The top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan Gen. John Allen has been linked to the scandal surrounding the extramarital affair and resignation of CIA director David Petraeus (NYT, Reuters, AP). Gen. Allen reportedly had "inappropriate communication" with Jill Kelley, a woman in Tampa, Florida who received threatening emails from Paula Broadwell, with whom Petraeus has admitted to having an affair. U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said Monday that the Obama administration will likely have a decision in the next few weeks on the level of troop presence in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of NATO combat troops by the end of 2014, as well as an idea of their specific purposes there (AP, NYT). Sec. Panetta also said he has asked President Barack Obama to put on hold the installment of Gen. Allen as the commander of U.S. European Command and NATO forces in Europe because of the recent developments in the Petraeus scandal.
As the international troop withdrawal nears, a powerful former mujahedeen warlord, Ismail Khan, has shown his lack of faith in the nation's security forces with a public call to his followers to form a militia to defend the country against the Taliban (NYT). Khan, who is currently the minister of energy and water, infuriated other top officials with his call to arms at a rally in Herat Province earlier this month, and stoked fears that the country will break down into factional militias after most NATO troops have left.
Four rockets were fired in the Afghan capital of Kabul on Tuesday, striking the grounds of a television studio and the international airport, and killing one civilian (NYT, AP). Afghan officials said the rockets were fired by remote control from a location within Kabul's municipal limits.
Indian Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid said Monday that India will increase its training of the Afghan police and military in response to a request from Afghan president Hamid Karzai during his visit to New Delhi (Reuters). The pledge is likely to be seen as a positive sign of regional involvement in Afghanistan's future by the United States, but could make Pakistani officials uncomfortable with their rival's growing influence across the western border.
Members of Afghanistan's High Peace Council arrived in Islamabad on Monday for talks with Pakistani officials on the pursuit of a negotiated settlement with Afghan Taliban insurgents, though analysts warn that little will come of these talks if the officials cannot get the Taliban on board with the negotiations (ET, AFP, Dawn, AFP). A senior commander of the Taliban-linked Haqqani Network said Tuesday that the group is open to talks with the United States only if Taliban leader Mullah Omar approves (Tel).
At least two people were killed and ten injured on Tuesday when a bomb strapped to a bicycle was detonated as a vehicle carrying members of the paramilitary Frontier Corps was passing by in Quetta, Balochistan (ET). The Balochistan chapter of the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) declared on Tuesday that the sitting provincial government is unconstitutional, due to its failure to protect the lives of the people living in Balochistan (ET).
And on Monday Pakistan was elected to the United Nations Human Rights Council for the third time (The News).
-- Jennifer Rowland