Event notice: Please join the New America Foundation's National Security Studies Program TODAY at 12:45 PM for a discussion on U.S. authorities' infiltration and surveillance of groups suspected of involvement in terrorism (NAF).
No surprises: NATO leaders agreed on Monday to an "irreversible" plan to end the war in Afghanistan responsibly, pulling almost all troops out of the country by the end of 2014, but President Barack Obama warned that the danger of Afghanistan sliding into civil war or Taliban control still exists (Reuters, Tel, CNN, AP, BBC, WSJ). Newly elected French President Francois Hollande stuck to his campaign promise to pull all 3,400 French troops out of Afghanistan by the end of this year, and said that the French people have done "more than our duty" in Afghanistan (Tel). New Zealand announced Tuesday that its 140-person Provincial Reconstruction Team in Bamyan Province would end its mission this year and return home in 2013 (Reuters).
President Obama left Pakistan off the list of nations he publicly thanked on Monday for helping to get supplies into Afghanistan, a clear indication of the United States' continued annoyance over Pakistan's hesitation to reopen NATO ground supply routes (AP). However, Obama did meet with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari briefly on the sidelines of the NATO summit, and said later that the two nations were making "diligent progress" on an agreement to lift the blockade on NATO supplies (Dawn).
Many Afghans remain uncertain about the promises made by the international community and the significance of the Chicago summit, calling it "just another conference," and declaring that the presence of foreign troops makes the situation in Afghanistan worse (McClatchy).
Washington's envoy to Afghanistan, Ambassador Ryan Crocker, is reportedly expected to step down from his post soon, and the Obama administration is considering appointing Deputy Ambassador James Cunningham in his place (Reuters, CBS). This news comes just weeks after it was announced that the U.S. ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter would also be leaving his post this summer.
Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani held a two-day meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan this week, during which the leaders agreed to expand economic engagement between the two countries, notably in the energy sector (ET, Dawn, DT). In an effort to soothe rising tensions between Pakistan's ruling party and opposition party in the wake of Prime Minister Gilani''s conviction for contempt of court and controversial decisions on Pakistan's relationship with the United States, Erdogan will meet Tuesday with opposition leader Nawaz Sharif, to "understand his perspective on the matter at hand" (ET).
Two bombs exploded in a government-run girls' elementary school in the northwestern Pakistani city of Nowshera early Tuesday morning, destroying at least three classrooms (ET). Two fighters from the banned militant group Lashkar-i-Islam and one member of a local peace committee were killed in a clash in the Tirah Valley of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas on Monday (Dawn). And the Pakistani Navy said Tuesday that it had court-martialed three officers for "negligence in their duty performance" that helped the Taliban pull off a dramatic 18-hour attack on Naval Station Mehran in Karachi last May, during which 10 people were killed and two surveillance aircraft destroyed (AP, Dawn).
Hefty haulOfficers of the Sindh Police Special Investigation Unit and the Anti-Narcotics Force stopped a truck driving toward a toll plaza outside Karachi on Monday, but did not find any guns or explosives on board (ET). Instead, the authorities seized an unprecedented four tons of hashish hidden in bags of coffee and sugar, one of Pakistan's largest drug hauls -- worth around $20 million.
-- Jennifer Rowland