Lead the way
ExxonMobil is reportedly considering a bid on six blocks of oil-rich land in northern Afghanistan, as the first major Western company to show an interest in an Afghan investment (NYT). ExxonMobil's show of interest in the oil concession could encourage other Western companies to consider investing in Afghanistan, and may help quiet critics in Washington who have voiced concern that China is collecting all of the economic benefits of the U.S.-led war effort there. Seven other non-Western oil companies also expressed interest in exploring Afghanistan's oil and gas reserves, the Ministry of Mines said on Wednesday (WSJ).
The Afghan government will be looking for at least $4 billion of aid pledges from the international community at this weekend's Tokyo conference, while donors will seek a plan to improve Afghanistan's accountability, management of finances, democratic process, rule of law, and human rights (AP).
Respect the rules
As NATO supply truck resume their trek across Pakistan to Afghanistan, Pakistani customs officials say every container will be scanned to ensure that it does not contain lethal supplies, and any item not mentioned in the NATO-Pakistan agreement will be seized (AFP). The United States is expected to release around $1.1 billion that is owed to Pakistan by the Coalition Support Fund (CSF) for its support of U.S. counterterrorism operations (Bloomberg, ET). That money was withheld last year as the U.S.-Pakistan relationship deteriorated even before the closure of the NATO ground supply routes.
The Express Tribune reports Friday that contrary to public statements, the Pakistani government is looking not for an end to U.S. drone strikes in the country, but for control over human intelligence operations on the ground so that it can select targets (ET).
Representatives of the Young Doctors Association (YDA) and Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) appeared before the Lahore High Court on Friday, where they agreed to resume work in emergency rooms only (ET). Doctors have been on strike in the Punjab for three weeks in an effort to secure better wages and working conditions.
If you're ever in the market for a bagpipe, you may not think to look to Sialkot in northeast Pakistan, where over a dozen factories churn out a large portion of the world's bagpipe supply (CNN). Noting the success of this specialty instrument, other factories in the city have begun making unique items such as vintage basketballs, American footballs, and replica civil war uniforms.