Friendly fire: A man wearing an Afghan army uniform and another wearing civilian clothes killed two NATO troops in southern Kandahar on Thursday, the latest in a string of attacks on international troops by Afghans believed to be members of the security forces (AP, AFP, Reuters, WSJ, CNN, BBC, Guardian, NYT). The attack came just hours after NATO allowed its personnel to return to work at Afghan ministries, following their evacuation in response to the killing of two U.S. servicemen inside the Interior Ministry in Kabul.
The special representative for the U.N. secretary general in Afghanistan, Jan Kubis, echoed Afghan President Hamid Karzai's calls on Thursday for "disciplinary action" to be taken against the U.S. troops responsible for the burning of Qurans that sparked widespread protests in Afghanistan last week (Reuters). Three different investigations into the incident have been launched, one by the U.S. military that could result in legal action, as well as an Afghan inquiry, and a joint Afghan-American inquiry (NYT).
NATO commander Gen. John Allen said Wednesday that the protests over the Quran burnings were a "setback," but "it doesn't push the relationship back," as President Barack Obama told ABC News that he is "confident" the United States will be able to adhere to its withdrawal plan (BBC, AFP). And NATO secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen urged Karzai on Wednesday to speed up the signing of a strategic partnership agreement with the United States, because it would have a "good impact" on a conference on Afghanistan to be held in Chicago in May (AFP).
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Wednesday in testimony before a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee that Pakistan would face serious consequences if it were to go ahead with a natural gas pipeline deal with Iran (WSJ, ET, Dawn, ET). Clinton also said that Pakistan has "no basis" on which to continue detaining Dr. Shakil Afridi, who allegedly helped the CIA with a plan to use a vaccination drive to get access to Osama bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad before the al-Qaeda leader was killed in May of last year (AP).
Pakistani military jets bombed militant hideouts in Kurram and Orakzai Agencies on Thursday, killing 18 suspected militants (ET, Dawn). Interior Minister Rehman Malik said on Wednesday that the perpetrators of Tuesday's massacre of 18 Shi'a Muslims had been tracked down and would soon be shown to the public (Dawn). And the Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry scolded the country's Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate and Military Intelligence on Thursday, saying they had failed to provide legal justification for their year-long detention of eleven civilians (ET). Chaudhry also called the intelligence agencies "arsonists" because they had "set Balochistan on fire" with their methods in the restive southern province.
Pakistan's Federal Investigation Agency sent a formal request to Interpol on Wednesday for an arrest warrant to be issued for former president Gen. Pervez Musharraf, who is accused of failing to prevent the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto (Dawn, ET). A Pakistani-born Guantánamo Bay detainee, Majid Khan, pleaded guilty on Wednesday to being a courier for al-Qaeda and training to carry out suicide attacks, becoming the first high-value detainee to accept a plea deal, which guarantees Khan a lighter sentence in exchange for his testimony against other terrorist suspects (AP, BBC, NYT, ET, AJE, CNN, Reuters, Post).
Five current and former Pakistani field hockey players have defied international regulations to travel to India for the World Series Hockey tournament (ET). The tournament, which has a grand prize of $3 million, is not sanctioned by the International Hockey Federation because it is sponsored by the rogue Indian Hockey Federation, instead of the officially recognized Hockey India.
-- Jennifer Rowland