By Sharon Miller
DEVELOPMENTS IN AFGHANISTAN
“Hundreds of Taliban Escape from Kandahar Jail”
Hundreds of Taliban prisoners escaped through an underground tunnel from Sarpoza Prison in Kandahar. The escape calls the discipline and training of prison staff into question, and also raised new fears of increased violence.
“Some prisoners recaptured after mass Afghan breakout”
This article puts the number of escaped prisoners at 475. It also notes that the prison break appeared to be “an inside job,” that the tunnel began near a house outside of the prison walls, and that some (no exact number given) of the escaped prisoners were believed to have been recaptured by U.S. troops.
“U.S. watchdog questions Afghan police management”
The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) audited the payroll and personnel systems used by Afghan police forces, and found that the Afghan government does not know the exact number of people employed by Afghanistan’s national police force. This information implies that there is a risk that funds designated for police salaries might be abused. The audit additionally notes that approximately $1.26 billion has been disbursed from a U.N. Development Program trust fund to pay Afghan police salaries. The absence of a payroll system makes it hard to track where funds are going, according to acting special inspector general Herbert Richardson.
“Afghan farmers hooked on poppies, 10 years on”
The cultivation of opium poppies continues in spite of past US-led attacks on poppy fields, which an anonymous Western security source has admitted was not the best way to win over Afghanistan’s farmers. Poppies are easier to grow than other crops in the context of the current war, which makes it unsafe to travel due to landmines and ambushes. The drug lords are also said to provide financial incentives and practical assistance to poppy farmers. This article also notes that opium continues to be a source of funding for Taliban fighters in Afghanistan.
THE WAR IN PAKISTAN
“US missiles kill 25 people in Pakistan tribal area”
25 people were killed by U.S. missiles near the Afghan border, according to Pakistani officials. This attack is believed to have killed two women and five children along with an unspecified number of militants, but this information had not been verified independently at the time of this report. The article maintains that this incident is a sign of “American intent to press ahead with such attacks despite renewed protests by Islamabad.”
“Imran threatens to block NATO supply routes”
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan said that protesters would block all NATO supply routes across Pakistan if drone strikes in Pakistan did not stop within 30 days. On Sunday, the Pak-Afghan road serving as the main supply route was totally blocked, preventing deliveries of supplies to NATO troops. Khan also announced that, if drone strikes continue, protesters would march to Islamabad and “force the government to take a stand on the issue.” These announcements were made on the second day of Khan’s party’s sit-in protesting drone strikes in Peshawar, which involved thousands of protesters.
RELATED NEWS FROM THE US
“Poll: More Americans disapprove of Obama’s management of Afghan war”
A poll conducted by ABC News and the Washington Post revealed that more Americans disapprove of Obama’s handling of the war in Afghanistan than support it. 49% of those polled disapproved of Obama’s handling of the war, while 44% approved.
Evidence lacking for McChrystal allegations: report
A Pentagon document released Monday said that “evidence was lacking to substantiate allegations that retired Army General Stanley McChrystal had violated military policy standards.” McChrystal had lost command of U.S. forces in Afghanistan after Rolling Stone attributed comments to McChrystal that were critical of the president and vice president.
A Vote on the People's Budget is a Vote on the Wars
An op-ed in support of the People’s Budget proposed by the Congressional Progressive Caucus.