Gates Confirms Taliban Talks, Sai Baba Investigated, Cellphone Provides OBL Clues – News through June 24

Defense Director Robert Gates in Kandahar, Afghanistan, June 5. Photo courtesy of ISAF Regional Command.

Defense Director Robert Gates in Kandahar, Afghanistan, June 5. Photo courtesy of ISAF Regional Command.

Life moves fast. News moves faster. This week, as President Obama announced his plans for a troop drawdown in Afghanistan and James “Whitey” Bulgar was discovered in Los Angeles, people and events in South Asia continued to make international headlines.

On Sunday, US Defense Director Robert Gates confirmed preliminary peace talks with the Afghan Taliban, although the terrorist group officially claims it will only hold talks after international forces leave Afghanistan. Americans Courtney Mitchell and Sarah Welton had what they say is the first public gay wedding in Nepal’s history near the capital of Kathmandu Monday. A recent Pew study reports that Pakistanis have a generally unfavorable view of the United States, reflecting the lack of trust in the relationship between the two countries. Some Pakistani journalists, however, criticized the study on Twitter for surveying a small sample and projecting those attitudes on the whole country.

Two months after Sri Sathya Sai Baba’s death at the age of 84, Indian police are investigating a large amount of cash held by a trust associated with him. Sources and intended uses for the money are disputed by trustees, who are not yet under criminal investigation. A cellphone recovered belonging to Osama bin Laden’s courier, which was recovered in the raid on his compound last month, provides evidence that OBL was in contact with Harakat-ul-Mujahedeen. This militant group is a known asset of the Pakistani military; however, there is no proof as yet that the contact between the two parties was about OBL. American authorities appear to be treating the phone as a solid lead.

  1. Robert Gates Confirms US-Taliban Talks in Afghanistan – BBC News
  2. Nepal’s ‘First Gay Wedding’ Ceremony Held – BBC News
  3. Pew Survey Affirms Grim Views of US in Pakistan – New York Times
  4. India: Sri Sathya Sai Baba Trust Cash Investigated – BBC News
  5. Seized Cellphone Offers Clues to Bin Laden’s Pakistani Links – New York Times

Amina Elahi is’s Managing Editor. Read her Tumblr blog here.