New post: Chris Rogers, "The tug o' war at Bagram" (FP).
The United States on Monday formally handed over the Parwan detention center to the Afghan government, marking what should be the end of a 6-month gradual transfer of control (AP, AFP, AJE, BBC). But just a day before what President Hamid Karzai's office said would be a "splendid" ceremony, the United States on Sunday halted the transfer of the last couple dozen Afghan detainees, until "concerns are met," said a spokesman for NATO's International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) in Afghanistan (NYT, CNN).
According to a report released Monday by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), the U.S. agency that accounts for how reconstruction funds are used in Afghanistan, more than four years of financial records showing about $475 million in fuel purchases for the Afghan Army are missing (NYT, AP). SIGAR is calling for "immediate attention" to the issue, before the reconstruction program is turned over to the Afghan government in less than four months.
A suicide bomber blew himself up just a few hundred yards from many international embassies and the NATO headquarters in Kabul, killing at least six Afghan civilians, including some children (NYT, AP, BBC). Two motorcycles rigged with bombs and parked near the governor's office in the western Afghan province of Farah killed a 12-year-old boy and injured 16 other civilians on Sunday (AP).
Afghanistan's vast natural resources may hold the key to attracting international investment and establishing a thriving economy, but they are already proving to also be yet another driver of ethnic conflict in the country, as different warlords and militant leaders prepare to battle over the most resource-rich areas (NYT).
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton signed an order Friday designating the Pakistan-based Haqqani Network as a foreign terrorist organization (NYT, WSJ, AP, Reuters). The order ends two years of debate within the Obama administration over whether to risk damaging relations with Pakistan and complicating potential peace talks with the Haqqanis.
After over two weeks of fighting, the Pakistan Army declared Sunday that it had succeeded in driving back all of the Taliban militants who had crossed the border from Afghanistan into Bajaur Agency (AP). The fighting left 100 people dead, including 80 militants, 18 civilians, 12 anti-Taliban militia members, and eight soldiers. A car bomb at a crowded market in Pakistan's northwestern Kurram Agency on Monday killed at least eight people and wounded 45, and an official said all of the dead were Shi'a Muslims (AP).
Rimsha Masih, the Pakistani Christian girl accused of blasphemy last month, was finally released from prison on bail on Saturday (NYT). And India and Pakistan on Saturday signed a new visa agreement easing travel between the two countries, in a sign of warming relations between the historic rivals (NYT, Reuters, The News).
Out of sight
Pakistan's Parks and Horticulture Authority is developing six women-only parks in Lahore where women will be able to exercise and use facilities like basketball and badminton courts far from any leering male eyes (ET). The seven-foot high walls and multiple security guards at one women-only park already open to the (female) public protect women from harassment and have made the park a popular destination.
-- Jennifer Rowland