The American Enterprise Institute and the Institute for the Study of War has a new report out that says rather unequivocally that the United States is starting to turn the war around in southern Afghanistan following the surge. Since the deployment of U.S. Marines to Helmand in 2009 and the launch of an offensive there followed by operations in Kandahar, the Taliban has effectively lost all its main safe havens in the region, authors Frederick W. Kagan and Kimberly Kagan argue.
The Taliban assassination squad in Kandahar has ben dismantled, the insurgents’ ability to acquire, transport and use IED materials and other weapons has been disrupted, and narcotics facilitators and financiers who link the drug market to the insurgency have been aggressively targeted. Above all, NATO and Afghan forces continue to hold all the areas they have cleared in the two provinces, arguably the heart of the insurgency, which is a significant departure from the past.
(Reuters) – Pakistan’s anti-blasphemy law has been in the spotlight since November when a court sentenced a Christian mother of four to death, in a case that has exposed deep rifts in the troubled Muslim nation of more than 170 million people.
While liberal Pakistanis and rights groups believe the law to be dangerously discriminatory against the country’s tiny minority groups, Aasia Bibi’s case has become a lightning rod for the country’s religious right.
Pakistan’s Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) party, the dominant power in the nation’s financial capital of Karachi, has agreed to rejoin the federal coalition after Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani agreed to reverse a fuel price rise mandated under an IMF assistance programme.
The party, which mainly represents the Urdu-speaking descendants of immigrants from India following the creation of Pakistan in 1947, said it had decided to return to the ruling coalition so as not to trigger a crisis at a time when the country faced many challenges. But it said it would not immediately return to Gilan’s cabinet, indicating it was holding out for more concessions.
(Reuters) – Pakistan’s beleaguered prime minister headed to the southern port city of Karachi on Friday to woo back the region’s dominant political party after it defected from the coalition over rising fuel prices, plunging the nation into a political crisis.
The latest bout of political instability has largely to do with control of Karachi where a triangular battle involving mohajirs, or the descendants of immigrants from India, ethnic Pashtuns and indigenous Sindhis has intensified in recent years.
Steve Coll, the president of the New America Foundation and a South Asia expert, has raised the issue of the safety of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons in the wake of the assassination of the governor of most populous Punjab state by one of his bodyguards. It’s a question that comes up each time Pakistan is faced with a crisis whether it a major act of violence such as this or a political/economic meltdown or a sudden escalation of tensions with India obviously, but also the United States.
Pakistan’s security establishment bristles at suggestions that it could be any less responsible than other states in defending its nuclear arsenal, and its leaders and experts have repeatedly said that the professional army is the ultimate guardian of its strategic assets.
Pakistan’s anti-blasphemy law has been in the spotlight since November when a court sentenced a Christian mother of four to death, in a case that has exposed deep rifts in the troubled Muslim nation of more than 170 million people. While liberal Pakistanis and rights groups believe the law to be dangerously discriminatory against the country’s tiny minority groups, Asia Bibi’s case has become a lightning rod for the country’s religious right.
On Tuesday, the governor of the most populous state of Punjab, Salman Taseer, who had strongly opposed the law and sought presidential pardon for the 45-year-old Christian farmhand, was gunned down by one of his bodyguards.
SINGAPORE, Jan 5 (Reuters) –
Asian stocks slid on Wednesday following a broad
commodities sell-off but the U.S. dollar edged higher after
stronger-than expected U.S. factory data offered further
evidence of an economic recovery.
Oil fell for a second day as investors took profits from a
sharp year-end rally. Gold inched up, though, after sinking
more than 2 percent in the previous session.
SINGAPORE, Jan 4 (Reuters) – Japanese stocks led Asian
equities higher, climbing to their highest since May, and oil
prices were perched near a 27-month high on Tuesday, with
investors betting the improving U.S. recovery may be reflected
in jobs data later in the week.
The dollar also rose while U.S. Treasuries dipped in Asia
as investors kicked off the year turning to riskier assets
such as high-yield credit, on signs that growth in the world’s
biggest economy may accelerate in 2011.
SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Asian stocks advanced on Tuesday and oil hovered near a 27-month high, supported by U.S. data suggesting a recovery in the world’s biggest economy was gathering momentum.
Japanese shares hit a 7-1/2 high on Tokyo’s first trading session of the New Year, a day after the United States reported manufacturing grew at its fastest clip in seven months in December. U.S. stocks hit new two-year highs overnight.
SINGAPORE, Jan 4 (Reuters) – Japanese shares advanced on
Tuesday in sight of an eight-month high, and oil held steady
near a two-year high, supported by U.S. data reflecting a
sustained recovery in the world’s biggest economy was gaining
The dollar was also broadly firmer on news that U.S.
manufacturing grew at its fastest pace in seven months in
December, driving U.S. stocks to two-year highs on the first
trading day of the New Year.