- By Andrew LebovichAndrew Lebovich is a Sahel consultant and researcher with the Open Society Initiative for West Africa, based in Dakar, Senegal.
Pakistan’s Supreme Court formally opened its investigation into the ongoing violence in Karachi Monday, with chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry calling the official police report into the violence "insufficient," and stating Tuesday that the government of Sindh province has the ability, but not the "wil,l" to stop the violence (BBC, DT, ET, Dawn, Dawn, ET). Meanwhile, the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) distanced itself from explosive remarks made Sunday by PPP official and Sindh home minister Zulfiqar Mirza blaming interior minister Rehman Malik and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) in part for the spread of violence in the city, while Mirza’s popularity has soared (ET, Dawn, ET, DT, ET, ET).
The Pashtun-nationalist Awami National Party (ANP) called on the MQM to respond to Mirza’s accusations Monday, as security forces on Tuesday arrested at least 20 people in the city, and a suicide bomber in the city’s Gulshan-i-Iqbal neighborhood died along with a companion when his explosives detonated prematurely (Dawn, ET, DT, Dawn, AFP, ET, Dawn, AP). And the MQM on Monday countered rumors that their leader, longtime London resident Altaf Hussain, had been arrested by British authorities, saying instead that he was undergoing treatment in the city for an unspecified illness (Dawn, ET, The News).
The anti-terrorism court in Rawalpindi has issued arrest warrants for two people in the killing of former minorities minister Shahbaz Bhatti (ET). In Punjab, authorities are reportedly planning to tamp down on militants said to be from or trained in Afghanistan, while in Peshawar unnamed "miscreants" destroyed a girls’ school (ET, ET). And Mark Mazzetti has a must-read on the future of al-Qaeda in the aftermath of the suspected death in Pakistan last week of the group’s operational leader Atiyah Abd al-Rahman (NYT). Bonus read: Brian Fishman, "The death of Atiyah" (FP).
Finally today, Saeed Shah reports again on the prospects that the United States may fund a controversial dam in Pakistani-administered Kashmir (Guardian).
Waste not, want not
A bipartisan panel on wartime contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan led by former congressman Christopher Shays and former Defense Contract Audit Agency deputy director Michael Thibault has concluded that the U.S. government has wasted at least $30 billion on contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past decade (BBC, Politico, AFP). In their report set to be released Wednesday, the pair blame, "poor planning, vague and shifting requirements, inadequate competition, substandard contract management and oversight, lax accountability, weak interagency coordination, and subpar performance or outright misconduct by some contractors and federal employees" for the improperly allocated funds, as the Pentagon defended its efforts to reign in wasteful spending (AFP, Reuters).
A Taliban website released a lengthy statement Monday purportedly written by the group’s leader Mullah Omar, predicting the defeat of international forces and condemning a planned conference on Afghanistan’s future to be held at the end of this year in Germany (LAT). The AP reports on the growing tension between the United States and Afghanistan as both sides work to negotiate a "strategic partnership agreement" on the two countries’ relationship after the scheduled American withdrawal in 2014 (AP). And August was the deadliest month ever for U.S. forces in Afghanistan, with 66 troops killed (AP).
Finally, Reuters notes the rapidly increasing effort by NATO forces to bolster their presence along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan (Reuters). And three Australian commandos have been cleared in an Australian court on charges of manslaughter in relation to the deaths of six Afghans — five of them children — in a night raid in 2009 (AP).
An influential Peshawar mosque has caused some controversy by declaring the end of the holy month of Ramadan to be Tuesday, ahead of the "official" body whose job is to judge the end of the month based on observations of the moon (ET). The move means that Pakistanis in different parts of the country will celebrate the end of the month on two separate days.