The South Asia Channel

Daily brief: U.S. may add Haqqani Network to terror list

Mixed messages The U.S. State Department is close to adding the Haqqani Network to its list of banned terrorist groups, according to anonymous U.S. officials, as White House spokesman Jay Carney called on Pakistan’s government Tuesday to break any ties it may have with the Haqqanis, and said aid to Pakistan was "always under review" ...

YOUSUF NAGORI/AFP/Getty Images
YOUSUF NAGORI/AFP/Getty Images

Mixed messages

The U.S. State Department is close to adding the Haqqani Network to its list of banned terrorist groups, according to anonymous U.S. officials, as White House spokesman Jay Carney called on Pakistan’s government Tuesday to break any ties it may have with the Haqqanis, and said aid to Pakistan was "always under review" (CNN, AFP, AFP, Reuters, AP). The Post, meanwhile, quotes anonymous defense officials as saying that Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen’s statements last week about the Haqqani Network’s alleged links to Pakistan "overstate the case" that Pakistan has direct control over the group (Post). In an interview with the Journal, Mullen details his shift from advocating partnership and cooperation with Pakistan to taking a harder line on the country’s suspected ties to militant groups (WSJ).

In an interview with Reuters Tuesday, Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani warned the United States to avoid "negative messaging" on allegations of links to militant groups and reiterated past praise for China (Reuters, Dawn). The Tribune reports that Pakistani intelligence chief Lt. Gen. Ahmad Shuja Pasha told CIA head David Petraeus during his recent trip to Washington that Pakistan would be forced to retaliate if American troops attack across the Afghanistan-Pakistan border (ET). And Salman Masood notes the anti-U.S. "media frenzy" in Pakistan spurred by the recent controversy (NYT).

Hundreds of Pakistanis protested against the United States in Karachi Wednesday, while in the tribal town of Landikotal hundreds of tribesmen brought together by the Islamist party Jamaat-e-Islami threatened to engage in "holy war" should the United States attack Pakistan (ET, AFP). And cricketer-turned-opposition politician Imran Khan said Tuesday that he was ready to negotiate with the Haqqani Network, should the Pakistani government allow him to do so (Dawn).

All the world’s a stage

In her first address to the United Nations Tuesday, Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar called for cooperation against terrorism, and defended Pakistan’s track record in fighting militancy (Guardian, ET, AFP). She also declared that Pakistan would seek a seat on the U.N. Security Council, offered to engage in a new round of talks with India over the disputed region of Kashmir, and expressed Pakistan’s commitment to reconciliation and peace in Afghanistan (Dawn, Reuters).

A suspected U.S. drone strike in South Waziristan has reportedly killed at least four militants associated with the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) (ET, AP, CNN, AFP). Pakistani authorities on Tuesday moved the head of the banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), Malik Ishaq, from house arrest to prison for 30 days, in order to tamp down sectarian conflict in the country (ET, AP). Pakistani police announced Wednesday the arrest of a finance ministry employee on suspicion of links with militants (ET, Dawn). And an Afghan militant was reportedly killed in a clash with tribal militia in Bajaur Wednesday, while one police officer was killed when unidentified gunmen opened fire on a police van in Peshawar (ET, ET).

Three stories round out the day: The Christian Science Monitor looks at Pakistan’s slow response to major flooding this year, while Dawn reports that as many as eight million fake water purification pills may have been sent to areas hit by flooding (CSM, Dawn). In Karachi, the head of a breakaway faction of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), Afaq Ahmed, was released from prison Wednesday (Dawn).

Devastating toll

Eight Afghan policemen were killed Tuesday night by insurgents at a police checkpoint in Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand province (BBC, CNN). Afghan authorities believe one police officer who went missing after the attack helped the militants destroy the post before fleeing with them. And at least 16 people, including 11 children, were killed Tuesday when their van struck a roadside bomb near Herat (BBC, Reuters, LAT, AFP, AP). 

Also today, Pajhwok reports that the price of staple goods in Kabul, including flour, rice, and sugar, has increased by at least 19 percent over the last six months (Pajhwok).

Flashpoint

At least eight people, including five militants, two police officers, and an army officer, have been killed in three days of fighting in Indian-administered Kashmir (AP). Meanwhile, the parliament in Indian-administered Kashmir ground to a halt Wednesday after a resolution was submitted asking for clemency for a man sentenced to death for planning a 2001 terrorist attack on India’s parliament (AP). And the region’s chief minister Omar Abdullah promised to carry out DNA tests on thousands of bodies found in a series of mass graves (BBC).

What’s in a name?

An online campaign is rapidly spreading in Pakistan to rename the country’s premier cricket grounds in Lahore, currently named after Libyan dictator Col. Muammar Qaddafi (Tel). The stadium was first christened in honor of Qaddafi in 1974, after he gave a speech in favor of Pakistan’s right to build nuclear weapons.

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Andrew Lebovich is a visiting fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations and a doctoral candidate in African history at Columbia University. He is currently based in Senegal and has conducted field research in Niger and Mali.

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