- By Andrew LebovichAndrew Lebovich is a Sahel consultant and researcher with the Open Society Initiative for West Africa, based in Dakar, Senegal.
An anonymous Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) commander told the AP Monday that the group had declared a nation-wide ceasefire in support of ongoing peace talks with the country’s government, while Pakistan’s military denied reports Tuesday that talks were taking place (AP, ET). Additionally, the AP reports that Taliban commander Hafiz Gul Bahadur, who has a separate peace deal with Pakistan’s government, has said that he will allow the army to build a road through territory he controls in North Waziristan, but will kill any locals who work on the construction (Dawn, AP).
Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States Husain Haqqani will meet with his country’s top civilian and military leadership Tuesday to determine if he will be allowed to keep his post, following accusations that he crafted a memo to former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen asking for U.S. support for the removal of Pakistan’s military and intelligence chiefs (Reuters, ET). Mansoor Ijaz, the Pakistani-American businessman who claims he sent the memo containing the request to Mullen on Haqqani’s orders, continues to dispute Haqqani’s claims of innocence, while Haqqani’s wife and parliamentarian Farahnaz Ispahani said her husband would go to court to defend himself if necessary (ET, DT, Bloomberg, Dawn, Tel, Dawn). And a former spokesman for Mullen, Capt. John Kirby, said in a briefing Monday that Mullen knew the person who delivered the memo, reported by Foreign Policy’s The Cable to be former National Security Advisor James L. Jones, but that Mullen did not believe the letter came from Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari (FP, Dawn).
Also Tuesday, former Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi is scheduled to meet with Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) chief Nawaz Sharif, while the Tribune reports that the two may be planning a campaign to oust Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani from his parliamentary seat in southern Punjab (Dawn, ET). And U.S. ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter said Tuesday that he met intelligence chief Lt. Gen. Ahmad Shuja Pasha separately from opposition politician Imran Khan, denying suggestions that Pasha introduced Khan to Munter (ET).
Six stories round out this section: A roadside bomb in Balochistan killed five people, including three law enforcement officials, Tuesday, while in the Mardan district of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province a policeman was killed Monday when a bomb exploded outside of the girls’ school he was protecting (Dawn, ET, AFP). The Tribune profiles one of the men involved in a suicide bombing last week in Karachi (ET). Pakistan will delay a ban on using certain "obscene" words in text messages, after the proposed censorship encountered unexpected opposition (BBC, AFP, ET). Pakistan’s government announced Monday that a number of government agencies, including the Inter Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI) had failed to pay nearly Rs70 billion ($80 million) in electrical bills (ET). And the Tribune looks at how Pakistan has ignored its only Nobel Prize winner, Dr. Abdus Salam, a physicist and member of the minority Ahmedi community who died 15 years ago Monday (ET).
Permission to proceed
A spokesman for Afghan President Hamid Karzai announced Monday that an Afghan commission investigating the assassination of former President and High Peace Council chairman Burhanuddin Rabbani could leave for Pakistan as early as Tuesday, after Pakistan agreed to allow the delegation to enter the country (AFP, BBC). And Afghan authorities announced Tuesday that they had broken up several rocket and bomb plots against the Loya Jirga, or grand assembly, that ended Saturday in Kabul, and detained at least 15 suspects — including Pakistanis (BBC).
Reuters reports Tuesday on the failings of the Afghan Allies visa program, designed to help Afghans who worked with U.S. troops but now face serious threats leave the country, as only one applicant out of 2,630 has received an interview, and 48 have been rejected (Reuters). Reuters also looks at the problems facing Afghanistan’s nascent mining industry, which many hope will help fund the government after U.S. forces leave the country (Reuters). And the European Commission said Tuesday that it would send an additional $2 million in drought aid to Afghanistan, bringing its total drought aid in the country to $6.1 million (AP).
The U.S. State Department has removed certain maps of India and Pakistan from its website after receiving a complaint from the Indian government (BBC, WSJ). The map showed Pakistani-administered Kashmir as part of Pakistan, while supposedly "ignoring" Indian claims to part of the region.