October 14, 2012:
Afghanistan is trying to make peace with Pakistan but is having great difficultly negotiating a deal. The big problem is that Pakistan insists it is not carrying out or supporting terrorist attacks in Afghanistan. There is ample evidence that this is not true, but Pakistan simply denies it all and blames Afghanistan for providing sanctuary for Islamic terrorists hostile to Pakistan. This denial is becoming a problem in Pakistan as well, where the military and ISI (combined intelligence agency) have long carried out covert operations in Afghanistan and military personnel in particular openly boast of it. While most Pakistanis agree that Afghanistan is a troublesome neighbor that must be controlled, there is growing opposition to the military and intelligence agencies running their own foreign policy and not admitting it. The Afghans get angrier and angrier but are not strong enough to do much about it. Meanwhile, Pakistani gangsters gladly handle the export (through Pakistan and out to the world via the port of Karachi) of tons of Afghan heroin each year. There’s too much money involved to worry about the military, who get paid off along with the police and politicians.
Many Afghan’s accuse the United States and Western nations of conspiring with Pakistan to keep Afghanistan weak and in chaos. This is absurd but shows the degree to which paranoia and delusions pervade thinking and decision making in Afghanistan.
In the south (Kandahar) suicide attacks have become more common against police and intelligence operations. If a police unit can be hit hard enough, and lose enough personnel, the unit commander will be more willing to take a bribe and back off. This does not always work because NATO advisors have gotten better at detecting when a commander has been bought. At that point they can seek to get the compromised commander replaced. The new commander is usually willing to do the job, at least until the Taliban get to him as well.
In the north (Samangan province) police arrested five Taliban terrorist operatives, who planned and carried out terrorist attacks. There is not a lot of terrorism in the north, where the largely Pushtun Taliban are hated and not tolerated very well.
A major dam in eastern Afghanistan is in danger of collapse. This would cut off most of the electricity used in eastern Afghanistan. The cause of the problem is Afghan government agencies refusing to pay for $15 million (so far) worth of electricity. Without that money repairs cannot be made and the government refuses to provide cash for repairs. It’s just another example of how corruption is the biggest problem in the country and gets the least attention. Bombs and gunfire get noticed more often, although this violence is a symptom of Afghanistan’s problems, not the main cause.
October 13, 2012: Two foreign aid workers (a Canadian and an American) disappeared near Kabul and appear to have been kidnapped.
October 7, 2012: NATO instructors have resumed training Afghan police, after a month long suspension because of a spike in attacks on NATO troops by men in Afghan police or army uniforms. Many of the attackers were members of the security forces. The Taliban and other terrorists were behind this new tactic. The U.S. and NATO implemented measures to reduce the incidence of such attacks. Despite the Taliban putting a lot of resources into this tactic (recruiting attackers and paying off the families of the attackers who “heroically” died), casualties among foreign troops continue to decline this year, while Taliban losses continue to increase. The Taliban are hoping the departure of foreign troops will turn things around for them. That remains to be seen, as most Afghans hate the Taliban and Islamic radicals in general.