Karangal Pass in Kunar Re-opened

The previously sealed Karangal pass in the Kunar region of Afghanistan has been re-opened, which will be a great relief to the people living there. With winter coming on, and food short it was probably needed to prevent humanitarian crisis. The Tribal leaders are promising to drive out the Taliban as part of the deal, but that remains to be seen.

We also have reports of coalition operations in the area, and this appears like a full-court press if true. From the Frontier Post:

Coalition forces have torched homes of civilians in Sarkano district of the eastern Kunar province, local officials say. Dedar Shalzai, Governor of Kunar, told Pajhwok Afghan News on Wednesday the homes were located just two miles of the district headquarters. He said he had met local elders and had showed his strong reaction on the incident. The governor said ODA, a distinct body of the coalition forces had torched three homes in the area. Jandullah, a resident of Sarkano, told this news agency coalition forces had set alight eight homes. He said work on the homes was near to completion as materials were brought for them. The coalition forces were of the view ammunition and edible were brought for Taliban through these donkeys and they burnt the homes, Jandullah said. He said: “The burnt homes were located in 2 kilomteres of the district headquarters, how Taliban could be stationed so close.” Governor Dedar said in a meeting coalition forces told him about presence of the fighters in the area. He said the troops told him they had found through binocular that donkeys were used for supplying various items. He said in a joint operation with Afghan National Army (ANA) they recovered some explosives under a wall. The governor said he had met commander of Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) based in Kunar and had strongly protested him.

With many side valleys, and several tribes living up and down the pass, sometimes at odds with each other, the long term effects are unknown. What we do know however is that this is one route from the Chitral/Darkot area into Afghanistan, and those were the places that Bin Laden was last reported at.

See previous article here.

One last note from FP, here’s more of the mixed results of the Waziristan accord:

Inking of an agreement between Pakistan government and Taliban fighters in North Waziristan restored peace in the tribal area but ignited violence in Afghanistan, particularly in its bordered regions. Lying cheek by jowl, Khost is also one of the provinces that is bleeding due to peace accord singed on the other side of the border. In an exclusive interview with Pajhwok Afghan News Governor of Khost Arsala Jamal said the peace accord in Pakistan government with Taliban had disrupted peace in Khost. The accord was signed following desires of the militants, he said, adding Taliban and illegal arms holders provided security to the jirga inking the agreement. Answering a question, he said:” Our disgruntled elements are controlled by others, these dissidents have no persistent programme.” He said the National Reconciliation Commission was making strenuous efforts to win heart of the dissidents here but lacking of independence was the reason behind some stubborn elements. Answering another query, Jamal said: “Taliban are enemies of the entire nation, they have martyred many civilians.” Pointing finger to Pakistan meddling, the governor said:” If Pakistani border forces share information with us, the problem can be resolved.” Jamal said:” Taliban hold open meetings in North Waziristan, they issue non-believers edict regarding Afghan rulers on loudspeakers, and this all is practical training.” He said Taliban did not need weapons and such provocative statements were more viral than training. Quoting a religious scholar of Karachi, the governor said his sermon was instigating Afghans for armed resistance.

From Pak Tribune, a quote from Sherpao regarding Madrassahs, and registration of foreigners:

In this connection, he said, President Pervez Musharraf had firmly presented his stance in all countries including America.

“About 95 per cent seminaries have been registered that are playing key role in the country,” he added.

The federal minister said that about 700 foreign students who had been issued NOCs by their native countries were currently getting religious education in Pakistan and those who do not have the NOCs would soon be repatriated to their countries.

He said the Afghan students were exempted from the NOC condition. “The Afghan students have come to Pakistan through visas and they do not need to have an NOC,” he added.

This indicates to me an overall strategy: I see an attempt to re-unify the Pashtun, including the Taliban elements, and to pacify them on both side of the border while driving foreign elements out. Note that Afghans are allowed, but not Arabs, Uzbeks, Tajiks, Iranians, etc. If it works it’s brilliant, if it fails it could be an unmitigated disaster.