Subversive tactics? The United States is reportedly concerned about Iranian efforts to encourage violence in neighboring Afghanistan, as U.S. officials have revealed that Iran sent agents into Afghanistan in February with the express purpose of fomenting violent protests after the accidental burning of Qurans by NATO troops (NYT). U.S. intelligence reports show that Iran has yet to cause serious damage with these efforts in Afghanistan, but has the capability to do more if Iranian officials so choose.
A provincial Afghan official said Thursday that Taliban fighters killed at least eight local policemen in an attack on a remote post in the western province of Farah late Wednesday night (AFP, AP, AJE). The WSJ's Dion Nissenbaum reports on the boom in the construction of massive fortified compounds as businesses in Afghanistan prepare for an increase in violence following NATO troops' departure in 2014 (WSJ).
And the Post's Ernesto Londoño published a must-read Wednesday on the increasing exploitation of young, fatherless Afghan boys as dancers and sexual partners by wealthy or prominent Afghan men (Post). According to one U.N. child-protection expert, "there was better rule of law under the Taliban" because they saw this abuse as a sin and put a stop to much of it.
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Thomas Nides echoed President Barack Obama's earlier calls for a "balanced" U.S-Pakistan relationship that respects Pakistani sovereignty as well as U.S. security concerns, in a statement read out in Islamabad on Wednesday following meetings with top Pakistani officials (ET, DT, Dawn). His visit came as the Pakistani parliament struggles to come to an agreement on their review of bilateral relations with the United States, a process that Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani hailed as an opportunity to increase the transparency of ties between the two nations.
Pakistan called on the United States Wednesday to provide "concrete evidence" against Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, in response to the U.S. offer Tuesday of up to $10 million for information on Saeed (CNN, DT, ET).
The other side of the coin
Pakistan's shuttering of NATO supply routes to Afghanistan has not only impacted coalition forces, but also Pakistani looters who have made millions selling goods stolen from NATO containers as they cross Pakistan (ET). Many of the valuable items end up in markets in Pakistan's largest cities, where some vendors even vouch for their authenticity by giving customers a money-back guarantee if they're not satisfied.
-- Jennifer Rowland