The South Asia Channel

U.S. offers $10 million for Pakistani militant leader

U.S. offers $10 million for Pakistani militant leader

Upping the ante: The United States has placed a $10 million bounty on Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, who is suspected of masterminding the 2008 Mumbai attacks that killed 166 people, in a move that could further complicate the tense U.S.-Pakistan relationship (NYTAPReutersGuardianCNNAJEET). Despite being considered a terrorist by the United States, Saeed regularly addresses anti-U.S. rallies and has appeared on numerous Pakistani talk shows.

At least six people were killed Tuesday by a grenade thrown at a rally called by hardline religious party Ahle Sunnat wal Jamaat (ASWJ) in the northeastern town of Gilgit, prompting authorities to impose a curfew (ETDawn). And in neighboring Chilas, gunmen pulled passengers off of a bus and killed six of them (The News).

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Tom Nides plans to visit Islamabad on Wednesday as part of the United States’ "re-engagement" with Pakistan, just as parliament finishes its review of U.S.-Pakistan relations (AFPETThe News). Some residents of the Pakistani capital are calling for the removal of the many security barriers, checkpoints, and security forces that disrupt daily life and give the city a militarized feel (Post).

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari will meet Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for lunch on Sunday during the president’s private visit to a Sufi Muslim shrine in India (AP, BBCDT).

Sophisticated strike

Afghan authorities said Tuesday that militants had poisoned the food of policemen in Helmand Province, then attacked their checkpoint, sparking a firefight that left four policemen and two civilians dead (AP). Taliban spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi took responsibility for the attack. Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmay Rasool arrived in Qatar today for talks with officials there on reconciliation with the Taliban (DTThe News,AFP). It is the first visit to Qatar by an Afghan minister since the Taliban announced it would establish an office there.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen clarified Monday that the international coalition is not speeding up its withdrawal from Afghanistan in response to comments by Afghan and Western officials that NATO forces would end their combat role in 2013, instead of the previously agreed-upon 2014 timeline (AFP). And NATO spokesman Brig. Gen. Carsten Jacobsen told reporters Monday that personal grievances are more to blame for the recent spate of "green-on-blue" attacks than Taliban infiltration of Afghan security forces (Reuters). A CNN piece published last week drawing on a newdatabase of the green-on-blue attacks by the New America Foundation pointed out that Afghan security forces have been responsible for almost one in five NATO deaths this year (CNN).

Unfinished business 

Rumor has it that Lollywood actress Meera and Pakistani-American pilot Naveed Shahzad have been forced by Naveed’s father Raja Khalid to break off their engagement (The News). Not only did Khalid disapprove of his son’s engagement, but he also discovered that Meera may not yet be officially divorced from her previous husband. Khalid has requested the return of Meera’s Rs 800,000 engagement ring, too.

 Jennifer Rowland