The South Asia Channel

Memo lays out legal case for killing U.S. citizens in al-Qaeda

Memo lays out legal case for killing U.S. citizens in al-Qaeda

Editor’s note: Two new papers commissioned by the New America Foundation’s National Security Studies Program from leading Pakistani economist Mohsin Khan and leading Indian economist Nisha Taneja find that trade between India and Pakistan could be some 10 to 20 times larger than its current level, providing both countries with unprecedented growth opportunities and the chance to improve bilateral relations as well. To read more, click here.

Legalize it

The Obama administration has crafted a legal argument for the targeted killing of a U.S. citizen if an "informed, high-level official" decides he is a ranking member of al-Qaeda who poses "an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States," according to a Justice Department memo published Monday night by NBC News (NYT, Post, NBC, BBC). The 16-page document was given to members of the Senate Intelligence and Judiciary committees last summer, as a summary of the longer legal memorandum that was likely written some time in 2011 and provided the justification for the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen killed in a drone strike in Yemen in September of that year.

Pakistan’s interior minister Rehman Malik said Monday that the government is ready to engage in peace talks with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TPP), asking the militant group to tell the government what "team" they would like to talk to (AP, Dawn). The statement follows a recent announcement by TTP leaders that they are ready to negotiate with authorities, and identified three politicians with whom they would be willing to speak.

And in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, more than ten people were killed Monday in heavy rains that swept the region, causing roof collapses, flooding, and landslides (Dawn).

More talks about talks

Afghan president Hamid Karzai and Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari agreed on Monday to work together toward reaching a peace deal between the Taliban and the Afghan government within six months, and voiced their support for the opening of a Taliban office in Doha, Qatar for the purposes of the negotiations (AJE, AFP, Guardian). The two leaders are in the United Kingdom for talks with Prime Minister David Cameron and other top British officials.

The U.S. military on Monday suspended a ban on the Afghan airline Kam Air, which was implemented due to suspicions that the company was involved in drug smuggling (NYT). The decision came after persistent complaints from Afghan officials and demands to see the evidence against Kam Air, which the Pentagon has agreed to share with the Afghan government.

Tourist draw

Pakistan’s cash-strapped government is planning a $30 million amusement park in Abbottabad, the quiet, upper middle class town where U.S. Special Forces found and killed Osama bin Laden in May 2011 (AFP). The project will take eight years to complete, and will include a "heritage park, wildlife zoo, food street, adventure and paragliding clubs, waterfalls and jogging tracks," according to the provincial minister for tourism and sports.

— Jennifer Rowland