- By Jennifer RowlandJennifer Rowland is a research associate in the National Security Studies Program at the New America Foundation.
Wonk watch: Antonio Giustozzi, "Hearts, Minds, and the Barrel of a Gun: The Taliban’s Shadow Government," (NDU).
Easy catch?: Officials at Cairo International Airport on Wednesday detained a man who had arrived from Pakistan called Mohamad Ibrahim Makkawi, a name listed as an alias by the FBI for a wanted al-Qaeda leader, Saif al-Adel, who is thought to be in Pakistan’s tribal regions (Post, AFP, AJE). Egyptian Interior Minister Marwan Mustapha later clarified that the man who had been arrested is wanted on terrorism charges in Egypt, but is not Saif al-Adel.
After a 13-year break, Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Wednesday resumed hearings into allegations that the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI) distributed $6.5 million to several opposition politicians in an effort to sway the 1990 election (NYT, ET, ET, DT, Dawn, The News). However, Wednesday’s hearing was cut short when it was revealed that important evidence, including the 1998 testimony of three key witnesses, had been lost.
Director General of Inter-Services Public Relations, Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas on Wednesday termed allegations that Osama bin Laden had been in regular contact with Pakistani intelligence officials while living in Pakistan "rubbish" (ET). And Iran has offered Pakistan 80,000 barrels of oil per day on a three-month deferred payment plan, a deal that would help alleviate Pakistan’s energy crisis as well as temper the effects of international sanctions on Iran (Reuters, The News, Dawn).
Protests were seen across Pakistan on Wednesday against the brutal killing of 18 Shi’a Muslims by gunmen dressed in Pakistani military uniforms the day before (Dawn, ET). India’s Home Minister P. Chidambaram said Wednesday that Indian police had foiled an attack planned by members of the Pakistani-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) (AFP). Two women and a child were killed in Khyber Agency when a bomb struck their vehicle on Wednesday (Dawn). And an elementary school in the northwestern Pakistani district of Chabqadar was blown up early Wednesday morning (ET).
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen on Tuesday praised NATO troops for their "remarkable restraint" during the violent protests that rocked Afghanistan for several days last week (AP). Meanwhile, a senior Afghan defense official told Reuters that preventing infiltrators from entering the country’s armed forces and attacking NATO troops is a "challenge" that must be met (Reuters).
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton defended the United States’ mission in Afghanistan on Tuesday in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, members of which expressed exasperation with the ongoing conflict and rising American death toll (AP). The United States has received permission from several Central Asian countries to move supplies out of Afghanistan through their territory during the withdrawal phase, relieving some of NATO’s heavy dependence on Pakistan for supply routes (WSJ).
Caught on tape
The Election Commission of Pakistan on Monday withheld the results of a provincial election in Tando Muhammad Khan due to reports of voter intimidation (ET). Candidate Waheeda Shah Bukhari had been declared the winner, but video footage of her slapping two polling workers rendered the results unclear, and landed the candidate in hot water.
– Jennifer Rowland