Connect to share and comment

Continuous coverage of the conflict in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Indian police seize 27 kg of heroin on India-Pakistan border

Police say seizure among biggest capture this decade
Heroin bust indiaEnlarge
Indian Border Security Force (BSF) Additional Director General (ADG) Himmat Singh (C), BSF Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Sanjeev Bhanot (3R) BSF 41 Battalion Commandant Ish Aul (2L) along with BSF personnel pose with 27 kilogrammes of confiscated heroin during a press conference held close to The India-Pakistan Border at Rajatal, some 40kms from Amritsar on October 6, 2011. Singh said that BSF personnel recovered the drugs after an encounter with alleged miscreants close to the border between the South Asian neighbours a haul of nine bundles of narcotics with each containing 3 packets, total 27 packets . The narcotics were allegedly smuggled into the country from neighbouring Pakistan, officials said. (NARINDER NANU/AFP/Getty Images)

India's Border Security Force confiscated 27 kilograms of heroin near the India-Pakistan border on Thursday, striking a blow against the drug trade that finances the Taliban and various international terrorist groups, the Hindustan Times reported.

Afer a fierce fire fight with the police, the smugglers apparently abandoned their consignment and fled across the border into Pakistan, the paper cites the BSF as saying.

More

India, Iran solve debt payments issue

Move could speed trilateral trade talks with Afghanistan
Iran oil paymentsEnlarge
An Indian petrol pump employee fills the tank of a motorbike at a petrol station in Amritsar on July 7, 2011. India imports about 80 percent of its crude oil and has been frantically seeking new fuel sources as its economy grows. (NARINDER NANU/AFP/Getty Images)

A day after vowing to push forward with a trilateral trade agreement with Iran and Afghanistan that could end the latter's dependence on Pakistan's ports, India finally hammered out a solution that will allow exporters to pay over $1 billion in unpaid oil dues, the Times of India reports.

The solution will help India continue to ignore U.S. economic sanctions on Iran for its alleged attempts to build nuclear weapons, which in turn may help New Delhi further leverage its warmish relations with Tehran to influence post-war Afghanistan.

TOI says:

More

In Delhi, Karzai seeks to reassure Pakistan on India pact

Afghan president says agreement with "friend" India is not aimed at "brother" Pakistan

Afghan President Hamid Karzai moved to reassure Pakistan that the security pact he signed with India on Tuesday was not aimed at Islamabad, the Washington Post reports.

As far as diplomatic statements go, this was fairly absurd.  One could say that before, India was the elephant in the room that nobody liked to mention. Now, Karzai is trying to say that the elephant isn't there. Or if it is there, it doesn't take up any space, and definitely won't leave any unpleasant smelling "presents."

More

Karzai inks security pact with India that may irk Pakistan further

Karzai speaks out against nameless countries that promote terror in Delhi, India agrees to train troops
Karzai singhEnlarge
President of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai (L) shakes hands with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (R) during a meeting in New Delhi on October 4, 2011. Afghanistan and India, two nations united in their suspicion of Pakistan, are set to forge closer ties as Hamid Karzai visits New Delhi during a highly unstable time in South Asia. The Afghan president, making his second trip to the Indian capital this year, and meet Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh against a backdrop of shifting relations in the war-wracked and nuclear-armed region. (RAVEENDRAN/AFP/Getty Images)

In a deal that may complicate the ongoing U.S. tussle with Pakistan, Afghan President Hamid Karzai inked a security pact with India in New Delhi on Tuesday that will boost the military links between the two nations.

The proposal to train the Afghan National Security Forces was included in the first-ever Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA) signed on Tuesday by Mr. Karzai and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during their third extensive meeting this year, India's Hindu newspaper reported.

More

US drone strike kills 3 or 5 or 6 or 8 people in Pakistan

No one is very sure how many people were killed in the latest drone strike on Pakistan.
Drone 12Enlarge
(BONNY SCHOONAKKER/GlobalPost)

Pakistani security officials have told news agencies that "six militants" were killed in a U.S. drone strike on Friday. The strike, according to the report, killed four foreign militants, two others, and destroyed a "compound" in North Waziristan.

"The U.S. drone fired two missiles which hit a house. Two locals and four militants of central Asian origin have been killed," a Pakistani security official told AFP.

The Express Tribune, however, reported that five people were killed. The Indo-Asian News Service reported that eight people were killed. Monster and Critics reported that four people were killed. And CNN, citing Pakistani intelligence officials, said that three people were killed.

So, how many people were killed in the latest U.S. drone attack on Pakistan? No one really knows.

All accounting of those killed in the not-so covert U.S. drone war in Pakistan is at best an estimate. And if we don't know the exact numbers of those killed, how do we know exactly who was killed? Were there three militants or eight militants? Or was it six militants and two civilians? No one really knows.

Some are now calling on the United States to shoulder the burden of accounting for how many people, whether militant or civilian or otherwise, have been killed in its ongoing, and expanding, drone war.

The Oxford Research Group, a London-based think tank, released a report in June that found a legal obligation under international law to "identify all casualties" in an armed conflict, including the drone war. The group then launched a major international campaign, supported by dozens of humanitarian organizations, on Sept. 15 to demand that all states record every casualty of an armed conflict.

More

Veterans heal traumatic stress with yoga

Many combat veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan have found a new form of therapy.
Veterans 1 optEnlarge
An Iraq War veteran sits and drinks a beer beside the symbolic graves of fallen friends, Sgt. Eric Snell and Pfc. Michael Pittman, both from his former unit, the 1st Infantry Division. (Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images)
BOSTON — Yoga is bringing peace to combat veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
More

Photos: A soldier's best friend

U.S. troops in Kandahar adopt a local dog, boosting morale.
Giselle 1Enlarge
Giselle is much healthier than most of the stray dogs that soldiers adopt in Afghanistan. (Ben Brody/GlobalPost)

At combat outposts in Iraq and Afghanistan, soldiers often adopt a stray neighborhood dog or two. They provide a huge morale boost for the soldiers there even if they're ornery, diseased and mangy, as the dogs often are.

In Kandahar City, Giselle is the exception — she is healthy, friendly and affectionate.

Soldiers from Apache Troop, 1-10 Cavalry, keep Gisele at their small outpost in the northern part of the city. About the size of a Jack Russell terrier, she trots along with soldiers on patrol every day.

More from GlobalPost: Is this the real story of how bin Laden was found?

Apache Troop inherited her from the previous tenants of Combat Outpost 9-1, who took her to a military vet at Kandahar Airfield to get her shots.

"The guys leaving tried to take her with them, but she refused to leave the COP," said Staff Sgt. Bill Godfrey. "She just falls in with whichever soldiers are staying here."

More

Taliban that shot down U.S. chopper killed in Afghanistan

US forces killed militants in air strike, military says.
Chinook afghanistan 07 01 2011Enlarge
A U.S. Chinook helicopter flies over a valley in Afghanistan. An Afghan official says the Taliban laid an elaborate trap for the Chinook they shot down on Friday, killing 38 troops including 30 Americans. (Ted Aljibe/AFP/Getty Images)

In a statement, the International Security Assistance Force announced Wednesday that the militants responsible for the downing of a CH-47 helicopter last week, which led to the deaths of 30 Americans and eight Afghans, were killed in a precision airstrike in Afghanistan's central Wardak province.

The strike, the statement said, also killed a Taliban leader named Mullah Mohibullah, as well as the very insurgent that fired the shot that took down the chopper on Aug. 6.

On the night the chopper was shot down, the Special Forces on board had been pursuing Taliban members in Tangi valley that belonged to Mohibullah's network, according to ISAF.

"After an exhaustive manhunt, Special Operations forces located Mullah Mohibullah and the shooter after receiving multiple intelligence leads and tips from local citizens. The two men were attempting to flee the country in order to avoid capture," the press statement read.

The Reuters news ageny also released Wednesday one of the most detailed accounts of the fight that led to the downing of the chopper. Despite widespread speculation that the special forces were caught in an elaborate trap, or were involved in a rescue mission, the Reuters report says that neither is true.

More

The story of how bin Laden was found is fiction

R.J. Hillhouse says bin Laden was outed by a Pakistani intelligence officer wanting $25 million reward.
Osama bin laden pakistan us 2011 5 9Enlarge
Pakistani military and police officials cordon off a street leading to the final hideout of Osama Bin Laden in Abboattabad on May 9, 2011. Pakistan announced an official probe into the question of how bin Laden could live in a garrison city. (Aamir Qureshi /AFP/Getty Images)

The whole story of how Osama bin Laden was found to be hiding out in Abottabad, Pakistan — recreated in incredible detail in The New Yorker — was made up, according to R.J. Hillhouse, a prominent security analyst and author.

According to Hillhouse, who attributes the news to her sources inside the intelligence comunity, a Pakistan intelligence officer came forward with the information of bin Laden's whereabouts in exchange for the $25 million reward and U.S. citizenship for his family. The informant, Hillhouse says, claimed that the Saudis had been paying the Pakistani military and intelligence agency, ISI, to shelter bin Laden under house arrest.

"The C.I.A. and friends then set about proving that OBL was indeed there," Hillhouse writes. "And they did."

Hillhouse says that the United States then approached Pakistan, which agreed to cooperate on the raid. A cover story that bin Laden was killed in a drone attack was designed but had to be scrapped at the last minute when that lone Black Hawk spun to the ground. A new story, of a courier, was used in its place.

"The cooperation was why there were no troops in Abottabad," she writes. "It had always seemed very far-fetched to me that a helicopter could crash and later destroyed in an area with such high military concentration without the Pakistanis noticing."

More

Afghanistan: Does the uniform make the soldier?

U.S. soldiers regularly get into trouble for the state of their uniforms.
Patches 1Enlarge
Does this soldier's patch imply that he is undisciplined? (Ben Brody/GlobalPost)

When I go to Afghanistan, I always travel to remote outposts, usually manned by a single U.S. infantry platoon or less. These are the war's "friction points" — where policy is put into action.

At bigger bases, there are plenty of people who talk about how the war is being fought, but there is little physical evidence beyond the endless powerpoint "storyboards" that come in from the far-flung platoons.

Often the officers at larger bases have a good sense of what is going on in their district, but sometimes they do not, or have unrealistic expectations about their ability to change Afghanistan.

GlobalPost in Zhari: On board with the rescue crews in Afghanistan

During my first tour in Iraq, when I was a soldier in Baghdad in 2005, our brigade commander told us that we would defeat the insurgency to the point that no follow-on unit would be required to operate there after our year-long tour was over. In an anarchic city of seven million, we were 4,000 soldiers trained to fight the Soviets on the Eurasian steppe.

The experience taught me that to find the story of the U.S. military at war, you have to find the friction points, and stay away from powerpoint presentations and starry-eyed brigade commanders. 

More