Firstpost: The al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri may be in Pakistan, according to author Imtiaz Gul. On where Zawahiri could be hiding, the author writes: ‘The city that would most suit him and provide him with the peace he needs to strategise his takeover is Islamabad.’”
Pakistan Today: The Pakistani Army has told a visiting Afghan delegation claimed that ‘terrorists’ are launching cross-border attacks into Pakistan from Afghanistan. “The Afghan army delegation, headed by Major General Afzal Aman, visited the General Headquarters of the Pakistan Army for a meeting to discuss the Pak-Afghan border situation in view of cross-border attacks. The meeting was held on the invitation of the Pakistan Army to discuss the situation. The Afghan delegation was told that the problem stemmed from terrorists’ safe havens in Afghan provinces of Kunar and Nuristan, about which intelligence had been repeatedly shared with the Afghan authorities.”
Comment: Ahmed Wali Mujeeb writing for the BBC: US drones in Waziristan, Pakistan, are a constant source of fear and stress for tribal communities. “The drones do not suddenly appear over the horizon, carry out the attack and leave. At any given time of the day, at least four are hovering in the sky, emitting a distinctive and menacing buzzing sound.
They call them ‘mosquitoes’.
‘Anybody who has been listening to the buzzing all through the day usually can’t sleep at night,’ says Abdul Waheed, a tribesman in North Waziristan.”
Defence Professionals: The Taliban will face a strong and capable Afghan security force after the NATO withdrawal in 2014. “‘They will not be in a stronger position. When we (will) stop our combat mission, a very capable Afghan security force will take over. We are building up the number of Afghan security forces and by 2014, we will have 352,000 Afghan forces. And more importantly, quality-wise they will be very capable,’ NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said.
In an interview to popular Charlie Rose show of PBS News, Rasmussen said he was very “impressed” by seeing Afghan forces in action during his last visit to the country.”
Analysis: David Ignatius writing for the Washington Post: Officials in the US, Afghanistan, and Pakistan are exploring a viable exit strategy for NATO forces in Afghanistan, designed to be equitable and negate the Taliban. “The aim is to create a pathway for the withdrawal of U.S. and NATO troops from a war that almost nobody sees as “winnable” by military force alone. The goal is a framework for political transition where each side’s demands are boiled down to the irreducible essentials — providing a better deal for each party than they could get from battling on.”
Analysis: Frederick and Kimberly Kagan writing for the Wall Street Journal: Success in Afghanistan remains possible, as long as America and its allies deny terrorist groups the conditions to return to power following the 2014 withdrawal. “…Washington seems preoccupied with fulfilling the president’s promise to withdraw most U.S. forces by 2014. The premature withdrawal of the surge forces in the middle of the fighting season has seriously hampered our ability to capitalize on these changes and turn them into stable gains. The situation in the east remains precarious. And it remains to be seen whether the south can be held at post-surge force levels.
What is clear is that we are rushing to judgment. We are looking for success too quickly and abandoning hope too soon. The outcome remains balanced on a knife’s edge, but a collapse on the ground is unlikely as long as we remain active and partnered with the Afghan security forces and people.”
Free Press Kashmir: Sixteen people have been killed in Kashmir on Wednesday and Thursday. “Three militants of the Pakistan-based Hizbul Mujahideen group were killed in a clash with security forces in Dod district, 175 km east of Jammu, the winter capital of Jammu and Kashmir, a defence official said.”
Voice of America: Around 200 Buddhist monks have marched in Bangkok, “protesting a wave of violence targeting the Buddhist community in Bangladesh”. Banners were carried pleading for “peace and harmony” while others demanded “an end to ‘Muslim Terrorism’ against Bangladeshi Buddhists.