NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen told The Guardian on Monday that the international coalition could withdraw troops faster than originally planned, as troops' morale declines due to rising "insider attacks" by Afghan forces against their NATO counterparts (Guardian). Rasmussen said that between now and 2014, the deployment and tasks of international troops will depend on the security situation in specific regions of Afghanistan, and acknowledged that, "a significant part of the insider attacks are due to Taliban tactics" in an effort to "undermine public and political support" for the war in NATO member countries.
American military and civilian officials are reportedly conceding that they have abandoned the goal of reconciliation with the Taliban in Afghanistan, which was once a primary goal of the war there (NYT). Officials say they've scaled down their ambitions to establishing a sustainable system of government that will allow the Afghans to find a political solution to the conflict on their own, as they don't expect progress to be made on peace talks with the Taliban until after NATO combat troops complete their withdrawal at the end of 2014.
The Pakistani Taliban on Tuesday reportedly offered their protection to Pakistani cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan during a planned rally to protest drone strikes in South Waziristan (Tel). On Monday, supporters of the Difa-i-Pakistan Council (DPC), an umbrella organization for Pakistan's most conservative religious parties, rallied peacefully in Peshawar against the anti-Islam movie Innocence of Muslims (ET, Dawn). But at the rally, former legislator and leader of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Sami (JUI-S) Ikramullah Shahid offered a $200,000 reward for "anyone who kills the filmmaker" (ET).
Speaking at the United Nations on Monday, Indian external affairs minister S. M. Krishna denounced a speech last week by Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari that brought up the issue of Kashmir, which Krishna called "an integral part of India" (AP, ET).
Private eyes are watchin' you
In a country where adultery still carries the death sentence, a job as a private detective for individuals who are suspicious of their spouses might seem like a strange idea, but Masood Haider, a former Pakistan Army pilot, says business is booming (Reuters). In one juicy case, a cheating husband disguised himself as a rental car driver when going to meet his lover, so Haider sent one of his female detectives -- disguised as a maid in the woman's house -- to get the scoop.
-- Jennifer Rowland