Time is up
Afghan president Hamid Karzai accused the United States on Monday of violating an agreement to hand over all Afghan detainees, and ordered Afghan forces to take control of Bagram prison, where the U.S. military retains custody of newly arrested detainees and a handful of prisoners it refused to hand over in the initial transfer of the prison to Afghan control (NYT, CNN, AFP). President Karzai reportedly convened a meeting to decide what action to take over the expiration Sunday of a two-month grace period agreed to by President Barack Obama during which the United States should have completed the transfer of all detainees and operations at the prison.
Nearly two-dozen Afghans went on trial last Wednesday accused of the massive fraud that led to the 2010 Kabul Bank scandal, in which the bank collapsed after losing hundreds of millions of dollars to corruption and bad loans (NYT). The long-delayed trial is seen as a key test of the Afghan government's ability to fight corruption and pursue justice. It includes the bank's former chairman Shirkhan Farnood, and former chief executive officer Khalilullah Frozi, who are alleged to have been the main architects of the fraud.
Anwarul Haq Mujahid, the son of prominent Afghan mujahedeen leader Mohammad Yunus Khalis, was one of around a dozen Taliban prisoners released by Pakistan last week as part of an effort to restart peace talks between the Afghan government and the insurgent group (AP). Other high-profile militants are believed to have been included in that group of released prisoners, and Pakistan announced Saturday that more releases may follow (NYT).
The head of the Afghan High Peace Council Salahuddin Rabbani said Saturday that the prisoners' release marks a shift in the Pakistani government's policy toward supporting a negotiated settlement to the conflict in Afghanistan, rather than inhibiting it by arresting even those Taliban interested in peace talks (AP).
A female suicide bomber on Monday targeted a prominent politician, the former head of the Islamist party Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan Qazi Husain Ahmad, who escaped unhurt from the attack in Mohmand tribal agency (AP). Three of Ahmad's aides were injured in the explosion. On Sunday, a bomb planted on a motorcycle outside a Shi'a Muslim mosque in Karachi killed at least two people and injured almost a dozen others (AP). And a journalist was gunned down in restive Balochistan province on Sunday by unidentified armed men on a motorcycle (ET, The News).
Retired Pakistani military lawyer Col. Inam-ul-Raheim has accused the country's powerful intelligence agency of beating his 19-year-old son and setting his car on fire on Saturday in order to persuade him not to pursue a legal case against the military (BBC). Col. Raheim has been challenging the military for the past five years over the enforced disappearances that Pakistan's security establishment is believed to carry out. The attack on his son came just three days after a similar attack on Col. Raheim himself (NYT).
The Pakistani government is reportedly scrambling to build its own armed drones, but has struggled so far with a lack of precision munitions and advanced targeting technology (AP, ET). China has offered to sell Pakistan one of the armed drones it developed, but experts say there is still uncertainty within the industry over the exact capabilities of Chinese armed drones.
Bond, James Bond
British troops at Camp Bastion in Helmand Province got a surprise as they waited to see a screening of the latest James Bond movie, Skyfall, when lead actor Daniel Craig dropped in on the base for a visit (SkyNews). Craig toured the camp, test-fired a few machine guns, and answered soldiers' questions on the movie.
-- Jennifer Rowland