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Continuous coverage of the conflict in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

India: A bigger role in Afghanistan on the horizon?

Triangular meet between US, Afghanistan and India in New York this week signals that Washington may look to New Delhi to replace Islamabad in the stabilization effort.
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Two Afghan children watch US military soldiers from the 3rd platoon, C-company, 1-23 infantry on patrol in Genrandai village at Panjwai district, Kandahar on September 24, 2012. The Afghan Taliban dismissed NATO figures showing a decrease in insurgent attacks, saying the statistics reflect troop withdrawals and a 'cowardly' avoidance of contact. (TONY KARUMBA/AFP/Getty Images)

Beijing, New Delhi and Islamabad are wrangling for position in Afghanistan following the US drawdown, the always-interesting C. Raja Mohan writes in the Indian Express. The upshot: A first-ever triangular meeting between leaders from the US, India and Afghanistan this week sends yet another signal the US may look to replace Islamabad with New Delhi in its stabilization plans.


India: Pakistan hyping Hafiz Saeed to boost flagging US support for its military shadow government

Massive rallies in support of Lashkar-e-Taiba founder's political coalition are meant to scare Washington into playing ball with Pakistan's military, says Indian hawk
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Hafiz Saeed, leader of banned charity organisation Jamaat-ud-Dawa, speaks at a rally in Lahore on June 13, 2010. Saeed, the alleged founder of the Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist organization, is a prominent member of a new 40-party coalition that includes Pakistan's former intelligence chief, Hamid Gul, former army chief Mirza Aslam Baig and politicians like Sheikh Rasheed and Ijazul Haq. (ARIF ALI/AFP/Getty Images)

Pakistan's spooks and generals are styling alleged terrorist Hafiz Saeed as a rising political force to shore up flagging U.S. support for the country's military shadow government, argues the editor of Pragati--The Indian National Interest Review.

Writing for Mid Day, Singh explains that Saeed is being projected as a rising figure in a new, 40-party coalition called Difa-e-Pakistan, which also includes figures like former Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Hamid Gul and former army head Mirza Aslam Baig.

Considered by India and others to be the founder of the notorious Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist group, Saeed is there to convince the U.S. that it must support Pakistan's military-spy agency shadow government, lest its democratic institutions throw up a dangerous radical.


A bad year for Afghanistan gets worse

The latest attack on Kabul punctuates a bad year for the Afghanistan capital.
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Afghan policemen stand guard after an explosion in Kabul on Dec. 6, 2011. (Daud Yardost/AFP/Getty Images)

In one of the worst attacks in Afghanistan's modern history, and by far the worst attack in Kabul this year, 58 people were killed when a bomb struck the capital's historic old city at about 11:30 a.m., just as hundreds of Shiites were making their way to their most revered site in Kabul — the Abdul Fazl Ziyarat.

The attack punctuated an already dismal year for security in the Afghan capital, which has been deemed secure by the Pentagon and is one of seven areas in Afghanistan that have been fully transitioned to Afghan security forces. More than a dozen major attacks have occurred in Kabul since January, casting doubt on the US narrative that security is improving in Afghanistan.

Here's a look at the most serious attacks that have struck the capital so far this year.


Indian industry plans $10 Bn investment in Afghanistan

Spending slating to develop mining industry and a steel plant
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India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh speaks at a session of the Afghan parliament in Kabul on May 13, 2011 as Afghan President Hamid Karzai watches. (Ahmad Masood/AFP/Getty Images)

Indian companies will invest more than $10 billion developing mines and building a steel plant in Afghanistan, India's Daily News & Analysis (DNA) newspaper reported.

External Affairs Minister SM Krishna unveiled the plans at a global conference where representatives of over 100 countries are meeting to chart the course for Afghanistan after US-led NATO troops pull out in 2014, the paper said.


Pakistan pledges justice for Mumbai attacks at regional summit

Pakistan, India declare "new chapter" in relations but Islamabad still wary of prosecuting some of India's most wanted

India and Pakistan claimed to be on the cusp of "a new chapter" of warmer relations at a regional summit Thursday, with Islamabad pledging to bring the perpetrators of the November 2008 terrorist attacks on Mumbai to justice soon.

According to the Times of India, Islamabad and New Delhi agreed to push a through a host of so-called confidence building measures, including the revival of a joint commission, a preferential trade agreement and liberal visa regime.


Is Pakistan finally fed up with the drone war?

Or are recent public statements by Pakistan just more politicking?
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Protesters call for a stop to U.S. drone attacks in Peshawar. (TARIQ MAHMOOD/AFP/Getty Images)

Pakistani Defense Minister Ahmed Mukhtar said over the weekend that the United States should be careful not to "test his government's patience" with persistent drone strikes on the country's territory, according to Pakistani media outlets.

The minister was touring a hospital in an unrelated trip when a local journalist asked about the drones strikes, which are operated by the C.I.A. in one of the least-covert covert operations in the agency's history. Mukhtar said that Pakistan was a responsible nuclear power and couldn't accept the killing of its people in drones strikes.

U.S. drones have killed upwards of 3,000 people in Pakistan's tribal areas, by some estimates, since they began in 2004. The strikes have become far more frequent in recent years, however, under the leadership of U.S. President Barack Obama and Leon Panetta, the former C.I.A. chief and current secretary of defense.

Complete coverage: The Drone Wars

Mukhtar added that the government would unveil a new policy on the drone strikes soon. Although Pakistan has long made a practice out of condemning the unmanned aerial missile strikes in front of the Pakistani public, which has grown increasingly angry by the killing of civilians, privately the government has always allowed them to continue.

So has the government finally had enough? Or is this just more politicking?


Indian police foil terrorist plot to attack Delhi during Diwali celebrations

Police say alleged plot involved terrorists from Lashkar-e-taiba, Babbar Khalsa International
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Activists from radical Sikh organisations shout slogans in support of Sikh leader Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and Khalistan, the name for an envisioned independent Sikh state, after prayers at Sri Akal Takht at the Golden Temple in Amritsar on June 6, 2010. "Ghallughara Diwas" is the anniversary of the deadly 1984 Indian army "Operation Bluestar" assault on the Golden Temple complex to arrest Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, a Sikh leader and his militant followers who had initiated a movement for a separate Sikh state. (AFP/Getty Images)


Indian police foiled a possible terrorist attack Thursday, seizing around 11 pounds of explosives from a car parked outside a railway station in Ambala, Haryana, the BBC reports.

Police said the explosives were intended for use in a terrorist attack in New Delhi during the upcoming Diwali celebrations, Hinduism's most important festival, when large crowds gather in shopping areas and other public spaces.


Pakistan to grant MFN status to India

Move would boost bilateral trade and civilian ties, potentially reducing tensions

Pakistan has, in principle, decided to grant Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status to India, Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar said in the National Assembly, according to India's Economic Times.

The statement comes after trade talks in September failed to generate an agreement on MFN status, which India has already afforded Pakistan. 


Drone Wars: The great debate (VIDEO)

PBS Newshour talks to Maj. Gen. Charles Dunlap and David Cortright to get both sides of the argument.
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An activist in Abottabad, Pakistan holds a placard during an anti-U.S. protest in May 2011. (ASIF HASSAN/AFP/Getty Images)

As U.S. President Barack Obama amps up his Drone War, targeting suspected terrorists in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, the public is starting to ask questions, and so are the experts. There are strong arguments on both sides. Proponents of the drones say they can reach where traditional military weapons can't and that they reduce collateral damage and civilian casualties. Others fear they are making war too easy and lack transparency and accountability.

PBS Newshour on Monday night spoke to Maj. Gen. Charles Dunlap, executive directory of the Center on Law, Ethics and National Security at Duke University Law School. Dunlap also served as a top lawyer in the Air Force. Dunlap tells PBS that the drones allows the military, or the C.I.A., to retrieve the necessary intelligence before an attack occurs, limiting mistakes and civilian deaths.

"This is a way of using technology in a way that minimizes the threat or the danger not only to the U.S. personnel employing the drones, but also to the people on the ground, because drones give you the opportunity for persistent long-term surveillance before striking a target," he said. "In addition, the technology, the weapons technology, allows for very precise strikes. Do innocent people get killed? Of course they do. But it is the nature of war is such that that is inevitable. This is a way of limiting those unnecessary deaths."

Arguing for the other side is David Cortright, director of policy studies at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at Notre Dame. Cortright says that although the drones can strike where foot soldiers can't, they do not resolve the political and social problems that give rise to terrorism in the first place.

"These weapons can destroy targets, but they cannot achieve the political goal of ending the threats from terrorism," he said. "And they have posed many grave dangers in terms of security, legal and moral questions for our country. As you said, the technology is spreading. As many as 50 countries may now be developing or purchasing this technology, including countries like China, Russia, India, Pakistan, Iran. Hezbollah has deployed an Iranian-designed drone aircraft."


Indian Supreme Court stays execution of Mumbai terrorist

Court rules Ajmal Amir Kasab cannot be executed until appeal against his conviction and sentence is resolved
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An Indian Muslim child shouts anti-Pakistani slogans during a rally celebrating the sentencing of Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab in Mumbai on May 6, 2010. (SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP/Getty Images)

India's Supreme Court on Monday stayed the execution of Ajmal Amir Kasab, the lone survivor among the terrorists who attacked Mumbai in November 2008, the Hindustan Times reports.

The court said that the execution cannot be carried out until it hears Kasab's petition challenging his conviction and death sentence, the paper said.