Daily brief: 12 Shiites killed in Pakistan suicide attack

Another Afghan Taliban arrest Another commander of the Afghan Taliban has been arrested in Karachi, according to Pakistani intelligence officials, and Pakistani media report that Motasim Aghan Jan is believed to be Afghan Taliban supreme leader Mullah Omar’s son-in-law, and was seventh in the Quetta shura’s hierarchy (AP, BBC, Daily Times Aaj). An Afghan Taliban ...

KARIM ULLAH/AFP/Getty Images
KARIM ULLAH/AFP/Getty Images
KARIM ULLAH/AFP/Getty Images

Another Afghan Taliban arrest

Another commander of the Afghan Taliban has been arrested in Karachi, according to Pakistani intelligence officials, and Pakistani media report that Motasim Aghan Jan is believed to be Afghan Taliban supreme leader Mullah Omar's son-in-law, and was seventh in the Quetta shura's hierarchy (AP, BBC, Daily Times Aaj). An Afghan Taliban spokesman has denied his capture. And a Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan commander from Sararogha, South Waziristan was also picked up in Karachi yesterday (Daily Times).

A suicide bomber killed at least 12 Shiite civilians on a bus in the Pakistani tribal district of Hangu earlier this morning, demonstrating that sectarian tension is a consistent presence in the northwest, in addition to Taliban attacks (AFP, AP, Dawn, Geo). Around 30 others, including women and children, were injured. And Pakistani security forces have killed around 30 militants in Mohmand agency (The News).

Another Afghan Taliban arrest

Another commander of the Afghan Taliban has been arrested in Karachi, according to Pakistani intelligence officials, and Pakistani media report that Motasim Aghan Jan is believed to be Afghan Taliban supreme leader Mullah Omar’s son-in-law, and was seventh in the Quetta shura’s hierarchy (AP, BBC, Daily Times Aaj). An Afghan Taliban spokesman has denied his capture. And a Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan commander from Sararogha, South Waziristan was also picked up in Karachi yesterday (Daily Times).

A suicide bomber killed at least 12 Shiite civilians on a bus in the Pakistani tribal district of Hangu earlier this morning, demonstrating that sectarian tension is a consistent presence in the northwest, in addition to Taliban attacks (AFP, AP, Dawn, Geo). Around 30 others, including women and children, were injured. And Pakistani security forces have killed around 30 militants in Mohmand agency (The News).

Kandahar roadside shooting

Yesterday, one Afghan and four Pakistani construction workers were killed when an unknown gunman opened fire on the group in the Kobi area of Panjwayi, a district in the southern Afghan province of Kandahar (AFP, The News, BBC, AJE). The men were working for SAITA, a road construction company that has been targeted by militants before and employs around 1,000 Pakistanis working in Afghanistan.

In his last news conference as the U.N.’s top representative to Afghanistan yesterday, the Norwegian diplomat Kai Eide said it is "high time" to try and negotiate with the Taliban, and offered harsh words against Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s government for corruption and the international community for "fast-ticking clocks" (LAT, BBC, AP, NYT). Eide had been accused of not adequately handling the pervasive corruption in the August 2009 Afghan presidential election. And U.S. Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistani Amb. Richard Holbrooke gave an interview to the FT, saying it’s "much too early" to predict how it’s going to turn out in Afghanistan (FT).

McChrystal watch

Top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan Gen. Stanley McChrystal has had his authority in the country extended by CENTCOM commander Gen. David Petraeus, who commented, "It will provide General McChrystal with authorities that I never had as the commander in Iraq…and that his predecessors never had in Afghanistan either" (Reuters). The move is reportedly part of an effort to streamline the military there.

Gen. McChrystal also issued a directive in January, portions of which have just been made public, governing the use of night raids in Afghanistan, ordering that U.S. and NATO troops have Afghan forces with them when they must carry out these nighttime missions (AP, Reuters). And finally, the general said in an interview with Reuters and the Times that the recent arrest of Afghan Taliban second-in-command Mullah Baradar might have been the result of an intra-Taliban feud that had pushed Baradar out of favor (Reuters).

The recently retired head of the British Army’s Special Air Service claimed that British troops were denied proper equipment in Afghanistan and Iraq, "undoubtedly cost[ing] the lives of soldiers" (Tel). And a leading Afghan women’s rights activist criticized the 25 percent of Afghanistan’s parliament that is female, calling them "high in quantity, but low in quality" because they have to answer to the warlords who helped them win election (AFP).

9/11 military tribunal ahead

U.S. President Barack Obama’s advisers are reportedly going to recommend to the president that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the operational commander of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, be prosecuted in a military tribunal rather than a civilian court as was initially planned by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder (Wash Post, AP). The move comes after harsh bipartisan criticism, mostly from the right, of a federal trial for the 9/11 suspects. For more on the legal aspects of the ‘war on terror,’ sign up for a Friday brief by Foreign Policy and the New America Foundation (LWOT).

Newsweek Pakistan

Newsweek magazine, a Washington Post company, is planning to launch a Pakistan edition to hit newstands in September and offer both local and international content (FT). The magazine will start with a print run of 30,000, in a country of some 180 million where English-language publications are not widely sold.

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