The South Asia Channel

Daily brief: Pakistan protests U.S. lobbying indictments

Back and forth Pakistan’s government on Thursday protested the arrest of American Syed Ghulam Nabi Fai on charges of illegally lobbying on Pakistan’s behalf, as Fai’s scheduled detention hearing in a Virginia court was moved to Tuesday (CNN, AP, Bloomberg, AFP, ET). A statement from Pakistan’s foreign ministry called the arrest part of a "slander ...

ASIF HASSAN/AFP/Getty Images
ASIF HASSAN/AFP/Getty Images

Back and forth

Pakistan’s government on Thursday protested the arrest of American Syed Ghulam Nabi Fai on charges of illegally lobbying on Pakistan’s behalf, as Fai’s scheduled detention hearing in a Virginia court was moved to Tuesday (CNN, AP, Bloomberg, AFP, ET). A statement from Pakistan’s foreign ministry called the arrest part of a "slander campaign" against Pakistan and the cause of Kashmiri independence, while the FBI alleged that Pakistan paid Fai between $500,000 and $700,000 a year for his services (BBC).

Pakistani prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani in an interview Thursday said that U.S. secretary of state Hillary Clinton had promised that there would be no further unilateral American raids in Pakistani territory, despite comments from Clinton and other U.S. leaders to the contrary (Guardian, Dawn, ET, DT). Meanwhile, in an interview the chief Pakistani army officer in Wana, South Waziristan, Maj. Gen. Rizwan, said that the United States had delayed passing on information about bombmaking sites in the area, sites that were empty when the Pakistani army searched them (ET). And the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Thursday voted down an amendment to a State Department authorization bill that would have stripped U.S. funding for Pakistan, as new CIA director David Petraeus warned against further antagonizing the country (Tel, Dawn, ET, DT).

At least eight people have been killed in ongoing violence in Karachi, as interior minister Rehman Malik said that approximately 154 people had been arrested in relation to targeted killings that have rocked the city, and the opposition Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) stormed out of Pakistan’s National Assembly as a protest against the continued unrest (AP, Dawn, ET, Dawn, ET). The commander of Pakistan’s armed forces in Baluchistan, Lt. Gen. Javed Zia, condemned the frequent disappearances and killings in the province — acts that are commonly blamed on the army — while a remotely-detonated bomb in the province wounded five members of a local "peace force" (Dawn, ET). And the L.A. Times has a must-read about the growing power of the Islamist student group Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba at Punjab University, where activists threatens students and teachers and attempt to enforce strict rules on behavior, debate, and gender mixing (LAT).  

Also Friday, the Post details concerns among Pakistanis about vaccination programs following reports that the CIA had used such a program as cover for an attempt to extract DNA from members of Osama bin Laden’s family (Post). A member of the commission investigating the death and presence of bin Laden in Pakistan, Lt. Gen. Nadeem Ahmad, said Friday that it could "take time" for the commission’s results to be released (ET). And in other news, The Pakistani army’s National Logistics Cell (NLC) has been allowed to bid on a government-owned construction company, in violation of the NLC’s own rules (Tribune).

Border wars

Pakistani officials blamed Pakistani Taliban militants based in Afghanistan for cross-border mortar fire that killed two people in Bajaur agency Thursday, as prime minister Gilani called for Afghanistan and Pakistan to cooperate to end cross-border incursions (AFP, ET, DT, Reuters, The News).

And Pakistan’s foreign ministry announced Thursday that foreign minister-level talks with India would start July 27 in India (Dawn).

The empire strikes back

British media outlets indicate that the two British nationals arrested in Herat Thursday and transferred to Kandahar are a couple born in Pakistan, as security forces are reportedly searching for two other British nationals (Times, Guardian). And International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) spokespeople said Friday that international forces have killed 50 militants at a foreign fighter "way station" in Afghanistan’s Paktika province that they claimed is run by the Haqqani Network (AP).

Persistent doubts about the capability of Afghan forces as well as the slow pace of reconciliation efforts with the Taliban have overshadowed the transition to Afghan control of seven areas this week, while the American embassy in Kabul on Thursday welcomed news that the United Nations had removed sanctions against 14 former Taliban (AP, AFP, DT, CNN).

Two stories round out the day: A raid by Afghan and NATO forces in the southeastern province of Nimroz has netted almost half a million pounds of opium poppy seeds (CNN). And U.S. Army Spc. Jeremy Morlock testified Thursday against Sgt. Calvin Gibbs in the latter’s court martial, where Gibbs stands accused of running a "kill team" targeting innocent Afghans during a deployment last year (Reuters).

High rollers

Pakistan’s National Assembly was told Thursday that of the country’s 121 diplomatic missions around the world, the embassy in Washington, D.C. spent the most money last year (Dawn). The embassy spent Rs775.172 million (about $9 million) last year and had spent Rs474 million (about $5 million) by this March, while the country’s embassy in China only spent RS107 million (about $1.2 million) last year and Rs80 million (almost $1 million) through this March.

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