Editor's note: The AfPak Channel will be taking a break to eat some turkey this Thursday and Friday, and will resume regular briefs on Monday, November 26. Happy Thanksgiving!
Event Notice: The New America Foundation is pleased to announce that it is now accepting applications for Indian and Pakistani participants in our "South Asia 2020" conference to be held in Dubai from Friday, January 18 to Sunday, January 20, 2013, hosted by Steve Coll and Peter Bergen.
The conference will bring together a total of 30 "new voices" from Pakistan and India to discuss issues of common interest such as trade, business, IT, water, energy, microfinance, climate change, public health and media.
The intent of the conference is to encourage the collaboration of a new generation of experts from both nations in order to develop greater regional integration in South Asia
TO APPLY: Please send your resume and letter of intent to firstname.lastname@example.org no later than Friday, November 30, 2012.
Indian authorities on Wednesday quietly hanged Ajmal Kasab, the only surviving gunman from the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks in which 166 people were killed over the course of three days (NYT, AFP, The News, Reuters, WSJ). Indian officials said they faxed a request to the Pakistani government that Kasab's family be informed of his execution, after Pakistan refused to acknowledge receipt of a letter with the same request, but experts say the decision to hang Kasab is unlikely to damage improving ties between the two nations.
A suicide bomber detonated his explosives deep inside the main diplomatic enclave in the Afghan capital city of Kabul, killing three security guards stationed outside the Kabul Compound guest house, where American government employees are housed, and injuring two civilians (NYT, Post, The News, BBC, LAT, CNN, WSJ, AP). Two attackers dressed in private security guard uniforms approached the Kabul Compound, and refused to provide identification to the guards there, at which point the guards raised their guns to shoot and one of the suicide vests was detonated.
On Tuesday, France withdrew the last of its 500 combat troops from Kapisa Province, ending its combat operations in Afghanistan long before the rest of its fellow NATO member nations (AP). Also on Tuesday, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) signed the Tripartite Border Coordination Mechanism, an agreement to "improve near border coordination" (ET, DT).
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime released a survey on Tuesday showing that the land being used for opium cultivation in Afghanistan increased by 18% this year, despite over ten years of efforts by the international community to push farmers to embrace legal crops (WSJ). At the same time, bad weather conditions for growing have meant a decrease in the potential output of opium.
Bulldozers are tearing down the old Soviet culture center in Kabul, which will be replaced by a brand new center that will teach Russian language, singing, dancing and handicrafts (Reuters). More than a decade after the Soviet war in Afghanistan ended, Russia wants to ensure a permanent presence and friendly relations with the Afghan people, the Russian ambassador in Kabul Andrey Avetisyan said.
-- Jennifer Rowland