The South Asia Channel
Daily brief: nine dead in Pakistan attacks
Carrots and sticks for Pakistan U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi are reportedly set to lay out a $2 billion increase in military aid to Pakistan over the next five years at the end of the U.S.-Pakistan strategic dialogue talks in Washington today (AP, BBC, AFP). American officials ...
Carrots and sticks for Pakistan
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi are reportedly set to lay out a $2 billion increase in military aid to Pakistan over the next five years at the end of the U.S.-Pakistan strategic dialogue talks in Washington today (AP, BBC, AFP). American officials have reportedly warned their Pakistani counterparts that "continued inaction" against militants in the country’s northwest "could jeopardize some of the large U.S. cash payouts" to Pakistan (WSJ). And the NYT reports this morning that the U.S. will "refuse to train or equip" some half-dozen Pakistani Army units that allegedly killed unarmed prisoners and civilians during recent military offensives, and the White House has not told Pakistan of this decision (NYT). Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari may visit Washington next month (Dawn).
A bomb exploded at a mosque following Friday prayers in Peshawar, killing at least three civilians and wounding 22 (AFP, Geo, Dawn, ET). In the tribal area of Orakzai, six Pakistani soldiers were killed in a roadside bombing, the third attack on paramilitary troops patrolling the tribal regions this week (AFP, BBC, Dawn). Pakistan is recruiting 3,000 more police to help control violence in Karachi, which has been hard hit by politically motivated killings in the last week (AFP).
David Nakamura has today’s must-read describing the conflict between the Jang Group, which owns Geo and The News, and President Zardari, as part of a broader look at Pakistan’s media scene (Post). There are some 17,000 journalists in Pakistan, and the average age of a reporter is 23, down from 47 in 2002.
The three Jaish-e-Mohammad militants killed yesterday in Indian-administered Kashmir were reportedly on suicide missions to Srinagar, the summer capital (AFP). Omar Abdullah, Kashmir’s chief minister, said his administration is reviewing security arrangements ahead of U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to India next month; Obama is not visiting Kashmir, but security officials are reportedly worried about a potential uptick in attacks before or during his trip.
Working on the weekend
Companies and development firms that rely on private security guards are beginning to shut down reconstruction projects and preparing to leave Afghanistan because of the Karzai government has refused to rescind a ban on private security firms, and about $1.5 billion in ongoing reconstruction work could reportedly be affected (Post, WSJ, AP, Guardian). The ban is set to take effect toward the end of the year; U.S. diplomats are said to be preparing for a weekend of tough negotiations with Afghan President Hamid Karzai aimed at persuading him to revise the ban.
McClatchy reports that in spite of recent media coverage of high-level talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban, U.S. officials and Afghanistan experts say no "significant peace negotiations are underway" (McClatchy). Thomas Ruttig commented that on a scale of 1 to 100, progress on peace talks is "somewhere between 1 and 2." And while the U.S. is putting new emphasis on the tentative contacts, coalition officials, former Taliban leaders, and Afghan politicians say it’s too early to tell (FT, ABC). An official with Pakistan’s intelligence service the ISI called excluding Pakistan from the Taliban-Afghan government contacts is a "mistake" (WSJ). The ISI official also denied recent reports that Afghan Taliban number two Mullah Baradar has been released from custody.
Afghanistan’s telecom watchdog shut down access to 17 internet cafes in Kabul earlier this week for allowing access to "immoral websites," reports Pajhwok (Pajhwok). A cafe owner protested the closure, saying that Afghan internet providers should be penalized.