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Mar 4, 2012

For some Afghans, suicide bombs best answer to Koran burnings

KABUL (Reuters) – Matihullah, 24, had always dreamed of becoming a lawyer. Then news spread that Western soldiers had burned many copies of the Muslim holy book at a NATO base in Afghanistan.

He gave up his studies and embarked on a new mission in life — to become a suicide bomber.

Mar 4, 2012

Afghan army chief warns against another NATO blunder

KABUL (Reuters) – The burning of Korans at a NATO base in Afghanistan advanced the Taliban’s cause and any repeat of similar “negligence” by Western forces would be disastrous, the Afghan army chief of staff has warned.

The destruction of the holy books, which the United States described as unintentional, triggered widespread protests and fatal attacks on U.S. troops by Afghan security forces and heavily strained ties between Kabul and Washington.

Mar 2, 2012

Anti-U.S. emotions run high at Afghan dogfighting ring

KABUL (Reuters) – Protests over the burning of Korans at a NATO base may have faded but some Afghans are still venting their rage over the incident — at a bloody Kabul dogfighting ring.

If emotions here are any indication, desecration of copies of the Muslim holy book did lasting damage to the image of the United States, which is struggling to pacify the country before NATO combat troops leave at the end of 2014.

Mar 1, 2012

Two NATO soldiers “killed by Afghan soldier, civilian”

KABUL (Reuters) – Two NATO soldiers were shot dead on Thursday by two Afghans, including a man believed to be a soldier, NATO said, an attack that is likely to raise further questions about the future of the country’s struggling security forces.

The killings in south Afghanistan came after two senior U.S. officers were gunned down in the heart of Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry on Saturday by what Afghan security officials say was a police intelligence official.

Feb 29, 2012

Afghan forces face threat from within, says official

KABUL (Reuters) – Afghanistan must act quickly to tackle infiltration of its security forces or another fatal attack on Western forces could undermine ties with NATO, a senior Afghan defense ministry official said on Wednesday, in a rare admission of the threat within.

On Saturday, a U.S. lieutenant colonel and a major were shot at close range while working in an office in the heart of the Interior Ministry, one of the most closely-guarded buildings in Afghanistan.

Feb 24, 2012

Pakistan urges Afghan Taliban to enter peace talks

By Michael Georgy

(Reuters) – Pakistan on Friday urged leaders of the Afghan Taliban movement to enter direct peace negotiations with the Kabul government, a possible sign that Islamabad is stepping up support for reconciliation in neighboring Afghanistan.

Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani said in a statement that it was his “sincere hope” that the Taliban and other groups respond to the appeal.

Feb 18, 2012

Afghanistan hopeful of Pakistan’s help in peace drive

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Afghanistan is optimistic that regional power Pakistan will help the Kabul government advance a reconciliation process with the Taliban, the Afghan president’s spokesman said on Saturday.

Pakistan, seen as crucial to efforts to end the war in Afghanistan, has repeatedly said it wants peace in its neighbor.

Feb 13, 2012

Will Pakistan’s steady hand Gilani survive?

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani, indicted by the Supreme Court on Monday, was once seen as a shrewd operator with the best chance of bringing stability to Pakistan.

The soft-spoken figure tiptoed through Pakistan’s political minefields and at times acted as a troubleshooter – charming opposition leaders over tea or a meal to take the heat off the ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).

Feb 1, 2012

U.N. pushes ambitious Afghan refugees plan

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – More than $1 billion in international aid is needed to ensure that conditions are right for millions of Afghan refugees to return to their troubled homeland, the senior U.N. official for refugees said on Wednesday.

“I think there are problems of governance, there are problems of economic development, there are problems of security,” United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres told Reuters in an interview.

Jan 19, 2012

Pakistan-U.S. ties on hold for “re-evaluation”

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Pakistan’s ties with the United States remain on hold following a NATO cross-border air attack, its foreign minister said on Thursday, and Washington should not push Islamabad to go after militant groups or bring them to the Afghan peace process.

“Now that the re-evaluation process is under way as we speak, so till the time that that re-evaluation process is not complete, we cannot start the re-engagement,” Hina Rabbani Khar said in an interview with Reuters on Thursday.