impacted the popularity ratings of the present government. This decrease in popularity for the government will in turn make it harder for the civilian government to operate in the future, a dangerous situation in a country with a history of military rule.
Finally and most significantly, the growing threat from Taliban and jihadi insurgent groups became obvious in the flood's aftermath. In the aftermath of the 2005 Kashmir earthquake, President Musharraf had encouraged banned jihadi organizations to help in the relief effort. This time the affected areas were even nearer to home and the population again put into close contact, and even at times dependent on, organizations with loyalty to the Taliban and al Qaeda.
Accompanying these challenges posed by the flooding are Pakistan's inefficient economy, ineffective legislature, weakly-institutionalized party system, corruption at every level of government and deep-set ethnic and religious cleavages that have led to a spike in violence in the past few months.
Moving beyond the immediate context of providing relief to flood-affected areas, the big question looming in everyone's mind is whether the Zardari government will survive the severe criticism it endured in the past few months as a result of its failure to deal with the aforementioned problems.
However, the political problems in Pakistan are so extreme that no opposition political party would rationally consider toppling the government, because it would not want to "clean house" and confront the challenge of state-building and regime survival. It would be more prudent for Pakistan's opposition parties to simply wait till the next election to defeat Zardari's enervated and unpopular Pakistan People's Party. But this further delay in dealing with Pakistan's problems could worsen an already bad situation, making the hope of a smooth transition to power for the next government even more tenuous.Mariam Mufti is currently completing her dissertation on elite recruitment and regime dynamics in Pakistan at Johns Hopkins University and is a visiting scholar at the Center for South Asian Studies at the University of Toronto.
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Two and a half years of fragile democracy, war against terror, devastating floods, economic slow-downs, millions of displaced people, and now calls from the self-exiled leader of Urdu-speaking community in Karachi, Altaf Hussain, for a French-style "revolution."
Meanwhile, some of Pakistan's radical television personalities have created an environment on their shows where politicians, retired military generals and pro-establishment politico-religious leaders confront each other-creating a sense of uncertainty and showing complete indifference among Pakistan's elite to the genuine issues of the people. This sense has only been exacerbated by the failure of Pakistan's government to bring about real reform. But will the chaotic internal situation in Pakistan provide another opportunity for the powerful Pakistani military establishment to intervene?
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It was bound to create controversy and outrage in a country fixated with Dr. Aafia Siddiqui. The sentencing of the Pakistani neuroscientist -- dubbed the ‘Grey Lady of Bagram,' the ‘daughter of Pakistan' and ‘Prisoner 650' by her supporters -- in a New York court on Thursday has riled many in Pakistan, including the government that had campaigned for her release.
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Within days of the onset of Pakistan’s devastating floods about six weeks ago, the media began reporting that militant groups -- or their purported charity wings -- were at the ‘forefront of flood relief.’ Lashkar-e-Taiba has been singled out with alarm because it is the most lethal group that operates across several countries in the South Asian region and beyond. With the Pakistani government appearing ever more ineffective and with some Islamist militants ravaging Pakistan itself and others yet savaging Afghanistan and India from bases within Pakistan, this could hardly be welcome news. This reportage echoes that of the October 2005 earthquake in Kashmir, wherein several credible journalists claimed that these same militant groups were leading the relief effort while domestic and international organizations dithered. However, a recent important study finds that these groups were only minimally involved. This research should restrain commentators from giving these groups a public relations campaign that they will not likely deserve when the history of this calamity is written.
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The severe aftermath of the flooding in Pakistan has called attention to the need for not only humanitarian aid to help the tens of millions of Pakistanis affected by the flooding, but also for long-term sustainable development assistance to help Pakistan rebuild its critical infrastructure. The United States has a long history of giving development aid to Pakistan starting in the 1950s, but the question lies in whether these funds are actually used effectively for development projects.
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"Last spring, according to a Pew Research Center poll, eighty-four per cent of Pakistanis were dissatisfied with the way things were going in their country. Inflation, terrorist bombings, and American drone strikes were among the causes of their discontent. Three-quarters disapproved of the job being done by the country’s President, Asif Ali Zardari.
Then came the summer’s monsoon rains, which engorged the Indus River water system, causing floods that by last week had killed almost two thousand people, left seven million homeless, and ruined 1.4 million acres of cropland. As the disaster unfolded, President Zardari decided to travel to Paris and London, in order, he explained to reporters, to raise relief funds and repair some misunderstandings about Pakistan’s vigilance against terrorism. The criticism he came under while abroad only “gives me a reassurance that I’m so wanted,” Zardari said.
Pakistan has, from its birth, in 1947, possessed many of the ingredients of a modestly successful country, but its political leaders have repeatedly sabotaged its potential. Some of the failure can be traced to the long-running conflict between civilian politicians and the Army. President Zardari, in addition to his considerable personal failings, has been constrained by the role of the military in national life. The Army ruled the country for most of its sixty-three years, often abetted by the United States.
The Obama Administration has declared that it intends to transform its relationship with Pakistan into a durable strategic partnership between two civilian-led democracies. The crisis provoked by this summer’s floods suggests how far there is to go. Among other challenges, the American and Pakistani people seem to hold increasingly negative views of one another. Since 2001, the United States has provided about eighteen billion dollars in military and economic aid to Pakistan, and yet sixty per cent of Pakistanis think of the United States as an enemy. The United States has waged war against the Taliban and Al Qaeda in notional alliance with the Pakistani government, but most Pakistanis believe that these campaigns are in fact aimed at them.
To read the rest of this article, visit The New Yorker, where this was originally published.
Steve Coll is the president of the New America Foundation.
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Militants in Pakistan have a limited track record of providing aid to refugees in times of crisis. Amid the country's most recent human tragedy, its flood disaster, militant groups or affiliates are allegedly offering social services and relief in affected areas, generating concern that aid will translate into long-term support for these organizations. But while no substantial evidence exists to suggest that militants will seize control in Pakistan, fear inside Washington among experts and policymakers suggest that terrorists' might seize the country's tribal areas-a concern that would turn back the clock on U.S.-Pakistani counter-terrorism efforts.
Pakistani President Asif Zardari's government has increasingly framed the disaster within the context of the Islamist militant threat in Pakistan, pointing the finger at al Qaeda and its affiliates-including legitimate religious charities-for preventing the government to provide adequate assistance to victims of the flood disaster. But according to a former senior U.S. intelligence officer, "blaming al-Qaeda will not mask the corruption, inefficiency, and ineptitude, and nepotism that have characterized the Zardari regime. Unfortunately, it's taken such a tragedy to highlight Zardari's feeble leadership."
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Rising waters have left people stranded on islands of mud. Men and women wade through torrents of disease-ridden water seeking sanctuary for the children they carry on their shoulders. Thousands huddle in the few remaining public buildings in the flood-hit areas. Around them the receding water lays bare the destruction wrought by torrents that smashed everything in their path.
The floods, which have killed 1,600 people and made millions homeless, have exposed the Pakistani state's shortcomings to withering criticism. But while the destruction vividly shows what is wrong with Pakistan, the reaction to it demonstrates where the country's eventual salvation might lie.
BANARAS KHAN/AFP/Getty Images
Fears of targeted killing at the hands of the Taliban operating
in and around Peshawar, the capital of Pakistan's recently renamed
Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, have forced the leadership of Pakistan's key
secular parties to stay in hiding instead of going out in public and governing.
This absence of leadership has provided an opening for religious and
pro-Taliban elements to win the hearts and minds of the hundreds of thousands in
the area rendered homeless by the devastating floods ravaging
Hamstrung by their meager resources and lack of capacity to deal with such a huge calamity, the local and central governments have responded to the crisis far slower than the religious charities, which benefit from armies of volunteers and extensive funding. These charities have outdone the government by helping rescue trapped people, as well as providing shelters, cooked food, warm clothes, and emergency health services. They have also used their relief efforts as a propaganda opportunity, displaying banners replete with Islamist slogans and telling flood victims that the disaster occurred because Pakistanis have not obeyed God or implemented sharia.
SAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty Images
Pakistan's super flood is unparalleled with any other the country has seen in the last 120 years, claiming the lives of nearly 1,500 Pakistanis and destroying over half of the country's cash crops, wiping out about half a million small farmers financially. The Indus river torrents continue to maroon hundreds of villages in the south of the country, forcing hundreds of thousands to flee from their homes, displacing several million within the last three weeks alone. It is a crisis far greater than the one Pakistan faced last year after its army moved against Taliban militants, which resulted in the displacement of over two million in the Swat region.
Ironically, people here in the north had been praying for extra rains until about three weeks ago. Today, most are praying for an end to rain in the north and a safe passage through the next deluge expected in the coming days.
Before the devastation in southern towns, flood waters were already wreaking havoc in the north along the Indus and Kabul River. The unusually heavy monsoon rains and the westerly winds submerged entire villages in water, affecting the major thorough fairs such as the M1, the expressway that connects the capital Islamabad with Peshawar. Today the median of the highway is home to hundreds, if not thousands, of impoverished families who have set up tents after fleeing from the floods.
The Kabul River delta, once famous for its fertility, is now beset by flooding. The vast swathes of villages in Peshawar's vicinity are at the mercy of the swollen Kabul River is overflowing with flood waters.
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Internship opportunity: The New America Foundation's Counterterrorism Strategy Initiative is looking for qualified and motivated interns for the fall semester. More information can be found here.
The U.N. announced yesterday that up to 4 million people have been made homeless as a result of flooding in Pakistan, as increased aid struggles to keep up with demand and Pakistan's top meteorologist said the floodwaters would not fully recede until the end of this month (Reuters, AP, NYT, BBC, ET).
The U.N. will convene a conference today to push governments to give more to Pakistan's relief effort, and the U.N. official in charge of the response to the 2004 tsunami said of the response, "[i]t's been abysmal, it's been terrible. There is no relationship between the number of people in acute need of help and what has actually been provided in this first month" (AP, BBC, Wash Post, Daily Times, NYT). Disease continues to break out among those displaced by flooding, especially children (Reuters, Dawn, ET).
Sen. Kerry goes to AfPak
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry arrived in Afghanistan yesterday, meeting twice with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and delivering a stern anti-corruption message (LAT, Reuters). Sen. Kerry helped convince Karzai in principle to participate in run-off elections for President last year, though the run-off did not take place; however, this time Kerry told Karzai that if he did not improve governance it would make it more difficult for U.S. troops to win over Afghans as well as convince Congress and the American public of the continued value of the war in Afghanistan (AFP). Kerry told reporters, "I'm not going to stand up and defend for one instant a policy that is based on supporting a corrupt government, if that's what it wound up being...But that's the test right now. That's why I'm here" (Wash Post).
A very long goodbye
In an interview with Foreign Policy magazine published yesterday, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates suggested that he may step down sometime next year (FP, Guardian, CBS, AP). Gates noted in the interview that a 2011 retirement would give him the chance to oversee the December 2010 Afghan strategy review and the completion of the additional troop deployments ordered by President Barack Obama while avoiding the need for Obama to look for a replacement in an election year (FT, Reuters). Gates also said there was "no question" that a drawdown of U.S. troops would begin in 2011, which appears to run counter to suggestions that ISAF commander Gen. David Petraeus might seek a delay in the scheduled withdrawal (Tel, AP, USA Today).
The U.N. released its semi-annual report on civilian casualties in Afghanistan today, finding that overall civilian casualties have spiked 31 percent after the first six months of 2010, with fully 76 percent of those casualties caused by the Taliban and only 12 percent caused by coalition forces, a nearly 30 percent drop (BBC, Reuters, Guardian). 1,271 civilians were killed in the time period and another 1,997 injured. The drop in coalition-caused casualties stems from increased restrictions on airstrikes and the use of heavy weapons while the Taliban are using larger explosives and resorting in much greater numbers to assassinations, including public killings of women and children (NYT, Tel).
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Gunmen in the remote Badakhshan province in northeastern Afghanistan killed 10 members of a medical assistance team at the end of a three-week mission to provide eye care to isolated parts of neighboring Nuristan province (LAT, AP, VOA, NYT, WSJ). The team worked for the International Assistance Mission (IAM), which has been in operation in Afghanistan since 1966, and was returning from Nuristan when gunmen with "red dyed beards" came across them, took their possessions, and shot ten of them, including six Americans, one German, one Briton, and two Afghans. A Taliban spokesman claimed credit for the attack, saying the group were proselytizers and spies, charges that the group's director in Kabul denied vehemently (CNN).
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watch: Please join the New America Foundation today from 12:15 pm to
1:45 pm for a presentation and discussion of the first detailed data on
the link between civilian casualties and insurgent violence in
Spark in a tinderbox
Unidentified gunmen killed a provincial parliamentarian from the Muttahida Qaumi Party (MQM) in Karachi yesterday, sparking a wave of furious rioting that has killed at least 40 people and torched dozens of shops and cars (AJE, Dawn, BBC, ET, Daily Times, WSJ). Although nearly 300 people have been killed in mostly political fighting in Karachi in the last few years, the MQM MP, Raza Haider, is the most senior and first sitting parliamentarian to be killed.
As violence engulfed the city MQM leaders placed the blame for Haider's killing on the Awami National Party (ANP), a rival party representing Pashtuns who nonetheless are part of a governing coalition with the MQM (Dawn). At this time it is unclear if Haider, a Shi'a Muslim, was killed for political, sectarian, or other reasons (ET, BBC). However, Interior Minister Rehman Malik Tuesday said the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and the anti-Shi'a Sipah-e-Sihaba were responsible for Haider's killing (Reuters, Dawn).
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