The Afghan government said Wednesday that it will review the files of 350,000 soldiers and police officers in an attempt to curb attacks by Afghan security forces on NATO troops, but it blames "infiltration by foreign spy agencies" for the recent rise in such incidents, according to Aimal Kaizi, a spokesman for Afghan president Hamid Karzai (Reuters, NYT, AP, LAT, AFP, WSJ, Post). This claim directly contradicts NATO's own investigation of the insider attacks, which found that only about 10 percent of the attacks were a result of "infiltration," described by NATO as Taliban insurgents posing as Afghan security force members.
A consortium of six Indian companies, including four owned by the state, have bid on a copper mine in Afghanistan, in a move many analysts see as an attempt to extend India's ‘soft power' in Afghanistan, and an effort to counter-balance Pakistan's interests there (WSJ).
The WSJ's Julian E. Barnes reported Tuesday that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is supporting Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, a veteran of the U.S. war in Iraq who has never served in Afghanistan, as the next commander of NATO troops in Afghanistan (WSJ). Douglas Ollivant, New America Foundation fellow and a veteran of both Iraq and Afghanistan, comments on the choice (TIME).
Pakistani officials said Thursday that monsoon rain-triggered flooding in Pakistan-held Kashmir and northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province had killed at least 22 people the day before (AP, AFP). Militants in the Hangu district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa shot dead three police officers on Thursday (AFP). And Amnesty International on Wednesday urged the Pakistani government to protect the mentally disabled 11-year-old Christian girl who was recently arrested on blasphemy charges, calling the case an example of the "erosion of the rule of law" in Pakistan (AFP).
The disappearance from Twitter on August 4 of a popular Pakistani satirist known only by his Twitter handle @MajorlyProfound has sparked fears amongst his fans that he has been threatened, abducted, or even killed for his stinging sarcastic commentary on some of Pakistan's most sensitive issues (NYT). @MajorlyProfound had adopted an exaggerated version of the voice of a virulently nationalist Pakistani, then disparaging such an individual with faux-genuine tweets such as one that said a Pakistani should have been given the honor of lighting the Olympic torch because of "our expertise at burning things" like NATO supply trucks and Indian luxury hotels.
Former Pakistani ambassador to the United States Husain Haqqani said Wednesday that the United States and Pakistan should stop pretending to be allies and get a "divorce," citing irreconcilable differences in the two countries' interests as well as a long history of rocky relations (Reuters). Haqqani contends that without the pretense of an alliance, Pakistan and the United States could cooperate in certain areas and avoid feelings of betrayal that have engendered hostile feelings amongst the populations in both countries.
Film and fame
The Venice Film Festival will open at the end of this month with The Reluctant Fundamentalist, a film based on a novel by the same name, which tells the story of a Pakistani man's struggles in post-9/11 America (ET). In addition to bringing a Pakistani story to a wider Western audience, the film also features several Pakistani musicians such as Meesha Shafi, Atif Aslam, Ali Azmat, and the rock group Overload.
-- Jennifer Rowland