Daily brief: Afghan police: Pakistani Taliban leader rumored killed

The AfPak Daily Brief will be off tomorrow and Monday in observance of the Memorial Day holiday, and will resume on Tuesday June 1. "Radio Mullah" dead? Afghan police claim that Maulana Fazlullah, the chief of the Swat Valley Taliban, was killed during clashes in the eastern Afghan province of Nuristan, after several days of ...

JOHN MOORE/Getty Images
JOHN MOORE/Getty Images
JOHN MOORE/Getty Images

The AfPak Daily Brief will be off tomorrow and Monday in observance of the Memorial Day holiday, and will resume on Tuesday June 1.

"Radio Mullah" dead?

Afghan police claim that Maulana Fazlullah, the chief of the Swat Valley Taliban, was killed during clashes in the eastern Afghan province of Nuristan, after several days of fighting there (NYT, ET, Geo, AP, Dawn). Fazlullah's death has been reported before and has not been confirmed, and the self-proclaimed military commander in Nuristan denied that Fazlullah had been killed, or had even staged the attack in the province (The News). Bonus read: a profile of the "Radio Mullah" (NAF/FP).

The AfPak Daily Brief will be off tomorrow and Monday in observance of the Memorial Day holiday, and will resume on Tuesday June 1.

"Radio Mullah" dead?

Afghan police claim that Maulana Fazlullah, the chief of the Swat Valley Taliban, was killed during clashes in the eastern Afghan province of Nuristan, after several days of fighting there (NYT, ET, Geo, AP, Dawn). Fazlullah’s death has been reported before and has not been confirmed, and the self-proclaimed military commander in Nuristan denied that Fazlullah had been killed, or had even staged the attack in the province (The News). Bonus read: a profile of the "Radio Mullah" (NAF/FP).

Elsewhere Pakistani aircraft bombarded militant positions in Orakzai agency, reportedly killing 15 fighters (Daily Times, Dawn). The United States today released $288 million today under the Coalition Support Fund, which is designed to help Pakistan pay for ongoing operations against militant groups (Dawn). And unidentified fighters killed a pro-government tribal elder and his family in Bajaur (AP).

Separately, the World Bank has given Pakistan a 48-hour deadline to implement a Value Added Tax (VAT) and electricity tariff hike, in order to receive $300 million in June under the Bank’s poverty support credit program (Dawn).

Pakistani Interior Minister (and new Twitter user) Rehman Malik said yesterday that failed Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad had unspecified links to South WaziristanDawn, ET). Other sources have said that Shahzad had visited North Waziristan for training, fueling pressure on the Pakistani army to undertake a long-awaited offensive there. CIA Director Leon Panetta and National Security Advisor Gen. James L. Jones reportedly warned the Pakistani government during a visit last week that it has "only weeks" to crack down on the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), though reports did not specify potential consequences if Pakistan does not take further action against militants (Dawn, AP).

Block on, block off

Pakistan has partially unblocked YouTube, but a spokesman for the country’s internet regulator said yesterday that authorities would continue to censor "sacrilegious or profane material" including up to 1,200 URLs (AJE, Reuters, BBC, AFP, AP, The News, Daily Times). A State Department spokesman stated his support for the partial ban on Wednesday, telling reporters that, "We respect any actions that need to be taken under Pakistani law to protect their citizens from offensive speech" (Dawn).

A very long buildup

As NATO forces continue their buildup to an expected June push into Kandahar, the top NATO general in southern Afghanistan admitted that success in the town of Marjah, the site of a major anti-Taliban offensive in February, was several months away (NYT, AP, VOA). British Maj. Gen. Nick Carter told reporters at the Pentagon by satellite uplink that "we’re making progress," in Marjah, while acknowledging that "we are not yet where we need to be" in terms of government capacity to provide services to the population.

While NATO leaders have made it clear that Afghan forces, including Afghan police, will be an integral part of the Kandahar offensive, the Los Angeles Times details the struggles of training police on the job and coping with limited resources, a continued lack of development funds, and a persistent Taliban threat to Afghans working with Western military forces (LAT). NATO commanders also said that in the run-up to the offensive, they expect Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s powerful half-brother Ahmed Wali Karzai to "stand out of the way" (AFP). Wali Karzai has been consistently dogged with allegations of corruption and authoritarian behavior in Afghanistan’s south, though he has denied all charges and reportedly said, "he would rather be watching his favorite English football club Chelsea than help rule Kandahar."

McClatchy’s foreign editor Roy Gutman defended his paper yesterday after after an ISAF letter to Gutman alleged that a reporter took comments made by ISAF commander Gen. Stanley McChrystal out of context when he quoted McChrystal referring to Marjah as a "bleeding ulcer" (McClatchy). And Pakistani Chief of Staff General Ashfaq Kayani also met yesterday with Gen. McChrystal and Hamid Karzai yesterday in Kabul (Daily Times).

A first time for everything

The new U.S.-run prison outside of Kabul, the Parwan Detention Center, will hold its first trial next week, with Afghans serving as judge and defense attorney (NYT). Parwan is supposed to represent a newer, fairer way of treating prisoners, in part to overcome the dismal conditions and abuse claims associated with the Bagram prison (Reuters). And the BBC yesterday spoke to prisoners housed at the infamous Afghan-run Pul-i-Charki prison (BBC).

White wedding

Pakistani police said yesterday that they broke up a wedding between a middle-aged man and a 19 year-old eunuch, a term that in Pakistan does not just denote castrated men but rather includes hermaphrodites, transsexuals, transvestites and homosexuals (BBC, Dawn). Both claimed that the celebration was a birthday party for the eunuch, named Rani, though police said that they had found Rani’s "wedding dress," makeup, and other materials.

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